News and Updates

19th May 2006
A very extensive review appears on iDevGames. It's the longest one I've seen, and is very favourable. After reading this, I want to go out an buy a copy of the book!

9th February 2006
There's a favourable review on Amazon's Eyes, "Daily recommendations from Amazon's most helpful reviewers". Let's hope Amazon has some copies in stock to sell.

26th November 2005
My book as been selected as the main literature for a new, 50-student course at KTH in Sweden. I'm really pleased by this, my enthusiasm being only completely dented by the fact that the course organiser has been told that the book is no longer available.

15th November 2005
A new review on from Ali Hale of Cambridge is very positive. "I'd recommend this as an essential text for anyone involved in designing commercial MMORPGs".

3rd October 2005
A review on from Erik Bethke, whose own book I use as course material for my first year students, is short but sweet. "God tasty wheat bread for the mind".

9th July 2005
Removed the discussion boards, after adbots finally got hold of it and filled it full of crap. It hadn't been seeing much traffic of late anyway, so I'm not too upset about it. If you want to comment on the book, feel free to email me.

6th July 2005
A dud review on from one Eric Grosser, fortunately found helpful by 0 of the 4 people who have commented on it thus far. "You could probably get similar information by following the World of Warcraft's Strategy guide verbatum and just re-theming the art and assets.". Why would that be, then, Eric?

31st March 2005
I spot that there are two entries for Designing Virtual Worlds in the Copac catalogue. The one held at Glasgow University is dated 2003 and the one held at Leeds University is dated 2004. This is what happens when you publish a book in 2003 and give an official publication date of 2004...

9th March 2005
I attend GDC to pick up my First Penguin award. In my acceptance speech, I mention the small matter of the unavailability of my book, on account of how the publishers didn't bother to bring any copies either for the GDC Bookstore or their own stand on the expo floor. Great marketing, New Riders...

26th February 2005
My nomination for a First Penguin award is announced. A post on Top MUD Sites by Matt Mihaly mentions this, and recommends DVW. Someone who reads the post buys the book as a result. Thanks, Matt!

14th January 2005
The IGDA releases a white paper on what they variously call "Persistent Worlds", "Persistent State Worlds" and (through occasional lapses) "MMORPGs" and (once) "MMOGs". DVW gets referenced twice in the footnotes and once in the "Further Reading" section.

5th January 2005
After 2 months of being down, the discussion boards come back to life. This is as a result of my web space quota having been doubled (to 200MB). Somehow, I'm already using 130MB of it; automatically-generated year-end system reports are suspected. Needless to say, within hours the boards disappear again.

5th January 2005
I finally notice that there's a short write-up of the book in MUD Game Programming. It's mildly positive. "Overall, the book is written with professional developers in mind, people who charge money to play on their servers. This doesn't prevent it from applying to MUDs though.".

21st December 2004
An annotated bibliography by Vili Lehdonvirta describes the book as "acclaimed". I suppose that means it is...

11th December 2004
I hear of another course that's using the book as source material. This one is by Aaron Delwiche at Trinity University in Texas. As I'd expect (having met Aaron), it's an excellent course - very well designed. If only it weren't taking place 4,000 miles away (sigh).

6th December 2004
I attended the Other Players conference at ITU in Copenhagen. The game research department here is world class, but I couldn't find a copy of DVW in its extensive library. Hmm, maybe that's why it's world class...

23rd November 2004
A review on by Jonathan Boeck is very positive and informative. "This is one tome that's a critical necessity for designing and implementing MUDs and/or MMORPGs.".

20th November 2004
Found a new, syndicated short review of the book on various "design" sites (The Designer's Bookshelf, User Group Bookshelf etc.). I've no idea how long it's been doing the rounds.

4th November 2004
A plug for the book in a Slashdot thread responding to an article I wrote for Gamasutra.

9th October 2004
The people at lokitorrent heed my pitiful cries and remove the reference to DVW. However, they keep the references to the other two New Riders books I told them about. I therefore inform New Riders of the situation so they (or, more likely, their lawyers) can ask for those to be dereferenced too. Whether New Riders in turn decides to tell the other publishers whose books are being given away for free in this manner is up to them.

8th October 2004
Oh great. I learn that lokitorrent, a peer-to-peer file-sharing hub, has a copy of DVW available for free download through its service. The helpful, friend-of-the-little-guy perpetrator who upped it also has two other books from the same series, plus another 20 or more that are blatantly still in copyright from other publishers. My guess is that he or she didn't figure that any authors or publishers would get to hear about their little scam. Well, this one did (through a friend I shan't name here so they don't get spammed for it, but to whom I'm grateful for their pointing it out).
Unfortunately, my past experience of people who want to diseminate copyright material is that they greatly resent being found out and immediately try to put it on some other site of a similar nature. I expect I shall be writing more letters of complaint to other organisations over the coming months...

