Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 20, 2012
 
Wolves and sheep

Gevlon started playing EVE, promptly got ganked, and is loving it. Now here is a good fit between the character of a game and the character of the player. I do think Gevlon will do very well in EVE. Although I also believe that there are a lot of people who are a lot better at what Gevlon does in EVE. I wonder if he'll still be reporting so honestly once he makes a REAL mistake in this game, like trusting the wrong people. Or when he will get stuck and unable to progress because he trusts no-one.

I do agree with his premise that whether you like EVE or not depends on whether you like games where "good" players can hurt "bad" players. Where he is completely wrong, of course, is making the connection between that preference and real-life intelligence. In many ways EVE is a lot closer to real life than a game like World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic is. WoW and SWTOR are full of guaranteed wins, and protection for the weaker players. It is a lot harder to ruin another player's day in WoW or SWTOR than it is in EVE. Not impossible, but much harder. And I can understand the attraction of a game like EVE to a person like Gevlon, who already thinks of the world as a place of wolves and sheep, and enjoys the opportunity to demonstrate that he is on the wolves side of things.

But do we really want games that work like real life? You don't have to be a sheep to think that it would be nicer if people wouldn't constantly try to hurt each other. In fact the very concept of civilization is based on the premise that we get further if we cooperate instead of bashing each other's head in with a stone club. And the benefits of civilization accrue to the wolves as well as the sheep. And even if you live your life as a wolf, having a day job that constantly puts you in cut-throat competition with others, do you want to continue the same activity in a virtual world in the evening?

On this blog I have repeatedly gotten into trouble with my commenters when I stated that I would prefer to be a winner in real life and a loser in games rather than the other way around. I am not saying that these are the only two possibilities, but I'm pretty certain that there is no correlation between success in games and success in real life. A solid majority of people in the society at large tend to concentrate their efforts on doing well in real life. That is due to Maslow's hierarchy of needs which says that we need to get our basic needs fulfilled before we start worrying about stuff like feeling good about ourselves. If your washing machine breaking down counts as a major financial disaster to you, your success in a video game can at best be escapism.

Once you are doing good in real life, virtual life is full of options. And trying to do well there, to "win", is just one of these options. Playing is about exploring alternatives with consequences that are significantly less serious than in real life. A game is attractive *because* it is not real life, *because* you can try out being a different person, having different goals than in real life. Playing a game differently than you "play" real life broadens your horizon, and is more relaxing than reproducing the same patterns of behavior you already follow in real life. After a long day full of various challenges, I don't blame people for preferring games that are full of easy wins, or where you don't constantly have too look over your shoulder to guard against the wolves. Not everybody who plays a sheep is one in real life too.
Comments:
I'm going to be interested to see how he gets on also, I think he'll do great in EVE.

But this also highlights to me where EVE is not a good simulation of reality (unless your reality is total anarchy). Because in real life, there are actually some good, solid reasons to trust strangers, be nice to people, and form social relationships. Sure, there are risks too, but nothing in life is without risk. People who break the social construct, break the law, break the rules tend to get punished.

The appeal of EVE is that this doesn't happen unless players decide to take it in hand. But in a game, it's not as fun to be the person upholding the law/ society as it is to be the 'winner' or the 'wolf.' So players generally don't bother. Sure, it can be fun to RP being the police the first few times, until you realise that it's thankless, you can't stop players from being tits unless devs are prepared to back you up by giving you extra powers, and it's never going to get better.

(There used to be loads of theorising about allowing players to dispense justice in virtual worlds, until people tried it and realised most players couldn't be arsed and most miscreants would either pop up again on alts or find ways around the system.)
 
If eve had a hardcore setting, I don't think it would be such a mirror to the wild west.

A lot of people get to be wolves that would normally be sheep when there is no ultimate loss.
 
I never trust anyone, so I can't trust the wrong people.

