[MUD-Dev] Cultural impact on Muds (was: Star Wars Galaxies)

Koster Koster
Wed Jan 1 17:59:28 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: Marian Griffith
> In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Wed 18 Dec,
> Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com wrote:
 
>>   (I don't even think half the UK population is mentally
>>   qualified to drive let alone wield a weapon that requires very
>>   little skill and but a moment of ill decision)
 
> You are remarkably mild about the general population, not only of
> the UK, but of every country.  Of course part of the problem here
> is the enormous amount of information you have to ignore to be
> basically ab- le to drive a car which means that you actually do
> so on autopilot, and that it is a miracle that so few accidents
> happen (considering it is virtually impossible for a human brain
> to work fast enough to deal with all the events and images that
> flash at it at the speed cars are working)

Nonsense. If anything, the human mind is capable of handling much
MORE than the traffic patterns of your typical European or American
city. Try a car ride through downtown Taipei or Lima sometime. The
human brain is very capable, more capable than we tend to give it
credit for these days.

On a somewhat related note, the amount of cynicism about people, and
hence about our players, that seems to seep into list postings by
veteran administrators is somewhat distressing. Like it or not, we
are social engineers, and we work with people. They are the warp and
weft of what we do. We should strive to be realistic about human
constraints and capabilities, but let's not be cynical, or it is
bound to undermine our craft as online world designers.

> Of course none of this has anything to do with muds, but it did
> make me think about how much of current game design is biased by
> the amer- ican world view.  I know from reading this list that
> Lineage actually has quite a different playing style than the
> typical usa mud.

Actually, no, it doesn't. The cultural barriers are relatively small
ones, and are ones that are fairly easily surmounted, IMHO. The core
game engine of Lineage is a hack n slash mud much like any
other. The mid to elder game, where it becomes driven by large-scale
king of the hill guild games, is unique and different, but not so
different that we cannot easily label it as "large scale king of the
hill guild games."

The primary differences between the US and the Korean game markets
are in how the players play, not in the game itself. Specifically,
the "bangs" or Net cafes/game rooms are the heart of the
difference. The fact that this difference is invisible to us
watching here from the States makes us want to label the game design
itself as (shades of Fu Manchu!) "inscrutable" since we cannot see
the appeal.

> I guess it is kind of difficult for an american to imagine life
> outside their own country, being so little exposed to it you kind
> of come to think that the whole world is exactly like the usa (and
> should be where it obviously is not (which incidentally is the
> mistake that Bush and his advisors are making).

The insularity of the average American to global politics and
realities is hard to understate, and is in many ways symptomatic of
the curiously selective reporting of the media (I say curiously,
because it appears rather inconsistent; perhaps the most
characteristic filter I have seen applied to the news is "does it
make a good story?" in the *narrative* sense of story.  And given
the narrative constraints of the news media market, that means
certain kinds of stories go unreported).

Applicability to game design? Currently the USA is a cultural
exporter, primarily, not importer. The center of innovation does
appear to be Japan as far as games go (overall, though in the
console market predominantly). In terms of purveying entertainment,
the USA currently doesn't to seem actually need to know that much
about the cultures it exports to.

> Compare e.g. a typical Holywood movie (just a small scale product
> to make the comparison more fair) to a typical French one, or even
> bet- ter an Indian movie. They really reflect an entirely
> different cultu- re. I wonder how this difference would apply to
> muds.  I do know that some game genres (like e.g. adventures) that
> do nothing in the usa are still quite popular in Europe.

Until such time as the thematic variance of the games is sufficient
to make cultural differences beyond the superficial even detectable,
I doubt there will be much reflection of culture. A hack n slash
leveling game is a hack n slash leveling game, mechanically, and we
have trouble enough rising beyond that to worry about whether
"Amelie" or "Moulin Rouge" or "Grease" is more quintessentially
American or European or Australian.

> Of course Sartre does not translate well to muds :)

  "Hell is other people..."

  "Objects should not touch because they are not alive. You use
  them, put them back in place, you live among them. They are useful
  nothing more."

  "People who live in society have learned to see themselves in
  mirrors as they appear to their friends."

  "Nothing seemed true; I felt surrounded by cardboard scenery which
  could quickly be removed."

  "I was just thinking . that here we sit, all of us, eating and
  drinking to preserve our precious existence and really there is
  nothing, nothing absolutely no reason for existing."

  "I am. I am. I exist, I think, therefore I am; I am because I
  think that I don't want to be, I think that I . because . ugh! I
  flee."

Sartre panics and flees to the north.

-Raph

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