Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

A game I don't believe in

Rate this topic


iouswuoibev
 Share

Recommended Posts

I am a programmer and I have been working on a project for nearly a year now. It is a MUD.

For those who aren't in the know, a MUD is a multi-player computer game that uses text as its medium (at least traditionally) and is most frequently fantasy-based in content. If you care to learn more: http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=MUD would be a good place to start.

Now that's out of the way, I'd like to explain my problem. I am not sure that the nature of the game I am writing is in accordance with my philosophy, objectivism. A game of this nature is designed to sate irrational desires and impulses, and it generally requires a player-base of heavily devoted individuals (read: addicted) in order to be successful.

I've been addicted to MUD's in the past and I wouldn't wish anyone to experience the same thing. I forfeited my eduction, my personal hygene, in fact, my entire life as a journey ground to a halt whenever I played, and that was more-or-less all the time.

I still appreciate the pleasure that one can derive from indulging in playing these games, but I think to get something out of them, one has to sacrifice a significant amount of time. Some people are able to allocate their time sensibility, but a lot (perhaps the majority) of MUD players cannot. If it's not in any way addictive, then it is not in any way successful. And if my project is not succesful then I am wasting my time.

Because this project has been on-going for a significant amount of time, I do not want to abandon it. I don't think even if it were proven to me that what I am creating is a violation of my objectivist principles, I could care less. I am still passionate about MUD's and especially about mine, which has been a labour of love.

I can say to myself that people will play this game out of choice and how often they play is out of choice, and it is not my responsibility. But this seems to make no more sense than someone who condemns the use of weapons being an arms dealer.

This is something I'm finding very hard to nail down. While it is within my rights to create a game like this, I am supporting and perpetuating irrational behaviour that I am against by creating it. So far, I have just been ignoring this fact.

What do you think?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While it is within my rights to create a game like this, I am supporting and perpetuating irrational behaviour that I am against by creating it. So far, I have just been ignoring this fact.

If you really think this, and have good evidence to back this up, then at the least it is not good for your soul to continue creating products like this. I am not a game player myself, but are you really sure of your conslusion? Is the problem inherent in the game itself, or is it the fault of some who misuse it? Are you convinced that the nature of the game is such that a reasonable person cannot enjoy reasonable use of it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you really think this, and have good evidence to back this up, then at the least it is not good for your soul to continue creating products like this.
Since I don't believe in the existence of a soul, I find it difficult to relate to what you are saying here. Unless the soul is a metaphor for something else. Could you explain what you mean by 'soul'?

I am not a game player myself, but are you really sure of your conslusion? Is the problem inherent in the game itself, or is it the fault of some who misuse it? Are you convinced that the nature of the game is such that a reasonable person cannot enjoy reasonable use of it?

I am not convinced of this fact. I think it is a difficult matter to evaluate because there are certain elements that are popular in this sort of game that inspire a repetitive drive in the player. The game is based on a virtual world, and the rewards it yields for playing are random.

A therapist I know made the suggestion that random, unpredictable rewards can elicit addictive behaviour in a subject. A classic example of this is the Skinner Box (which uses rats). As we are not rats, the faculty of reason within us can over-ride such temptations, but it requires us to initiate the use of reason in a proper way in order to evade the trap that this behaviour can become. Those who fail to initiate it and come to a reasoned conclusion will succumb to the addiction.

I did a search and came up with the following article: http://www.nickyee.com/eqt/skinner.html which discusses the issue of addiction in Everquest (a very popular MUD-like game) and proposes just this thing. Where this article fails to answer my question though, is as to whether the game I am making has inherant traits that make it addictive. It certainly has the potential to do so, but I can implent certain gameplay traits that are less addictive. However, this seems to be contrary to my goal of creating a successful game. In my experience, all computer games benefit from at least some addictive element. There is no valid reason to play a computer game, it is designed to satisfy mindless whims and urges. There are a few exceptions, but I think I can safely say that a MUD is not one of them.

I think the critical question is, would such a game be victimless? And to that, I am not sure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've played my share of MMRPG's and I know of their entertainment value. There was a time when I spent more time in Everquest than I should have but it was a great entertainment value to me. Now that the genre isn't so radically new to me, I don't get that same thrill. Consequently, the entertainment value isn't so high now and I don't actually play any MMRPG at the moment.

