[MUD-Dev] Happy healthy players (was Blacksnow revisited)

Brandon J. Van Every vanevery at 3DProgrammer.com
Sat Apr 20 01:00:40 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


> But to say that spending 10 hrs a day writing a game is ok but 10
> hrs playing a game is not shows some sort of cultural bias on your
> part which isn't going to solve anything - just highlights a
> difference of opinion.

We shouldn't pretend the bias is mere cultural relativism.

One is about production and consumption.  The programmer provides
revenue to shareholders and value add to thousands of consumers, if
he's doing his job well.  Through his work he creates value and this
is what keeps the engine of economy going.  So clearly, in
industrial societies he's going to be valued more than a consumer.
The consumer is valuable only in that people would like to get his
money, he isn't inherently respected or appreciated for spending

The other is about physical health.  I don't know that working 50
hours a week in front of a computer is healthy, but people do it.
Personally, I try to avoid it as much as I can, but there's always
crunch time.  Now, if the consumer is working 6 hours a day at a job
that gives him good exercise, sleeps 8 hours, and plays computer
games 10 hours, I don't think people would look down on his
lifestyle so much.  They might say he's an antisocial nerd, but at
least he'd be vibrant and healthy.  But what's usually happening is
they're working 8 hours at a sedentary job, playing 10 hours on a
computer game, and sleeping 6 hours.  It's slothful and it does make
one unhealthy.  I've been through plenty of 1..2 week binges where
I've gone without a lot of food, rest, sunshine, or real world
interaction.  I've looked/felt like a heroin addict afterwards; a
bit of an exaggeration but certainly I felt dehydrated, weak, and
otherwise physically depleted.  Often I destroy the CD-ROM at the
end of 2 weeks so as to break the pattern.  To the degree that a
gameplayer becomes slothful and unhealthy, society looks down upon
him.  Is this a shock?

I do think we should encourage people to take better care of
themselves, even if those messages fall on deaf ears.  No harm in
trying.  One of my main concerns as a game designer is to make games
that people with real lives can finish, without getting sucked into
a black hole.  For instance, I'm writing a Civilization-style game
that I want people to finish in 5 hours instead of the typical 24.
Now, 5 hours is still a lot of time, but at least it's only the
waste of one evening after work.  I think we should cut all the low
quality repetitive boring levelling up stuff out of gaming.  It's
not interesting to experienced gamers and it encourages
dysfunctional life behaviors.

That BTW is as far as I'm going to go with "conscience."  If you're
going to play 3 of my 5 hour games at one sitting, I don't feel it's
my responsibility to stop you.  Dungeon Keeper II injected little
messages every so often that you were staying up way past your
bedtime.  I studiously ignored them, but they gave me a chuckle.
They were so true!  It would scream GO TO BED and I wouldn't.

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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