Brand Loyalty (was Re: [MUD-Dev] Requirements for MM (wasComp lexities of MMOG Servers))

holding99 at mindspring.com holding99 at mindspring.com
Thu Jan 16 02:19:14 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


At 10:52 PM 1/14/2003 -0600, Robert Zubek wrote:

> I agree that game treadmills are more noticable than the real
> life. But this makes me wonder if that's because it's the other
> way around - maybe people accept life treadmills exactly *because*
> they see the big picture?
 
> I suppose I'm saying that real-life 'treadmills' are *meaningful*
> - they have vast and serious consequences, and their successful
> performance broadens the action horizon of what we can
> subsequently do in the world. Job and career, education and
> learning, social development, spiritual development, creative
> development, and all the other activities we engage in - even
> working at the most mundane job - all change how we live in the
> world, and make available completely new livelihoods. And this
> feeds back into our behavior - as our lot in life changes, we may
> find our action horizon constricting painfully, or to the
> contrary, we may become able to see and do things we've never even
> considered before. Our lives may be filled with treadmills, but
> they're exceedingly important to our future and well-being.

I recently learned my wife's friend Val was going to Hawaii for the
fifth time within the past year. I thought, "Man, I spent 6 years
getting my PhD and now I'm earning about 1/10th of what my wife's
friend is earning after getting only a BA. I was screwed!" Sound
familiar? It reminds me of "Man, I've stuck with <fill in the blank>
class, and now <another> class can kill more than I can! I was
screwed!" Personally, I don't think RL treadmills and game
treadmills are so different. In each case, we compare ourselves with
others to rate the quality of our achievements. In each case, we
assign substance and importance to the results of the effort. Real
life treadmills are 'meaningful' and 'have vast and serious
consequences' to some people, just as game treadmills are
'meaningful' and 'have vast and serious consequences' to others. I
have known people who have considered suicide because they lost
something they valued in a game. You might respond, "Yeah, well,
they have issues." and you'd probably be right. But value is always
by perception, and it's impossible to generalize that one class of
treadmills is more valuable than other.

> But advancing one's character in a game isn't meaningful. In an
> RPG, why should anyone run the built-in treadmills, if that only
> results in more of the same? Leveling up or acquiring more gold
> and weapons doesn't have interesting or important consequences. It
> doesn't make the game world available in novel ways; it only makes
> possible more acquisition of XP and gold and weapons.

Even in real life, advancing oneself almost always results in more
of the same. You scrape and bow in high school, get sick of jumping
through hoops, only to scrape and bow and jump through hoops in
college. You graduate from college, only to scrape and bow and jump
through hoops at a job. The only time it stops is when you die.

> Ugh, how can game treadmills be anything but inconsequential?

How can they be anything but not? I mean, there's a reason people
are paying big bucks to play these games night after night after
night. Something is motivating them.

T.H. Cooke


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