Just yesterday we were discussing an interview in the Guardian Unlimited with Richard Bartle, the well-known co-creator of the MUD. I found the interview to give us a fascinating perspective on the genre from someone who was there when it was just beginning, but at the end he made a comment about World of Warcraft which are what's making all the headlines. The Guardian Unlimited introduced the article under this title:
"I'd close World of Warcraft!" MUD creator Richard Bartle on the state of virtual worlds.
While anyone who reads the rest of the article will walk away understanding the point Bartle's attempting to make -- that the millions of people playing World of Warcraft should give other games a chance, because by having all MMO players congregate in a single game, we miss out on potential new and innovative game development -- but how many people stopped reading at the headline? Today Bartle comments on his personal blog about his thinking when answering the question:
The question used the word "major." So, what major virtual worlds are there? Well, there's WoW, and ... er ... some in Korea? Whereas 5 years ago we had several major virtual worlds (UO, EQ, AC, DAOC, AO, ...), now they're all minor compared to WoW. WoW has done a fantastic job of engaging with players, giving them a great experience, and educating them in the ways of virtual worlds. If it weren't for WoW, ... Hmm. Actually, now WoW has done all that, if it were to disappear overnight then it would be a huge boost to the rest of the industry.
It's not a totally unreasonable line of thought, but with a headline like that... Bartle wonders how many people will think that he "actually want[s] to close down WoW, and start sticking pins in their Bartle voodoo dolls as a result."