Also, have you considered why lion cubs play? "to have fun" maybe? I doubt if such energy-wasting activity wouldn't be weeded out by evolution. Lion cubs play to learn to be a strong lion in real life. Games SHOULD be like real life, except the real life consequences (your body and wealth is safe from loses in the game), and the ability to try again in a shorter timeframe (if you dropped out from college, you need 5 years to get a diploma, if your warrior wears spirit, you can fix it in few days). This way players would learn important skills in real life.

You are right that gaming success doesn't really correlate with real life success, but that's because most games openly reward playing bad. The strongest lion cub will be a better hunting lion. If lion cubs would be wrestling with plush tigers so they could all win and "have fun", the correlation would disappear.
 
Many who are a wolf at the job are a sheep at home, a wolf with his friends, a sheep with his parents, a sheep with this one boss, but a wolf with the other; and the alpha wolf on his blog ;)
And games are just another part of real life! Virtual life is a part of real life!

Should games be like real life? No, that would be utterly boring. Should virtual worlds make sense, be as consistent and credible as possible? Yes, please!
 
Actively playing WoW during BC and WotLK I have seen several players who were really good - from being top-DPS in our PvE raids to wearing Gladiator (real one, not bought for gold) title.
It turned out what one third of them, PvEers mainly, were successful in real life (air trip to meet their guild mates was not considered as obstacle) and nice persons.
Another one third of them were unemployed and they general life position was like "I am doing well, do not teach me how to live".
Remaining several players were too different to describe with a common template.
Thing is, I have never seen anyone from first group grief weaker players or something, while it was normal for second group.
Maybe my sample is not very representative, maybe it cannot be extended to everyone, but still, I do believe what person successful in RL (not childs of rich parents or something, but thouse who deserved success for their work) wont feel the need to hurt other people. But less "lucky" ones want to "feel good" in virtual world, and griefing, trolling and abuse are tools for them.
 
Aaah, I think you are deeply on PvE (non-competitive) side of people :) You probably don't much like sports either :) (same for me, btw).

Nevertheless I find it surprising that you refuse to acknowledge that the world, in general, is very competitive (not everyone, but a lot of people). See sports, sport fans, etc.

Since lots of people have desire to be competitive outside their 'work time' (amateur sports, sport fans, etc.), it's no wonder, in my opinion, that a lot of them are also competitive / pvp in MMORPG (that's ignoring the sizable population who just want to be jerks in-game for some reason).

Soooo... do I have a point? Not sure :) I guess my point is "why are you so surprised so many people are competitive / pvp in mmorpgs?"
 
Nevertheless I find it surprising that you refuse to acknowledge that the world, in general, is very competitive

You understood me wrong there. It is because I KNOW that the world in general is very competitive that I would like my escapism into fantasy worlds to be not so competitive. If I can imagine wizards and dragons, why shouldn't I be able to imagine people being nice to each other and cooperating?
 
If I can imagine wizards and dragons, why shouldn't I be able to imagine people being nice to each other and cooperating?

Ah, sure you can imagine that. But should you expect that to be true? :)

(I'm only writing this because OP genuinely sounds to me as if you truly can't understand why lots of people want to PvP in MMORPG)
 
I'm only writing this because OP genuinely sounds to me as if you truly can't understand why lots of people want to PvP in MMORPG

I can. I'm just trying to explain why lots of people DON'T want to PvP in MMORPGs. Both types of players exist. And on the PvP side consensual PvP is a lot more popular than the unrestricted kind.
 
Nevertheless I find it surprising that you refuse to acknowledge that the world, in general, is very competitive.

I got quite the opposite from his post, but it's because I don't want to play EVE for the same reasons he doesn't want to play it.

As a person who works in research, I face mental challenges, goal setting, and competition in my work life. Why would I want the same stress at home?

I played a bit for a trial in New Eden and thought it was "hard" from a themepark point of view. You have to plan much more. I found myself having to look at requirements for missions before accepting them if I hoped to get a time bonus. And honestly? That's not a bad thing. In many ways it is a good thing. But I think some of us just want to "escape" sometimes.

