[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Fri Jan 21 22:36:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


On Fri, 21 Jan 2000, Jon A. Lambert wrote:

> Matthew Mihaly wrote:
> >
> >I'm currently writing an article for Gamasutra on this topic, more or
> >less. It's what I call "dynamic politics" (ie where players have real,
> >though not total, power over other players, and it is difficult for other
> >players to completely opt out of the system, or at least they lose
> >advantages they might otherwise have had by opting out). I don't advocate
> >having a single hierarchy though. I advocate multiple, competing
> >hierachies (basically like nations in the real world), because it's more
> >interesting and slightly less prone to the occassional abusive player
> >government.
> >
> 
> I've thought along those lines, but it doesn't resolve one of the common
> problems of administrating a space.  In particular, the multiple heirarchies
> approach doesn't address the problem of the complete expulsion of a 
> particular annoying user from that mud space.  The toading or banning 
> of a player completely from the mud.  I assume you reserve that power.
> I'm talking about giving that power over to the general user administrators
> as well.  

Ahh yes, I see what you mean. You're right. About the most extreme would
be effectively banning a player from the area under your jurisdiction
(say, a city, or, if you are on the Council of Oakstone, all the forests
on the continent) by causing the player to take regular, and significant
damage, whenever in that area (for instance, wolves and thorned vines will
attack you in the forest). 

I'm curious, how do you (or do you propose) choose the players? It sounds
to me like you are talking about some sort of populist democratic
system? (correct me if I'm wrong please.) What happens when they elect the
mud equivalent of hitler, and he decides that all Dwarves should be kicked
off. Or, worse yet, what happens if the player who is at the top of the
hierarchy decides hr is going to quit, and is going to go out with a bang? 

I think this really boils down to the old argument about democracy
vs. autocracy. Democracy, historically, produces less great leaders but
less really tyrannical leaders. On the strength of this, I decided that I
trust my judgement more than my players as a collective. Some of them may
have better judgement, but I firmly believe that as a whole, I am better
able to pick good administrators.

I suppose though that it's not completely a matter of gettting the best
administrators, but also of giving the playerbase a feeling of
empowerment. Hmm, very interesting idea I have to say. I'm not sure I'd be
willing to try it, but I'd love to see it done, particularly totally in
the absence of owner interference with the decisions of the
playerbase-chosen administration.


> >And thank god it doesn't eliminate those things! They are what make
> >politics in muds EXCITING. Heck, one thing we are always trying to do
> >(subtly of course) in Achaea is ensure that peace between the various
> >"nations" never breaks out for long, so we always sabotage any treaties
> >they make by suggesting things that we know at least one party to the
> >treaty will eventually find completely intolerable, and thus break the
> >treaty, leading to exciting conflict.
> 
> 
> Sure the many nations may address user enjoyment along the lines of high 
> drama and political intrigue, etc, etc.   I think competing administrative
> hierarchies will likely fall into the hands of those directly at odds with each
> other along the lines of good play, good behavior.  I'm thinking more along 
> the lines of a mud space as local club and the notions that they will come 
> to a common (fairly stable) code of conduct in whatever game they happen
> t be playing.  Obviously high political intrigue and exciting conflict do exist 
> "in game" within the framework of many owner-administrated mu*s.   
> Often the owner defines certain actions that will not be tolerated at all within 
> the space as detrimental to playerbase in general.   They could be along the 
> lines of profanity, harassment, cheating, killing, etc.   
> That's what I mean by user ownership.  They decide how they want to play, 
> and the penalties for not playing their way.  It's their collective ball and they 
> decide who can play and who can't.

Ahh, now this really gets into some interesting territory I think, but it
would have to be a little more complex than that. You are essentially
modeling a national democratic system, but with a citizenry far more at
odds with each other (probably) than in the western democracies. It's not
so easy as just letting them vote straight out though, and then vesting
all legislative/executive/judiciary power in one hierarchy, because you
will end up with tyranny of the majority. That method is also poor (and I
think this is a major failing of American-style democracy) because it does
not allow people to indicate HOW strongly they feel about something. What
if 40% of your players are rabidly pro-player-killing,  15% are rabidly
anti-player-killing, 5% who don't really care but if pressed will be
pro-player-killing because they are speciest and want to kill all
Dwarves, and 40% don't really care, but if pressed, will say
they are anti-player-killing, because their aunt got killed once (by a
Dwarf, no doubt) when she logged into a mud? (I'm not saying this is a
realistic breakdown of this particular issue)

So, let's define people who are rabidly either way as being people who
care enough to quit your mud if things go against them, while the ones
more towards the middle might get a bit disgruntled, but don't care enough
to stop playing.

Then, in this case, even though, when it came to a straight vote, the
anti-player-killers would win (assuming everyone votes, which may be close
or far from what actually happens, depending on how important the
electorate takes politics), the anti-player-killers would win, with 55% of
the vote. However, this does not accurately represent the way this
community thinks about things. In this case, the majority vote would cost
you 40% of your player-base, while had it swung the other day, only 15%
would have quit. This is an extreme situation of course, but the principle
is applicable. How to resolve this issue is not simple. Books have been
written on how to avoid Madison's probolem of majority tyranny. As
politically correct as it is to hate special interest groups in American
politics (sorry to be nation-specific, but it's what I'm most familiar
with), they do help to more accurately represent the true majority
_preference_ of the community. They essentially magnify the influence of
their members by organizing and collection donations, which are then used
to affect the electoral process. They effectively magnify the voice of
those who care enough to donate/participate in the special interest
groups, thus reflecting that those people care extra about those issues.

If you could set up some sort of system that could more accurately reflect
true majority sentiment, I think you'd be on your way, as far as the
playerbase passing such sweeping laws on itself, through elected
representatives. I don't have a solution, but I do think it'd be neat.

--matt




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