[MUD-Dev] In defense of "soloability" [was Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility]

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Wed Jun 5 11:00:30 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Amanda Walker writes:
> John Buehler <johnbue at msn.com> wrote:

>> If you're referring to interruptions and concentration in
>> text-based games, then we're back to the problem of
>> mutual-exclusion of socializing and any other game activity
>> (i.e. typing/mousing for everything).

> They aren't exclusive, though.  I (and most of the people I
> play/socialize with) simply use a separate mechanism for
> socializing.  Telephone conference call, Roger Wilco, a laptop
> running IRC or AIM, sometimes several at once.  OK, we're geeky,
> but we're not that unusual in doing this.

> The problem isn't that the game is exclusive, just that the
> keyboard is in many games, but this is easily worked around.

It's not easily worked around for me because I don't know anyone who
plays these games.  All the people that I play with, I've never met.
Many of them I don't know their real names and certainly I don't
have their phone numbers.  Multiplayer games facilitate online
socialization in a fantasy context.  The context gives us something
to socialize about.  Just as going to a hobby show gives hobbyist a
chance to engage in their hobby and socialize about it.  The game
itself must provide the means of clean and easy socialization.  The
keyboard and mouse are the means today and they just don't cut it.
We get into discussions of how to deal with downtime and its role on
socialization, etc.  I consider such discussions to be artifacts of
current game technology and not really that much about the inherent
structure of online socialization in game contexts.

Also, I consider voice to be a valuable element to make players
'real' to each other.  I'll theorize that this is far more likely to
produce real-world interactions between the players (i.e. outside of
the game).  They get a chance to get comfortable with the idea of
the player being real instead of a character that can type like a
real person.  Shoot, when video becomes possible, having video
teleconferencing for gameplay might be the norm.  Yes, this would
mean that we'd all have to look presentable in order to socialize.
What a concept.  For those who are playing while bedridden or
otherwise want to stay behind the veil of visual or audial
anonymity, that option could be retained.  Perhaps a low-resolution
picture (.e.g 30x30 pixels) could be sent in order to assure others
that the player is, in fact, real, and that their indicated
situation is real.

> Consider a player who's gaming environment isn't a single PC, it's
> a desk with 2-3 computers, a headset, and a fast Internet
> connection.

While I'm sure those people exist, I'm not interested in catering to
such a small group of players.  They're the most rabid, the most
intense players.  As my past posts have suggested, I'm far more
interested in catering to the masses - the theoretical 'casual
player'.  I figure the masses can deal with voice communication
while playing the games.


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