Here’s a lovely article on building Glitch, the crafting-based MMO.
The most important line in the whole piece:
“We realized that if we incentivized things that were inherently boring,” Butterfield told me, “people would do them again and again—it showed up in the logs—but that they would secretly hate us.”
I can’t get over that word inherently. What’s boring? To whom? Does the boredom-value of an activity change with context? As a designer, I get what Butterfield means; as a scholar, I want to figure out how to anatomize boring, especially in the context of play.
The real insight, though, is that separation of action and emotion. If an activity is both boring and incentivized, players will both do it and hate you. Brilliant.