[MUD-Dev] DGN: Reasons for play [was: EmergentBehaviorsspawnedfrom...]

Matthew D. Fuller fullermd at over-yonder.net
Thu Oct 13 04:17:46 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

On Fri, Oct 07, 2005 at 01:08:24AM -0700 I heard the voice of
Pandora, and lo! it spake thus:

> That's ad populum right there though.  The criteria for judgement
> have nothing to do with how many people like it.  One person could
> alone hold up the first movie as superior on many levels, and even
> if the entire world went to see the other movie it wouldn't make
> that one person wrong.

Nor does it make that one person right.  There's a continual
ambiguity of terms here.  What does "good" mean?

I submit that "good" is just a way of saying "has value".  Better
and worse are ordinal concepts along that scale.  And value (basic
economics) is always subjective; it's imputed by the individual
making the judgement.  A thing is useful so far as it has uses.

Now, we can often make broad statement that we call "true".  A
screwdriver has an obvious purpose; it drives in (and, if you're
lucky, removes) screws.  If it does that well, you would call it
"good"; if it did it poorly, it would be "bad".  Of course, we're
all different; a given screwdriver might work really well for me,
and really poorly for you, and so we'd disagree heavily on whether
it was "good" or "bad".  And we would BOTH be right.

In reality, that doesn't much happen, because most people use a
screwdriver in about the same way, so if it's good for one person,
it's probably pretty good for just about everyone.  As well, we
generally rank screwdrivers only on their efficacy in driving
screws.  So, we can fairly easily say "this screwdriver is good,
this screwdriver is bad", and there won't be too much argument.
What's important to bear in mind here, however, is that that isn't
an objective judgement; it's just a very common SUBJECTIVE one.

Similarly, in movies; we have a set of criteria that, in broad, a
large portion of people share.  So we can say that a given movie is
"good" or "bad" and will generally have agreement.  But that's not
"objective"; it's just widely shared subjective.

But what if I have a screwdriver that won't drive a screw worth
crap, but does a wonderful job helping me weed my garden?  If I'm
trying to drive screws, I would call it "bad", and if I were weeding
my garden I would call it "good", and again I would be right both
times.  What the designer of the screwdriver intended it for, or the
seller, or my neighbor, or even what I intended to do with it
yesterday, doesn't have any necessary relationship to what I intend
to do with it now.  My ranking of "good" or "bad" relates entirely
to whatever I'm trying to do with it.

Whenever you hear "good" or "bad", the first thought through your
mind should be "for who, and for what purpose?"  It'll even vary for
one person for one purpose over time; a screwdriver that works well
when you're 20 might be useless when you're 60 and arthritic.  A
good game is one that serves its purpose.  But what's the purpose?
For most people, I rather suspect the utility of a game is in its
enjoyment; if it's fun, it's good, and if it's not fun, it's bad.  A
company making the game might have a totally different utility in
mind; if it makes money it's good, if it loses money it's bad.  The
poor parents of the kid who spends all night playing it have still
another value scale; if it's quiet it's good, if it's noisy it's

Good for who for what when?

Matthew Fuller     (MF4839)   |  fullermd at over-yonder.net
Systems/Network Administrator |  http://www.over-yonder.net/~fullermd/
           On the Internet, nobody can hear you scream.
MUD-Dev mailing list
MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list