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

Sean Howard squidi at squidi.net
Thu Nov 10 05:40:34 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


"Sean Kelly" <sean at f4.ca> wrote:

>> We still need the philosopher-kings to come up with the
>> philosophy by which we decide what are important questions, and
>> the validity of their answers. You could answer a design question
>> by appealing to the majority or marketing or whatever - it's
>> utilitarian enough - but that doesn't create "good" games. The
>> definition is still very much in the hands of the philosophers.

> Then let's hope there are a lot of philosophers as they may be the
> only ones buying these games :-)

That won't be true, but if we are lucky, they'll be the only ones
making games. The movie industry went through a major renaissance
due to the emergence of film schools - I can think of two directors
that came to film with that philosopher viewpoint and ended up
changing the movie industry forever. Maybe you remember movies like
The Godfather or Star Wars? These movies are rather well known and
respected both by and outside elitist movie buffs.

> That said, I don't believe these hypothetical philosophers would
> be able to agree on a unviersal criteria for game quality.

They don't have to agree - and shouldn't want to. But they should
have the debate every day. You seem to be under the impression that
the reason to ask questions is to find a single answer. Sometimes,
you just have to ask because there's not one.

(I know, a little abstract one hand clapping philosophy there, but
think about it for a bit).

> The discussion of whether "good" has any objective merit has been
> disputed for millenia.

And if we're lucky, it will be debated for another millenia. My
problem is that, right now, the people who should be questioning the
value in videogame aren't, and the ones that are, shouldn't be. I
was so happy to hear Warren Spector get up and criticize Grand Theft
Auto while Jack Thompson excused himself from the GTA lawsuit.

> And so far as I'm aware, arguments that support such universal
> qualifiers typically rely on God as their basis--the existence of
> whom has long since been accepted as unprovable in philosophic
> circles.

I find that accusation amusing for reasons that I'm not going to go
into on this list, but rest assured, there is no divinity in my
basis. Things that are good are measurably better than things that
are not, therefore, we can figure out that measure
and... well... measure it.

> A utilitarian argument may suggest criteria which are sufficient
> in most cases, but this is a far cry from what you're suggesting.

A utilitarian argument is good when you have a particular
utilitarian purpose. I want to sell a game to 18 year old girls -
what other games have sold to 18 year old girls? But when you want
to make something "good" or "deep" or "memorable", then you've got
an abstract goal and the different end points become less important
than the invisible lines connecting them.

>> Um... if you gave me a black card with white lettering, I'd
>> probably think of funerals as well.

> I wouldn't.

That you would not makes neither my impression nor my point any less
valid.

- Sean (the other one)
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