Sometime ago, I was asked to write up a brief paper on the social psychology of EU and what might help in the way of getting more players engaged and interested in a greater level of participation, investment and ultimately retention. As I see it right now, the movement has been more away from the social dynamic that would embrace such ideas, and more towards creating content that basically requires a clicking mentality, rather than drawing upon a mindset that has a greater potential for incorporating the ideas proposed. I've taken into consideration the sand box perspective where players can create their own social environment, but as developers, there is a much greater potential for engaging participants in a way that (IMO) inspires a desire to be more involved. It would benefit Entropia Universe to be more immersive from a social perspective, and really engage the senses of its participants that creates far more interest in being a part of the whole and working towards a goal (group dynamics), but in a way that also blends the bottom-line for developers ... more players, more investment, more retention, more revenue. Also (IMO) it would lend itself to more effective marketing. The following is what I wrote based only on fundamentals, but could be expanded to address far more detail than what was required for this particular writing. Perhaps I will consider writing a more expanded version of what I have presented here at my new website (when there is time) which is currently all real life writing as opposed to virtual, but I have included a category called "Virtual World News" since I still engage in at least exploration and time with friends inside a couple of virtual environments. I also keep up with EU development, what the community is talking about, and what the issues seem to be. I sometimes engage in critical thinking about our universe, and as such, I still have opinions where often I can add "fact" into the mix based on my experiences behind the scenes. =============================================================== ENTROPIA UNIVERSE - SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE When it comes to virtual environments, and especially Entropia Universe with its unique real cash economy, there is a very specific and entrenched social psychology present that inspires a plethora of considerations when it comes not only to development, but marketing strategies as well. The level of social dynamics available give way to the potential for feeding into some very basic human needs. MMO's have become very popular role-playing environments, and present key opportunities for developers to tap into possibilities that not only inspire, but drive game-play to a more cohesive level of social interaction. In turn, certain elements of game-play invite synergistic behaviors that relate very much to group dynamics, and allows for the potential of drawing in the most casual gamer. Virtual communities all encourage interaction, but the success of that interaction is far more achieving if given a clear direction with a progressive and ongoing sense of belongingness and personal contribution that says one is part of the whole in creating something important, as opposed to just a clicking mentality with results that seem to be more fragmented and disjointed from the greater picture as it relates to a player perspective. Developers on the other hand are in the business of generating revenue, but there's a strategic game-play for them as well if they choose to give it more attention. Entropia Universe, to a great degree, parallels real life, and if you can appeal to a person's sense of obligation and responsibility with regard to their game-play that embraces group dynamics, and in the process, give incremental rewards along the way that are required to continue building a personal environment that matters, then the potential is there for stimulating and even elevating the level of activity and dedication, not to mention investment and retention. Here are some key thoughts to consider about interactive virtual environments: people are living an alternate lifestyle via their avatars the opportunity is present to enhance that lifestyle to a level they may not have available in real life meaning: there may be a lack of familial connectedness, and … group dynamics within the virtual environment may feed a very deep need, and/or … it becomes a means for releasing pent-up energy, and an escape to something more meaningful therefore, having an objective, or many objectives may keep a person active and involved a sense of belonging and contributing to the greater good fosters dedication people need to feel their contributions are not only needed, but important and appreciated the cost of contributions works best if progressively and incrementally within reason despite the sandbox environment, sometimes people need to be told what to do being generic in a globally-diverse environment may present a challenge, but … group dynamics opens up possibilities toward generating a consistent flow of revenue Revenue is a beloved word, and without doubt, is the bottom-line for any company providing a product or service. Entropia Universe with its real cash economy presents an exciting opportunity to appeal to someone's wallet from a social psychological perspective. There are considerations that have the potential to promote such if approached in an honest and reasonable manner where the participant can realize a benefit conducive to continued involvement and investment. Following are suggestions for inspiring or motivating someone to invest time and money: create a cohesive storyline and keep the momentum going people need a sense of purpose, and a reason to buy into what they're being fed connect the dots, and have relevance with activities that build on a theme people love helping others and coming to the aid of those in need, but … doing so needs to be cost-effective, or opportunities may be lost single events that run their course absolutely serve a means to an end, and … instance systems and the like also serve a purpose, but … people need to feel a sense that there's more meaning: cohesiveness in game-play, rather than a disjointedness and wondering what's next; or ending up with an "is that all there is" sense of game-play Engaging people and inspiring them to come together for a common goal feeds into the basics of human nature, and gives players an opportunity to be creative in building and managing an alternate lifestyle in the virtual realm. Entropia Universe is an amazing environment, with the potential for taking its inhabitants to places in their minds and their emotions that they never dreamed possible, and not only fulfilling personal needs, but adding to the "bottom-line" more than perhaps expected if developers are more engaging themselves when it comes to designing game-play. The possibilities are endless, and the approach is not only key, but also determining what the important aspects of game-play are that will not only draw in an individual to participate and invest time and money toward developing their own personal environment, is also key. However, that personal environment needs to relate to the dynamics that facilitate retention, and motivates an individual to continue building and living an alternate lifestyle. =============================================================== As I mentioned above, there is so much more that could be said about this, but I'm also interested in what the community thinks that would inspire them to participate more, aside from fixing the bugs, glitches, bringing back or implementing needed systems and making the environment more stable. Since there are those who think that veterans who appreciated the game more "back in the day" are nothing but whiners and complainers, I think it's important to (once again) speak out and let them know that we are critical thinkers as a result of our longevity in this universe, as well as players who have witnessed first-hand the progression of development that has brought us to where we are today. Project Entropia was a far more socially-engaging and immersive environment than it is today, and it not only had more charm, it had spirit that kept us coming back for more, because the benefits as such far outweighed what many thought about their level of investment ... it was worth it. It's not to say that it's "all bad" ... I've never said that, and have made an enormous amount of positive contributions in the past 9+ years (April 2, 2005) in an effort to support and promote Entropia Universe. However, I find it rather disconcerting that some seem to forget those who have really been pro-EU for so many years in spite of our critical thinking of where development has taken us. If I was just a complainer or whiner as some state, without also adding suggestions, or supporting different directions that would be of more benefit overall to developers and players alike, then I would say the label would fit ... but it doesn't, and I would appreciate those who have nothing to contribute except to call us whiners not to reply. I have also contributed factual information based on my experiences and connections on the inside, and I would think that this information has a bit of value in understanding some things that have only been speculated upon. I would open the vault if I could, because I am very much in support of the community knowing certain things that they should know, rather than continuing to be led down the path blindly and surprised as Wistrel alluded to in a post, which also happens to the PPs, but that's another thread. I would be interested in knowing what others think that would work better from a social perspective that incorporated all the elements that would make engaging in this universe more interesting, exciting, worth investing in, and also worth your time and effort. Thank you!