[MUD-Dev] Re: Black Snow Revisited

Jason Booth zombie.shakespeare at verizon.net
Tue Apr 2 11:24:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2002

On Monday, April 01, 2002 4:47 PM Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:

> One of the biggest problems in this has nothing to do with who
> owns what.  The problem is that selling game items for real money
> is definitely and demonstrably destructive to the game. It gives
> items to people who did not earn them, taking them away from
> people who did. Reward is no longer commensurate with effort. When
> you fight your way through the dragon to the chest and find that
> someone has been waiting there to take the sword before you can
> get it, you don't get what you earned and the other player does.
> It's even worse when that other player already had the sword
> anyway... and even WORSE when he goes out and sells it for $500 in
> real money. This is a Bad Thing.

I'm sorry, but you need to bring in evidence to back up this
assertion.  What you describe here is not a problem with the people
actively engaging in the extra-game sale of items acquired in game,
this is a problem with game design.  If you don't like the fact that
people can profit off merely camping and farming items in your game,
then maybe it's time to consider a different kind of design (which I
notice you touch on in your last paragraph).  These items, whether
you like it or not, were initially acquired in game, and thus were
"earned".  Now, what real money brings to the table is that you
suddenly have an extra-game motivation for actively pursuing means
of exploiting the game to make money; enter Black Snow.

Many analogies have been thrown about in this discussion; however, I
think the most apt analogy is that Black Snow is acting as a
counterfeiter with respect to the game worlds from which it is
profiting.  If the veracity of the ICQ logs and other evidence on
the web are to be believed, then Black Snow is systematically using
exploits to acquire property in these games which could not
otherwise have been gotten by a party who was not using exploits.
They are, in essence, using "illegal" means to acquire property in
these games.  Now, while I would agree that Black Snow's behavior in
these cases is detrimental to the games that it is profitting from,
I would not say that the activity of trading real money for virtual
property is, in itself, bad.  It is unfortunate that Black Snow has
become the poster child for this issue, but what it comes down to is
that the current EULA's for these games are merely security blankets
to protect the companies from being bitten by flaws in their own
game designs.

For me, this issue is simple: players have the right to trade
virtual property for real money, the game companies have the right
to ban whomever they wish.  It is my sincere hope that future games
in this genre will be designed to account for this new facet of
gameplay, rather than take the low road as the movie and record
industry have done and bring in the lawyers as a means of avoiding
improving the product being offered.

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