[MUD-Dev] Expectations of in-game reality

Adam Martin ya_hoo_com at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 26 10:04:36 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ian Collyer" <i.collyer at ntlworld.com>
> Matt Mihaly wrote:
>> On Mon, 22 Oct 2001, Paul Schwanz wrote:

>>> On the other hand, these are prominent among my goals in a MUD.
>>> And I find that every time I am presented with a situation in a
>>> MUD that can only be explained or understood as a "game rule,"
>>> it is an unwelcome reminder that I am only playing a game.

>> Sure, having different goals for entertainment in different games
>> makes sense. How do you deal, psychologically, with the fact that
>> fire-breathing dragons exist? I mean, they are only explainable
>> as a game rule, unless you want to say "magic". Of course,
>> respawning mobs can be the result of "magic" too. I've never seen
>> a magic 'system' that didn't boil down to just arbitrariness.

>> So why are all of us (including myself) willing to accept
>> fire-breathing dragons more quickly than respawning mobs as
>> 'real' within the fiction of the world? Is it because
>> fire-breathing dragons have a long tradition of being an element
>> of 'fantasy' worlds?

> I think the difference between dragons and humgiis on the one
> hand, and respawning mobs on the other can be explained like
> this...

> Dragons and humgiis are extrapolations or juxtapositions of things
> we already accept as real:

>   - Physically dragons are not that different to dinosaurs or
>   large lizards with bat-like wings

>   - Dragons' fire-breathing is similar to the effects of a
>   flamethrower

>   - Humgiis eating elephants is an extension of snakes eating
>   large prey

> Suspension of disbelief for these and similar creatures is not
> that hard because it merely requires us to walk a bit further down
> already familiar paths.

> With mob-respawning however, we have no such experiences to
> combine or exaggerate.  I can't think of any examples outside of
> quantum physics for the spontaneous creation of matter from
> nothing, let alone complex intelligent lifeforms.

Or perhaps:

  Accepting that a massive fire-breathing flying creature might
  exist doesn't really impact our belief system for the
  world/universe. If you wanted to rationalize acceptance of
  dragons, you could claim that if some NASA probe found a planet
  where life had evolved differently and dragon-like creatures
  existed, you would be inclined to accept this (assuming we forget
  about the initial reactions to the first discovery of extra
  terrestrial complex lifeforms!).

On the other hand, in order to accept that respawning can happen,
you have to break a very fundamental rule of our existence: We all
die sooner or later, and when we do its final. Accepting a situation
in which that might not be true - whether or not its any more or
less believable than the above rationalization - requires a major
shift in you belief system.

>From what (fairly limited amount) I've read about psychology of
belief (and anyone who has a psych background please feel free to
correct me!), it is pretty much possible for most people to believe
anything, even as far as changing their belief from one opposite to
another, although it takes time and a lot of courage. The latter
because the process involves re-aligning everything else they
believe that is dependent upon the original thing. This re-aligning
is what makes things like believing that *any* creature can fly a
dangerous belief - the more you believe it, the less careful you'll
be when standing on balconies etc.

Of course, there is also the apparently well documented ability of
people to partition beliefs into little independent bits (I'm
guessing this might be how suspension of disbelief can be explained,
but I really have no idea) - so theoretically you could say we ought
to be able to belief anything when playing a game, but it seems to
me that the more a belief would jar your existing main belief
system, the more likely it is to break your suspension of disbelief
whilst playing.

Adam M
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