There are a couple of nice wrap-up articles on the Easter themed special events in MMOGs and Virtual worlds that took place over the weekend.
Massively surveys MMOG events in World of Warcraft, Lineage 2, Final Fantasty XI, Lord of the Rings Online and Second Life, noting:
Seasonal events are often the most popular in-game events in many of today’s MMOs. But each game’s designers have to find a way to slip these real world celebrations into the lore and mechanics of their persistent worlds.
Izzy Neis covers Easter events in kids online worlds, including Club Penguin, Buildabearville, Moshi Monsters and Nicktropolis. She says:
Perhaps I’m just picky, but I honestly think you cannot have a healthy, uber-strong sense of citizenship in your youth-based virtual worlds WITHOUT acknowledging real world excitement. I am consistently impressed by the thriving movement of the community in Club Penguin– they’re very good about giving their users the tools to play, instead of dictating to the users the play. Kids are actually forming their own civilization under the eyes of the moderators & site runners
My friends at Gaia tell me that they see a massive bump in usage during their theme events. As an example, last years invasion of vampires into Gaia on Halloween brought the site down several times during the event.
I think this idea of creating special events around real world events is incredibly powerful. It introduces the shared social context that the players and users of the MMOG/Virtual world which helps shape and condition responses to events. Facebook gifting spikes around the holidays for exactly the same reason; users import conventions and context from the real world.
I’m interested to hear anecdotes and specific data that readers can share about the success of tying in world events to real world events.