My point is--you are not responsible for the rationality of others. Only they can exert that control over their lives. You are no more responsible for someone spending too much time playing a game than McDonald's is responsible for the ill health of its customers. Each individual is responsible for his own actions and that is the end of it.

Build a game that people will love and relish in the fact that you are offering them an important value.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My point is--you are not responsible for the rationality of others. Only they can exert that control over their lives. You are no more responsible for someone spending too much time playing a game than McDonald's is responsible for the ill health of its customers. Each individual is responsible for his own actions and that is the end of it.
I definitely agree that I am not a factor in what people do with their lives. However, I am still concerned over what I am in fact condoning. Going back to the example of a weapons dealer: whether or not the person deals weapons or not does not influence whether or not people will still buy and use weapons, however, the dealer must deal with his own conscience when he believes that weapons are wrong (not that I am of this mind, it merely serves an example). In the same way, by making a MUD, I sense that I am promoting the value of addiction, which is not something I value at all. Do you think this is rational?

Build a game that people will love and relish in the fact that you are offering them an important value.

I am not sure of the value you speak of. It is nice to hear what I want to hear, as I feel that whatever conclusion I come to will not affect my decision to continue making this game. But, I would like to have my conscience clear if possible, and I want to attain that clear conscience through rational means. Hence this thread. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

however, the dealer must deal with his own conscience when he believes that weapons are wrong (not that I am of this mind, it merely serves an example).

How can a weapon be wrong? It's a tool. Only it's use by a person can be wrong.

VES

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How can a weapon be wrong?  It's a tool.  Only it's use by a person can be wrong.

I think this is off-topic. I never said a weapon can be wrong, and the example I gave served the purpose of demonstrating someone promoting a value they don't believe in (even if the value does not make sense). The argument does not require that the weapon dealer's beliefs are rational, that is inconsequential, and the weapon's dealer is hypothetical. Here's a different version: "the dealer must deal with his own conscience when he believes that <insert thing> are a <tool/creation/creator/perpetuator/etc.> of <insert negative/non-value>".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not sure of the value you speak of.

Art is man's fuel. Art gives man the great value of making his strongest convictions concrete. Ayn Rand captures the need for art best when she wrote about Dagny Taggart:

Her work was all she had or wanted. But there were times, like tonight, when she felt that sudden, peculiar emptiness, which was not emptiness, but silence, not despair, but immobility, as if nothing within her were destroyed, but everything stood still. Then she felt the wish to find a moment's joy outside, the wish to be held as a passive spectator by some work or sight of greatness. Not to make it, she thought, but to accept; not to begin, but to respond; not to create, but to admire. I need it to let me go on, she thought, because joy is one's fuel.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't call video games crack for nothing. I do see it as entertainment though, interactive entertainment. I see video games and computer games as a higher form of entertainment than say watching TV or movies where all you do is zone out. At least in most video games you are doing something or solving problems. That in itself can actually be constructive. Problem solving and decision making are important things to get better at. I'm not sure I am familair with what a MUD is though. Could you link to an example ( I promise I won't become addicted ). ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Art is man's fuel. Art gives man the great value of making his strongest convictions concrete. Ayn Rand captures the need for art best when she wrote about Dagny Taggart:

Joy is one's fuel, how true! Then again, I have the image of a teenager, hunched over a keyboard, playing into the early hours of the morning. They would seem somewhat lacking in fuel. I have never learned to play any computer game without becoming addicted. I don't want other people to be addicted to my game whilst at the same time, I want it to succeed and be popular. Ah well, I guess it's up to them. That excerpt was fascinating, thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't call video games crack for nothing. I do see it as entertainment though, interactive entertainment. I see video games and computer games as a higher form of entertainment than say watching TV or movies where all you do is zone out. At least in most video games you are doing something or solving problems. That in itself can actually be constructive. Problem solving and decision making are important things to get better at.
I agree unreservedly with this. I think my debating skills have definitely improved through my addiction to MUD's, because I argued with the admins all the time. :huh:

I'm not sure I am familair with what a MUD is though. Could you link to an example ( I promise I won't become addicted ). ;)

Well the definition I gave encompasses more-or-less every game that can be considered a MUD, but if you want a better idea I suggest you check www.mudconnect.com , which is one of many MUD listing websites. Bear in mind that one MUD can be very unlike another. I expect if you do some googling you can find the information you want easily.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since I don't believe in the existence of a soul, I find it difficult to relate to what you are saying here. Unless the soul is a metaphor for something else. Could you explain what you mean by 'soul'?

