Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
 
Playing evil

I was reading an article in the New Statesman about how horribly players behave to each other in the sandbox game DayZ. And that got me wondering whether bad behavior is inherent to all sandbox games, or whether certain game design elements push it.

History shows that the default human behavior in face of a threat (like a zombie apocalypse) is to cooperate and work together against that threat. And that can happen in a MMORPG too, for example players regularly worked together against the harsh game environment of the original Everquest. But many sandbox games are famous for their especially sadistic and cruel player base. Which isn't exactly helping in making sandbox games more popular.

What do these people think when they do such evil things in a game. Is it them just playing at evil, or do they have evil streaks in their character for which they have no other outlet? Or are they just bored and try out every single one of the options the game gives them, without thinking that their victim is another human being, a player behind that avatar they are torturing? Because if it was just that, then maybe such games should simply be programmed with more options for positive, collaborative behavior, and less options for cruelty.

What do you think?

Comments:
If it's evil to play a character that does something evil, then by extension it's also evil to write about playing a character doing something evil. That makes you, Tobold Stoutfoot, as well as the person behind Tobold, evil; does it not?

I don't think you're evil, because I don't think it's evil to play a character that does something evil; but it seems to me that the logic above holds true for those that do think that.
 
"History shows that the default human behavior in face of a threat (like a zombie apocalypse) is to cooperate and work together against that threat. And that can happen in a MMORPG too, for example players regularly worked together against the harsh game environment of the original Everquest"

You answered your own question. In these games losses have little consequences (who cares about losing a destroyer) and upkeeping yourself has zero cost (you don't need food or bills to pay).

These games allow bad behavior and creates an environment where no actions (good or bad) have consequences to the actor.
 
At the end of the day, it is just a game, is it not? It can become quite daunting at the end of the day if players were to play one specific play style over another. Players adopt different ways of playing the game because they are able to, and because they are playing the game to ease their boredom. If supposed sandbox games are programmed to only enable players to play as the valiant heroic figure rather than the malignant mastermind, wouldn't that defeat the purpose of a sandbox game: where you are given the freedom to do whatever you want? no matter how good or bad? What would happen to the bad guys, who often appear in post-apocalyptic movies, who justify their killing as their only way to survive? Even NPCs are limited on their emulation of the actions of real people in fight or flight situations.
 
I agree. Part of the problem is that players are not held responsible for their actions in-game and quite often can easily circumvent any penalties (usually by creating additional accounts).
In AtitD most people had one character with one account and the things you did influenced your reputation as people didn't abandon their characters as easy and were more dependent on cooperation.

In EvE in contrast, griefers run multiple accounts, so while one is banned or has to wait to reset punishment timers, they will play with the others.

In DayZ, you also don't gain very much from surviving longer or having a good reputation, so it is an anything goes.
 
It is a very complex subject.
Over the years I have played a lot of sandbox / PvP enabled games. The two biggest being Ultima Online and Eve.

If you consider the needs of a griefer, it is to have as much freedom to affect other player's game experience as possible. So they are naturally drawn to games that have as many non-consentual PvP options as possible. Preferably with consequesnce for death.

This is why sandbox PvP games attract so many dicks.

Unfortunatley that is just what you have to put up with.

Sandbox games offer gameplay and collaboration opertunities that themepark games just dont have. I am a great fan of the sandbox, despite it's one unfortunate downside.

For me the best time in gaming was early Ultima online. This is a game with harsh death consequences (you can have all your stuff looted) as well as full non-consentual PvP.
But because this was the ONLY MMO at the time, literally everyone in the genre played it. This meant that the griefers were in the small minority.
You had entire guilds that would protect new players from reds. You had players that dedicated themselves to the skills needed to find and kill thieves. Griefers certainly didnt have the upper hand in those days.

Unfortunately, we have so many games now that sandbox games have a greater percentage of griefers.

 
It's whether the games have programmed in more and more fruitful options for harmful actions to your fellow players over helpful ones, plus the lack of any serious consequences for bad behavior.

