[MUD-Dev] RE:

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Wed Oct 31 23:20:49 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

On Sun 28 Oct, Koster, Raph wrote:

> Chat is mostly about sex. ;)

Well, not the chat channels that I (have) visit(ed), but then again
I might be a bit more discriminating than most :)

> Seriously, though, practically any form of entertainment is about
> sex and violence, if you want to look at basic building
> blocks. It's just they are contextualized into love, yearning,
> jealousy, pride, coming of age, patriotism, whatever.

I do not agree with you.  Not that you are wrong, exactly, but it is
just that your statement is too general.  I think we had this dis-
cussion here a while back, that there are only 3, or 9 or 17 stories
that can be told, and everything else is just a variation thereon.
Even if you want to argue that it is true, it is hardly relevant as
it lumps far too many things together. More accurate would be to say
that sex, and to a lesser extent violence (though you would not say
so from the movies hollywood produces), are the driving force of hu-
man behaviour.  Stories that are -only- about these things are very
shallow and rarely interesting.  (There is no need to come up with
statistics on porn movies at this point).  In general it is the con-
textualisation that -makes- the story, because it gives the underly-
ing forces meaning and direction, and these contexts are a far more
meaningful way to describe the entertainment, be it a movie, or a

> If you took out all the sex and all the violence, you wouldn't
> have very many movies, books, or TV shows.

Only if you take a very broad definition of those two categories.
Most people would argue that e.g. Sleepless in Seattle is not about
sex nor violence.

> While we're bemoaning the lack of maturity in the field, we need
> not to miuss the forest for the trees. It's not too much sex and
> violence that is the problem. It's that it's SHALLOW sex and
> violence. This is why we decry casual PKing, why we snicker at
> puerile tinysex logs. And why we get excited to hear of the
> possibility for meaningful PvP or get defensive about the
> "reality" of online relationships.

This is very true. The point is that most games are about violence
without (much) context. That does not mean there is no back story,
but there simply is no context.  The whole focus of the game is to
go out and "kill" things. Everything in sight, actually.  There is
no justification, no explanation, no clue why you should do this.
It is, in fact, worse than the worst horror B-movie, which does at
least justify showing nudity and violence with a very thin veneer of
reactionary morals.  In short, games have no story.  They are a
shooting range with the targets dressed up prettily. (I am not going
to discuss games that are focussed on sex.  Not out of prudishness,
but simply because I know of no games that has such a focus, so I
have nothing to com- pare with).

> If we want to go on a crusade to fix something, how about we fix
> the fact that your average cartoon does a better job at portraying
> the human condition than our games do?

The problem, as I see it, is that online games have no story to
tell. Therefor they can not offer context or meaning, only facades
They look impressive at first, but soon you start to notice there is
no substance behind it.  Perhaps Skotos is taking a small step in
the right direction by offering an elaborate stage, but no content,
other than that the storytellers are producing. Of course this
relies on story tellers (or in the absence thereof, on the players
entertaining themselves by dreaming up conflicts and romances). I
can see new artforms de- velop in a situation where being online is
a permanent activity, rather than an incidental one as it is now.
Then certain types of game will blur with the online landscape (I
hesitate to call it a virtual reality because it would be neither
virtual nor reality).  Then new blends of games, story telling and
movies may emerge so that people are not just passive observers, but
see the story un- fold around them in their online existence. Then
again we also may develop our online presence in an entirely
different direction.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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