The Double-edged Sword

By Kyle Osborne

The ongoing feud for the ownership of virtual gamespaces cannot be solved with a simple decision.  Both sides hold power and are looking for the other to yield. Some aspects of the debate show that it might be best if players held more control than they currently have. But when it comes to the protection of the narrative of an MMO I find it imperative that the corporations retain control of their product.

While the world could not exist without players, these same players often violate the integrity of the narrative. Everything from gold farming and spamming to the use of offensive and demeaning language destroys the narrative experience for the other players. With the corporation in  a position of control, these in-game nuisances can be eliminated or at least dealt with.

But this power is a double-edged sword. While players fear the exploitation of a company’s tyrannical power, the company equally fears the results from these abuses of power. When a company runs its game in a way that is contrary to the will of its players, the players leave and the game and the game goes under. So if I am controlling the game, my goal is to both keep the game running smoothly (both mechanics and narrative) as well as to keep my consumers (source of profit) happy. As a right-minded corporate tycoon, I want to give the people what they want to keep them as customers.

When all is said and done, it is best for the corporations to retain control in order to keep their narrative running smoothly and to halt the unnecessarily destructive antics of some users, but through their participation or lack thereof the users can dictate how they want the game to run.


One thought on “The Double-edged Sword”

  1. I have seen this argument a couple of times. Corporations and their employess become social moderators. They vote people off the virtual island. Why can’t the players vote other players off the island in lieu of the corporations?

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