In A Tale in the Desert, we had griefers come by, but each account cost them a month's subscription to open, they could get permabanned quite easily by community player vote, and after that, whatever nonsense they inflicted on the landscape could be removed.

Inflicting a real world cost on the pocketbook for the pleasure of griefing really seemed to limit how long they could do so.
 
Well, particularly with zombie stuff, there's a certain cultural expectation that people will be murderous dicks. You probably don't watch the Walking Dead show but Day Z isn't that far off from that shows expectations regarding human interaction.

That aside, some people, especially in the consequence free environment of a video game, will be bad apples. They go behave like dicks to new players. After three or four times getting murdered for no reason, the new player becomes paranoid and assumes that the next new player is a dick and kills him on sight. Then the third player is now paranoid. It's a trust cascade where a few bad actors make it much harder for people to trust and interact with each other.

Also, there's nothing necessarily wrong with being a dick in an MMORPG. They are, after all, role playing games. You can role play a murdering dick. I don't see that as evil.

As far as DayZ goes, your options are 1) spend 15 minutes slowly crawling into a barn 2) kill people. The game is pretty limited to just scavenging supplies. So I guess my answer is all of the reasons you listed.
 
A lot of the trouble is that some people think of sandbox as 'freedom to act towards other players however I want to' and others think of sandbox as 'freedom to build however I want to survive and thrive in the world.' The first group see being able to hurt other players as integral to the sandbox genre, the later group sees it as an entirely irrelevant feature to be fixed.

It's evil to want other players to suffer, but it's not evil to want to win over other players. That's why competitive multiplayer is not evil, while griefers are evil. It's all about the intent towards the other players.

I don't think the sandbox genre innately attracts these evil players, rather I think that most sandboxes are pretty lazy. A developer makes a sandbox and more often than not decides not much in the way of real content for people to strive against. Instead he just sets out a bare-bones world with some combat systems and intentionally turns players on each other, so that other players _are_ the content. It's easier and lazier than having to develop an engaging world. So most sandboxes appeal to the first view, rather than towards the latter view, that I suspect you and I would prefer.
 
For most people, sandbox = no rules/ I can do anything I want. Since there are no game mechanics that provide consequence, usually the worst happens. Non disruptive players leave and the rest go on being 'evil' to one another. Eventually it becomes and acceptable behavior in all sandbox games and the cycle continues whenever something new launches.

By the way, this should provide some food for thought:

http://evenews24.com/2014/03/25/jesters-trek-the-bonus-round/


 
Gevlon has the right of it. There are no true consequences to behavior in a sandbox game (and to a lesser extent video games in general), so people can get away with whatever they feel like doing.

That also shows that the default human behavior without a threat and/or unifying goal is chaos.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of humanity, mind you.

 
Yeah, no serious consequences to the perpetrators.

In most cases, there are also no serious consequences for the "victim." It's just a game, and everyone knows it. Furthermore, since playing is voluntary, and games like this tend to get a well-known reputation for this kind of cruelty, it's a fair bet that everyone playing has implicitly consented to this.

There are plenty of games that allow cooperative play. Even EVE, the poster child for anti-social ruthlessness, encourages people to form up in groups (corporations) of like-minded players pursuing common goals.
 
I think a distinction needs to be made between circumstances as they pertain to the in-game effects on players, and the outcomes based on a given storyline as given by the developers.

I side with Koster when he stated that "players do learn to see past the fiction fairly quickly, and cease seeing this as a moral issue, because they are smart: they know it’s just a game, and they move onto the underlying systemic reality very quickly."

If developers present a narrative where race or faction pits players against one another, and the lore/storyline presents and supports a level of conflict between these factions/races, then players will act according to the supported level of conflict as determined by the in-game mechanics. However, if the game mechanics don't closely match the underlying narrative of the game, and the player is allowed to perform actions that don't support the lore/narrative aspects of the game, then players on the receiving end will be left with the decisions of reciprocation, ignoring the actions, or making the decision to move on to a different game.
 
