MMOs are Carrots

I was eating lunch the other day, and suddenly an eureka moment struck me.

OMG, MMOs are like carrots!  Yum!

Yes.  These.

Carrots
Copyright chatirygirl, CC BY-ND

No, I’m not talking about the grind or how achievements are leading users by the carrot and stick.  Instead, our little root vegetable here in many ways can give insight into how users perceive MMOs – past, current and future.

You see, I grew up with Saturday morning cartoons.  Bugs Bunny would always have one of these orange glow sticks in hand while poking fun at poor Elmer.  Even heading out to the supermarket with my Mom, we’d see stacks and stacks of these things, vibrantly uniform against their green tops.  This was the natural order of things.

Had I been born several centuries earlier, things would have been very different.  Before the 17th-century Holland, carrots looked like this.

Purple Carrots
Copyright Kimberly McKinnis, CC BY-NC-ND

It’s made a comeback in recent years, these purple friends of years long past.  But for well over five centuries, western civilization has all but wiped the memory from its citizens.  Of course, there are reasons.  Some attribute the victory of the orange carrots to their being sweeter and more fleshly.  Personally, I favor the idea that nationalistic pride on part of the Dutch, who for the better part of those years held vital interests all over the world.

But you see, what makes this an interesting view into cultural phenomenon is how the first reintroduction of the purple carrot in 2002 UK failed miserably.  Supermarket buyers baulked at the idea of eating such distorted and weirdly colored carrots – which when you think of it, looks like they’re spoilt.  It took a better part of a decade before the whole superfoods craze to elevate it back into social conciousness.

So, are there MMO types out there that play the purple carrots to our orange DikuMUDs?  Have any reached superfood status or are we still in the yuck-stage?

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4 comments

  1. Still in the yuck-stage. And if they come back, they’ll be genetically engineered purple-carrots with elements of both strains.

    From my rather uninformed perspective, it appears that MMO evolution is far too slow to allow a full comeback of many arcane game principles (DikuMUD style). Certain principles may be phased in over time (like the gradual adoption of more and more player-created meta content), but if they’re like carrots, then we’re still thoroughly in the yuck-stage.

    And to venture a guess, I bet the next standard that does end up taking over, will be quite a different vegetable altogether!

    1. The funny thing is, if you take an orange carrot, manage to plant it and cultivate it for a few generations, it’ll revert back to the purple one :) The orange carrot is a genetic abomination.

    2. More genetic food for thought:

      “It’s very hard to remove features … that had existed in an earlier version. It’s kind of like physical evolution. If a feature is in the genome, and if that feature is not associated with negativity, then the feature hangs on for generations”

      – from The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman.

      MMOs carry a lot of genetic baggage.

      1. Oh, I like that quote. I really ought to pick up that book – I’ve always heard good things about it. Thanks.

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