Players policing themselves (was: [MUD-Dev] MMO Launch issues ruining potential segments of themarket.)

Derek Licciardi kressilac at
Sun Jun 29 03:26:27 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

From: Matt Mihaly
> On Thu, 19 Jun 2003, Chris Holko wrote:

>> Non PvP games are popular because a majority does not care to
>> have their gameplay dictated to them by another player.  Players
>> CANNOT be trusted to police themselves.  Just as you cannot put
>> code into the client because of hackers you cannot put justice
>> into the hands of players.

> Players cannot expect to police themselves, it is true.

I'm not sure I buy this.  The entire statement seems to fly in the
face of the whole "cultural norm" observations happening in many
MUDs/MMOs.  In SB, player killing is largely controlled by the city
leaders and the siege system.  Freehold cities are known for their
rampant player killing but I can tell you that each of my R4+
characters have never been PKed at any point in their development.
Cultural norms seem to police the player base properly and they are
most definitely setup by the players.  In EQ rare, uber spawn points
are policed by players through the use of lists and other
tools. (web sites) As a player you cannot get access to those spawns
without getting on the list and circumventing the list could
blacklist your character pretty harshly.  The same effect happens
with discipline rune in SB.  I'm sure we could all come up with
other examples.

I think the problem in the players policing themselves idea, is that
in the instances where the developer wanted the players to police
themselves, the game mechanics the developer thought were important
enough to police were not the same as the game mechanics the player
base thought were important enough to police.  Hence, it looks like
placing this responsibility on the players has failed.  As we learn
more about the effects of our design decisions on cultural norms, we
will begin to be able to predict the likely reaction given a design
decision.  I'm not sure anyone has designed a player-justice system
in such a manner.  In the real world, we only create laws for the
important things in our lives. (think society at large because I
know there are piles of stupid laws) The key for developers is to
make the important things in game correspond with the laws players
are able to set and enforce.  If the players deem the mechanic
important enough, they will police it themselves assuming the game
gives them the ability to through a tool (city chat in SB) or a lack
of an impeding tool. (no Sony tool/direction/guidance on managing
rare spawns)

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