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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

World of Plague

It’s great to hear that a plague has spread through online game World of Warcraft, particularly as it was seemingly a bug (MeFi discussion; video footage).

Unintended consequences and odd behaviour patterns in games are fascinating, and often end up enhancing the illusion and/or echoing the real world. Years ago, Ultima Online spawned prostitution and economical/ecological breakdown, The Sims Online has its shadow government and killer guinea pigs, and Star Wars Galaxies’ garrison of fanatical stormtroopers eventually got rewarded with a special visit. Immersive games need quirks and loopholes.

In the early ’90s I occasionally played BatMUD, a text-only game based in Finland. A grumpy wizard turned me into a frog, but I was fine with that and happily hopped around as “Malevolent the Frog” rather than getting the spell removed. I got away with all sorts of odd behaviour as an amphibian and was far more successful in the game; people are more helpful when you’re a frog. No wonder Kermit became famous.


Not gonna plug the one I admin on but its fun to hear about old muds and how their appeal hasn't changed much in the last 15 years. Hack and slash aside, there is still no other medium that comes close to emulating the feel of a tabletop roleplaying game online.

— Greg, 19th Sep, 11:25pm

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