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

John Bertoglio jb at pulsepoll.com
Wed Jul 12 16:46:08 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> S. Patrick Gallaty
> Sent: Wednesday, July 12, 2000 1:35 PM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Corruption of the game, profit and ethics
> Here's some food for thought.
> There are some who have mentioned that the game 'everquest' by Verdant
> 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.)

>From a business standpoint, these are gross design failures. Game design
aimed a long connect times for business reasons are an artifact of the
$20 per hour of connect time era.

> 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.

If the psychologist wants to do something useful, he/she should find ways
to convince users to continue monthly payments without ever connecting.
THIS might cross the line to being overly manipulative, however.

> 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?

They do by default. Anything that is pleasurable can trigger
compulsive/addictive behavior. The better the game (from the point of view
of meeting the players needs), the more likely it is to become addictive.
All a game designer has to do is NOT build in a lot of play value and the
game will be free of addictive qualities.

> 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.

If you advertise Twinkies (American junk food snack) as being low cal and
highly nutritious, you will run afoul of the government. You will also be
acting in an unethical manner.

If you do everything you can think of to make people want them and
advertise them as fun to eat nothing can or should be done about it.
There is nothing deceptive about making product fulfill its role in the

John A. Bertoglio
PulsePoll.com <http://www.pulsepoll.com/>
| 503.781.3563
| jb at pulsepoll.com

MUD-Dev mailing list
MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list