Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Star Wars Online: The Anthropological Effect of Bugs in Virtual Worlds

Recently, Star Wars Online had an experience where a bug arose that caused people to become invincible when they used the /getdown bug. The revelation of this created some discussion in the forums (and the removal of said topics) because BioWare wants to control information about the game and especially exploits.

I’ve seen others discuss how exploits are spread and why developers might want to suppress information about them, especially in what they consider to be the primary information source for their game. Although the blogs out there certainly represent a better news source than the forums, more people who play the game probably use the forums as their information and social source.

The use of exploits and bugs can be seen by the community in a game as a sort of cheat. Also, in the past entire games have failed due to the fears and expectations of incoming players who saw that they would not receive a fair shake. Although many were happy to entertain themselves with the tools and services provided by these MMO publishers they felt that their experience had been crimped by the presence of individuals who gained advantage using bugs in the game.

As a result, bugs like /getdown are seen as a blight on the game and developers like BioWare seek to suppress the knowledge of their existence as they fix them.

The supporting essay that outlines much of this information is currently published on MMO Anthropology and it explores the way BioWare acted and some of the community reaction. It’s still early in the life of Star Wars: The Old Republic but we might be starting to see the relationship they want to establish with their players already.

Link, via MMO Anthropology

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