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

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Sun Oct 4 17:08:36 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

On Sat 03 Oct, apocalypse at pipeline.com wrote:

> >From Marian Griffith :
> >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.

> Im going to have to interject that I think this issue has been taken
> magna extremis. I cant believe that even a moderate size of the
> mud population is going to have any amount of psychological
> damage because they were "pk'ed" or they lost their "great
> shiny ring of happiness" in an online game.

Yes. I intentionally exaggerated things somewhat. However this should
not obscure the point I was trying to make.

First,  virtual sociopath on a mud is somebody who does not empathise
with the other players but is only interested in his own fun. This is
much the same as a schoolyard bully.
Second,  to the victim of the virtual sociopath the experience ranges
somewhere between unpleasant and traumatic.  Very few players will be
unmoved by it.  Very few players will be severely traumatised  by it,
but even one is too many as far as I am concerned.
Third, the effect is similar to that of a real sociopath in that real
negative emotions are invoked in the victim  for no other reason than
to entertain the virtual sociopath. The victim feels fear, worthless-
ness, helplessness and despair. While the depth of these emotions may
be less than  those invoked in a victim of a rl assault or rape, they
are still basically the same.  And yes,  I speak from personal exper-
Fourth, the virtual sociopath is not (or at least very rarely) a real
sociopath. A real sociopath is somebody with a pathological inability
to empathise with others. They do things because they can not feel it
is wrong.  Some of them do horrible things and they eventually end up
as serial killers. Most of them simply make bad husbands.
On muds the virtual sociopath is, like somebody pointed out elsewhere
in this thread, more like a four old child.  Not unable to empathise,
but unused to do so. Since a mud provides very few clues about that a
person is really behind the character, it is very simple to ignore it
and do whatever you like to other characters.  In children this unde-
sirable trait is removed through education (most of the time).  In an
online society much the same must happen.
The meaning of virtual sociapath is somebody without social skills in
a virtual environment.

> Raph Koster :

(this actually was not written by Raph but by Benjamin D. Wiechel)

> >> 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.
> Substance at last. Does anyone actually perform a psyche eval. on the
> oncoming "demon class" cruisers' crew in subspace before it blows
> your tiny ship to little bits? The topic of a model for better mud
> administration warrants study, wether it be hard-coded procedures and
> player commands, or human intervention.

I am not sure what you are trying to say by this.

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

> set_bit(player,no_pk); /*This player does not wish to attack, or be attacked
> by humans*/
> It could also encompas attacks by charmed mobs, and "flame channels"

Personally I think that since the underlying problem is a social one it
should be solved through social means.

> Marian Griffith:
> >1- A lot friendlier. (After all you can talk to people without having to
> >   assume they are out to kill you)

> I doubt it. Just because a person dosent have the option to kill another
> player in no way means friendlier. They can verbally, publicly (chat)
> privately(tell),physically(emote/social), and with charmed mobs,
> be VERY unfriendly. If the guy has a bad day, and wants to take it
> out on someone, just because he cant kill someone, dosent mean
> he is just going to sit there quietly wallowing in misery.

What really frightens me is that you seem to think it normal for some
player to take his bad mood out on others.

> >2- Much more realistic. (How many sociopaths have you met? And those who
> >   do have a tendency to die horribly, not enjoying the experience.)

> Uh, Jefferey Dahmer? Charles Manson?  They didnt kill everyone they met,
> only the ones who tasted good with fava beans :), or the ones who thought
> they were god. You, in your neighborhood, have, on the average, at least
> on such individual. And as far as meeting one, im quite sure, we have all
> met several, and never known it. The statistics are common among FBI
> profilers, and other organizations that track such patterns.

I suppose you know what you are talking about but there is meeting and
meeting.  Just because we have walked in the same street does not mean
I have met somebody.

> >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.

> Id say thats definately not on the mark. Even on the HUGE muds (150+ players
> at all times), they dont have this mass hysteria of killings, and by
> definition, as the populace increases so will the potential. All the player
> has to do (if its coded) is request that non-pk flag.

That really addresses not at all what I was saying. Benjamin asked what
a mud would be without people acting like sociopaths to spice things up
and I answered that the game would be playable for more people.

> Marian Griffith:
> >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.

> Again, just because they PK in no way means they are not social.
> Hungry wolves eat their own kind...does that mean they arent
> social? no..they are highly social.

Hungry wolves need a very good reason to attack their own. Not many PK
players do. From what I have seen the best reason they can come up is:
"because I felt like it.",  with "It is only a game." being a good se-

> And here is where my
> magna extremis argument comes to bear. I dont think a mud
> should try to or is able to, enable anyone to be more empatic
> than they are. Once the computer is shut off, and tommy goes
> back to school, and gets beat up by those nasty boys in gym, he
> is surely not going to do a psyche eval on them. He will probably
> go home, and vent his angst/tension on some alien invading race
> in one of his many escapes from reality (games).

Which is fine to me if it is a game.  I think he crosses a line if it
is other players he wants to beat up  in turn.  It may be understand-
able that he does but those other players are not on the game for his
convenience. They want to have a good time too. If that happens to be
fighting battles with other players then it is fine, but for those of
the players who have other interests something has to be done.

> Raph Koster:
(This too was written by Benjamin D. Wiechel, not by Raph Koster)

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

> Marian Griffith:
> >Not just quests really. Gameplay in general should require groups.

> Require groups? Isnt that a little bit far? what about late night
> when there are consistently 2-4 people on who cant log on during
> the "normal" crowded hours?

A game that requires groups to play may not be a general solution as
far as gameplay is concerned,  but it does help strengthening social
awareness in players.  If you need other players to play a game, you
are going to be a lot more interested in their well being.  Which is
the basis for all social skills.

> Ill agree that generic quests have flaws for high powered characters
> but I cant see mandatory grouping as the general rule.

It does if you want a (combat) game that promotes strong social ties
between the players.

> Marian Griffith :
> >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.

> Should a game, operative word game, try to solve someones RL problems?

I think not. You could perhaps have a try and establish an social en-
vironment that encourages desirable behaviour,  but even that is very
difficult.  I also think that something like this is inevitable for a
truly large scale game.  Bad (or rather: destructive)  players have a
disproportional effect on a game.

> Marian Griffith:
> >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.

> I doubt the  player ignores it, im sure they are counting on it.
> For what other reason, than to try to pawn off her bad feelings
> on someone else?
> Im sorry, but even mother nature kicks the baby bird out of the nest.
> Everyone sulks, everyone has temper outbursts, and everyone,
> even those 80 year old plinths of wisdom have either acted out
> or contemplated revenge (socially, or physically).

Yes, but does that make it right? desirable? acceptable?

> I thought the point of a game, was kind of like therapy. To escape,
> and deal with outside issues, by doing things that you cant do
> in everyday life. What about the healing process of releasing angst
> through gameplay? Humans have done that since the dawn of time.

Personally I play a game for entirely different reasons. I guess that
proves that  the more players you have  the more different things you
must allow, and the better you must ensure that those conflicting in-
terests do not adversely affect each other?

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

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list