[MUD-Dev] [DGN] MUD developer's motives

Brandon J. Van Every vanevery at 3DProgrammer.com
Mon Apr 8 16:08:54 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Hello, I'm new to the list, and I had the pleasure of meeting some
of you at the GDC mud-dev dinner.  It appears that I wasn't kicked
off this list some years ago, it was another list that died perhaps
a few months later.  I can assure you I was kicked off the other
list for my creativity, not my manners.  :-)

I am curious why some of you are motivated to create MUDs, as
developers.  I'm not interested in why *players* play MUDs.
Personally I feel the divisions between pkers, power gamers,
socialites, role players, and builders is well trodden ground.  I've
had those discussions to death 8 years ago.  I'm more interested in
why some of you keep going as MUD developers, what drives you, what
continues to inspire you.

Before the mud-dev dinner I attended an IGDA roundtable, "Are
Massively-Multiplayer Games Blazing a New Trail for Humanity?"  I
was mildly surprised at the level of concern that certain vocal
people at the roundtable expressed, at catastrophic convergences
between real and virtual social protocols.  I pointed out that
social protocols are self-limiting by the real part of the equation:
if you offend someone enough in person, you'll get your teeth
knocked out.  I'm heavily on the side of gamer purism, I care very
little for what's happening on the virtual side of the social
equation.  In hearing a few people's strident concerns about the
social consequences of virtual action, and the "mantle of
responsibility" they felt this placed on developers, I quickly
became the champion of "the sky isn't falling" camp.  In fact, I
don't see evidence that much has changed over the past decade.  No
new trail for humanity is being blazed, hence no cause for alarm.
And even if it was, why react with alarm?

So why do these particular MUD developers stridently participate in
the imagined and projected social consequences of their actions?  Is
it a form of social activism, much like rock stars trying to save
the world?  Is it a fascination with systems of social engineering,
as opposed to fascination with systems of game mechanics?  Is it a
fear of losing control, and a mistaken belief that we can actually
do a lot to affect online social evolution?  I do not believe that
life gives you the control over it that you might like.  I accept a
certain loss of control in order to keep breathing.  Yet, where
these developers' comments led, I was wondering if they'd go so far
as to legislate online behavior.  I saw many parallels to debates
about sexual harassment in the workplace.

Bottom line: what are you trying to get done by building MUDs?

Cheers,                         www.3DProgrammer.com
Brandon Van Every               Seattle, WA

20% of the world is real.
80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.

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