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

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Thu Jan 9 21:08:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Mon 30 Dec,
Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com wrote:
> From: Marian Griffith [mailto:gryphon at iaehv.nl] 
>> In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Wed 18 Dec, 

>> 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 american world view.

> Its funny, the aspect of American culture I continually find most
> startling is the predominance of religion. When Bush discusses
> killing people, he always tends to bring god into it. I just can't
> imagine many European leaders doing the same.

Actually, my impression about American (popular) culture is that it
is very revenge oriented.  While I agree that religion plays a big-
ger role than in (most) European cultures, it is hardly exceptional
when compared to the cultures in the rest of the world.

>> 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 better 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.

> When you step back and look at the MMO marketplace there are a few
> that don't originate from the US and yet seem to have a very
> similar underlying design. AO could hardly be accused of breaking
> new ground, well, except for its launch. There is a differing
> design philosophy between Western and Eastern developers, but I'm
> not so sure we'll see much about Codemasters new MMO that will
> differentiate it from a US produced one. Of course, out of Europe,
> the UK is probably closest to the US in culture anyway.

I am not sure I quite agree with this.  Part of this is that there
really is only one style of game that has made it into multiplayer
and online form.  Well, actually two, but the second is not persis-
tent. Roleplaying games are a very American phenomenon that are not
nearly as popular anywhere else in the world.  In fact, around here
you are hard pressed to find a roleplaying group even in university
circles.  In the UK it is mainly miniatures (e.g. warhammer).  I do
not know enough about the other large countries (France, Germany) to
make an informed statement about what kind of game is popular there.

However, I would be cautious to say that RPGs are popular because
everybody wants to play them when there is very little else to play
in this market.

> I hope for the French, that their games aren't a reflection of
> their culture. They have a reputation for being quirky, strange
> and generally very poor. Very few tears were shed when Cryo went
> under.

On the other hand, you should not make the mistake to equate poor
craftmanship with a reflection of their culture. Compared to the US
France is a tiny market, hardly bigger than a couple of states, and
they have a much smaller games industry, that in addition must com-
pete on a foreign market. That does not mean that their games could
not reflect what French game players prefered to play.  It is very
easy to fall into a 'cultural imperialism' trap when you are
thinking about other cultures that you are hardly, if at all,
exposed to. Are Bollywood movies better or worse than Hollywood on-
es? Are Japanese?  On a technical level, perhaps, but does that in-
validate their storytelling, the way they reflect the culture that
creates them?

The same is true for games, or should be.  You say 'few tears were
shed when Cryo went under' but how much can you honestly say is be-
cause you did not like to play the games they made, and how much
because they made bad games?  I know that Adventure is declared to
be a dead genre by the US games industry while in Europe it has a
big enough following to allow some smaller publishers to survive.
That is a cultural difference leading to different games, so I do
not think it is good to dismiss the question so lightly.  Even if I
do not have any more answers than you do.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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