[MUD-Dev] Admins as Mortals twist

J C Lawrence claw at cp.net
Wed Nov 24 18:33:30 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


On Tue, 23 Nov 1999 23:20:23 -0600 
Koster, Raph <rkoster at origin.ea.com> wrote:

>> From: J C Lawrence

>> In other words your heirarchies are now informal instead of
>> explicitly stated by the structures of your game or admin
>> structures.  This doesn't change the fact or the nature of the
>> heirarchies at all, just the methods for determining position.

> Basic human psychology and anthropology.

Well, yes.

>>> Nearly every mud I have wizzed on has had some problem of this
>>> sort, and I'm sure this idea would have some problems, but I
>>> just thought of it now and perhaps you all can add to it to make
>>> it better)

>> My assertion is that the only real approach is to make the
>> administration both invisible undetectable within the game world,
>> and generally contactable only in the abstract outside of the
>> game.

> I have a counter-assertion, which is that you need to humanize
> your admins as much as possible. 

Which actually doesn't contradict the above.  Sorta.  Okay, it
doesn't contradict my intent.  

Asides from the fact that you are not directly connected to UOL any
more, your relation to UOL in the basic player's view was abstract.
You were rarely/never in the actual game in a manner that players
could detect or see (the two being different as one implies
awareness of activities).  As such you maintained an abstract
relevance to the game -- and in many ways effectively acted as an
effective grounding rod _because_ you were comparitively abstract.

Hazeii of old Shades fame did his best work in the back rooms at Pip
Caudry's house or over beer at thr Crown in East Grinstead.  The
times he actually appeared in the game and *did* things were
generally disasterous from player perspectives.  (Not to drudge up
all the dinosaurs) Lorry has alluded to the same mechanic in some of
his articles.

> When admins screw up (which they will) and when they get corrupt
> (which they will) and when they abuse power (which they will)
> players tend to be more forgiving of actual people than of a
> faceless bureaucracy.

Okay.  Here's the difference.  Its not, and should never be:

  "I saw Bubba the Admin do XXX!"

or 

  "Boffo the Admin is a slimeball because he had tinysex with
Bernadette and then pumped up her cahracter!"  (I've been listening
to entirely too much Tom Leher)

The admins can and should be visibly human as you say, just not
individually identifiable within the game world.  cf Habitat and
Chip's comments on the same area especially in regard to his
"ghosting".

  "Hi, I'm Bubba and I kinda screwed up in handling the XXX
situation.  It wasn't pretty.  So, what we're going to do is YYY
which sould have the effect of ZZZ and so forth.  We hope to get
these new changes rolled in over the next two days."

Notice the handling of plurality.  "I screwed up."  "We hope to get
these new changes rolled in..."  Bubba is human, has a tone of voice
and character, and admits and discusses faults in constructive
fashions.  However Bubba is entirely a backward-looking
presentation.  The admin group as a unit is responsible for all
forward actions.

> It's human nature to distrust authority. It's extra-obvious to
> distrust authority that has godlike powers over your life. If said
> authority is in a uniform and has no fixed name and is (worst of
> all) just an email address out there in the beyond, the worst will
> be assumed about them.

Man is prone to witch hunts.  Further, it is easy to define any
difference as the sign of a witch and thereby justify a hunt or
pogrom.  The differences don't have to be real.

> This does NOT preclude professional distance between admins and
> players, to my mind.

<nod>

> Why does this matter?

> Because, frankly, it's a manipulation tactic. 

I see more than 90% of a good admin's time as spent in politiking
their players, directly (as that human) or indirectly thru
manipulation of the world or characters.

> Machiavellian, I know.

Well, of course.  cf Law and the making of sausages.

> Even more Machiavellian (and I used to do this on Legend btw) is
> to outright inform the players (or lesser immorts) that you are
> manipulating them in this and other fashions. :) It turned some of
> my imms into better imms and managers and some of my players into
> better community standard-bearers.

Not that I've ever done that with MUD-Dev mind you.

--
J C Lawrence                              Internet: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                            Internet: coder at kanga.nu
...Honorary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...


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