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

Sean Howard squidi at squidi.net
Wed Oct 19 04:52:13 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


"Amanda Walker" <amanda at alfar.com> 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
> opinion?

Please don't mistake that comment for elitism. An opinion is only
worth as much as the debate it inspires. Anybody can introduce new
ideas or participate in a debate. However, not all ideas are capable
of sustaining lengthy or substantial debates, nor are all ideas
capable or introducing new concepts or perspective. That's why
something like a debate on what makes a "good" movie is so damn
interesting - not because of the destination, but because of the
debate that gets us there. I could have the same discussion with an
entirely different group of people and come to an entirely different
conclusion. The debate is more important than the
conclusions. That's probably why I tend to make such a painful
devil's advocate :)

> Actually, my opinions about cheese are more nuanced than my
> opinions about movies.

Yes, but your opinions about cheese are not more nuanced than MY
opinions about movies.

>> 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.

Sorry, I should've used the word "quality" instead. There is a
distinct, inherant difference in quality between two objects,
regardless of what they are valued as (though typically, the value
is dependant on quality - especially in a secondary market).

> 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.

To what extent? I can drop rocks in videogames as well. Obviously,
there is something objective there that we can measure.

> I don't think that opinions, held by philosopher kings or not, are
> falsifiable.  They are by their very nature subjective and
> intersubjective.

Ah, but when I push the jump button, does Mario only jump because I
think he should? There is very real, quantifiable aspects to
gameplay - and very real, objective connections between these
aspects. Gameplay is very much "physical" and as such, is subject to
a study of its physics.

> 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 attribute*.

While I will be the first person to stand up for the artistic
quality in videogames, I will not even remotely suggest that it is
ALL artistic, and I think the degree to which I think it is not
artistic would likely surprise you. I'm not sure that beauty isn't
objective... well, at least to a less significant degree. For
instance, studies of the human face have shown that specific
proportions are universally considered more attractive, and that
certain features common in babies are considered attractive in
women. Now, I admit that we have preferences, but these objective
measures are taken into account, at least subconsciously.

> But "good" is not something we can all agree on

We don't have to, so long as the debate about it is a good one.

> 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.

Yes, but in general, people are stupid, self absorbed, and shallow -
and those are exactly the type of qualities we don't want to confuse
with whether something is "good".

- Sean
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