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

Koster Koster
Fri Apr 12 19:26:29 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: Dave Rickey
> From: Brandon J. Van Every <vanevery at 3DProgrammer.com>
 
>> Bottom line: what are you trying to get done by building MUDs?
 
> Create a form of Utopia.  Do God one better.  Yes, that's a very
> hubristic thing to say, and in the short term (say, the duration
> of my lifetime) I don't actually expect to succeed, but that's the
> target.

Wow. I don't have goals anywhere near quite as lofty. Why do I make
muds?

Well, because they happen to engage a particular range of talents
and interests of mine. They're multidisciplinary, fairly unexplored
conceptually, and rather complex. I like working in them because
they hit on almost every area I enjoy working in or thinking about
in life--writing, reading, programming, fiction, social sciences,
artificial life, ethics, art, user interface, narrative, public
speech, leadership, teaching, research, and perhaps most critically,
pattern analysis (across a wide range of disciplines). Some of these
are things I am fairly good at. I am fascinated by watching these
communities form. If online worlds had more music in them, I'd be
hard pressed to name something else I'd need to feel intellectually
satisfied. I have been unwittingly training to make online worlds
for my entire life.

I am not in muds because I want to create utopias. I am not in muds
because I want to feel like God. I am not in muds because I want to
make money.  These are all side effects. Most specifically, I'm glad
that the money thing is there, neutral on the whole playing God
thing, and downright frightened by the utopias aspect. I don't feel
qualified to make utopias.

I talk about, and worry about, and write (some might say whine)
about the social issues and the social responsibility, yes. Then
again, I feel responsible whenever there's a gathering of people and
I have some control over what happens to them and what they
experience. It doesn't matter if it's at a party at my house or in a
text mud or if they're paying subscribers to some game I was
involved with. I don't see that as being a mud-specific issue.

It makes me terribly depressed--and frankly, ANGRY with myself--to
think that I might have contributed to thousands of people getting
pissed off or feeling hurt or getting lonely or losing their jobs or
learning to beat up on someone. I feel that way whether it is real
or virtual. As it happens, I don't have that sort of power in real
life. But I do in the virtual world.  And as it happens, guess what,
those feelings happen in real life BECAUSE of the virtual. So I
guess I have that power after all. Ugh.

If I am going to noodle about with this medium simply because I
think it's a nifty keen toy, the LEAST I do is make sure I don't
hurt anyone else in the process. Even better, I can take this nifty
keen toy very very very seriously and assume that it is a powerful
tool for good or evil. And try to make it a tool for good.

It's Pascal's wager. If it's all just a game, then I was just a
crackpot all along. But if it's not... There are only two
responsible ways to behave with such a tool. Either step away from
it altogether, and let someone qualified take it up; or take it up
and be as qualified as you can.

I was one of those strident people at that roundtable. I'll sign up
for "strident," sure. Put me in that column. If I'm wrong, it won't
matter. If I am right, then I'mprobably not doing nearly enough.

-Raph

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