Sunday, April 29, 2007

On the Uses of Friends Lists

MMORPGs, by their massiveness, and their role-playingness, are close to social networks. There is still plenty to be done, however, to come close to social networks in terms of interactivity. One step in the right direction would be the addition of friends/enemies lists.

You can tell a lot about someone by who their friends are, and the same should apply to MMORPGs. If you have a griefer, content in disrupting other people's fun, they will get lots of enemies, which might be a good way for game masters to find them. On the other hand, someone who gets lots of friends is probably someone you want to group with, since he's proven many times that he's friendly, reliable, or maybe just knows how to write.

But that can't be the end of things, otherwise groups of griefers would call each other friends and get themselves good reviews. You also have to watch who someone hangs with; if someone only ever gets good reviews from people inside a small clique, who all get bad reviews from outsiders, then you can tell people that they are unlikely to want to befriend these people.

Going further, you will realize not all nice people want to associate with other nice people. Role-players will want to associate with role-players, achievers with achievers; casual players will hang with their kin, as will hardcore ones; and people with a basic grasp of grammar will want to listen to people who can likewise spell correctly, while that kind of behavior would be infuriating to Internet-spellers.

So a high friendliness rating would tell you that a person is likely to be like-minded to you, while a lower one might indicate that they are either griefers, or simply different-minded.

Of course, as always, I leave to the programming team the task of designing such a feature. Us designers can't be bothered with details such as 'feasibility'.

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