In my last post, I thought it would be nice if MMORPGs had an account-wide point system that rewarded players for mentoring newbies. But, instead, how about an account-wide point system that rewards players for simply building the community in any way? Point systems like these are frequently encountered in social networking sites and blogging communities, but are mysteriously absent in MMORPGs.
The game system could automatically reward players for mentoring, and for helping people progress in quests (not just completing them, but for every ding that updates the quest progress). The point system would be account-wide because we are rewarding the player, not the character; that means if I need to bring my Healer, I will still be rewarded, even though I might prefer to work on my Fighter. I would simply earn the points on my Healer and claim the rewards on my Fighter.
We should also be able to transfer social XP to other players as well. This would be used similar to the kudos system on Myspace, or similar systems on other social networking sites, where you give out positive encouragement for people who do something you appreciate. You could reward other players for helping you out, or even simply for entertaining you -- to reward role-players who take time out to act in game.
The way I imagine it is: if a troupe of role players in game act out a skit that entertains people, we could "tip" them by giving them social XP which they could then cash in on exclusive fluff role-play appearance gear, or a new painting, or whatever. If someone goes out of their way to help me out, they get social XP automatically from the game for every quest update I get, and I can even give them a little bit more on top of that. This positive encouragement for making the world livelier and friendlier can be cashed in on non-game-breaking items of the recipient's choice.
What would they spend the points on? It would depend on the game, but the type of things EverQuest II offers as loot cards and veteran rewards would probably be appropriate. People could buy XP potions to help level alts, or fluff gear, or house items.
MMORPGs are virtual worlds with virtual communities; they could benefit by taking a look at the kinds of tools used by social networking sites to build community.