23rd September 2004
A short plug for the book appears on MOGSTAT, after I plugged their site on Terra Nova.

21st September 2004
I don't know how long it's been there, but I finally notice that there's now a write-up of the book in the books section of The Mud Connector. It's only a paragraph long, but it's extremely positive. "Two thumbs up, 9/10 (nothing's ever perfect, although this comes close)".

31st August 2004
A post to the Gamesnetwork mailing list by Douglas Thomas states that he is using DVW as a text for a course on virtual worlds that he runs at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Southern California.

26th August 2004
Edward Castronova gives the syllabus for his new undergraduate seminar course, and DVW is one of the core coursework books.

19th August 2004
The book's new player types system is referenced in a forum thread for the Clan Lord Sentinel. I've no idea what the Clan Lord Sentinel is, but there you go.

6th August 2004
A mention of the book appears in a long forum post about my earlier player types model in relation to Puzzle Pirates.

1st June 2004
In a Gamespot interview about a white paper I wrote for Themis, I managed to get in a plug for the book. Sadly, the publication date managed to change from 2003 to 1993 somewhere between my email and the article. So, no new readers from that, then...

15th May 2004
A new review appears on This one is by John W. Pierce of the University of California, who somehow manages to be both honest and positive at the same time (read the review to see what I mean). "A must-read for world-building of any size".

26th April 2004
Another academic reference, this time in a paper by Betsy Book. "For a comprehensive history and summary of many types of virtual worlds, see ...".

20th April 2004
Just spotted that David Kennerly's article, Dark Ages Politics in Theory and Practice, now states that it is citied in DVW. Let this be a warning to everyone who writes interesting things about virtual worlds...

17th April 2004
An interesting discussion on the IGDA Production & Management Forum about methodologies for virtual worlds makes several mentions of DVW. The author, one Stove, likes some of the things I say but not others. Well, so long as they spark some thought, that's the main thing.

6th April 2004
I notice that the DVW web site is linked to from the well-respected Elysium Plains, with the log line: "Canon in this lovely field". When I was writing the book I was occasionally sustained by the fantasy that it would become canon, but it's still a big surprise to see it described that way.

1st April 2004
My first royalty statement arrives. This is something of a surprise as I didn't think the book would sell sufficient copies to cover the advance..! I can't give any figures here or the publishers would get cross, though - sorry. I can mention that the royalty statement included a reference to the book's being translated into Chinese, however, which I find rather pleasing.

31st March 2004
A brief recommendation for the book appears in a comment on The Wayward WebLog, in a response to a posting about player-generated content.

28th March 2004
In a Review of Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams: On Game Design, Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen refers to several books (one of which is DVW) as having a common denominator: "the focus on practical issues with theory playing second fiddle". Hmm, so anyone reading that review and buying DVW expecting a discussion of practical issues is going to be disappointed; and anyone who wants a discussion of theoretical issues isn't even going to look at DVW in the first place.

24th March 2004
DVW is cited in an essay on virtual world economics in the Book of Hook.

23rd March 2004
According to Constance Steinkuehler's notes, Raph Koster recommended DVW at the Designing a Massively Multiplayer Game panel at GDC. When are you going to write a book so I can recommend it back, Raph?

19th March 2004
A mention of the book in a discussion on killer/socialiser balance in the forums for Alchemic Dream.

17th March 2004
The required textbook for the "Computer-Supported Cooperative Work" in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Colorado at Denver is Designing Virtual Worlds. Blimey!

28th February 2004
A positive mention on the Top MUD Sites forum about the book's discussion of critical aesthetics.

26th February 2004
A reference to the book in a University of Brighton BSc thesis by Richard Slater.

23rd February 2004
I've just discovered another academic paper that references the book, by Kurt D. Squire and Constance A. Steinkuehler. While discussing Star Wars: Galaxies, it refers to my player types model. Except, it's the 4-type version, not the 8-type one advanced in the book. I do give the 4-type one a mention, so the reference is valid, but normally people refer to my original paper when talking about it, not to my book. Oh well, if it sells more copies..!

19th February 2004
A Slashdot discussion about a Stratics editorial concerning the future of virtual worlds contains a recommendation for the book by Operating Thetan. "I'd recommend it to anyone interested in MMOs". Let's hope Slashdotters have short memories of the first time the book was Slashdotted...

