An Interview With Richard Bartle at IMGDC 2.0

Posted Mon, Apr 07, 2008 by Shayalyn

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Dr. Richard Bartle is a professor, writer, game-researcher, and design theorist who's widely recognized as one of the most influential pioneers in the massively multiplayer gaming industry. Ten Ton Hammer's Cameron Sorden caught up with him at the recent IMGDC 2.0 conference to find out what he's been working on lately and pick his brain about a topic that's seen a lot of discussion in recent years and which Doctor Bartle is uniquely qualified to comment on: using MMOs and virtual worlds for education.

Ten Ton Hammer: A lot of big names in the industry seem to be doing MMOG consulting lately. What exactly do you do when you're an MMO consultant?

Richard: Sometimes, they pay me to go and tell them what they really know themselves, and they just need someone to give some validation of what they've got. Other times it's much more interactive than that and what I'm saying becomes part of the design or an influence [on the game]. Sometimes consultancy involves having a business plan which says, "Call in the consultant." I come in, speak to them for a day, two days—sometimes several days. They all nod, check the thing that says "The consultant has come in," and they do nothing. Sometimes it's for a larger, better-organized company that needs a sanity check. Sometimes I get start-ups that have lots of ideas, but they don't know how to do particular things and want me to recommend somebody. A lot of those start-ups are going to fail. That is why I always take payment for my consultancy and not shares in the company, because shares in a company that don't go anywhere aren't worth a lot, really. Besides, if they make a lot of money it won't be anything to do with me—it will be to do with their business.

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