[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Geoffrey A. MacDougall geoffrey at poptronik.com
Thu Feb 3 11:51:00 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


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Lovecraft wrote:
  
> Authoritarianism
> kills fun for the common man.

This may, at first, sound off topic, but bear with me...

The statement "Authoritarianism kills fun for the common man." is a
dangerous one.  People who have grown up in western democracies are often
want to associate freedom with the ability to choose.  The assumption is
that people can enjoy themselves more if they are free to pursue whatever it
is they want to do.  There exists, however, a very strong argument to the
contrary - i.e., people are only free when they are free from the burden of
choice.  Now, this statement may seem preposterous, but follow it through.
Who has more freedom - (a) a person who has to decide for themselves, at
every moment, and without a referential framework, what course of action is
best, or (b) a person who does not have to concern themselves with what is
right or wrong, and is able to pursue their own interests within a framework
that facilitates their decision making?  Who has more freedom, an assembly
line worker who always knows, without a doubt, what is expected of them at
every moment, or a plant manager who has to make decisions that could have
significant repercussions?  Who has more freedom, a person who is handed
their food at suppertime, or a person who has to decide what to make for
themselves?  Who has more free time to enjoy themselves?

(This is a different argument than the "freedom to" vs. "freedom from"
debate.  That one centers more upon civil rights - i.e., do I have the right
to be free from your influence, or free to act as I chose.)

Now the reason I believe this is relevant to MUD development is because it
provides a counter balance to the impulse to let the players assume control.
It is a very valid argument to say that the game belongs to the players, not
the designers, and therefore the decision making power should rest with the
former group.  At the same time, however, it is a game - or at least a
leisure time activity - and people come to MUDs to enjoy themselves.  And,
in accordance with the argument illustrated above, enjoyment does not
necessarily derive from the ability to do whatever you want.  A certain
amount of restriction can actually add to the fun, in that it frees the
players from having to decide if something is right or wrong before they do
it.  They can just act, without having to think about how to act.  As with
any system, however, I believe the best solution is one that accommodates
both desires.  Let those players who want control be allowed to choose, but
don't force it upon those players (I would argue the majority of players, at
least in a large-scale commercial MUD) who just want to play.

Cheers,

Geoffrey

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<TITLE>RE: [MUD-Dev] Community Relations</TITLE>
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<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Lovecraft wrote:</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&nbsp; </FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; Authoritarianism</FONT>
<BR><FONT SIZE=3D2>&gt; kills fun for the common man.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>This may, at first, sound off topic, but bear with =
me...</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>The statement &quot;Authoritarianism kills fun for =
the common man.&quot; is a dangerous one.&nbsp; People who have grown =
up in western democracies are often want to associate freedom with the =
ability to choose.&nbsp; The assumption is that people can enjoy =
themselves more if they are free to pursue whatever it is they want to =
do.&nbsp; There exists, however, a very strong argument to the contrary =
- i.e., people are only free when they are free from the burden of =
choice.&nbsp; Now, this statement may seem preposterous, but follow it =
through.&nbsp; Who has more freedom - (a) a person who has to decide =
for themselves, at every moment, and without a referential framework, =
what course of action is best, or (b) a person who does not have to =
concern themselves with what is right or wrong, and is able to pursue =
their own interests within a framework that facilitates their decision =
making?&nbsp; Who has more freedom, an assembly line worker who always =
knows, without a doubt, what is expected of them at every moment, or a =
plant manager who has to make decisions that could have significant =
repercussions?&nbsp; Who has more freedom, a person who is handed their =
food at suppertime, or a person who has to decide what to make for =
themselves?&nbsp; Who has more free time to enjoy =
themselves?</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>(This is a different argument than the &quot;freedom =
to&quot; vs. &quot;freedom from&quot; debate.&nbsp; That one centers =
more upon civil rights - i.e., do I have the right to be free from your =
influence, or free to act as I chose.)</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Now the reason I believe this is relevant to MUD =
development is because it provides a counter balance to the impulse to =
let the players assume control.&nbsp; It is a very valid argument to =
say that the game belongs to the players, not the designers, and =
therefore the decision making power should rest with the former =
group.&nbsp; At the same time, however, it is a game - or at least a =
leisure time activity - and people come to MUDs to enjoy =
themselves.&nbsp; And, in accordance with the argument illustrated =
above, enjoyment does not necessarily derive from the ability to do =
whatever you want.&nbsp; A certain amount of restriction can actually =
add to the fun, in that it frees the players from having to decide if =
something is right or wrong before they do it.&nbsp; They can just act, =
without having to think about how to act.&nbsp; As with any system, =
however, I believe the best solution is one that accommodates both =
desires.&nbsp; Let those players who want control be allowed to choose, =
but don't force it upon those players (I would argue the majority of =
players, at least in a large-scale commercial MUD) who just want to =
play.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Cheers,</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2>Geoffrey</FONT>
</P>

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