To combine Michael with Gevlon, because the consequences are so small, especially with so much MMO choice, that in the battle of the Creators and the Destroyers, the Creators find that instead of banding together, building moats and hiring Shirrefs, it is just easier to move on to another game. Which always seems to me that a lot of the creation efforts in these sandboxes could be better spent on the destruction aspects of the game.

----

I am on the side of "what you do anonymously says something about your real-life character and morals" not "oh but I am just roleplaying a jerk" (Which I find especially disingenuous since IMO most of these people do not RP or hold the RP segment in high esteem.

My definition of evil & griefing works well: It is not evil if you would you do it to an NPC. Would you kill a NPC and take their gold? Yes. Suicide your million ISK ship to loot a billion? yes. Suicide your ten million ship against a noob to loot nothing? no. Sit on mailboxes? no. Verbally or travel harass them? no.



 
I wonder if the intersection of evolving technology and law will change this discussion?

Tech: At some point, animations will be good enough to appear realistic "enough." E.g., graphics are pretty good now and if in nine years CPUs and GPUs are 6400% the power (here's hoping Moore's law can be maintained) and we are on displays past UHD & Retina.

Law: Will certain things portrayed with CGI characters still be illegal? Even if no actual children or animals were involved, then will it still be illegal? My guess is the "Remember the children!" crowd will win and it will be illegal. IMO, "it's only a game" defense is really weakened once there are games that it is criminal to play.

So wouldn't whatever legal arguments are used (e.g. while these films did not harm anyone, they pander to, incite or encourage horrible behavior) apply to inciting bad behavior in these "I am just a misunderstood, evil roleplayer trying to have fun" sandboxes?
 
EVE Online.
I love the idea.
I do not play it.

I never met a person in EVE online that understands the idea I love about the game, however I know such people exist. They're just not as many.

There is two things that produce the mindset of an EVE online player.

1. Skills. They grow in time. In time you can perform more and more actions. You gain power. But it's slow, and out of your control. So by the time you can do really amazing stuff you already fought every NPC scenario there is in the game and they do not pose a threat nor are they fun anymore. Yes, you attend your daily Sleeper encounter in your WH, but that's more like work and when you want to have fun, you seek it elsewhere. And guess what's really fun? Playing with someone is. Playing like a cat with a mouse is. Podding someone is.

2. ISK. This is the only mean of character development you actually have some control over. But the actions you can take to increase your ISK income are either boring or plain old risky. Boring ones turn you braindead after time, so you try the risky ones, and these are really tense. Adrenaline and Emotions. You lose some, but you either quit the game or try again. And after some attempts you can see how this should be done, and then you win and they lose. There is never a Win-Win in EVE. There always are losers.

Sandbox gaming is about simulating a world, giving complete control over to it's inhabitant. There is no premade story. You make you own, just like in real life.

In life playing with someone requires compromise. Life often will give you field for compromise. Life will also allow win-win situations very often. You want money, someones wants a job done, compromise is you do the job and they give you money for it.

The jobs you can be commissioned to do in EVE are infiltration, courier, harvesting and building. Most of them require fighting or are aggressinve in nature, and things you're building are for combat purposes. EVE is created for it's inhabitants to wage war. And when the most effective, fun and availble interaction with other players is attacking them, how can one anticipate anything else?

Because imagine, that all Alliances in EVE suddently come to a truce. that they all join one big alliance. And the griefers suddenly understand they were wrong all this time. Noone attacks anyone anymore. What is left of EVE then? To me it feels kind of empty.


 
Maybe the threat in games isn't strong enough to compel cooperation.

Like the zombie apocalypse isn't that much of an issue after you've mastered the basics, so the players turn to messing around with each other.

 
As far as I'm concerned if you choose to play an evil person in a game that lets you be otherwise (FPS games for example force you to PvP, fair enough) and are not doing so for the benefit of others like GMs usually do, you are an evil person in real.

