There’s no reason why WoW couldn’t be represented by anything other than an RSS feed

Gamasutra has an insightful write-up of Raph Koster's talk at the Austin GDC. The talk is about how the web is destroying games in terms of revenue and access and how to rely on the web model to design future playful games. Koster slides can be found here (pdf, 3.8Mb) (Another good writeup is here). Some excerpts I found interesting:

"If you’re like me, you’re really tired of hearing about Web 2.0,” says Koster – but he maintains that the elements of the concept behind the buzzword are sound. (...) The net says the platform can be anything - there aren’t real hardware requirements or interface problems. The hot topic right now is the non-gamer. The hot feature is other people (as in YouTube), not the systems we write. The hot technology is connectivity and simultaneity. He added: "The hot game is a mini-game. Really small games."

“When you look at the kinds of problems we ask people to solve, and the things we assume them to do, it’s like we’ve given them a PhD in mathematics. No wonder you sit mom down and she asks 'how do I move?'”

If I look at that WoW screenshot,” says Koster, “I see a user interface begging to be simplified.” He calls for something along the lines of just showing the most pertinent information – and already there are hacks to do this. “Every time you make an assumption about inputs or output, you’re shrinking your user base. This is really the secret behind the DS and the Wii – it’s mapped to stuff we already know, which reduces the learning curve.” (...) “There’s no reason why WoW couldn’t be represented by anything other than an RSS feed, and if you could, it’d probably be doubled in users.” "

Well, without the context the last quote might sound weird but there is an relevant point here. And I quite his description about what works on the web that can be transferred to gaming:

"- the system is the game, not the interface, not the presentation. - any button will do. - long phases take your time – response time is rough. - be done fast, once you’ve made a decision. - do it side by side. Has to be massively parallel. - extended accumulated state – save your profile. - no roles – classless – teams are deterministic. - representation agnostic – draw it however. - open data – change it however."

Why do I blog this? preparing a presentation about how web practices (social web, web2.0) will change digital entertainment, and how to turn some of this into sound game mechanics. There is a lot more, especially about game grammar. If you take a look at the slides, their are also nice prognostication about the evolution of digital entertainment based on what he finds important in Web2.0:

"- Participation: trust, remix and mashup, cult of the amateur, Quality not required, distrust of centralized authority - Abandonment of the publisher model: long tails, niches, duplicate content - Different distribution channels: digital only, monetize passion not trials, slow openings, not big - Services instead of products: data not code, perpetual beta - 3R's: Ratings (the participatory Web is premised on metadata on “content”), rankings (And metadata on “users”), Reputation (adding up to a user-driven system of surfacing user-created content) - Run anywhere, common platform: “Above the level of a single device.”"