[MUD-Dev] Fourteen forms of fun

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Thu Oct 25 11:17:55 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Matt Mihaly wrote:

> I'd suggest that the author is taking a bit of a shotgun approach
> here, rather than trying to truly divide them up into basic
> categories of entertainment. For instance, intellectual problem
> solving is a subset of "application of an ability".

What I found interesting is that is seemed to describe major
features of existing games that are directly addressed by design,
i.e. maybe mirroring the game design communities perception of the
available functions/genres. The breakdown could be better, but then
it would not reflect the mindset of the community?

> I don't have any insight into morefundamental categories. In terms
> of the shotgun approach though, I'd add 'hate' as a form of
> entertainment. I know many Americans who seem to really enjoy
> hating terrorists, right now, for example. (Hatred apparently IS a
> family value, despite claims to the contrary by bumper stickers.) 
> Ooh, and how about righteous indignation. It's fun to be indignant
> when you believe you're right.

Yes, you and others have pointed out several more, which was
interesting to see. Though yours are not really all that easy to
design for without breaking other sources for fun. Most emotions can
be "entertaining", but not necessarily fun, i.e. it feels "good" to
have a really good reason to feel sorry for oneself and that one
really do deserve much better (I am a martyr). "Don't cheer me up
yet, I am miserable and want to be left alone!" i.e. "My misery is
not my own fault, I am perfect really, but the world just don't
appreciate me yet. I hope they feel guilty, they really
should. Destiny will eventually teach them, and my values and
actions will shine because my intentions are so much better than

Hatred and mindless and useless REVENGE due to a primitive sense of
humiliation is an engaging activity, and in a sense entertaining,
but the outcome is seldom "fun" (unless you define yourself as
standing outside the system, i.e. killing ants). Maybe fun if you
belong to a group, and believe that you act on the behalf of a
group. Clearly applicable to MUDs. The spiral of righteous revenge
("my understanding of what this game is about is more real than
yours") can quickly dominate though. PK wars, non-PK people being
dragged into PK, then turned into anti-PK, thus the culture is
degraded to the premises of the quakestyle-PKs.  I can see your
point about terrorism, although there are other mechanisms than fun
there ( we never did anything wrong, it is everybody else that are
at fault / common enemy / stereotypical views of the outgroup
(racism etc) / overdoing retaliation spiral / crusade on behalf of
freedom (??) / defending world order (by defining a carpet-bombing
as a police operation) / the world is uniting against terrorism
feeling (the polls tell a different story) / justifying the
rich-poor split by dehumanization (poor afghans stay face and voice
less, except the rich Bin Laden who becomes the icon of evil, thus
the war is really fair ) / etc) Ok, I am not going to delve into
this issue, as my views are apparent and mostly irrelevant to this
forum, but the overarching situation is metaphorically interesting
in the context of MUDs on many levels.  How to create brotherhood
among different value systems? How to deal with different realities?
How to limit the spread of hatred-enjoying mentality so that it can
be "fun", i.e. how to build for constructive hatred, that is:
build-up of conflict, resolution, new positions, new enemies,
build-up of conflict, resolution etc. How do we create mechanisms
that produce win-win games that allow a heterogeneous system of

The ideal in a MUD might be that players agree that the world does
not apply to the level of Real, i.e. role-play, but that is seldom
achieved, because that only applies if all players play characters
that they really do not identify with (as representing their own
values, capabilities etc.) to any significant degree and that
explicit judgements of others are believed to be _fully_
disassociated from Real.  It is quite perplexing that (according to
my perception) many of those that participated in W.W.II physically
can understand the mentality that lead the individuals to join the
enemy, without hatred. I.e. they were not really agents of their own
beliefs and did not really stand by the judgement of the value of
the enemy as individuals, but were rather agents of a complex system
of influences (as they themselves were).  Though, those that did not
participate physically quite easily may sustain their hatred.  I
guess DAoC is trying to establish a system that enforce a
disassociation from the Real (by curbing communication etc.), but I
think this is still quite difficult to realize in practice, as pure
mechanics probably is not enough.

I also found it quite interesting that players on the AO boards
themselves state that players that enter a game early and experience
all the crap, will be much harder to satisfy once the game actually
matures.  I.e. they have been humiliated and will evaluate new
features with a negative attitude. I.e. "Ok, this is not quite what
I wanted, but probably the best they can ever come up with, but it
is still way too late and probably bug ridden, and they should have
been able to come up with something much better by now. I am still
waiting for my compensation for everything I've been through, I
can't see it happen, but I will give them another three months to
prove me wrong."

So, conclusively, I am not really sure if the explicit conflict/hate
is really all that successful as a source for fun. Now, a sense of
conflict is probably good (i.e. vibrations in the air, a sense of
high energy potential), but I'd rather see that come out as
cherishing own values and the somewhat more silent "looking with
disinterest on those others".  E.g. "broomsticks are so much better
than cars, let's build a city that can only be travelled by
broomsticks and that really demonstrates how much fun broomstick
riding is". Something like that.

Ola  -  http://folk.uio.no/olag/

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