[MUD-Dev] Corruption of the game, profit and ethics

S. Patrick Gallaty choke at sirius.com
Wed Jul 12 13:34:46 New Zealand Standard Time 2000


Here's some food for thought.

There are some who have mentioned that the game 'everquest' by Verant
studios manipulates players into compulsive gaming with a number of
situations that essentially force them to spend long periods of time online
at once (items which can only be obtained via 8+ hours long sessions), to
penalize them for not 'keeping up' with their gaming group (exaggerated exp
penalties for grouping with higher level players, etc.) and various elements
which cause 'time wasting' situations to occur - such as long travel times,
long corpse retrieval times (due to one way entrance area design and so
forth.)

It's been mentioned that verant/989 studios has a psychologist on staff,
though I can't find the citation for this now.  I am not concerned pointedly
with Everquest, but rather the influence that profit will have on our
(speaking as game designers and virtual social engineers) purity of design.

The questions I ask are :

1) Would it be unethical for a game company to engineer an online game to
exploit compulsive/addictive personalities?  If yes, then is it a matter of
degree?

2) How is this differentiated from subliminal ads (1-frame, backwards
masking) or other deliberately obfuscated influence mechanisms designed to
alter or influence a buyer's decisions?  Note that other such influence
systems have been outlawed and banished as hurtful and manipulative.











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