player politics (was RE: [MUD-Dev] An introduction...)

Sellers Sellers
Mon Jan 10 15:23:53 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Ola wrote:
> "Sellers, Michael" wrote:
> > paper has yet to be written.  There have been some good, if limited,
> > analyses of player politics on LambdaMOO and from a few MUDs that have
> > this, but (IMO) the implementation and/or prior state of the game has
> > gotten in the way.
> There's the Anna duval Smith bookchapter on conflict management (the
> link can be found in the library), which also provide
> references to conflict management litterature. I have yet to look up
> those though... (the conlifct management angle does, I think, suggest
> that the political game will fail, and that you will need a mediator)

Can you explain what you mean here?  Do you think that MUD-players are
ill-equipped to deal with conflict and conflict resolution?  

Anna Smith's chapter in Kollock (I think?) may be a good angle to take on at
least part of the politics/governance issue.  

> Maybe it just isn't sensible to make large 4all moneymaking 
> machines...
> If one care about the human personal growth perspective?

I hope not.  Here's a little poem I keep taped to my wall:

We are all blind until we see
That in the human plan
Nothing is worth the building
That does not build the man.

Why build these cities glorious
If man unbuilded goes.
In vain we build the world
Unless the builder also grows.
    -- Edwin Markham

(Where I take the builder to be the player, not the designer, and of course
you'll have to allow for the gender exclusivity of the language if that sort
of thing bugs you.)  

That's pretty much my philosophy, or my vision for where online worlds can
take us.  If it's all ultimately about more and different ways to hack
things up, then it's going to prove to be a mighty shallow pool indeed.  

> > My own research has led me right back to the basics: for example, the
> > creation of the Magna Carta, the Plymouth Compact, and Penn's Frame of
> > Government.
> Why? What? Explain?

Briefly, these documents stand out as crystalizations of times when people
came together under more or less onerous circumstances and decided how they
as a group would go forward in the most basic of ways.  The problem we have
in MUDs is that we have no context for how people may want to go forward in
less chaotic lumps than they're in now, and have given them precious few
tools for figuring this out themselves.  Looking at documents like those I
referenced has helped me abstract out what issues tend to be the ones that
get people most upset, and how other groups have chosen to deal with them in
the past.  Saying people will want to vote is important, for example, but
there are secondary aspects to this that should help prevent abuse, thrash,
burnout, and eventually people opting out altogether.  Real groups have had
to address these sorts of issues before, and I think it's helpful to try to
learn from them.  (Besides, both the Plymouth Compact and the Frame of
Government are pretty short and easy to read -- though there is voluminous
commentary on both.)  

Mike Sellers

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at

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