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MMOS FROM THE INSIDE OUT: THE HISTORY, DESIGN, FUN, AND ART OF MASSIVELY-MULTIPLAYER ONLINE ROLE-PLAYING GAMES by Richard Bartle

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CHAPTER 2

On Design

Four of Clubs?

Go into the street with a pack of playing cards and a clipboard. Tell passers-by that you’re doing an experiment about the prevalence of psychic powers (the clipboard is just to add an air of authenticity to this assertion). When you have assembled a small group of people, shuffle the pack and take out a card at random. Ask one person from your audience to guess what the card is.

Most people will guess wrong. However, 1 in 52 will guess right. If they don’t know that you’ve been soliciting guesses all day, it’s not difficult to imagine how they might believe that they actually do have nascent psychic powers. In truth, all they have is luck.

It’s the same with many game designs. The reason they’re successful is not ...

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