Richard Bartle’s new book seeks to intersect theological thought and MMORPG design


If you’re new to our genre, first of all welcome, and second of all you should be familiar with Dr. Richard A. Bartle, a pioneer who helped develop MUD1, created the gamer type test that bears his name, and has written about the design and creation of MMOs on several occasions, the most important of which was made available for free last year.

Dr. Bartle’s newest book isn’t free, but it could be no less intriguing to fans, armchair devs, and actual devs alike: It’s called How to Be a God: A Guide for Would-Be Deities, which looks to bring together MMORPG design and theological questions into a unique intersection, as he reasons that creators of virtual worlds are effectively gods and have to answer the questions that have been pondered for years.

“Philosophers and theologians debate in depth the nature of the reality in which we live, but they’ve never had cause to design and implement a reality themselves. MMO designers have. […] This puts them in a position to help answer some of the questions that have been bothering students of Metaphysics since forever – and to bother them further with questions that they haven’t yet considered. This is largely what I attempt to do in this book.”

Raph Koster, another grandfather of the MMORPG genre, has apparently read a draft and grants it high marks, calling it a “provocative” read, while the book itself has one glowing Amazon review that notes its impressive subject matter and Bartle’s easy to read writing style. All told, this tome may be another important book to devs around our universe. For more on Bartle, make sure to check out some of the stories in the list below.

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