[MUD-dev] Fun in Games

Koster Koster
Fri Apr 12 22:02:01 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: Jeff Freeman
> From: Koster, Raph <rkoster at soe.sony.com>
 
>> So the problem lies in "interactive." Let's presume that we
>> interact either with or through the medium of the computer. Both
>> seem to qualify as interactive entertainment; they basically boil
>> down to single participant or multi-participant activities.
 
> Traditionally, "interactive" means (only) that you interact *with*
> the entertainment (i.e. "software").  You click X and Y happens.
> You click A and B happens, and B won't happen unless you click A.

Yeah, but in the world of art crit, lit crit, theater, music, etc,
there's a generally accepted notion that says that the
viewer/reader/spectator/whatever is interacting to a degree with the
perpetrator of the artistic action. Some go so far as to call said
interaction a form of authorship (we're getting into artsy-fartsy
territory here)...

> With regard to MUDs, you are interacting *via* the entertainment
> (i.e. with other people, but via the MUD).  It's a different sort
> of thing, and it deserves distinction.

As I said, you interact either with or through the medium. In
single-player games, it's only with. In muds, it's both. I am not
sure you can ever do *only* through as you are bound to interact
with the medium as part of the act of communicating through it.

>   A) Interactive Entertainment.
 
>   B) MUDs, and whatever term we use to describe interacting via
>   some medium (i.e. MUDs).

> Two different things, though.

I think that's what the distinction between "individual" and the two
forms of "through" (collaborative and competitive" meant...
 
>>                     COLLABORATIVE   COMPETITIVE     INDIVIDUAL
 
>>     CONSTRUCTIVE    Running muds;   Commercial      Mud design
>>                     Socializer      mud operation

> Now here you just seem to be hedging your bets, sort of thing. "I
> have developed a theory, and tested it, and can find no flaws with
> it, but I am uncomfortable with its conclusions, and therefore
> shall draw a distinction between running a mud and running a
> commercial mud..."

Hurm. Well, I can certainly see a case for arranging things
differently.  It's a mental model more than anything else. I can
even see the same actions being taken by different people being
considered two separate spaces on the model. Do you run a mud in
part to do better at it than others? Do you do it in order to hang
out with your friends, build relationships? Same activity, different
boxes. The same phenomenon happens when people say they prefer a
cozier company than a competitive cutthroat atmosphere, yet both
workplaces might be doing the exact same thing.

> But maybe you just did things differently, and for different
> reasons, than I did.

I definitely think that intent of the participant is key here,
yes. ANY given example of a medium offers the opportunity to do ALL
of the things on the chart. And any given person may well do a mix
of them. It's all about how the individual approaches the work.

> Commercial mud design seems to me to be a very collaborative
> effort (from my perspective.  I mean, maybe things change when
> you're way up there on the totem pole),

Bwa ha ha. If anything, it gets more collaborative the higher you
go, I think. For example, you attend far fewer meetings than I
do. ;)

At some point I would like to do a second take on the
chart. Something where I fill out spaces sort of like this:

                    COLLABORATIVE   COMPETITIVE     INDIVIDUAL

    CONSTRUCTIVE    Community       Job             Hobby

    EXPERIENTIAL    Performance     Sport           Consumer

    DESTRUCTIVE     Teaching        Criticism       Analysis           
                                    
Then identify, like Will Wright did at GDC, keywords that go with
each of these broad categories, and do searches on the Net to see
how often keywords pop up for different interactive entertainment
products. Then graph the results. I suspect that we would see
interesting patterns in what interactive entertainment products
break out to wider markets, and which muds are more popular and
which fail, etc.

-Raph
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