[MUD-dev] Fun in Games

Jasper McChesney jasperm at student.umass.edu
Tue Apr 30 17:14:08 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com wrote:

> I still don't see how you get people to care about the plight of
> the dwarfs however.

[...]

> Of course, maybe its not even a realistic goal, they are after all
> just npcs. Will rational people ever really care about them? When
> I watch Schindler's list, the people I sympathise with aren't the
> characters in the film, its the thousands who suffered in the real
> world.
 
> The fact that these games aren't reality is an important point.

I think that suggests that people can't sympathize with fictional
characters, which is certainly not true.  We tend not to look to
fiction for this kind of thing in modern literature, but take
Charles Dickens for instance: most everything he wrote was meant to
bring about just such feelings in his readership.

The characters in a game should, theoretically, be capable of
engendering such emotions as well, it's just a matter of knowing
how.  I think the key to it comes down to "immersion," which is
often referred to but not in this context exactly.  The reason you
would ever sympathize with someone in a movie or novel is because,
while not real, they seem *real enough*.  If you can make a game
world that is real enough seeming, people will care -- some people
at least:

There are always "hard-nosers" who *don't* care what happens to
characters on the screen or in print.  With those mediums though,
and single player games, the producers and writers of said works
simply lose a customer (or have one who simply doesn't care about
some aspect of their product).  With MMORPGs though, the consumer
becomes part of the product itself -- you're trying to sell
interaction in a sense -- and those people who don't "get it"
(i.e. don't role-play) harm the ability of others to get it.

It seems this gets us back to the old griefer issue.  There will
always be people who, out of no maliciousness, don't care to treat
online worlds as if they were real.  Unless you segregate them, they
harm the game for everyone else.

--
Jasper "Asmaul" McChesney 
jasperm at student.umass.edu / jasp.javanet at rcn.com

"War is the form nostalgia takes takes when men are
hard-pressed to say something good about their country."
			       -Don Delillo, White Noise
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