[MUD-Dev] D&D vs. MMORPG "complexity"

Dave Rickey mahrinskel at brokentoys.org
Mon May 12 00:59:32 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

From: "John Buehler" <johnbue at msn.com>
> Dave Rickey writes:

>> Okay, I think I see where the conceptual break is in the
>> discussion.  You believe I'm claiming that entertainment is
>> equivalent to the process of empowerment.  I'm not, I'm simply
>> stating that treating it as if it was seems to provide a useful
>> approximation when looking at it from 50,000 feet.

> Okay, that tempers your prior statements a bit, but it still keeps
> you firmly entrenched in the notion that empowerment is a prime
> mover.  The current thread about brain types references a test by
> an author keen to recognize autism.  He sees it everywhere because
> it's something that he's picked up on.  I still claim that this is
> what you've encountered.  You've detected a pattern and you're
> finding it applicable everywhere.  Look for roses and you find
> roses.  Look for weeds and you find weeds.

I have seen evidence that strongly indicates that empowerment *is* a
prime mover, in Camelot at least.  Unfortunately, it's the result of
studying the cancellation rates vs. the highest level character on
the account (also vs. tradeskill advancement and Realm Levels), and
as a result I can't discuss it in too much detail or make the data
available for review.  But it was pretty unequivocable.  There's a
linear relationship between advancement and cancellation rates, an
incredibly strong correlation.

>> If you think that's dismaying, try this one: It appears that what
>> we think of as free will is actually nothing but random chance.
>> Most of our decisions are formulized results of our conditioning,
>> and those that are not are made *exactly* as if we simply
>> consulted a random number generator.

> Ah, this is one we could debate for a long, long time - and is the
> real reason that I replied to this post :) The return volley is
> that you cannot explain consciousness and as a result you cannot
> address free will.  I believe that human decision making is
> dependent on brain physiology and topology - and because of the
> brain's adaptive biology (alterable physiology and topology) prior
> experience (what you're calling conditioning) is factored into our
> decision making.

> Understanding perception, processing and action in the human brain
> has been an active hobby of mine since I was a teenager.

> Note that I don't believe that anything is random.  Look closely
> enough for long enough and you will understand the process,
> eliminating the perception that it is random.  In other words,
> 'random' is a hand wave.  This is inclusive of the Uncertainty
> Principle, which simply says that certain things are not knowable
> so long as you need to interact with something to observe it.  All
> avenues of non-interaction haven't yet been discovered :)

> For the record, if the human mind is completely and materially
> deterministic, that information had better be let out to the world
> very slowly and be worked into some kind of an ethical system.
> Right now, Christian values (and its derivatives) are one of the
> few things holding the world together.

Deterministic, maybe no.  But neuro-psych is about 10-15 years from
a reductionist assay of mental function, and the social impact of
the results will definitely be interesting.  At any rate, this is
what philosophers, phychologists, and neuroscientists have all
referred to as "the hard problem" for more than a century, so I
doubt we're going to solve it here.

The strongest theory supported by the current evidence is that
conscious will, as we are used to thinking of it, is a useful
illusion.  That "I think, therefore I am" as the centerpiece of a
moral system is in fact a tautology, we think we are because without
the sense of self, there would be no "I" to hold responsible for our
decisions.  That in fact most of our "conscious choices" *aren't*,
that the only difference between consciousness and disassociative
states of activity is our belief that we are or are not in control.
What this means for psychological and legal definitions of
"responsibility" will be interesting.


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