MUD Creator Richard Bartle on MMORPGS

If Richard Bartle were dead, he’d be rolling over in his grave!

Richard Bartle is the guy you need to thank for bringing you obesity, acne, and an obsession with the Wyrmbog in Dustwallow Marsh. See, Bartle is the guy who created Multi-User Dungeons and, as a result, added a new form of media to the now crowded world of electronic interaction.

University eggheads used to study MUDs with the same intensity that they now study particle physics and everyone thought they would change the world. They did, in a way, but their spawn have been so dumbed down, says Bartle, that they’re almost unrecognizable.

The virtual worlds are not as sophisticated. Yes, they have the 3D graphics, but what you can do in them as a player isn’t as sophisticated as what you can do in a textual world. This means players don’t have as many tools and abilities available to them within the world to enhance the experience of others.

Obviously, Bartle is biased by his experience in the early days of MUDs. However, he is right. As complex as games have become, they are still a means of communication between players, NPCs, and robots. Going from place A to place B to find a sword is not the real mission — the real mission is to leave your room for a few hours and be transported into a magnificent story. How well — or poorly — a game does this is the real key to its value.

“I’d close World of Warcraft” [Guardian]