In today's main Gamasutra feature, Backbone designer/producer David Sirlin uses his Soapbox to vociferously query how successful MMOG World of Warcraft educates its players, suggesting that the game actually teaches the wrong lessons on a multitude of levels.
"Before we get to World of Warcraft though, let's pause to learn from Raph Koster. Raph is no stranger to MMOs, as he was the design force behind Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. He wrote an excellent book called A Theory of Fun that you all should read. I tend to put "fun" in quotes, because it's a pretty nebulous thing that I don't know how to define. Fun is like pornography; I know it when I see it. Raph was brave enough to attempt an explanation of "fun."
'Fun is learning in a safe-environment'
...But lately, Raph's words have really started to scare me. I started to think "What is World of Warcraft teaching all these kids?" I've played the game since the "Friends and Family" alpha test two years ago, and I've read the forums ever since. I have a very good idea what the game is teaching, and it's downright frightening. Unlike the uniformed parents who are afraid that GTA is going to ruin our youth, I'm not afraid of the silly facade of World of Warcraft: I'm afraid of what's it's really all about, deep down!"
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including a detailed, well-argued analysis on the life lessons that WoW
is allegedly teaching us through play (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature).