In 1979, paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote an amusing evolutionary essay entitled Phyletic Size Decrease in Hershey Bars. In it, Dr. Gould tracked the shrinking trend of the Hershey bar over time – it dwindled 0.8 ounces between 1960 and 1978, while the price rose from a dime to a quarter. Based off the data he illustrated in the graph below, Gould concluded that the Hershey bar was fated to become weightless by 1998.
Of course, living in the future, we know the Hershey Bar didn’t go extinct. The standard bar is actually the same size now as it was in 1966, 1.55 ounces, though it costs a good chunk of change more than 10 cents. Years later, Stephen Jay Gould made a postscript to his work attributing the survival of the Hershey bar to competition from M&M/Mars. The market demanded that candy bars remain relatively the same price for the same amount of confection.
Doesn’t the market just demand Hershey bars, period? Much like its persistent brethren treat the Twinkie, due to return from extinction this summer, people delight getting their sugar on with these cultural staples. Sure, people exist who will stop buying because of value or diet or whatever. There are also people ready to double-down on Hostess snacks come what may. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants chocolate and creme filling.
Neither the Hershey bar nor the Twinkie is essential to nutrition. You could survive off of a diet of chocolate bars, but the American Diabetes Association and your dentist wouldn’t recommend it. Actually, maybe your dentist would recommend it. Gotta pay for that boat, after all! As a dessert, though, a Hershey bar or Twinkies can be pretty kick ass.
Where Dungeons & Dragons Online is concerned, MyDDO is the Twinkie.
No, MyDDO isn’t essential to gameplay. It’s not what makes DDO survive as an MMO in a competitive market.
Still, a group of players remain that saw MyDDO as a set of features that made our play experience better. It wasn’t perfect. It never left beta, for crying out loud. That didn’t stop me from using it regularly to look up character information. Several times I actually needed to re-trace what level I took which class or feat on a character’s prior reincarnation – MyDDO was there. Sometimes I needed to remind myself what the prerequisites for a prestige class were – MyDDO was there. Sometimes I wanted to babble for a few hundred words about how great Gnomes are – MyDDO was there.
Through MyDDO, I started conversations with players I would have never encountered otherwise because we played on different servers. I got to ramble on about the game and my play experiences in a way that the forums simply do not support.
So with the imminent dismantling of MyDDO as a game feature, it stands to reason I feel sadness. Blogging wasn’t something I felt naturally drawn to, but set within the boundaries of I’m talking about DDO, I liked talking about DDO. Besides, some genuinely nice people were on MyDDO, either participating as readers or writers in their own right.
But the heart wants what it wants: chocolate, creme filling, and a DDO blogging community.
There’s signs of that evolution everywhere, such as former MyDDO users transplanting their old blogs as I’ve done here. Evennote put together an OurDDO RSS feed. Geoff Hanna has also offered to assist MyDDOrphans needing a host for their blogging efforts. It’s pretty fantastic to see that the DDO gaming community can be just that – a community.
One that doesn’t just give up their candy.