[MUD-Dev] RE:

Lee Sheldon linearno at gte.net
Sat Nov 3 10:04:48 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Andrieu

> I think the first step is even acknowledging that you want to
> create emotionally engaging entertainment.

Agreed.  Some may argue that games are intensely involving on an
emotional level already.  However, if we want to involve emotions
higher than an adrenaline rush, we need to reach the human spirit,
not just endocrine glands.

> IMO, far too many of the games out there--MUD or
> otherwise--implicitly adopt the adolescent male as the target
> audience and follow with the conclusion that shallow sex and
> violence are required.

This is hardly surprising, given that many of those making the games
are like me adolescent males at least somewhere inside, even if our
outward appearance adds a few years.  It is from the child in each
of us that imagination springs.  It is the child in each of us who
plays.  What baffles me though is why this industry, out of all
media I can think of, seems incapable of recognizing what the
adolescent creators in other media have known a long, long time.  If
you want your voice heard by the largest audience, you can't just
speak to the choir.  We need to create games that aren't simply the
games we want to play, but are the result of us trying to define and
meet the tastes of others as well.

> The Sims has already shown that you can be a bit more creative and
> reach a HUGE audience. I think you'll find more of this as the
> basis for interactive products as gaming moves to more mainstream
> customers.

This may be needless semantics, but I think we need to be careful
when comparing The Sims to games.  To me the Sims is a toy, not a
game.  I suspect there is an important distinction between playing
with a toy and creating stories and games based on the toy, and
playing a game designed as a play experience.  I'm not putting The
Sims down.  Toys can be immensely entertaining, but they aren't
games, and to me The Sims Online is as different as you can get from
Dark Age of Camelot.  The use of the verb "to play" seems to get us
in a lot of trouble here.  Toys you play -with-, games you play.

> With that shift, I think we'll also see a greater focus on mature
> treatment of the fundamentals--as you say, sex & violence
> contextualized into love, yearning, jealousy, pride, coming of
> age, patriotism, whatever.

Well, from your lips...  But I see no sign of any greater focus on
"mature treatment of the fundamentals..."  On the contrary my
experience in recent months has only convinced me more and more that
fear and ignorance rules.  Fear of what a mass market might actually
need, and ignorance of how to achieve it.  I can quote posts from
this list and others containing laws that are apparently set in
stone and carried down from the mount, and therefore go largely
unchallenged.  "PvP done right is the answer to the higher end
game."  "Content is too hard and time-consuming."  "Writing is
easy."  This nonsense is chanted over and over again by newcomers
(as revelation) and old timers (as dogma).  Millions of dollars are
spent in worship of these laws to produce products that speak only
to the choir.  And the choir is not the congregation, folks.  It's a
subset.  A finite subset.  And we fight over that subset like
children over a... toy?

> The question is how do you do that? What are the building blocks
> in the interactive realm for more sophisticated engagement?
> Violence and Sex are easy. Yearning? Jealousy? Pride? What do I
> click on for that?

There's nothing wrong with sex and violence!  What's wrong is if
that's all there is.  Nobody is going to buy a game about pride and
yearning.  We are the human -animal- after all.  But there's no
reason any higher emotion can't be part of the same mix.  We just
never reach anything higher, because no one knows it's up there, or
if we do, we don't appear to know how to grab for it.  To a large
extent I don't think many -want- to know.


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