Sorry. I do not relinquish the soul of a man to religion. I use "soul" in the same sense that Ayn Rand did throughout her writings, to mean the spirit of a man, his essence, the sum total of his sense of life and his mind.

"... that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul—that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal." [Atlas Shrugged, p. 932]

I am not convinced of this fact. I think it is a difficult matter to evaluate because there are certain elements that are popular in this sort of game that inspire a repetitive drive in the player. The game is based on a virtual world, and the rewards it yields for playing are random.

If you really are not sure of your estimate I would suggest you not be quite so hard on yourself. Back off a bit until you are more clear in your assessment. Random rewards in a game certainly seems a bit strange, but not necessarily immoral.

There is no valid reason to play a computer game, it is designed to satisfy mindless whims and urges. There are a few exceptions, but I think I can safely say that a MUD is not one of them.

I cannot really assess the game you are designing without learning a lot more of the details, but I must say I am a bit struck by your statement above. I would suggest if that is your assessment of computer games in general, then it is not at all surprising that you should be having a conflict over designing a game. As I said before, I am not a game player myself, but I see nothing inherently wrong with computer games per se. If you do, you seem to have chosen the wrong field for your work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry. I do not relinquish the soul of a man to religion. I use "soul" in the same sense that Ayn Rand did throughout her writings, to mean the spirit of a man, his essence, the sum total of his sense of life and his mind.

"... that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul—that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal." [Atlas Shrugged, p. 932]

I see what you mean now. I guess I am having trouble identifying the shape of my soul. ;)

If you really are not sure of your estimate I would suggest you not be quite so hard on yourself. Back off a bit until you are more clear in your assessment. Random rewards in a game certainly seems a bit strange, but not necessarily immoral.
The randomness itself is not inherantly ammoral. But randomness, and moreso unpredictability, is a big playing factor in provoking an addiction. What I'm trying to say is, the game would most likely have very addictive elements to it.

I cannot really assess the game you are designing without learning a lot more of the details, but I must say I am a bit struck by your statement above. I would suggest if that is your assessment of computer games in general, then it is not at all surprising that you should be having a conflict over designing a game. As I said before, I am not a game player myself, but I see nothing inherently wrong with computer games per se. If you do, you seem to have chosen the wrong field for your work.

It definitely is the subject I am most passionate about (except maybe programming). These questions arose when I was contemplating the things that are mentioned in The Virtue Of Selfishness. When I say that it is a mindless activity, I mean that it is an indulgance that rarely ever gives you any long term benefit, and can cause long term problems. That doesn't mean to say I don't see it's appeal; I do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These questions arose when I was contemplating the things that are mentioned in The Virtue Of Selfishness. When I say that it is a mindless activity, I mean that it is an indulgance that rarely ever gives you any long term benefit, and can cause long term problems.

A full, rich, and happy life is composed of many things. Perfecting your moral character and earning a challenging and productive career are two necessary fundamentals for achieving a good life. Having a loved one to share in your life is an immense value to add. The enjoyment of art, as fuel for your soul and as a reflection of your values is also an enormous value added to one's life.

But, there are also lesser pleasures in life, things which are more optional in choice but still of value in action. People have hobbies which give them pleasure -- I would not call that an indulgence lacking long-term benefit. Why couldn't computer or video games be seen in that same light? A physical/mental pleasure.

