[MUD-Dev] Re: Black Snow Revisited

holding99 at mindspring.com holding99 at mindspring.com
Thu Apr 11 00:23:24 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


At 11:07 AM 4/10/2002 +0200, Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt wrote:

> I would be vary of making these kinds of general statements of
> what is in effect in the eye of the beholder. Remember what this
> all mounds to is weather it _may_ have any meaning at
> all. Equivalent to your train of thought i might say that if i
> bought a car, i could claim it was not the same car, as it was no
> longer in the context of the car salsemans lot, and the only way i
> could fully experience what i bought was to have it at his lot. It
> is all ofcause nonsense, with respect to the buyer. The only thing
> that matter is that it carries _a_ meaning.

Actually, I disagree with this for two reasons. Firstly, the
argument I was making was in originally in response to a comment
made along the lines of (and this is not an exact quote) "Basically
the only reason you own something that you write in MS Word is
because the EULA says you do." I really didn't mean this to become
some sort of philosophical statement about the nature of data in
games. I was merely trying to show an argument that could stand up
in a court of law about how a character in an online game is
different (IP-wise) from, say, a document created in Word.

Secondly, I would argue that it is not the existence of meaning that
is the question, but the specifics. I think it is rather obvious,
from the amount of time players spend working on their characters,
and from the amount of time players spend bitching about things that
they perceive as impeding this, that the players HAVE assigned their
characters meaning. The question is "would the players assign the
character the same meaning in a different context?" And I can (and
have) made an argument that the answer is "not necessarily". All it
takes is one counter-example to tie the character's meaning to the
context of the game. As for your car example, I think you miss my
point.  I may have not been clear.

My argument is, at it's most basic:

  1) Meaning is socially constructed, based upon context. (If you
  disagree with me here, I will _never_ be able to convince you of
  my argument, because of paradigm differences. Nor would I wish to
  try)

  2) Characters have meaning, which is socially constructed, based
  upon a context.

  3) Because context is specific to each game, the socially
  constructed meaning of the character is game specific.

  4) Because the socially constructed meaning of the character is
  game specific, the game and the character are basically
  intertwined.

  5) Because the game and the character are intertwined, the one who
  owns the game owns the character.

I am not sure I can be any clearer than that.

T.H. Cooke

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