[MUD-Dev] Re: Marian's Tailor vs. Psychopaths

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Sat Oct 3 15:01:06 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Fri 02 Oct, Benjamin D. Wiechel wrote:

> From: Koster, Raph <rkoster at origin.ea.com>

> >This leads to an interesting conclusion for mud design--penalties won't
> >solve your playerkiller problem. Helping them gain empathy will.

The first part of your statement has already been proven true on too
many muds to mention.  Hopefully you are right about the second part
as well.

> I suppose within this grouping of people, there are the people like me that
> perhaps enjoy role playing a character that is truly mean and vile, just to
> be a bit different than their reality.  I personally enjoy the opportunity
> to act out the life of the defined "sociopath", as it creates an interest-
> ing flavor to the mud, and it also causes a reaction in people. Each
> person reacts differently to my behaviour, and it is interesting to see
> each of them.

Maybe it is interesting  for you.  But have you ever spent  much time
thinking how it is for your victims? If you have not then you are not
acting  but behaving like a sociopath.  Somebody who is self centered
and not empathising with others. In the case of a pathological socio-
path there is a real unability to do so. In muds it, like (I think it
was) Raph said, is because the lack of communication makes it easy to
ignore that there are real people with real feelings behind the text.
You are not a sociopath,  but the effect you have on other people  is
the same.

> There's also the side effect that one can give with one hand and take
> with the other --  this time I might give you equipment,
> next time I might take your life.

> Somewhere I think someone got the idea that PK is bad.  PK is not bad,
> even having an out of control PK character isn't bad.

Oh no.  Player killing is bad in its own right, but for entirely dif-
ferent reasons that have nothing to do with this argument.

> What I would
> define to be bad would be when the players within the mud do nothing to
> solve the difficult situation on their own, and instead whine at the gods
> and the admins to take the player away.  Part of my enjoyment on the
> only mud I play is to in-character solve such problems.  When I was a small
> player, I was twice hunted by massive players.  My reaction was not to whine
> or cry, but to instead grow at a rapid rate until suddenly they were the
> small player by comparison.  Very effective method of keeping someone from
> killing you.

So. Your solution to defend against virtual sociopaths was becoming one
in turn. Or with slightly less exaggeration. To prevent players killing
your character you joined their game and became so big and bad that you
could kill them instead.

The whole point of the Tailor Scenario is what do we do for players who
for players who can not, or do not want to, play that kill or be killed

> Also, for the true simulationists, what would the simulation be without a
> couple of sociopaths running around nixing everyone they pass?

1- A lot friendlier. (After all you can talk to people without having to
   assume they are out to kill you)
2- Much more realistic. (How many sociopaths have you met? And those who
   do have a tendency to die horribly, not enjoying the experience.)
3- Playable for all players, instead of only those who are interested in
   becoming the biggest bully,  and taking whatever comes at them  until
   that goal is reached.

(And I thought the simulation was at world building level, not at social

> >Anyone got a handy-dandy set of tactics for this? :)

> >Classic ones are general community building ones, but these don't
> >necessarily target your troublemaking population. I have an essay on
> >community building tools at http://mud.sig.net/raph/gaming/essay6.html
> >but none of them seem REALLY aimed at empathy-building.

> Ones I'm currently reviewing are:
> 1) Tie players to a locale, ie. be a citizen of a city.

This, I think, is proof that you are succeeding, rather than a way
of achieving more empathy towards other players behind the charac-

> 2) Redefine the definition of top player to not be primarily based
>      on sheer size and combat

Or better still remove the emphasis on ranking through conflict and
replace it by ranking through social interactions. If you can remo-
ve the ranking of players entirely  that would be even better,  but
this might be hard to achieve given human nature. (almost let some-
thing feminist and inaccurate slip through there ;)
A game like PernMush goes a long way in this direction.

> 3) Create in-game positions whereby players can regulate and
>     reward actions based on whether they were done well IC or
>     whether they were a nasty killer.

Killer or not is not the real problem. Being social/empathic or not
is.  Random (or excessive) Killing is just the most obvious symptom
of players  who are not social.  However this will perhaps (!) only
make players "toe the line" as it were.  It will not help in making
them more empathic towards others.

> 4) Create methods of societal building, ie., weapon breakage at
>     a rapid rate, and a player that repairs weapons.

This I believe is crucial. If there is no society in the game then
there can not be any lasting social interaction.
With this comes the necessity that (social) actions  must have im-
plications that last.

> 5) Quests that require members with unique skills, so that no
>      one player can accomplish all goals single-handedly.

Not just quests really. Gameplay in general should require groups.

> 6) Unique challenges like the Vampire mentioned in relation to
>     Legend? mud.  Such honours can build "image" of a player.

Though this is very difficult to achieve due to "power attrition"
you can see  in just about any mud.  As players demand,  and get,
ever more powerfull weapons  and equipment,  such challenges soon
lose their meaning.  As a way of society building  this is doubt-
full anyway, as it enforces the "king of the hill" approach where
you would want to stress a more egalitarian society.

I'm not sure if the problem of lack of empathy with other players
can be solved through  in-game solutions.  The real problem is in
the players not in the game. As long as people continue to ignore
the fact that there are real people with real feelings behind the
characters and that to others it may -not- be 'just a game' to be
attacked the problem of virtual sociopaths is going to exist.
Maybe the only solution is  to treat players like 4 year olds who
have  the same basic lack of social skills  (but then in reality,
not in a mud). Unfortunately this requires an impossible large a-
mount of time from the staff, to remind the players that they are
hurting other player's feelings, that they would not like it when
it was done to them, and to reward them if they behave like, well
I guess I should call it, mature human beings. In the process you
also have to put up with childish sulks, temper tantrums and acts
of revenge. Hmm. Maybe the four year old analogy is really not so
bad. It also coincides with Dr.Cat's observation that some of the
best society leaders on his mud  have a background in child care,
or nursery.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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