You know the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe right? Four kids fall into a magical world through a wardrobe in an empty room, and wind up liberating it from the evil White Witch while meeting Aslan, son of the world’s creator. I’ve been thinking of it.
MMOs are about as close to the idea of Narnia as we can get. We as players are drawn into another world to have adventures there. We are supposed to be saving the world. There even is the same level-up. At the end of the first book the four children age and grow into adults and kings of the land. Thing is though, why don’t we act in virtual lands the same way? Why aren’t we heroic? hell, why aren’t we even kind to each other?
I think it’s because they are like Narnia for atheists.
By that I mean there is no Aslan. There’s nothing that is a purpose beyond the mechanical means of killing and saving. Aslan shows that the adventures in Narnia are about connecting to a mystery bigger than us. Fantasy isn’t just about killing wizards and getting gold, but all MMOs are just that now, tallying up numbers.
One of my ideas for an MMO is to risk it all. Make the game centered around defending a god versus evil gods. Not about leveling up or getting loot, but the price is this: you defend her, beat the evil, or the game ends. Is their possibility of griefing? Yes. Ton of issues? yes. But the things you will do will matter. You dont grind just to grind: you get stronger to prevent the game ending. You try to “win” the MMO. I don’t mean permadeath. I mean if conditions aren’t met the server gets wiped and you lose the battle. Evil wins, the white witch plunges Narnia into eternal winter.
What we need to do is have purpose beyond the grind. Our interactions in MMOs are self-centered at the core, and we need an Aslan to get us out of ourselves.