[MUD-Dev] FW: Skotos TTT#44: The Global Community

Christopher Allen ChristopherA at skotos.net
Wed Sep 12 21:02:22 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

The Global Community
from Trials, Triumphs & Trivialities #44
at http://www.skotos.net/articles/TTnT_44.shtml
by Shannon Appelcline

Discussion at:


September 11, 2001 - I was awakened at 7:45 this morning by a phone
call - a call alerting me to the tragic events that were unfolding
in New York City and Washington D.C. Hijacked passenger planes had
struck each of the World Trade Center towers, collapsing them.
Another had struck a section of the Pentagon that was, thankfully,
largely unoccupied.

For hours the footage unrolled: the one collision they got on tape;
the collapsing buildings; the smoke and ash and debris that
continued to billow over New York City half-a-day later. There was
shock, disbelief, sadness, and hopelessness...

... and then the recriminations began.

As I start writing this, it's about 3:35 in the afternoon and some
type of missile fire is going on in Kabul, Afghanistan. When you
read this article, you'll probably know whether the events in
Afghanistan are actually connected to the terrorist attacks on
America today, or whether they're totally unrelated.

But, right now, I have no idea what the true story is. The
newscasters, however, and the politicians, and the pundits, are
willing to make their own guesses. They're willing to claim that the
terrorist act might have been sponsored by Afghanistan, and some of
these people are even willing to laud the possibility that it might
be America attacking Afghanistan now.

By the time you read this column, you'll probably know whether there
was an actual attack on Afghanistan or whether it was part of their
ongoing civil war. You'll probably know whether the United States
initiated that attack or whether it was some other country in the
Middle East or elsewhere.

You'll know, and frankly it won't matter in the least.

To paraphrase what one of the wiser newscasters said today, our
attacking Afghanistan with so little evidence would make us as bad
as the terrorists who attacked America. And, to offer my own
extension: I believe that the same comparison applies to anyone who
thinks that violence for violence, vengeance for blood, is the right
answer to any problem.

It doesn't matter who perpetrated the terrorist attack on America
today or why. What really matters is how we react to it, and what
type of world we decide to build out of this terrible event.

The idea of seeking people to blame rather than seeking ways to fix
our problems just separates us from each other. It offers the
pretense that we human beings really are aliens to each other. And,
it's that separation - and the stereotyping and racism and bigotry
that goes with it - that makes events like the terrorist attack
today possible.

Building a Community

It's hard not to talk about what happened today; that's why I'm
writing now, rather than in two days like I normally would. But, I'm
writing here not because I want a political soap box, but rather
because this stuff is important to us: to me; to any Skotos
employee; to the StoryBuilders that I write to; and to the players
of our games alike. In certain ways what happened today is exactly
the type of thing that companies like Skotos Tech - and more
importantly the Internet as a whole - may some day be able to help

This company, you see, was founded on a pretty strong principle:
community. We want to build environments where people can come
together and communicate with each other in virtual worlds - forming
connections for which physical distances are irrelevant. We want to
build environments where people can create relationships which can
cross any type of political boundary, that some day will even span
beyond this planet.

You've seen it in our designs. It's why we based our first game,
Castle Marrach, upon a strong system of social interaction. It's why
we recently added a Welcome Room, where people from all of our games
can come together to interact with each other out-of-character, as
people, taking off their masks.

We want to create a community of equals. We want to give the members
of our community the ability to interact with each other in real and
important ways. And we want to make sure that we don't fragment that
community as it grows in size.

And, the events of days are exactly the reason why communities like
ours must exist, why they must be a part of the twenty-first

I've run mailing lists on the Internet for about a decade now, and
through them I've made a variety of acquaintances in places all over
the world. Many of them are in the United States, but others are in
Britain and Germany and Australia and elsewhere. These are people
who I chat with occasionally, and have every once in a while
actually met in person. They're people who I've written with and
LARPed with and drunk with and sung with. They're real people, not
just statistics in a World Almanac.

I know that most players of Castle Marrach and Galactic Emperor:
Succession and The Eternal City can relate to my experience. They
too have met real people through our games, people from their own
countries and from elsewhere in the world.

I strongly believe that by making these personal connections across
political boundaries, by forming twenty-first century communities
that ignore the old geographical maps, we're taking the first steps
toward what may well be required to save our race.

By seeing people from different cultures and different communities
as real human beings with their own trials and triumphs, we lose the
ability to stereotype them and hate them without reason, and we gain
instead the ability to love them unreservedly, to appreciate the
glowing ember of humanity that lives within each one of them. We
trade ignorance for knowledge, and with knowledge comes

The events of today highlight the terrible black monsters that live
within the human soul. The global communities that we're forming
hold out a possibility of hope for the future.

... And You

Do I come to work every day saying, "Boy, we're doing a great thing
here, forming global communities that cut across political
boundaries and bring understanding and enlightenment to the world"?

Um, no.

Most days I just think that we're creating neat games. But,
community is a frequent byword at the office, and on dark, dark days
like today I remember why that's a really good thing. I remember
that there's actually some slight possibility that we might be doing
a genuinely good thing here at Skotos. And, on days like today, I
become convinced that you, the players, are definitely doing a good
thing, by being the folks actually doing the hard work, and creating
relationships that ignore old boundaries.

I usually offer advice here, in this column, to StoryBuilders and
players alike, and that's what I'd like to end with today.

My advice for StoryBuilders is quite simple: Build games that
encourage community. Think about how the systems in your games will
either encourage or discourage people from coming together, and do
the former whenever you can.

And, my advice to players of Skotos games, or any online games for
that matter, is this: consider the raw power that you have at your
fingertips, the ability to actually reach out and touch people from
all over the world, of all cultures, religions, races, and

It might not seem like much to you, if you come to understand just
two or three people who live dramatically different lives from you.

But, if everyone in the world did the same - if the promise of a
global community was truly fulfilled - something like today would
never happen again.

And, I don't just mean the terrorist attacks, but also the
recriminations that followed, the threats of vengeance and the calls
for actions that are even now being parroted by newscasters,
politicians and pundits, that are criss-crossing the world at the
speed of light and poisoning the very global community that we hope
to create.

As a member of that global community you have the ability to
contribute to a different future; you can help to create a different

What's Your Opinion? (Jump to Forum)

-- Christopher Allen

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