SL and WoW: Bondage Mistresses versus Dragons

A couple of weeks ago I gave a lengthy talk on MMOGs to the game design students at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). We ended up doing an interesting comparative analysis of Second Life and World of Warcraft. They represent probably two extremes in virtual worlds: who they attract, what players do, how the in-game economics is handled, their respective business-case and so on. What I find immensely pleasurable in MMOGs however, is the player-created content: the magazines, radio shows, newspapers, podcasts, blogs and so on. I love the ones that persist the storyworld, their characters and the illusion that the game world is the only one that exists. More about this soon.

2 Replies

  • I’m keen to see more on this area.

    I’ve just been running some process
    drama activities on a similar theme.

    There is something quite
    different between the engagement
    in each of these environments.

    As an arts educator they intrigue me
    on many levels – in terms of how
    online teaching and learning might
    need reframing; in terms of the
    performative aspects of roleplaying
    in each type of world…

    Not fully developed ideas at this
    stage but keen to be involved in
    the discussion.

  • Yes, roleplaying is very different for each of the games. From what I understand, in WoW a player takes on a role, a level, like an elf, and has certain abilities because of this role. In SL a ‘player’ takes on an avatar (mostly human ones, but some choose ‘furries’). In SL most of the avatars look like the stereotypical pretty girl and boy. No-one is ugly in SL. Everyone is successful: people buy houses, cars, TVs, designer furniture, designer clothes, hairstyles and so on. That is what I’ve found to be an enormous contrast between the two worlds: I’ve seen players in SL live out what they think they should but cannot achieve in real life; players in WoW live out success and achievement through completing missions, because it isn’t real life. The way they look probably impacts this because they are given a fantastical figure to work with — they are better than real life because they have special powers, not because they have finally succeeded in ‘looking right’. The SL players get to live-out a ‘successful’ version of their life, they can simulate what they would feel if they had succeeded in those things they want. The WoW players are simulating being powerful. [Of course, it is more complex than this, I’m just sharing thoughts.] I find the relationship with the real world a very interesting comparative foci between these worlds…

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