[MUD-Dev] Death among Friends

Jon Morrow Jon at Morrow.net
Mon Jul 30 21:40:00 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


In my pursuit of the meaning of "fun," I stumbled across some
interesting memories from my lengthy stay on GemStone 3.  I recall
fighting in massive wars called invasions where hordes of powerful
creatures besieged our town, forcing everyone to form defensive
(sometimes attacking) groups.  As I was a low level, I knew the
chances of earning one of the treasures were slim.  In fact, I was
little more than a glory-seeking newbie about to be corpsified.  But
strangely enough, I was having fun.  Trying to avoid one of the
GM-run boss creatures had me pumping pure adrenaline, and eventually
meeting my ghastly fate with an extra neat death message was near
euphoria.  But why?

I'm sure part of was the challenge of staying alive, but I'm hunting
down a more elusive answer.  When I was fighting those monsters,
even hopelessly, I felt purposeful, important, and accepted into
"the group."  Instead of mindlessly decapitating the normal,
wretched creature, I was defending my beloved town and friends in
what little way I could from an overpowering force of nasties.  I
lined up beside newbie and legend alike, believing I was making a
crucial difference.  And when I died, not only was I dragged to
safety by a friend with the same purpose, but the healers treated me
with the same respect and care as the heroes bloodied and waiting
behind me.

In real life, all of my best memories also revolve around the
camaraderie amongst friends, meaningfully contributing to a cause,
or harnessing the courage to fight some injustice or wrong that is
unacceptable.

Is there something we can harness as designers here?  Social
interaction has long been a favorite topic of this list, but I've
not seen the idea of meaningful gaming.  I'm not talking about
teaching players the meaning of life or even stimulating them to
think.  I just remember experiencing something powerful, and I was,
to say the least, entertained.

Has anyone else given thought to creating entertainment that goes
beyond simple advancement?  I've heard and read about similar
touching events on other games, but I would like to find out if
anyone has purposefully or accidentally capitalized on the feelings
of belonging, importance, and purposeful interaction with game
elements.

Regards,

Jon

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