The sessions have begun!
SL residents have started to play our game this weekend, and I’m blown away at how different the experience is for them than it was for our intrepid, but new-to-SL testers.
These long-time SL residents interact and engage in completely different ways with the story and information they encounter. Among other things, they read everything, they stop and discuss the mystery itself, and they actually picked up on a tremendous number of our little cultural references – even the obscure ones like the nod to steampunk band Clockwork Quartet. Sure does make a girl feel proud.
What’s interesting is how different SL culture is than WoW culture in terms of story engagement. SL is a world of text, even when using voice. Common are role playing sims (islands), where most of the background and other information that lets everyone coordinate activities are written in notecards. These folk enjoy reading and thinking about the nuances in ways quite new to me in virtual worlds.
I have met people in WoW who really love the narratives, but I myself am rather terrible about understanding it all. I do like to read about specific quests, but the over-arching plots and dynamics just kind of slip out of my head. I have some sense of the meta-stories, but mostly from kind friends who explain them to me. Many folks never read a thing, relying instead on tools like Quest Helper to provide little dots and arrows rather than reading the narrative and finding the areas or creatures they have to kill or talk to.
In SL, on the other hand, it’s the stories that you read – and discuss – that make spaces fun there. In WoW, I guess it’s really the effective slaughter. Oh, and the cool hats.
In any case, working with these wonderful SL residents as they go through the quest is profoundly joyous; they play the game the way we designed it to be played. In fact, I’m going to go back and return some of the finer plot nuance information that I deleted after testing in deference to testers’ confusion.