Thursday, November 04, 2004

Hello Kitty MMORPG

I recently read Richard Bartle's Soapbox: Why Virtual Worlds are Designed By Newbies - No, Really! wherein he argues that the pressure to appeal to newbies creates a downward spiraling cycle of Massively Multiplayer Online design. (Also reference Clay Shirky's A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy which I boil down to as "just because it's good and efficient for one member, does not mean it's good and efficient for the group as a whole".) But this post is not about that, at least, not directly.

No, this is about potentially the mother of all branded MMOs/virtual environments, the Hello Kitty World! Looking past the uber-cuteness, the worldwide brand recognition and the cute and fluffiness of it all, Richard's words seem like and an epitaph of a world that hasn't even been born. Even though I doubt there will be a direct connection between the newbies of Everquest II hoisting their expectations onto poor Hello Kitty and fluffy friends, the feature list is clearly influenced by the generations of MMORPGs (and their newbies):
  • "Special in-game telepathy". In other words, global shouts continue. I wonder if they will also have teleportation within a city or country. (An example from Richard's article.)
  • Players will be in one of three countries which are in competition with each other. That gives us shards (though players can travel between countries) and instanced in-world games (I'll bet money they are).
  • The economy play. Play games for in-world money, trade items, open shops. I'm guessing that running a brothel out of your in-world house might be frowned on. I'm personally more curious if they will try to squelch any emerging eBay market for in-world items.
This is not to say that Hello Kitty World isn't going to be huge and healthily line the pockets of Sanrio. It is to say that I highly doubt we are going to see much innovation advancing the art of virtual environment design. And with it's potential to give so many people their first impression of large scale multiplayer gaming, that's a shame.

(Original Hello Kitty World link from Tom Coate's plasticbag feed.)


  1. What you said makes absolutely no sense at all... You "bloggers" need to stop writing essays for your blogs and just type! As you'd talk to people everyday. This isn't the wallstreet journal, it's your blog! So feel free to type freely w/out seeming so... so, blah.

  2. i agree with you but let see what hello kitty have to show....