[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #303 - 17 msgs

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Tue Apr 3 17:08:42 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Jonathan Baron writes:

> I don't believe that either Raph or myself addressed the matter of
> how much departure you needed in single player games versus online
> games.  It's painfully obvious that you have to work harder to
> achieve engagement in a stand-alone game because you must allow the
> player to escape from the also painfully obvious fact that he/she is
> alone in a room.

I don't think that the single player experience really involves an
awareness of the fact that the player is alone.  That's a
multiplayer-centric view and isn't consistent with what players of
single player games are after.  They are after some mental stimulation
by themselves.  One of the very nice things about single player games
is that there is no need to consider other people.  You play as long
as you care to and stop when you want to.

> Let's get under what you're saying.  What's behind the search for
> conformity?  The need to belong.  Even more than our off-putting
> game worlds is our frequent failure to understand our medium's power
> to deliver that.  Instead we offer trials of torture, humiliation
> or, at the very least, confusion as our unintended rites of passage
> prior to giving players even the slightest opportunity to belong.
> Other, earlier games (e.g. Multiplayer EGA Battletech on GEnie) did
> a much better job of that.  This failure, as much if not more than
> our strange game worlds, turns a larger audience away.  What we can
> do, that a chat room can't, is to accelerate the development of
> enduring, complex bonds among people.

A virtual world simply gives a context for more complex interactions.
Note that the telephone involves a transient interaction that can
easily be resumed at a later time.  A chat room has the same
characteristic.  The fact that more complex interactions can be
achieved in virtual worlds is a knife with two edges.  Complex
interactions are more intense, but they are also more fragile.  My
'house of cards' analogy.  A chat room's interaction environment is
always the same, apart from what the participants bring to it.  A
virtual world adds a whole range of stuff to the interaction
environment, and this means that the participants are subject to what
the interaction environment provides to a far greater degree.

> The right fantasy, with kinder social development mechanics, and
> managed conflict that's more engaging to the larger world could
> become the most important consequence of the wired home.

Lord, I hope not.  I would hope that a non-fantasy environment would
be the most important consequence of the wired home.  The more
escapism available, the less we invest of ourselves in the real world
to make it better.  Why bother when I can always 'escape' into a
virtual world more to my liking?  I don't have to deal with reality.


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