RE: virtual nation building

From: Reason (
Date: Sun Feb 24 2002 - 15:40:06 MST

---> Richard Steven Hack

> At 02:16 AM 2/24/02 -0800, you wrote:
> >> (c) design a way to do what you want while staying in the society by
> >> side-stepping, breaking and/or subverting the rules without
> >> getting punished seriously for it.
> >
> >Lately I am down enough on the way things are going to doubt if
> >anything but some variant of (c) is currently viable.

> I agree with your c) option. A virtual nation (VN) or virtual community
> (VC) *might* be one way to do that on a larger than personal scale. I'm
> not fully convinced of this yet.
> One problem I see is that a game universe is populated by those *with* a
> "like mind", i.e. they want to play the game. A virtual nation wouldn't
> have that any more than a real nation does. You'd have conflicting
> desires, attitudes and varying capabilities and resources and the end
> result would a duplicate of the real world - a Darwinian competition with
> losers and winners. One interesting question would be: would the nature
> of the VN change the nature of the winners - i.e., would Transhumanists
> tend to be the winners if they built the VN?
> Reason's basic problem is he assumes you need a "fairly large number of
> potentially right-minded people". I'm not convinced there is such a
> number. I suspect "true" Transhumanists (or even sympathizers) are less
> than one percent of the population.

Hmm. I wasn't thinking transhumanists when I wrote that. More libertarians,
or at least those who don't like stupidity and government in every bowl of
cereal each morning.

By "those with a like mind" I mean people who want to spend a significant
fraction of their time socializing/living/working in the virtual nation.
This doesn't have to overlap with a particular political or socioeconomic
view if they're just doing it because it's fun or economically beneficial
(see the taxes thing again).

> I would like Reason to detail how the Everquest people are doing
> black-market economics in the real world.

The EQ dictatorship (Verant), with the cooperation of the US and EU legal
systems, forbids the trading of EQ intangibles for real world money. With
some cooperation in suppression from real world marketplaces (such as eBay).
Therefore all such markets are black markets; you are breaking real world
contracts (and possibly laws) and EQ laws if you do this.

> See my reply to Reason on Hakim Bey's (Peter Lamborn Wilson) "T.A.Z."
> (Temporary Autonomous Zones) - a similar concept. I wonder if Wilson has
> considered MMORPGs.

URLs? Google uncharacteristically gives me a bunch of junk commentaries
rather than original sources.

> The problems with Reason's notion that the game could be designed to
> support a lib development is simply that the game rules can be subverted,
> hacked, or - if irritating enough to enough people - simply
> abandoned. The
> more the game must approximate the real world, the less likely the game
> world can control real-world behavior *in* in the game.

True, and that's the goal to be aiming for. There's nothing wrong with
subverting or abandoning rules if the populance of the virtual nation want
to do it. Goes on all the time in existing games, and it's just another part
of the cultural complexity.

My original point was not to control people's behavior; I'm very much
against that. It's to provide a place to start over with a new nation (a
slew of new nations), which can prehaps prompt people into seeing that there
are other, better ways to run a society beyond the one that has been settled
on in the meat world today. If they then want to abandon that and recreate
big, invasive governements as virtual nations then so be it. But in theory,
there are enough libertarians in the world to populate a libertarian virtual
nation; such would arise in the natural give and take of virtual nation
ecology once the concept goes mainstream. And if the claims about
laissez-faire capitalism are right, said nation should wind up very

> I agree with you that it need to be more than just "fun". But "fun"
> shouldn't be ignored. How about a game where sex and its pursuit and
> satisfaction was a factor. THAT might bring in a LOT of people
> and be VERY
> profitable - and influential as well in altering attitudes. That would
> attract state oppression, of course, but the state's inability to control
> the 15 million or so porn sites bodes ill for their suppressing a virtual
> "Sex World" - especially if the system were as distributed as the
> Internet
> is and more so using encryption, peer-to-peer technology, etc.

This game is being played right now on dating sites the world over. You
don't need to put this into a game; it just happens. The same goes for
everything else; economics, social hierarchies, politics, sex -- it will all
fit itself into any space in which more than three people are talking on a
regular basis. All the designers of the gamespace have to do is not get in
the way.


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