Virtually any activity can result in "long term problems" if misused by the person performing the activity. But that is a reflection on the person, not necessarily on the nature of the activity itself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But, there are also lesser pleasures in life, things which are more optional in choice but still of value in action. People have hobbies which give them pleasure -- I would not call that an indulgence lacking long-term benefit. Why couldn't computer or video games be seen in that same light? A physical/mental pleasure.
Indeed, I guess that is what they are. I do not know if that makes it a morally acceptable pleasure. It seems contradictory to rational behaviour. Of course, being human, it feels natural to do what rewards us with physical and/or mental pleasure. However, with the abdication of reason, many of the activities concerning those pleasures are far from beneficial.

I think the experience of joy would be the best justification for a game like the one I am making, but many so called 'good' games end up ultimately being time-consuming and at the end, not very satisfying. Many MUD's do not have a distinct 'game over' to them, so you either make a conscious decision to stop it - which brings in to question whether it was worth it in the first place - or you get hooked, constantly striving for an elusive feeling of satisfaction.

Being as a MUD is designed to emulate some form of reality, and provides a complex form of interaction with other people, it can often become a lifestyle rather than a pasttime. Because of the amount of depth that goes into many of these games, and that I plan to have in mine, it would not be feasable to play for short, brief periods, you would simply not get anything out of it and either stop, moving onto more productive pastures, or increase your playing time. Which can easily turn into an addiction.

Virtually any activity can result in "long term problems" if misused by the person performing the activity. But that is a reflection on the person, not necessarily on the nature of the activity itself.

In this case, I think it could be both.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed, I guess that is what they are. I do not know if that makes it a morally acceptable pleasure. It seems contradictory to rational behaviour.

I am struggling a bit trying to understand the source of the negative estimates you continue to make about relatively innocent activities. Why would a hobby not be a "morally acceptable pleasure?" What exactly do you see in the nature of a hobby that is "contradictory to rational behaviour?"

Of course, being human, it feels natural to do what rewards us with physical and/or mental pleasure.
Are you perhaps thinking of "pleasure" as being the standard for action, rather than the result of a rational choice?

However, with the abdication of reason, many of the activities concerning those pleasures are far from beneficial.

But any activity based on the "abdication of reason" is not beneficial. Why single out hobbies? The "abdication of reason" in your career work would even be less beneficial than doing so for a hobby.

I did not address the rest of your post because it goes back to specifics regarding your game. I think we first need to resolve these issues of principle before we can make sense of their application.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am struggling a bit trying to understand the source of the negative estimates you continue to make about relatively innocent activities. Why would a hobby not be a "morally acceptable pleasure?" What exactly do you see in the nature of a hobby that is "contradictory to rational behaviour?"

I don't think the moral standard for an activity should be the pleasure derived from it, and this is the the objectivist view as well, as I understand it. I don't think that someone who is rational could get enjoyment out of a game such as mine, because it is so in-depth as to require a serious sacrifice in time that could be spent on more fulfilling, less addictive persuits, and a rational person would not forfeit that time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"iouswuoibev," you have not answered the main questions I posed. Again, why would a hobby not be a "morally acceptable pleasure?" What exactly do you see in the nature of a hobby that is "contradictory to rational behaviour?"

I don't think I stated that it is the nature of a hobby that is contradictory to rational behaviour. I did state that playing a MUD that demands a huge sacrifice in time and effort in order to get a sense of pleasure from it, is irrational. Hobby's in themselves are not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think I stated that it is the nature of a hobby that is contradictory to rational behaviour. I did state that playing a MUD that demands a huge sacrifice in time and effort in order to get a sense of pleasure from it, is irrational. Hobby's in themselves are not.

Sorry if I misunderstood. But, when I said:

But, there are also lesser pleasures in life, things which are more optional in choice but still of value in action. People have hobbies which give them pleasure -- I would not call that an indulgence lacking long-term benefit. Why couldn't computer or video games be seen in that same light? A physical/mental pleasure.
and you replied:

Indeed, I guess that is what they are. I do not know if that makes it a morally acceptable pleasure. It seems contradictory to rational behaviour. Of course, being human, it feels natural to do what rewards us with physical and/or mental pleasure. However, with the abdication of reason, many of the activities concerning those pleasures are far from beneficial.

I took your words to be referring to hobbies. If that is not what you intended, then I guess we are back to the beginning where, at a minimum, you again seem to condemn computer and video games per se. I have yet to hear any evidence that would justify that claim.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...