[MUD-Dev] RE: Death of a game addict

Luke Parrish luke at rocketship.com
Mon Apr 15 17:00:26 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


> From: "David Kennerly" <kallisti at tahoesnow.com> 

> Suicide and addiction trouble every sympathetic reader.  I wish
> journalism didn't exploit our soft spots.  It was a sad story.
> Many of us know sad situations first hand, which have nothing to
> do with MMORPGs.  Thank you, journalist, for exploiting our
> hearts.

<snip>

> This seems plausible, even if an unintended side-effect of
> maximizing profit.  Many products do this, including potato chips.
> Mass profit-driven developers make the MMORPG as addictive as it
> can be.  Those that don't will never become as large as EverQuest
> or the others.  The business model relies on customers' recurring
> usage.  In the largest MMORPGs (or other games) there is no
> margin.  Whether or not anyone understands what he is doing,
> profit feedback eliminates unaddictive features.  Likewise, profit
> feedback eliminates unaddictive memes from news articles.

So, the point you are making is that the journalist is doing the
same thing by playing on our emotions as EverQuest is doing by
creating an addictive game, and for the same reason: to maximize
profit. You may want to bear in mind that, whilst the journalist
isn't any better than the MMORPG makers (from a moral standpoint),
it also isn't any worse and if you want to gripe about the one, the
same gripe applies to the other.

Whenever there's a natural resource in nature that isn't being used,
or hermetically sealed, some life-form will move in and exploit
it. The same applies to memes and human emotions / money. If money
(or other forms of power) can be made from exploiting a human
emotion (be it sympathy, loneliness, or blood-lust), some entity
will (given opportunity) move in and exploit it.

If you don't want your emotions used as a pathway to your wallet,
your political views, and your time, you'll have to cease from
indulging those emotions so much.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the journalist is actually
addicted to getting people to read and be affected by his/her
stories, and the game companies to selling games. (Or a less
profit-driven developer to having people "live" in his/her virtual
world.) It's all about control.

The whole point of any addictive game is for the player to start out
with little control and slowly gain control over the program. So it
is with people addicted to real-life power.

It's ironic that our addiction to power is what gives others power
over us. (Money = power. Our addiction to money is a manifestation
of our addiction to power. Thus, the love of money is the root of
all kinds of evil.) It's not that having power is bad, it's being
addicted to it that is harmful. And once you have it, it's hard not
to get addicted to it.

Luke

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