RE: Good political thinking made more compelling

From: Reason (
Date: Sat Jan 05 2002 - 20:01:13 MST

--> Jacques Du Pasquier

> > > Better yet make it a multiplayer game, replacing much of the simulated
> > > decisions by decisions actually made by the human players in the given
> > > context, and making the experience much more convincing. Any other
> > > suggestion ?
> >
> > That's a great idea. Go have a look at A Tale in The Desert for
> an example
> > of a MMORPG in development (closed alpha) that focuses on cooperative
> > rule-based societal development. Ground is already being broken...
> >
> >
> I had a look at this, thanks for the pointer.
> It looks nice, but it's not what we need.

Well, of course ;) I was illustrating that the viability of mass-appeal
online games based intentionally and directly on society building is being

> Giving a bit more thought to it, I think that you could make a game
> the very appeal of which would be the proximity of the game society
> with the actual society. The incentive to play would be to try out
> ideas one may have about desirable reforms, etc., and even
> demonstrating their desirability through the game experience.


> The main idea is : make the game attractive BECAUSE it is close to
> real society, so that if you manage to do something in the game you
> may convince people to do it in the real society. It is this "real
> stake" that would make the game sexy (instead of the thrill of
> fighting, or the fantasy and cultural interest).

I had in mind a game in which players are rewarded for creating a stable
libertarian society. I imagine the following constraints and ideas on
developing such a game so that it has mass appeal:

1) the game has to have enough in common with existing MMORPGs to draw in
their players. A Tale in The Desert as contrasted with, say EverQuest or
Dark Age of Camelot is a good example of acceptable similarities.

2) prestige has to accumulate to those players who are successful in game
terms. In MMORPGs, prestige can come in the form of perks or items that
other players do not have, increased power of your avatar, access to parts
of the game that other players do not have. And so forth.

3) an easily understood set of rules for measuring such things as the
libertarianness and stability of a player society.

So, for example, let's say you have a setup wherein there are hundreds of
societies, each of which occupies it's place on the map. Any new player is
randomly given membership of one. These societies are given incentives and
rewards within the game -- access to better technology, more useful items,
prestige, new quests, areas of the game etc -- the more libertarian they
are. As a quick guess, I'd say that perhaps there is a method for imposing
and removing rules on an area. Breaking the rules means that the game
imposes automatic penalties on your character...a libertarian society has
few rules, but a low incidence of problems. (Players vote on how much they
like their society and how many problems there are).

And so forth. It would be interesting. Given the way in which very complex
societies evolve very quickly within existing MMORPGs, I'd like to see more
of what happens when societal development is more engineered (such as in a
Tale in The Desert, Jumpgate, etc).

> And incidentally, this would help many people to develop better
> political thinking.

An admirable goal; but I think that the one that needs to be addressed first
is to assist people in developing a sense of responsibility and
accountability. Better societies flow from that.


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