Maybe you just hide it really well, and are "the nicest guy/gal", but if you enjoy ruining other people's days then you are a scum bag through and through. Probably like the rest of your family. If society had no laws being enforced I question what you would do IRL.
 
I do feel that griefers in sandbox games have some serious sociopathic tendencies. Now, obviously there is something to be said for getting those out in a relatively harmless environment, but I don't buy the "RPing evil" bit at all.

And of course competition is different than griefing, and I think most people play those games for the competitive aspects and not specifically to give others a hard time. They kill because they see you as the obstacle, and that's perfectly fine. It's only those who legitimately derive pleasure from making other people's experiences worse that have issues.
 
Maybe the best solution is to have good and evil teams. Though you still get griefers on your own side, it may be lessened if the grief-inclined can legitimately play the monsters.
 
I suspect that most of the griefers are actually young children or teens. I think they act on impulse do to lack of impulse control.
 
I'm tired of hearing about how because there are no consequences in a game, people will be terrible to each other. In real life people don't refrain from raping and murdering each other because they're worried that the police will arrest them, or that they'll lose community standing or whatever. They refrain from horrible actions because most people genuinely believe it would be wrong to hurt other people, from a moral/ethical perspective.

The real issue is: Why does playing in a game change whether some people choose to be ethical? Why does playing a game loosen normal moral restraint?

Or perhaps I'm wrong about it being the game, and griefers really would go about in real life murdering and raping people, were it not for the police and justice system to prevent it. So they really are evil.

Just to be clear, when I say consequences I'm not slamming on utilitarian/consequentialist ethics (judging an action as good/evil by its consequences/outcome), I mean that games lack enforcement of behavior, like cops/courts/jails/fines, etc.
 
@Michael:
"The real issue is: Why does playing in a game change whether some people choose to be ethical?"

The real answer is: it doesn't. It's no more unethical to play an unethical person in a video game than it was for Shakespeare to write unethical villains in his plays.
 
@Mike Andrade: portraying evil in a media that commands a passive audience that is engaged with the fiction as an observer is a different experience from interactive media such as video games, in which the experience of participants is directly engaged and responsive. The real question is: can any virtual act for which there is no consequence (outside of wasted time) be regarded as evil in the first place?

Trying to imply that passive and interactive media is the same (either from your perspective or Tobold's) confuses the real issue: that we're not talking about evil acts, we're talking about nuisance behavior and nothing more. You can simulate an evil act within the context of the game's fiction, but you would be very, very hard put to find a way to commit a truly evil act in a video game, unless that game, for example, allows you to implement a deadly shock in the opponent's controller or something.
 
Or...to follow up...there really is a fundamental difference between committing an evil act and playing a game which lets you simulate an evil act in the safety of your own home and with no greater consequence than annoying or upsetting the target of said simulated act. People who like this aren't necessarily exhibiting a desire to commit evil deeds....but they are demonstrating a willingness and interest in exploring darker elements of human behavior without consequence or (much more importantly) causing actual harm. Unless you consider "you wasted my time and made this not fun for me" harm....and that is why I don't play DayZ.
 
@Tori:" portraying evil in a media that commands a passive audience that is engaged with the fiction as an observer is a different experience from interactive media such as video games, in which the experience of participants is directly engaged and responsive."

If your experience reading Shakespeare is not directly engaged and responsive, then you're doing it wrong.

The proper response to getting overly upset while reading a play/novel, or getting overly upset while playing a video game, is the same: stop, get up, go do something else. You can come up with all kinds of fancy verbiage to describe the difference between reading a novel and real-time interaction, and I do acknowledge there is a difference, but the difference isn't material. It is fictional, and if you can't handle it, go do something else to calm down. It's just that simple.
 
A griefer isn't playing an unethical character. A griefer is just being nasty in a childish way, probably due to a slightly undeveloped or sociopathic personality.
 
"Shakespeare wasn't writing unethical characters. Shakespeare was just being nasty in a childish way, probably due to a slightly undeveloped or sociopathic personality."

