MMO designer Raph Koster reveals ‘Trust Spectrum’ research for online games


If you’ll be at GDC this week (we will!), you’re in for a treat, as research from MMORPG designer Raph Koster will be on tap.

It’s new design framework aimed at co-op multiplayer game designers, conducted as part of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group under Aaron Cammarata. The team is calling it the Trust Spectrum, and as Koster explains on his blog, the idea was to study how trust impacts games and vice versa, specifically for the purpose of building games that make sense for the level of trust players have for each other – and then building games that actually push people along the trust spectrum in a way that makes sense.

What they found in digging through games and gamers of all stripes was that “virtually all games are actually played at all levels of this spectrum; meaning, you can play competitive games with friends or strangers, a bidding system or supply chain system may exist at any point on the spectrum.” Ultimately, the investigators were able to map features across a trust range to make predictions on everything from audience size to retention.

It’s a massive piece with so many implications for online games that’s definitely worth a read – more for our developer audience than players, but we suspect MMO players will recognize themselves (and their guilds) in the piece. We’ll be at GDC this week and gunning to make this talk, so stay tuned for more!

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