Socialising on the internet is to socialising, what reality TV is to reality.

It’s not so much ’not wanting to play with others’ as much as it is ‘wanting to play with the right sort of others’.

Before introducing NPC party members and reducing the game to solo play, perhaps we could try a less drastic Facebook-style Like/Dislike for other players. A player can anonymously vote on other players that they encounter, giving them a ‘thumbs-up’ or ‘thumbs-down’ based on their experience with them. The LFD tool can then match groups of players based on their mutual like of one another.

Perhaps this is a little restrictive in a game with millions of players? What other systems do we know where millions of people can come together and find like-minded individuals who share interests via a network of friends? Thus, based on your own social network within the game – guild mates, friends list, etc. – we could also apply the ‘likeable’ weighting to players you have never played with before, based on whether your friends liked them.

Now take Slashdot’s comment system, where you can browse comments between a level of one and five, where level one will include everything from the common sense and the obvious, all the way down to the racists, trolls and other undesirables, and level five consists of only those comments that have been rated highly by others; looking at Slashdot you might begin to see a system for adjusting the level of ‘likeableness’ you’re willing to accept in your group. Set your acceptance level high and you’ll only get friends, guild mates, and people rated highly by yourself. Set it a little lower and you can open the search to those people who have been rated highly by your friends and guild mates as well.

We don’t need to remove everybody, we simply need to reduce the population down to a subset that is agreeable. At the same time, we need to cast a wider net than the one that pulls in only friends and guild mates.

If MMOs want to insist that they are games where people come together to socialise and play, if they want to justify their requirement of an Internet connection and payment models outside of the box price, then they could do a lot worse than look to the successes of the social networking sites before eliminating multiplayer society from MMOs altogether.

10 thoughts on “Socialising on the internet is to socialising, what reality TV is to reality.

  1. Stabs

    This is brilliant. It will probably take 20 years to happen, make whoever “thought” of it billions and prompt the reaction why didn’t anyone think of this before?

  2. Klepsacovic

    It’s the millions of players that causes the problem. Things worked better when those millions were chopped up into more manageable groups of thousands. Technology isn’t going to fix the problem that people don’t work well when their tribe gets too big.

  3. nugget

    Back before I left WoW 2 years ago, there was an addon written by someone I knew that did a great job of that.


    It not only had ratings, but let you share with your guild and see who rated what. Very, very helpful. But of course this was before cross-server LFD. Not sure if the addon is still around. Doubtless other games that allow addons should have something similar as well.

  4. mbp

    I predict a whole new sport will evolve around deliberately setting your filter to -5 and seeing how long you can survive only grouping with sociopaths.

    Captcha: Nudiustertian meaning “of the day before yesterday”

  5. Dr Toerag

    I’m not sure I like it.
    I have self esteem issues and couldn’t cope with either the rejection, or even the potential rejection.
    The KIASA gentlemen, with their wit and celebrity status, don’t see the horrors that we “little people” would suffer.

  6. Melmoth Post author

    @Stabs: It’s probably better than my first idea, which was to have a comment and rating system for players based on the one Amazon uses. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

    @Klepsacovic: I don’t think technology will solve the problem. Technology is not meant to replace the engine of society, merely to provide lubrication where the gears of it rub together.

    @nugget: Interesting concept, but I feel that anonymity would be key. Otherwise you’d definitely get the high-school clique effect going on, where groups got together to view other players’ ratings and perhaps even game the system in order to deliberately reduce said rating.

    @mbp: It would probably be an eXtreme sport; it could even be popularised with its own television show and corporate sponsorship for the best athletes. We could call it Hateboarding: Riding the Waves of Anger.

    @Dr Toerag: I think the anonymous part is the most important, and I perhaps didn’t stress that strongly enough. This is not meant to be a clique-building system in the pejorative sense.

  7. Modran

    Ok, if I understand correctly, you’ve circumvented the habitual scheme “1’LL Gi\/3 U 10 Gold if U THumbup me” for a global rating like I’ve seen in Maple story in doing a Like/dislike that you do for yourself and can share with friends, is that so?
    The idea is sound but the scope is just too huge. I have never seen twice the same player in WoW, even in my own server. It wasn’t such in DAoC or EQ.
    It could work, but it would take aeons of self play time.

  8. Melmoth Post author

    “I have never seen twice the same player in WoW, even in my own server.”

    I wonder if that is a statistic specific to your style of play, or something else? I say this because I have encountered the same players on numerous occasions throughout my time levelling in WoW. In fact, I became friends with some people simply because I kept bumping in to them.

    Or perhaps the game has changed now, and with cross-server instances and the LFD tool, people simply don’t see one another often outside of these transient groups. This is, I believe, the point that Klepsacovic is raising as well, that the scope, as you put it, would be too great outside of a single server community.

    I picture one kicking-off the LFD tool and it would go through one’s friends list to see if any of the people listed were online and also looking for a group; then it would go through your guild list; then the list of players you have ‘liked’; then it would go through your friends’ lists of players they have ‘liked’. If, after all that, it still can’t fill a group, then the remaining spots would be filled with random others: some of whom you may find that you like, and thus you add them to your ‘liked’ list. Now, because your groups will more often fill up with those people whom you or your friends have ‘liked’ before, you are likely to encounter them more often, and thus eventually you may become friends. At which point you add them to your friends list, and all of the people they have ‘liked’ are now added to the pool of people the LFD tool will select from when merging you into a group. If you find some of these people disagreeable, then you will ‘dislike’ them, and your preference will override that of your friends. Clashes between two people in the group, one who ‘likes’ X and the other who ‘dislikes’ X, would be resolved in the old fashioned way by forming your initial group outside of the LFD tool. More importantly the system would be anonymous, and gaming the system would be pointless, as anyone with whom you wanted to always group could simply be added to your friends list.

    This system shouldn’t be thought of as an attempted replacement for good manners and social interaction, the idea is simply to try to increase the odds that any random groups that you form will be filled with people that you will have an enjoyable time playing alongside; at the same time, it expands the scope for social interactions to occur outside of your immediate friends, but based upon a system of blind recommendation that assumes (perhaps incorrectly?) that people your friends find pleasant will, in the majority of cases, apply to you too.

  9. Pete

    EVE Online has had a rich “standings” system for years; with three levels:

    – person-to-person (your views of other people, so you can record who’s been helpful to you)
    – guild-to-guild (corp/alliance level, vital to PVP)
    – the opinion of the NPC security service (goes down if you shoot people in protected space, marks you as a pirate)

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