Nah, I'm pretty sure he was just writing unethical characters. Thanks for the thoughts of generalized prejudice though, there's nothing like a good witch hunt to bring out people like you; who believe that if we just hurl enough nasty insults at the 'nasty' people, we can get rid of all nastiness by overloading it with more nastiness. (hint: that won't work)
 
I can't understand how you could think that writing about something and doing something was the same thing. Some of the evil people Shakespear described are clearly there to be despised, as a moral example on how not to do it. It is the same thing with a war reporter who is writing about war criminals: It is a good act to expose evil.

Of course griefers are just a minor evil. They DO hurt people, but it isn't as if they were killing anybody. They are more in the same league as school bullies and cyberbullies. But they are making a clear moral choice. Given a situation where they could do something evil or not, they voluntarily go for the evil option, even if they know that it hurts a real player at the other end. And I'm not talking about games where killing the other player is the premise and purpose of the game.
 
"I can't understand how you could think that writing about something and doing something was the same thing. "

I'm not saying that, that would be insane. I'm saying that creating a fictional character in a novel, and continuing his narractive; and creating a fictional character in a role-playing game, and then playing out his narrative, are very similar. Writing something and doing something are obviously completely different; because in that case, the latter isn't taking place in a fictional world.

Perhaps you are referring there to comment #1, written by me? If so, your retort doesn't make sense, as that logical analysis isn't what I think at all, but instead is an 'If A, then B' statement where A is something that you seem to be implying, not anything that I think.



" But they are making a clear moral choice. Given a situation where they could do something evil or not, they voluntarily go for the evil option, even if they know that it hurts a real player at the other end."

This is the same as before, you're question-begging by using the term 'evil' as a description where the question is whether evil is happening or not, and using the term 'do something' to reference a situation where someone is merely enacting a fictional action.

"And I'm not talking about games where killing the other player is the premise and purpose of the game."

I'm a bit confused by this,as in my mind, killing the other player is indeed one of the intended premises and purposes of the game DayZ. In a game where everyone agrees to be nice to each other, then yes, griefing is rude, as it's wasting the other people's time by violating an agreement. I've never actually played DayZ, but my impression is that it's a game that's designed with the purpose of letting players choose a fictional persona of 'evil', without violating any such agreement.
 
someone is merely enacting a fictional action

I don't think there is something like a "fictional action" if it involves more than one real player.

The goal of the griefer is not to achieve some game purpose, but to emotionally hurt the player behind the avatar he is acting upon. That makes that action very real for the victim, because it can cause him very real distress. There is nothing fictional about it.

I agree that it is different if you are in a single-player game, where for example you might choose the dark side in Knights of the Old Republic out of roleplaying reasons.
 
*this is by far the longest response I've ever written here, but that just goes to show why one should never blog about, or respond to a blog about, such powerful and multilayered little words as 'good' or 'evil'. read on at your peril, or just advance to the last paragraph and skip the minutia*

"I don't think there is something like a "fictional action" if it involves more than one real player."

What would your response be to someone who sincerely believed that fiction in the form of novels and/or plays simply did not exist? You asked him what novel he was reading currently, and he turned to you and replied "I don't believe that novels exist, so I literally could not be reading one." What would you say in response?

I find myself in a similar predicament here. I believe that fictional games exist, that it is possible to play Simcity without having built a real city, that one can play Doom without the world actually being overrun with demons. If you say that fictional actions within fictional universes are 'real', then there's not much I can do other than 'realize' that we don't mean the the same thing by 'real'. (pun intentional and used to shove all kinds of unpleasant metaphysical garbage under the rug where it belongs)

"That makes that action very real for the victim, because it can cause him very real distress. There is nothing fictional about it."

There are movies that make me want to cry, Moulin Rouge, the final scene where Satine dies; the Branagh Hamlet, where Hamlet leaps on Ophelia's corpse and berates Laertes.

Using your language, replacing 2 words where appropriate: "That makes that [movie] very real for the [watcher], because it can cause him very real distress. There is nothing fictional about it."

