Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Social Playgrounds

I cannot help it but this really got over my publishing threshold. I've been reading the original article as well as Spinks' excellent recap and Lum's thoughts about the Professor who conducted quite an interesting sociological experiment in CoX.And I even read the final paper in which Professor David Myers describes the experiment, it's background, focus and -most interestingly- execution.It's very interesting -and amusing- reading as whole, worth the few minutes to leaf through, I think.

Something just clicked and I had to check my reader again. Something about the way Prof. Myers' character Twixt used the rules of the game without respecting the social rules imposed by the rest of the players sounded so familiar. But where had I seen this same?`

Take a look at here and here, with this and this response.

While I have to say right away that I don't agree with Gevlon in many matters -and have even written about it- I still find his outrageously snobby attitude against social connections, slacking and giving and helping others without further thinking (I think there is a word for it, but cannot find it now) usually at the level of irony and sarcasm, I find his postings usually entertaining. That is the value his 'social postings' have for me.

But the comparison of the two incidents are like spitting images: Twixt used the game's hardcoded mechanics to win in a PvP area, even alone, whereas Gevlon dictates his strongly opposing view of humanitarian help in a system which doesn't appreciate his strict opinion.

After reading professor Myers paper I got more the impression that instead of taking this Twixt character as a boss to fell, the CoV player simply gave in and resorted to the lowlier means. I've been taught that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Then again, I don't know the exact situation in the battleground, whether this could have been achieved by some mechanic or another. But as game based mechanic, NCSoft showed that the tactic was approved by it, even though the player community had decided otherwise.

How about if Gevlon would have started as a new player on CoX and found out that this strategy would have been the most effective in gaining wealth and levels? Just remember, this is how he would play, because the game sets the rules, not the social connection.

I wish Gevlon stays the way he is, Greedy Goblin, and keeps showing us the limitations of our socially bound minds.

And I wish professor Myer keeps on studying the social implications -and limitations- of the gamer communities. It seems that there is a lot to be learned about people sticking to the rules. And being punished by using what it takes to make the big kill.

And of course, I wish that the game designers and producers would be so clever as to minimize these opportunities to abuse the system or at least work around the well defined boundaries.

The players should also remember that these social playgrounds we call MMO's are just that: games and social playgrounds. In WoW I think people have already learned that the biggest obstacles are there to fall down, and that AFKing in BG's counts as cheating... well, at least in the social community's collective mind, at least.

But if the return with the least input is there, wouldn't you use it, too?