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

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <>
Sun Jan 16 01:20:30 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

"Sellers, Michael" wrote:
> Can you explain what you mean here?  Do you think that MUD-players are
> ill-equipped to deal with conflict and conflict resolution?

Heh...  My understanding of Smith's paper is that there should be
mediators available/involved at an early stage, before the conflict is
apparent, in order to achieve good results...

What _I_ think is another issue.  I think the basic problem is that you
typically have a fixed structural situation, thus conflicts emerge which
might have been avoided if you allowed a more dynamic structure. IRC is
obviously a welcome example of a very simple system. It is my opinion
that we need to solve the problem of creating systems which have a
dynamic structure that evolves into something interesting in order to
reduce the probability of escalating conflicts. It is desirable that
users depend upon each other for social/cooperative reasons, but it is
also desirable that they themselves choose which subset of the
population they depend upon.

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

Yes, it is in "Communities in cyberspace".  The only chapter I found
interesting and relevant was the Smith one.  I think it is valuable even
if such writings rarely (almost never) provide anything that will
directly affect a design or implementation.  It is valuable because it
is a way to provide us with insights into potentially relevant fields,
and issues which have proved interesting in those fields.

[nice poem about building man, not only the building]

> 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.

But what do you do in order to get closer to that vision???

In the physical world we build exhaust heavens where people live close
to people they don't share anything with, except space, and whose music
they grow to hate. :)  Or look at the modern american cities where you
have endless suburbs, an endless chessboard of dull "no trespassing"
grounds.  Evolution doesn't make the world an interesting place for
humans, unless you make "personal growth" your selection criterion. 
Humans fail to go beyond their personal local perspective in their
decision making, and thus are largely incapable of changing their own
situation as a group.  The consequence is that capital and large scale
fashion ("democracy"/manipulation/marketing) becomes the "unifying"
force in the larger perspective. In the end, human development depends
on lonely idealist and their ability to generate interest in things that
matters. (Jesus etc).

The successful 4all worlds are no doubt primarily being developed by
larger teams paid by larger entities. They have the resources, but will
they ever get beyond building the limited vision which aims at
enthralling/satisfying the average customer? I don't think satisfaction
is enough for a personal growth vision that addresses recreational
spaces... So, maybe I am getting more sceptical about Farmer's "we are
facilitators" position. 

> 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.

> 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.

Isn't consumer polls comparable to voting? Is there a mental difference?
Do users want to vote if they primarily view themselves as customers? 
Democracy in consumer markets is, well, interesting: buy your dinner
first, then vote for fish or meat and see what the majority gets you.

I am not an expert, but I think people vote because they either view it
as a duty (social contract or whatever) or they vote to influence
decisions that really matters. Will designers allow users to make
definitive decisions on things that really matters, regardless of the
consequences? :)

I don't think the guild voting mechanism in Meridian59 was used all that
much, but I can't say for sure. I doubt it was used in well functioning
groups. Voting in that context is most useful for getting rid of a
person that has abused trust, but I wonder if a typical group will
survive that.  Still, the presence of a voting mechanism may of course
have an effect even if it is never used. Maybe we can find better
solutions to control in the virtual space given the fact that we fully
control the state space (the structure).

> learn from them.  (Besides, both the Plymouth Compact and the Frame of
> Government are pretty short and easy to read -- though there is voluminous

Anyone know if they are available online, project Gutenberg perhaps?


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