Well, that depends on the antecedent of your word "it". Is the antecedent "distress?" Then yes, that distress is not fictional, but that distress is not contained in, or part of, the movie; the distress is a reaction contained entirely within the viewer. Is the antecedent "movie"? then you are simply wrong. In either case, Hamlet is still fictional; Moulin Rouge is still fictional. The entire audience in the theater could have broken down in tears, and either movie would have remained, as it was and always shall be, fiction.

Let's pause to consider the holy grail of sandbox misbehavior comment threads: the possibility that someone might be driven by the machinations of the sandbox and its community to actually commit suicide in the real world. How many people have committed suicide in reaction to reading a novel? Well, the phenomenon is common enough to have a name: The Werther effect, after a Goethe novel from 1774(!), and the ensuing rash of copycat suicides in the 1770's; the term not being coined until the 200th anniversary of the novel's publication in 1974, a strange coincidence. ( Meyers, David G. (2009). Social Psychology (10th Ed). New York: McGraw Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-337066-8.) I'd nearly forgotten that little datum, which makes the fact that my favorite pieces of music are the Brahms chamber pieces from his self-described "Werther" period a bit more disturbing to me. Perhaps on the 200th anniversary of Ultima Online coming out, a similar term will be coined by some researcher in the future--but wait, there hasn't been a suicide trend modeled after a sandbox MMO yet--has there? Anyway, moving on.
 
*part 2 of 3 of a sandbox morality epic*
So, then, we have established that real people can have real emotional reactions to works of fiction. Based on these real reactions, you, seemingly, want to bring in morality. The naive theory of fictional morality might be "in a simulated world, actions which are evil in reality are also evil in the simulated world, and causing an evil thing to happen in one of these is also evil in the other", and this naive answer seems to be something you're putting forth as a serious option. (e.g. "What do these people think when they do such evil things in a game. Is it them just playing at evil, or do they have evil streaks in their character for which they have no other outlet? ") It's certainly possible to refute this point by point, but it would be needlessly long, and since you haven't taken the time to support it point by point, there doesn't appear to be any reason why I should dismantle the argument you've neglected to make. Refutation by example includes referencing villains in Shakespeare, where the similar naive theory would be "actions which are evil in the real world are also evil in fictional novels, and writing about an evil action is a fictional novel constitutes an evil act in the real world." You seem to think that this is a ridiculous comparison, despite the fact that it is nearly exactly the same theory as the one you seem to be going by.

Honestly, this is a difficult moral scenario. Arguing by consequentialism, anyone whose emotional equilibrium could be seriously damaged by the results of a computer game is likely not someone who should be playing that game; which makes it more difficult to justify an argument that one should shape one's gameplay to suit that possibility.

Imagine for example that you were to make a similar assumption while driving. "Assume that everyone else driving a car on the road is completely unsuited to driving and is liable to commit a grievous error at any time" With this moral precept, you wouldn't be able to drive within 50 yards of any other car, and would be, as a result, completely unable to drive a car in any reasonably urban area. This moral precept therefore violates reasonable understandings of liberty and Kantian morality(If everyone applied this theory, no one could drive in crowded areas, which would mean they wouldn't be crowded, which would be paradoxical). People in the real world, who drive in crowded areas or busy freeways, are tacitly assuming a minimal level of competence from the other drivers.

So, applying this concept back to sandbox type games such as DayZ, it seems likely that the most careful assumptions about other players result in unacceptably limiting conditions upon individual choice in gameplay. One could proceed with the assumption that the other actors in such a mature and explicit game are prepared, as they should be, for any legal ingame action(the corresponding minimal level of competence), and then only modify that assumption upon negative feedback from other players. However, most people give negative feedback in an angry and insulting way, which tends to escalate conflict instead of reach any kind of mutual understanding. This ties back into your point "Because if it was just that, then maybe such games should simply be programmed with more options for positive, collaborative behavior, and less options for cruelty."

