[MUD-Dev] Ownership

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Thu Jun 13 04:53:40 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


On Wed, 12 Jun 2002, Damion Schubert wrote:

> I would disagree strongly with this.  It is much easier to elicit
> strong emotions from movies than from words.  Movies have full
> control over the experience, whereas a book can be put down.
> Movies flood your two most imaginative senses: sight and sound.
> Books require your brain to reverse engineer the words an author
> is written.  Books can describe things that cannot be put on film,
> but movies can use camera motion, filters, effects and whatnot to
> create visual sequences that would be nigh- impossible to recreate
> in all of their glory.

*Looks at his DVD remote and wonders if he's the only one that has
noticed the 'stop' button.* I can too stop a movie. I can and do
regularly walk out of movies in theaters as well.

If we're talking text vs. visuals, I've never had a more pure
emotional moment that was set off by media of some kind than from
poetry. That is, however, a personal preference. Movies and prose
are about equal for me, in terms of potential emotional reaction.

> The 'reverse engineering' part is the one that I would call the
> most attention to.  Simply put, there are a lot of people who are
> not good writers.  Not good writers often result in me reading a
> book and only absorbing the dialogue and other changing elements,
> as all of their backdrop is unconvincing and not worth absorbing
> in detail.  Not good writers, tragically, plague text MUDs with
> text descriptions that are repetitive, overly convoluted, or
> perhaps nonsensical.  A common problem for not good writers is
> that they don't understand what makes this medium unique.  (I am
> the first to grant that I likely fall into that category).

I'd say the same thing about movies though. There are a lot of
people who aren't good writers, directors, producers, actors,
cinematographers, and so on. Just because they generally have more
money doesn't make them more competent. I only have to point you at
any movie Will Smith has starred in, or any movie that Jerry
Bruckheimer directed (and in my opinion that includes Black Hawk
Down, which was worse than a porn movie. At least porn movies aren't
generally jingoistic.)

> Excellent writers, such as King and Lovecraft, can play on
> emotions very well.  But I've gotten a lot more nightmares from
> movies than from books.

Well, I don't think I'd call King or Lovecraft excellent, but that's
quibbling, as they're both talented writers. I will say that I'm the
opposite though. I remember being about 12 and being absolutely
petrified with fear after reading Amityville Horror (which my mom
had forbade me to check out from the library to begin with) and a
couple years later feeling the same thing reading King's ...damn it,
mind blank. The one with the alien monster/killer clown. Scared the
living daylights out of me.

I suspect it really does come down to personal preference, as I
don't think there's anything inherent about either medium that makes
one of them better at conveying the sort of experience we're
after. Consider that some people are heavily emotionally moved by
transcendent music, but unmoved by transcendent food, while others
(my dad for instance) are the opposite.

You know, bringing it back to games, someone (it might have been
you, Damion), mentioned that descriptions are so poorly written in
most text MUDs that it removes your ability to visualize the
world. But, speaking from personal experience (and over a decade of
spending a LOT of time in text worlds), I rarely even read the
descriptions. I THINK that all I want (haven't given it enough
thought) are signposts that can serve as anchors for my imagination
to build the world around. I don't really care if each room of the
Prelatorian Highway is described well. I just care that I feel as if
I'm on a highway, and my imagination does most of that for me. The
text MUD I played most heavily before starting Achaea had maybe 10
room descriptions I had ever read, and probably about the same
number of item descriptions. A couple words telling me what it is
(room title, for instance) is all I really need or care about.

--matt

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