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

Amanda Walker amanda at alfar.com
Sat Oct 15 04:47:17 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

On Oct 6, 2005, at 10:34 AM, Sean Howard wrote:

> But some opinions are worth more than others.

Hmm.  I don't disagree (I'm an unrepentant elitist), but I think we
have different reasons for thinking so.  Why do you think some
opinions are worth more than others?  Who judges the worth of an

> There's a difference between liking cheese just because and
> thinking The Seven Samurai is a better movie because of technical,
> emotional, compositional, and visual merit.

Actually, my opinions about cheese are more nuanced than my opinions
about movies.  Then again, I adore complex, nuanced cheeses like
Cambozola that many people would describe as "smells like dirty

> We've been through this before - in this very thread. You can make
> someone buy anything with the right marketing. It is no indication
> of the innate value of the product being sold.

Value isn't innate, though.  Value is an attribution made by people.
Not all value is monetary, but all value is subjective and
intersubjective.  The universe as a whole simply doesn't care--value
is created by how people act.

>> We each know what we like, but no matter how well-formed our
>> opinions, they're still subjective.  > > You're basically saying
>> that there is no chemistry because "we" > don't know the
>> difference between Borium and Carbon.

No, he's not, and this is important: he's saying that it's
subjective exactly because it's *not* like chemistry.  Objective
means "observer independent."  If you and I both drop a rock, it
will fall, regardless of our opinions on the matter.  The same is
not true of games, art, etc.

> This whole "it's still subjective" crap is the same reason why
> people don't "believe in" evolution.

No, it's not.  Not everything is objective--this conclusion, by the
way, is a direct consequence of the scientific revolution.

> I mean, you have to have faith in science right?

No, I don't, which is why we call some things "objective."  I don't
have to believe in combustion in order for my car to work.  I don't
have to believe in electricity in order to send email.

> Science is based on a VERY complex philosophy that has been
> hammered out over centuries of debate. Scientific theory is used
> to predict, not explain. It needs to be falsifiable. It has to be
> observable.  It is not held to the flismy standard of whether we
> think its nifty or not.


> The same holds true to what constitutes a "good game".

Exactly not, which I think gets to the core of this thread.  I don't
think that opinions, held by philosopher kings or not, are
falsifiable.  They are by their very nature subjective and

Attributes like "beauty" are not objective.  Attributes like "mass"
and "velocity" are objective.  It's not just that we haven't found
the right kind of ruler yet--it's that they are *different kinds of

> We don't have to like it for it to be good, which means that's
> something more substantial there.

But "good" is not something we can all agree on (unlike, say, the
meter and the kilogram).  And were no common measure can be found,
no objective measurement can be made.

This is one reason why people fall back to "popular", by the way:
popularity *is* an objective metric.  Subscriber counts, sales
numbers, etc. can be measured in observer-independent ways.  "Good,"
"fun," and "beautiful" cannot.

> You are saying that all opinions are equally worthless. There's no
> good opinions or bad opinions - It's all the same to you because
> you just can't tell the difference.

Not at all--we are saying, though, that there's no observer-
independent metric for opinions--which makes them not objective.
Doesn't mean they're not interesting or useful, just not objective.

[ I'm tempted to insert footnotes to Habermas and Critical Theory
here, but I'll stick to wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Critical_theory ]

Amanda Walker
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