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

Amanda Walker amanda at alfar.com
Mon Jan 6 18:34:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


On Friday, January 3, 2003, at 07:13  AM, Dubious Advocate wrote:

> Hear hear, and oyez! It has been depressing to me to see more
> developers & publishers becoming more cyncial.

This is a natural consequence of commercial development and publishing. 

Unhappy customers are much more visible to a publisher than happy,
contented ones.  Very few customers write or call to say "this is
great--thank you for making this product!" (and when they do, it's a
really great feeling).  Most of the customers you hear from are
people having problems.  This leads to an effect very familiar to
anyone who has dealt with the public in any capacity on any lengthy
basis (whether as a phone support person, cop, retail clerk,
whatever): you are forced to conclude, from the evidence in front of
you, that people are idiots.

Now, this is not in fact true.  The truth is that if you look at an
unedited sample of feedback, it will be strongly biased towards
people who have a problem with what you are doing.  Most of your
feedback will be bug reports, feature requests, general complaining,
etc.  A small but attention-draining proportion of it will be "your
product sucks!  Fix it now!  Read my mind!  I paid my ten bucks!".
For examples, see any game message board ;-).  Some of them are
quite wacky--I once had a customer who wanted us to fix a list of 50
bugs he'd compiled, but refused to actually give us.  I guess that
would have somehow given something away.  We tried to give him his
money back, but he became even more strident that we "couldn't buy
him off that easily."  We eventually simply hung up on him.  He
eventually went away.  He was a very unhappy customer, but not in a
way that we could fix.

You don't hear from the people for whom the product is satisfying,
because they are off happily using your product and getting on with
their lives.  When you are dealing with consumers at large, which
game publishers are doing, it's very hard not to become cynical even
when you are quite aware of this effect and try to compensate.  It's
like cops concluding that most people are criminals, because that's
most of what they see.

I suppose this is more of a "meta" topic.

Amanda Walker


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