19th February 2004
Another mention of the book in a thread, a mini-review by Mike Rozak that follows a longer review of Ron Penton's book. Of mine, Mike says, "It's like attending a driver's ed course to get your drivers license, and being shown the movies of car accidents and the injuries that result. It makes you think...".
I don't pay him to plug it, honest!

10th February 2004
A brief mention of the book by Mike Rozak (who else?) in a thread about verb/object associations. It's mainly concerned with my Skotos articles on the subject, though.

1st February 2004
I just discovered that lists its top-selling books by subject type. Designing Virtual Worlds is number 2 on the list of top sellers in the category of "Computers & Internet>Web Development>Web Design>Virtual Reality". Number 1 is Jenny Preece's Human Computer Interaction. I guess the reason for this unexpectedly high rating is the bizarre categorisation system uses ("Web Design"? Uh?).
Even more astonishing, the book is number 1 in the equivalent chart for ("Computers & Internet>Web Development>Multimedia>Virtual Reality"). How did that happen?! Its sales rank right now is down at 34,057, meaning it sells only about 0.7 copies per day!

29th January 2004
After Brad cross-posts his query about virtual world history and interpersonal relationships to the MUD-DEV mailing list, Paul Schwanz also recommends my book. Yay for Phinehas!

26th January 2004
A query from Brad King (he of Dungeons and Dreamers fame) on the Gamesnetwork list run by DiGRA results in a recommendation by Ren Reynolds to buy my book. Many games researchers subscribe to this list, so even if Brad can't bring himself to buy it (if he doesn't have it already), well, at least other people who might will know of its existence now. Yay for Ren!

23rd January 2004
My earlier link to Adam Dray's blog is linked to in the blog itself. "I think I owe him a better review. ;)".
Hey, if Adam picks up this reference to his reference to my reference to his reference to my book, we have a game of blog ping pong going!

23rd January 2004
Greg's discussion (and the Designing Virtual Worlds) is linked to from The Invisible Rabbit. "One more book I'll have to check out".
The link itself appears courtesy of boingboing, which doesn't explicitly mention the book.

22nd January 2004
Greg's discussion is linked to from the Dungeons and Dreamers blog, so the book gets a mention there too. Unfortunately, its effect is somewhat diminished by an entry shortly afterwards complaining about my poor performance on the Today Programme.

22nd January 2004
Greg Lastowka (who now has started reading the book - thanks, Greg!) uses a quote from it to launch an interesting discussion on simulation, emulation and art in virtual worlds on TerraNova.

19th January 2004
The book makes an appearance in the (very short) bibliography section of the first in a new series of articles on by Michael Zenke. It looks like the outline for the series intersects with that of the book quite closely, except it omits the boring stuff.

13th January 2004
The first of several mentions in by Mike Rozak. On this occasion he's talking about Uru, the virtual world based on Myst.

11th January 2004
A small plug for the book in the forums for

6th January 2004
An entry in Ojuice's blog recommends the book, but doesn't expect anyone will read the site to find out. Ha! My spies are everywhere! The blog makes a serious point in that Ojuice thought DVW was going to be a technical book about algorithms and stuff originally, and only found out it wasn't upon reading it. I wonder how many other potential readers aren't buying it because they think it's going to be about programming? Is it more than the number of people who think it's going to be about programming and are disappointed when they buy it to discover it's about design?

7th January 2004
A citation in a major paper by Ted Castronova in the premier journal for game research, GameStudies, puts Designing Virtual Worlds firmly on the academic map. "Richard Bartle's vast experience with game economies is now available in his textbook (Bartle, 2003), which is strongly recommended for anyone thinking about actually building one of these places.".
Yes, I suppose it is a textbook at heart.

2nd January 2004
A formal citation in an academic paper in the Journal of Digital Contents. The authors talk about "Inhabited Virtual Worlds" (IVWs), and are concerned mainly with their non-game uses as vehicles for immersion in social reality. They are thus quite cross with the fact that in my book "the whole field of Inhabited Virtual Worlds is omitted" and "the expression Virtual Worlds and on-line gaming is used almost interchangeably" (even though my book doesn't actually contain the phrase "on-line game"). So, no sociologists will be buying it, then...

29th December 2003
A reference in the MMORPGx interview with Larisa Hopkins reveals that Sanctuary Portals will have an economy using some of the suggestions discussed in the book. Larisa, you will recall, wrote one of the book's Amazon reviews.