I agree with this point, and I also think that this last point I made ties into this; due to the tendency online to express the strength of one's emotional reaction via increasing the insulting and attacking use of text, and the lack of any other communication tools in these games, the communication is designed to break down. I believe Dayz attempts to solve this allowing voice chat to take place in game not in channels but in a realistic proximity based system, which might have more effect in a game which was less slanted towards violence in the ways you described above.
 
*part 3 of 3 of a sandbox morality epic*

"The goal of the griefer is not to achieve some game purpose, but to emotionally hurt the player behind the avatar he is acting upon. "

We don't need a complicated moral theory of game-reality equivalance to handle this situation: if the griefer admits that his intent is to cause harm to other people in the real world, then existing moral theories in the real world already handle that case. Anything more is needless and confusing overcomplexity. Many griefers wouldn't admit this, in which case the situation is more complex, but the moral compass at work remains basically the same.

Bringing it back to your original question, then:

"And that got me wondering whether bad behavior is inherent to all sandbox games, or whether certain game design elements push it."

Putting aside all the moral argumentation that's preceded this, let's use 'bad behavior' in the common sense version of 'bad behavior' which means 'whenever someone thinks what someone else did was bad'. In this usage, the more freedom and variety a game allows its participants, the more likely it is that 'bad behavior' will occur, simply because human nature is to call behavior other than expected "bad". So then, yes, sandbox games inherently are predisposed towards bad behavior, and yes, certain game design elements push it (obviously true, you've made this argument before in a convincing fashion as well).
 
You can write any length of comment you want, but that doesn't make your continued use of "a game is equal to written fiction" any more believable. Consuming written fiction is passive, there is nobody deliberately acting to hurt you.

Do you believe that cyberbullying exists? Or are all those well-documented cases of teenagers having been driven to suicide by cyberbullying just made up? Multi-player sandbox games are just a different platform on which the same behavior happens.

If deliberately trying to hurt another person isn't "evil", but only "bad behavior", I'd like to hear your definition of evil. Is there no lesser evil in your world view, can't you have evil unless somebody dies?
 
"You can write any length of comment you want, but that doesn't make your continued use of "a game is equal to written fiction" any more believable."

I agree, the fact that the sky is blue is also unaffected by comment length. And yet, the sky is indeed blue, and a role-playing game and written fiction are still both narrative forms.

"Consuming written fiction is passive, there is nobody deliberately acting to hurt you."

If someone is deliberately trying to hurt you, the real person not the character, then that isn't part of the game. If you're reading a book and there's someone trying to deliberately hurt you in the room with you, then you're in danger of being hurt; similarly, if you're playing a game online and there's a person who, instead of, or in addition to playing the game, is also trying to hurt you, the real person, then again, you're in danger of being hurt. Imagine this situation: here is a person who wants to hurt you emotionally and mentally. So, he challenges you to a chess match, and plays a perfectly polite and friendly game, all the while, internally wishing you evil harm. Would you be harmed by his intent, or would you be none the wiser, and go home thinking he was a pleasant fellow? Intent does indeed matter, but in the end, intent isn't enough to hurt someone. Hurting someone requires that you act in a way that hurts them, and merely capturing their chess pieces isn't enough. My experience is that bullies in sandbox online games try to hurt people by getting real life details about other people, and then using them to insult them. They realize that the game is just a game, and they're trying to make it 'real' . Hence, companies often make it against the rules to go after such information; and it's smart to not divulge such information.

"Do you believe that cyberbullying exists? Or are all those well-documented cases of teenagers having been driven to suicide by cyberbullying just made up? Multi-player sandbox games are just a different platform on which the same behavior happens."

