Using CCP’s main product, Eve Online, Andie started out with three key layers of experience:
These are blurry lines yet important to understanding the virtual world that a games designer creates. It’s important to remember that there are humans there, whose reality you are shaping.
Users are often not aware of themselves as users. For example, on Facebook, while most people simply use it but don’t think about being a “Facebook User”, when Facebook changes a feature users then become self-aware and begin to protest. “When people see the Matrix, things can get political”.
As a designer, if you want to shape reality, you need to think about all these layers and what is your purpose. You need to think about how to create a service designed to effect the person, and sometimes the real-life consequences. If you don’t think about this, users may decide they want control anyway.
For this purpose, Andie stressed the usefulness of Community Management, which manifests at Eve Online as a player-elected council, where players can run campaigns to be on a Board of Players who consult with the designers of the game on how to run the virtual universe.
Andie ended her presentation with a piece of advice about not messing too much with pre-existing social contracts. Remembering that there are people behind the users means you should be carfeful about not making them uncomfortable or afraid. Break the old formats if you like – but make sure you have a new model for people to understand.