25th December 2003
For some time, I've been tracking sales of the book on I'll show the graphs once I have enough data to demonstrate overall trends (although at the moment it looks like sales of Developing Online Games, which I'm using as my control, outstrip it significantly). The highest sales rank I saw for my book before today was 6,585 on 21st November, something of a blip as it was in the 23,000s the day before and the day after. Today, however, it was 4,470. How come?!
I suspect that the answer may lie in a post to TerraNova by Brian 'Psychochild' Green, after I'd taken a pot shot at Dan Hunter for yet again willfully ignoring easily-accessible prior work. Brian says: "Anyone on here that hasn't read Richard Bartle's book Designing Virtual Worlds should stop posting, stop even reading this blog and go buy it, read it, and learn it. This book describes the minimum level of competency you should have when discussing design issues for virtual worlds. It's also an excellent book and very readable.".
You can see why I think this may be responsible for the sudden jump in sales! Even if it isn't, I'd still like to thank Brian here for his kind words (I'd do it in the blog but neither I nor Dan want to get into a flame war).
For balance, though, I suppose I should state that Dan's opinion of my book is that it's "dull and pedestrian".

22nd December 2003
A plug for the book in the Usenet group It's posted as part of a longer thread that asks "What motivates the player of a MMORPG?". The thread's begetter doesn't appear to have considered that MUDs and MMORPGS intersect somewhat in this area; the follow-up post (by Nick Reed of Iomo) cites the book as "a good read if you're interested in these kind of issues".

12th December 2003
The book gets a mention in Grant Henniger's blog. He says, "As funny as it may sound, it is a real page turner". He has some reservations about Damion Schubert's "bigger natives and Mexicans" problem, questioning the assumptions that are implicit in this. Good: the sooner we get some new ideas into virtual worlds, the better!

11th December 2003
A brief mention of the book on the mmog witterings blog. "it's an interesting book so far - certainly eye-opening in some regards!".

11th December 2003
There is a fourth reader review of the book on This is by Larisa Hopkins, who comes from a strong role-playing background. She is particularly interested in community, and enthusiastically recommends the book to people who run on-line guilds as well as to game developers. Looks like the book would have been more use had I written it two years earlier, though!

2nd December 2003
A pointer to the book is added to the wiki for DivineRight. "By far the most detailed and complete book I have ever read about online game design and development".

30th November 2003
Over on Terra Nova, Nick Yee makes a post about my player types. When I mention that there are now 8 types, he asks for a link to a description of the new types.
Augh! Nick Yee hasn't read my book either!

28th November 2003
A quotation from my book appears as an advertisement for Achaea on The Mud Connector. It reads: '"Few virtual worlds with an immensely complicated combat system avoid being completely dominated by it -- Achaea is the best known exception." - Dr. Richard Bartle, the inventor of MUDs.'.
It's a shame that they didn't mention to me that they were going to do this, because then I could have pointed out that I co-wrote MUD1 with Roy Trubshaw and am not therefore "the" inventor of them.

21st November 2003
A mention in Adam Dray's blog. "A great book. I'm familiar with most of the ideas within, but there are plenty of new gems for me in there.".

18th November 2003
A question in the Sigil Games FAQ is answered by (EQ author) Brad McQuaid. He takes issue with my assertion that designers can't be players "in the same way that the rest of us are". His most telling line is: "This is almost akin to saying that a musician can't truly enjoy music (either his own or somebody else's) because they are 'forced' to analyze the key, tempo, and chord progressions.".
Two points: firstly, musicians aren't composers (although composers are usually musicians); secondly, accomplished musicians do experience music in a different way to the rest of us. Oh well, Sigil Games' players probably weren't going to buy the book anyway...

11th November 2003
The first formal reference I've seen to the book appears in an article by Lee Sheldon, When a Story Arc Doesn't. This is the final part of a series of three articles about storytelling as it occurs in SWG, but is well worth reading even if you're not a player of that game.

11th November 2003
The third reader review of the book appears on Written by Thatguyj, who claims professional experience in developing a virtual world, it's very positive indeed. "I cannot say enough about the value of this book. We would have given thousands for it just a handful of years ago.". Yours today for $50.

8th November 2003
A reference to the book in an academic paper, namely Geoff King & Tanya Krzywinska: Exploration and Virtual Presence in Game-Worlds, in Marinka Copier & Joost Raessens: Level Up DiGRA conference, Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands. It's with regards to the difference between zoned and seamless worlds. I don't notice the reference until I read the paper in the conference proceedings 4 months later.

7th November 2003
I become a blogger at Terra Nova. In his welcome message, Ted Castronova mentions the book but also cites me as author of the "explorer-achiever-socializer-killer taxonomy of MUD players". As a result, I have an awkward suspicion that he hasn't read the book himself.

30th October 2003
A short review appears on the North Bay Multimedia Association site (along with a bunch of reviews for other books). It's positive, and I particularly like the reviewer's characterisation of who might want to buy the book.

