What game design opportunities do we create when we extend massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) to cell phones? MMOs allow us to create representations of our own increasing mastery, and mobile gives us better access to this mastery and allows us to integrate it more fully into the ways we see ourselves. MMOs motivate mastery by making that mastery personally and socially relevant, and visibly showing it increase. Virtual worlds that make players feel physically and socially present increase motivation to achieve mastery. MMOs that convince players their avatars represent some aspect of their personalities increase motivation to invest in and experiment with different constructions of self. I apply these principles to an analysis of two games: Labyrinth, a game I helped create, and World of Warcraft, the current leading MMO. With Labyrinth, I explain the design decisions we made and their impact. With World of Warcraft, I described how altering the design could accommodate mobile play and better motivate increasing mastery.
About Dan Roy
Dan Roy is a research scientist at the Education Arcade and the Teaching Systems Lab, designing playful learning experiences for teachers and students alike. He is the lead game designer on the CLEVR project, inviting high school biology students to explore a cell in VR and collaboratively diagnose and treat a genetic disorder. He directs the ELK project, helping teacher candidates practice understanding what students know through roleplay conversations. Dan is also the founder of Skylight Games, a social enterprise inspiring a love of learning through play, starting with languages (Lyriko). Before his current roles, he worked with the Learning Games Network on games to teach language (Xenos) and science (Food Fight, Guts and Bolts), and with the Education Arcade, helping middle-schoolers build curiosity, intuition, and comfort in math through puzzles (Lure of The Labyrinth). He has an S.M. in Comparative Media Studies from MIT and a B.S. in computer science from UMass Amherst.
Thesis: Mastery and the Mobile Future of Massively Multiplayer Games