In this particular survey, about 380 MMO players described one or more superstitions they had seen in an MMO. As I read through the player-submitted superstitions, I was struck by several things, and I will list some of these here to help frame the phenomena we're looking at and the stories that follow:
1) Other people's superstitions always seem crazier. When reading through the superstitions, I felt more sympathetic towards ones in games I've played and more likely to laugh at superstitions in games I haven't played. But, of course, most of the superstitions are incredibly similar across games and I think reading superstitions from other games will help us think more seriously about the ones in the games we do play.
2) Some people argue that all MMO superstitions must be false because it's just easier for developers to use a random number generator throughout, but it's also true that it takes just several lines of code to increase the chances of all rare drops on Tuesdays. And while it is impossible to prove that gods or spirits exist in the real world, there actually is an omnipotent, omniscient god in MMOs (known as the game developer) who can and does mess with the rules. In other words, there is no logical reason why a four-leaf clover would bring you good luck in real life, but this is plausible and easy to implement in an MMO. So ironically, there is a better basis in believing in an MMO superstition than a real life superstition.
3) A corollary of #2 is that we may never know whether a particular superstition is actually true or false because: a) most of the scenarios occur with sufficiently low frequencies (i.e., rare mob drops) that they are hard to sample for testing, b) we will never have access to the actual code base in most cases, and c) even if we did, weird features do arise from complex code that developers never put in explicitly but nevertheless might exist (e.g., the case of the "wi flag" in Asheron's Call). However, while some of these superstitions may be true, it is likely that most of them are in fact false.
But enough of my thoughts. Let's turn to the superstitions that players have seen in the games they play.
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