[MUD-Dev] an essay on PK

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Mon Sep 20 13:09:34 New Zealand Standard Time 1999


>Matthew Mihaly said:
>On Fri, 17 Sep 1999, J C Lawrence wrote:
>
><excerpt from The Tao of the Hunt cut out that talks about the stupidity
>of applying your real life morals to a mud>
>
>DAMN RIGHT. People play muds modeled after (admittedly very fictionalized)
>medieval/fantasy/classical worlds, where quick and violent death is a fact
>of life, where slavery is ok, where rape and infanticide are ok, and yet
>bitch and moan if their petty rl morals are offended, as if your morality
>irl is somehow more "right" than that which the gaming world is modeled
>on. 


To the extent that this conflicts with "reasonable expectations" this is true.  
Many muds are poorly documented as to what one might expect initially.  
You are presented with a character login prompt and perhaps exhorted to 
read a list of help files.  Nine times out of ten the help files merely describe 
the mechanics and theme.  
The most common example is the use of strong language.  There are many
users who don't care to play games with excessive foul language.  Is it 
"reasonable expectations" to log into a WOT role-playing Mud and be barraged 
with "F**K YOU"s and "S**K MY D***", when you had every reason to believe 
you wouldn't be encountering anything stronger than "BLOOD AND ASHES" 
instead?    
You are right, in the sense that one shouldn't continue to PLAY a mud that
one finds offensive.  Sure one can post or send the admins opinions 
of their game, but then it's in their best interest just to quit and find another 
game.  That's why I've always believed it was good policy for a Mud to state 
these things up front before the user goes through the trouble of generating 
a character.  
If your policy is to allow strong language, rape, infanticide, blood, guts, sex, 
slavery, drugs and gore tell the user up front.  Make them acknowledge the 
policy by typing "YES" and redisplaying it until they do.  The original Sojourn 
disclaimer was excellent in this regard, conceptually that is (although quite 
a bit too legalistic and wordy).  Don't assume the user is familiar with your 
theme or has accessed the mud via your web page.  

My own game will contain mature subject matter and may well be offensive 
to some in many ways, but the warnings will be up front.  Why?  Well it saves 
both me and the user a lot of unnecessary time and grief.  

That said, here's a hypothetical:
Suppose one creates a mud game set in Germany during WWII.  We'll called 
it Holocaust.  Players are expected to play death camp guards and SS 
operatives.  The objectives of the game are to hunt down Jews, Gypsies and 
other undesirables and to exterminate them for levels and experience points.   
And they have paid especial attention to historical accuracy and realism.  And 
they have all the proper disclaimers and parental warnings up front and readily 
displayable.  Couldn't happen?  Well I know such single-player video games 
exist.

Now should someone bring such a game online, I think it is quite likely to
for them to expect their ISP to be harassed, their game to be subject to 
hacking attempts, denial of service attacks, attacked by reviewers in print,
etc..  The cries of "it's only a game" and "free speech" will be unheard and 
drowned by both legal and illegal attacks by those who find it offensive. 
The administrators may even be subject to IRL death threats and attacks.

In the US, the government is not likely to crack down of your freedom 
of speech and this sort of game may well stand up to any sort of "legal" 
challenge.  However, an administrator who is under the illusion that 
"legalities" form a barrier of protection against a man from picking up 
a rock and using it for the flimsiest of moral reasons is quite naive.  
Whether one believes those offended to be unenlightened, petty, ignorant,
or wrong is largely irrelevant. 

Admittedly that's an extreme example, and I only intend it for illustrative
purposes of where "it's only a game" comes into conflict "real life morals" 
in rather negative and peculiar ways.  Personally I wouldn't play such a 
game, and wouldn't think much of the people who ran it or played it.

--
J. Lambert




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