[MUD-Dev] Article: Constructive Politics in a MMORPGs (fwd)

Matthew Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Mon Jul 31 02:40:22 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

Hi. I forwarded this e-mail I was sent as the author has an interesting
take. (the article he's referring to is at:

"He that is wounded in the testicles, or have his penis cut off, shall not
enter into the congregation of the Lord." Deuteronomy 23:1

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2000 22:51:31 +0100
From: Brian Ewins <Brian.Ewins at gssec.bt.co.uk>
To: diablo at best.com
Subject: Article: Constructive Politics in a MMORPGs

	I just read your article on politics on Gamasutra. I was struck by how
similar the problem (of providing meaningful politics in a game) was to
a topic in computer security: that of capability-based security systems.

All political systems wind up with some group of people having powers
and responsibilities, and usually some hierarchy whereby they delegate
powers to minor officials, and eventually to peons like me.

In operating systems like EROS
(http://www.eros-os.org/essays/capintro.html) the delegation of power is
a central theme; instead of having a unix-like 'this process is mine, so
it can do everything I do', you delegate powers to processes, so they
can only have a subset of your rights; but other people may grant rights
to that program, and so on. In many ways, multiuser computer systems,
with root users, application admins, and grunt workers, are working in a
virtual world with a machine imposed political system. The idea of
capabilities is to provide as much flexibility as possible to how you
use that system while remaining secure.

Its only a small step to see these things (capabilities) as the core of
a model of other political systems: people can delegate them, hand them
over outright, fight over them, or whatever, and while you might label
someone with all capabilities "a king", and a group of people who vote
to delegate "a parliament", there is no need to explicitly model the
things labelled[1]. (just as you describe in your last paragraph)

I think this is more than just analogy, since capabilities are a
concrete computer model that can usefully be reused in this new context
(if only as a framework for describing what we mean by, say, a judicial
system[2]), but even if I'm just wittering, I thought it worth
mentioning anyways...


[1] You could argue that democracies need someone to check the voting,
but in practice we appoint ministers for various things (groups of
capabilities), who actually do the horsework. A parliament is there to
tell them what to do but as Nixon showed, they don't always do it...
[2] Off the top of my head: people delegate the power to indict, judge,
sentence, and punish to the state. The state then delegates these powers
to the police, juries, judges, and prisons - or Judge Dredd.

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