And Gevlon, yes - the lions etc play-fight in order to learn to fight or hunt later. The difference is that I know one is a game and the other is not. Lions and wild animals are following their base instincts. People don't typically pick up an MMO based on anything other than instinct. And by that I mean they have no experience with any gaming, no word of mouth or friends playing.
 
And Gevlon, yes - the lions etc play-fight in order to learn to fight or hunt later. The difference is that I know one is a game and the other is not.

You seem to completely discount what a game is and isn't. All games, especially MMO's, have lessons that you can learn much faster and better than in real life. And before you start with the crazy talk, hear me out.

With Everquest as my first MMO, it taught me one very important lesson that school kind of didn't. You pay for your stupid mistakes, and stupid mistakes are MUCH worse than valid mistakes. Dying to a train in mistmantle? About a bubble (hour of play) lost. Going into the forest outside the halfing area at night? Four hours lost of not only experience, but trying to get my corpse back. That's when I discovered a minute of research on everlore would have saved me four hours.

Fast Forward to WoW. Raid falls through, guild nearly collapses, people begin to in-fight. Being tired of it, I get a raid together, get people talking amicably, and begin the raid schedule working again. Soon, I'm an officer and then basically co-gm. No where in real life would this kind of situation popped up in my normal life allowing me that chance, and here I find out that my anti-social self actually can lead, and lead well.

Both of the above moved my confidence forward, and the leading in vent has changed how I talk to people. While I don't make amazing money, I'm finally happy with the track my career is taking and I have choices, instead of being forced to stay where I'm at.

Go figure games gave me upward mobility. Oh, and I had, and am still having fun.

As far as EVE, it's one of my favorite games to date. Only one other game in the entirety of the online universe allows you to do what I love doing best and not care about doing anything else. Crafting. I have a fully outfitted hulk, level 5 of each refining and the necessary skills for mining, and am now looking at scanning as a way to find even more mining belts. I've single-handedly erased an asteroid belt before.

However, because the game has PVP, and, gasp, Ganking, the crafting part is kind of quiet. I usually lose, at most, one ship a year. And it's mainly due to hulkageddon. But now I have good drone skills, so that won't be as bad this time.

Because there is the ability to completely avoid the PvP part, UNLIKE WoW, any person with decent judgement will probably be able to also avoid any PvP entirely. It's only half the game, there is a whole nother half out there you can enjoy.
 
Just curious. If you try to take and apply this to real life does supporting the wolves mean you are in favor of armed robbery and that the victims had it comming as they are just M&S anyway?
 
"Playing is about exploring alternatives with consequences that are significantly less serious than in real life. A game is attractive *because* it is not real life, *because* you can try out being a different person, having different goals than in real life. Playing a game differently than you "play" real life broadens your horizon, and is more relaxing than reproducing the same patterns of behavior you already follow in real life"

I just thought you described Eve online.
 
If you're the type of person who likes to gamble, you will like EVE and open-world PvP in general. There's no rationality or intelligence behind it -- your brain gives you a little happy jolt when you take a risk, so you take lots of risks.

If you aren't the type of person who likes to gamble, you won't care for EVE or open-world PvP. There's also no rationality or intelligence behind it -- your brain just doesn't give you a jolt when you take a risk, so you don't take as many risks.
 
Games SHOULD be like real life, [...] This way players would learn important skills in real life.

Edutainment?

Should all books promote real-world skills as well? No fiction unless it's relevant? Should all music be the same way? Movies? Comic books? Television shows? No comedians, no circuses, no playground equipment, no art?

No thanks.
 
Of course Gevlon doesn't trust anyone. That is why he cooks all his own food at all times and drinks only water which he has personally gathered, purified, and tested, because he does not trust anyone. Or, those would be utterly absurd actions, and in fact any sane human being will, to some extent trust others, because that's the only way a society can function.

As for the lion cubs, they would change their behavior if they knew that hunting was not how they'd survive, just as humans have. Only a primitive creature still bound by animal sub-routines would think humans should act like animals.
 
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