22nd October 2003
The preface of the book appears in a forum on (now It doesn't cause much of a stir.

21st October 2003
A long thread on Terra Nova, which began as a post about Pirates of the Burning Sea and ended up with my ranting on about how come today's researchers into virtual worlds want to have nothing to do with work that has gone on previously, finally ends. As part of the thread, Greg Lastowka mentioned that he hasn't read my book. Damn! Greg, who as a result of a major paper he co-wrote with Dan Hunter has been propelled (whether he likes it or not) into a leading-light position concerning virtual worlds and the law, is just the kind of person I was kinda hoping would read it. Unfortunately, the crass but unavoidable plugging that I engaged in during the course of the debate is more likely to harden opinion against the book than persuade anyone to order a copy. Augh!

18th October 2003
A long and enthusiastic review by Ivan Milles appears on iDevGames. He heavily recommends the book - yay! [Note, the link to this died, so I've pointed at the later, longer one he did 3 years later]

14th October 2003
The second reader review of the book appears on Following on from the great Randy Farmer's first one (which I haven't mention here before as it went up before this web site did), it's by someone called Microtherion. "Buying this book is more than just a good idea: Failing to do so would border on criminal negligence.". Microtherion's main complaint is that the book is 200 pages too long, which is fair enough comment as it is indeed 200 pages longer than I was asked to write when I started it...

8th October 2003
A new, errata department is added to the site to correct the factual errors/ommissions I've made.

4th October 2003
A brief but encouraging plug for the book appears in a thread sparked by Peganthyrus's LiVEJOURNAL blog entry about cross-gender play. Much of the rest of the thread is people rehearsing old arguments, though, so I doubt the mention had much impact.

29th September 2003
Some mention of the book on the Usenet group. Verdict: very good, but expensive in comparison to the upcoming book by Nick Montfort (which is the more relevant for IF fans).

15th September 2003
A short but very favourable review appears on the PennMUSH site.

22nd August 2003
Alarmed by the number of people who have picked up on his Skotos article and quoted it out of context, Dave Rickey posts a formal review of Designing Virtual Worlds on Slashdot. This one is much more positive, with the text describing what he didn't like being roughly in proportion with the amount of the book that he didn't like. Dave's concern for the side-effects of his original article on my reputation is an impressive demonstration of his integrity. Slashdot readers nevertheless instantly pounce on him without necessarily having read either my book, his first article, the slashdotting of his first article or the review they're meant to be commenting on.

21st August 2003
Some good press from they recommend the book.

17th August 2003
An unamused Dave Rickey responds to my defence in the same forum. I respond to his response. Raph Koster also adds some supporting words; so that's two of us against the world, then.

17th August 2003
Back from vacation, I post a defence of the book in the Skotos forum for Dave's column. I leave the Slashdot comments unanswered. Dave is a rational being who knows what he's talking about, but Slashdot is a swarm of bees that is merely enraged by attempts to swat at it.

15th August 2003
Dave's column gets a mention in Clay Shirky's blog (well, the social software blog he shares). He refers to my "skepticism of game design shaping of population", then describes Dave's findings on the subject. This would be fair enough except that I'm not remotely skeptical concerning game design shaping population - for virtual worlds, I take it as a given! Yet my reputation now drops a notch among cyberculturalists.

13th August 2003
Dave's column is picked up by Dungeons and Dreamers. They say that "reaction to the book has been mixed", but state that Dave's is no ordinary "carping" because it comes from Skotos, "a company long familiar with the ways of Bartle" that "may have more insight into his work than other, larger game companies". Oh great, now it sounds like I'm some kind of con artist. The author then proudly announces that he visited Skotos HQ while writing an article on them last year for Wired News. A shame he didn't notice my Skotos column while he was there.

13th August 2003
Dave's column is cited again on the Gaming News Yahoo! group. Just the bit up to "I find myself somewhat disappointed", naturally.

13th August 2003
Dave's column is mentioned in the daily news section of Joystick101. "Some people are not agreeing with the assertations of [Designing Virtual Worlds]". Bye bye yet more potential readers.

13th August 2003
Dave Rickey's review is Slashdotted. People immediately begin giving their opinions on the book without feeling the need to have read it first. Some don't even seem to have read Dave's review.

12th August 2003
The book's first independent review appears in Dave Rickey's Skotos column, and it's seriously negative. Further criticisms are promised for forthcoming columns.

25th July 2003
A one-paragraph review appears on the MMORPG Documentary Film Project site. "It's a terrific read. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in virtual worlds.".

23rd July 2003
Site goes live except for the links section.


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17th June, 2003.