[MUD-Dev] UO rants

Matthew Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Tue Aug 22 23:10:16 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

On Tue, 22 Aug 2000, John Buehler wrote:

> > Matthew Mihaly
> > Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2000 1:29 AM

> In the real world we have all the processes and checks and balances of the
> real world - proof by obvious.  In a virtual world we don't have the same
> checks and balances.  Most obviously there is the fact that the player is
> not the character.  The moral judgement of a character is pretty weak given
> that its decisions are made by a player who is 'outside the law'.  This is
> why murdering thieves are so rampant in worlds that permit such an
> individual to be successful or thrive.

It's that combined with the fact that most games don't have any serious
permanent consequences that can damage the investment of time and/or money
that someone has put into his or her character.

> Because we lack the normal checks and balances of the real world, I believe
> that a strong justice system is needed.  Criminal acts MUST NOT be permitted
> to go unchecked.  In a virtual world, the worst crimes are those that annoy
> players and make them go away.  These are the ones that must be kept in
> check first.  And that is the basis of the moral system.  But what actions
> annoy players?  Hmmm.  Where to get a self-consistent and relatively complete
> set of rules on how to get a large population of people to get along most
> successfully?  How about Christianity?  How about Buddhism?  How about Islam?
> Very smart people have been refining the rules of life for countless
> generations, and those smart people frequently converge and agree that
> certain rules of life are natural and important to follow.

Why MUST NOT criminal acts go unchecked? I fail to see the reasoning for
this. I would alter your statement that the worst crimes are those that
annoy players and make them go away to read something like, "The worst
crimes are those that cause players to go away without causing a
corresponding increase in interest from other players."

Crimes are a good thing in the proper proportions. They generate strong
feelings among the player base, which is also a good thing for the sort of
game I am interested in running (ie I have no interest in designing to
limit how much time people want to stay in the world) and they are
interesting. The absence of some overbearing near-omnipotent justice
system can cause a game to feel more serious than one in which the players
are coddled and guaranteed a nearly hassle-free existence. 

There is also not, in my opinion, any way to deal with the following sort
of situation. Bob the Newbie deliberately and intentionally insults  Lord
Studly the Powerful. Lord Studly the Powerful, rightly, decides to put the
hurt on the newbie for it. This happens frequently and is, in my opinion,
completely justified (I certainly wouldn't punish one of my players for
it.) There's no way for the game itself to know that Lord Studly was
justified and to convene a player run jury every time someone gets killed
would be a laughable waste of time in Achaea, for instance, as it is a
frequent occurence.  

And in terms of using religion as a model for how to keep people from
killing each other...sheesh. The crusades, the inquisition, the
homophobia, the institutional racism, the jihads, etc etc. Not my idea of
a good model.

> Which rules of morality will you choose for your virtual world?  When you
> start at the basics and decide what behaviors you don't want in your world,
> you'll find yourself heading in one direction.  I'm convinced that I know
> what it is, but because many here believe in subjective morality, my
> stating my belief doesn't convince anyone of anything.

Well, I'd be open to hearing how you would solve the situation with Bob
the Newbie and Lord Studly the Powerful, given that in Achaea, insulting
someone is a good reason to die. When newbies complain to me about crap
like freedom of speech, I just point out that I expect people in Achaea to
be responsible for their own behavior, and that everything you do has
consequences, so if you don't feel you can deal with the consequences,
don't do the deed. There's no paternalistic all-powerful government police
force to go hide behind after you've intentionally pissed off someone

> If you're going to have a social fabric, it has to be coherent.  People
> have been working on coherent social fabrics (moral systems) for a long
> time.  Do you really think that you're going to do better after a few
> days, months or years of careful consideration?

Yes, I do. I'm quite certain of the fact that I have a better
understanding of community in the virtual world than every major religious
scholar in history. The same goes for most of this list. Anyway, I won't
be so petty as to bar people with testicular cancer from paradise.

"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

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