When I was young, I was repeatedly bullied at a school bus stop. I'm not railing against buses or schools, because ANYWHERE is a possible platform for bullying; and it should be fought wherever it happens. No one is legally required to play a sandbox game, whereas kids are legally required to go to school; and people generally play sandbox games anonymously, and hopefully they're not 7 years old playing unsupervised, so I am much much less worried about bullying online in a sandbox game, than I am in the local real world; but if bullying occurs in such a game, it should be stopped. We agree that bullying is wrong. We agree that if someone admits that "they are trying to hurt the real person, not the ingame character", then that is evil. We agree on a lot. Where it seems we are disagreeing is on how evil/aggressive a person can roleplay a character in a sandbox game without actually having the intent of harming the person behind the opposing character. I believe that it's possible to have your character act in a very aggressive/damaging manner in a sandbox game without having that bullying intent towards the real person behind the screen; I'm not sure that you agree with that.


"If deliberately trying to hurt another person isn't "evil":

I never said that. What I actually said is that this case is already covered by the traditional moral codes stretching back for thousands of years. It is not necessary to construct weird moral codes for games to make this evil, because it's already considered to be evil.

I'd like to hear your definition of evil.:

"Deliberately trying to hurt people who don't deserve it" seems like a good start to me.

Is there no lesser evil in your world view, can't you have evil unless somebody dies?

Yes, there is lesser evil; but no, blowing up your spaceship in EVE online isn't evil, not in the slightest.
 
a role-playing game and written fiction are still both narrative forms

Only the coded part of a role-playing game is narrative form. The behavior of players isn't. There is no difference whether you call somebody "gay" in real life or in a fantasy role-playing game chat. You being inside the game doesn't turn your homophobe remark into "narrative form".

It is not necessary to construct weird moral codes for games to make this evil, because it's already considered to be evil.

I am not constructing any "weird moral code". I only point out that, like youm I already consider this behavior evil, and don't accept the "I am only role-playing" excuse.

blowing up your spaceship in EVE online isn't evil, not in the slightest

I never claimed that. Read the article I linked to, and consider e.g. the rape mentioned in the title and explained in the article. Or consider the quote: "Let’s think about that what that means for a moment. The game designers believed that their game would be improved by the ability to kill other player characters by forcing them to drink bleach."

I wouldn't even consider killing somebody in DayZ as evil, you might still justify that with either feeling threatened or in competition for a resource you need for survival. But capturing and then torturing another player for fun? That isn't just "blowing up a space ship".
 
"Only the coded part of a role-playing game is narrative form. The behavior of players isn't. There is no difference whether you call somebody "gay" in real life or in a fantasy role-playing game chat. You being inside the game doesn't turn your homophobe remark into "narrative form"."

Chatting out of character isn't part of the game, it's just talking to someone in a chatroom that is part of a game client. I've seen people call each other 'gay' in games thousands of times, and it has never been 'in character'. (disclaimer: I haven't played DayZ)


"I wouldn't even consider killing somebody in DayZ as evil, you might still justify that with either feeling threatened or in competition for a resource you need for survival. But capturing and then torturing another player for fun? That isn't just "blowing up a space ship"."

Well, I was responding to your post, not to that article; particularly to more general things you said such as "But many sandbox games are famous for their especially sadistic and cruel player base. Which isn't exactly helping in making sandbox games more popular. ", which is about all sandbox games, most of which I've played; but I haven't played DayZ.

So, now I've actually read the article, and holy shit. That's disturbing. I'd read some other article on DayZ so I skipped this one, and they were not similar, so bad decision there.

So, I'm going to change my answer. I still think it's not necessarily evil to do something like that in a game, to roleplay an evil character. But to roleplay a character that evil, much darker than I'd imagined, is dangerous. Sometimes you come back out of the rabbit hole not the person you were when you went in. I certainly have no plans to play that game now.
 
I would direct you to Patton Oswalk and his little routine about Sky Cake:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55h1FO8V_3w

In short, most people are gonna mess around and be mean to each other than some smart person comes along as shows them that being nice actually is more enjoyable (doesn't have to take religion to do it imo). But since it's much easier to just quit the game or just gather more power and beat down the guy who just beat you down, most people don't bother trying to build a nice community or anything like that.
 
History shows that the default human behavior in face of a threat (like a zombie apocalypse)

What??
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool