Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Logged in - but as what? Free will or machine?

On mmocrunch, cmagoun posted this article, which quoted me.

It's a question on risk - cmagoun started using a different definition of risk. I'll use it in the sense of it meaning chance of danger.

Now, what happens if you think there's danger in say, crossing a section of eve space, or even crossing a zone in PVP world of warcraft? But even though you think there's danger, all the gankers are actually on bio break, or they are asleep, or their girlfriend got frisky (okay, I guess the GF part is pretty unrealistic...hehe).

Well, did you face a risk?

Perhaps in some sort of butterfly effect, chaos theory way you did? Because all the real world factors, including the players own will and deciding if they log in, that might determine whether they are on at the moment you cross that sector. And facing all that, that counts as risk, right?

I might actually agree with that, except for the human will part.

I mean, if you start treating a persons decision to log in (or not log in) not as a human choice, but simply as a statistical obstacle to overcome...well, is this how social connection between people works?

That's starting to treat someone like a vending machine - like calculating the odds of them vending a certain result then fist pumping the air if the 'logged out' result is vended.

I prefer to think of peoples free will as a sort of gentle mystery - and thus it's not at all facing risk to face whether they are logged on or not. That's simply human choice.

Now I grant, it's totally possible to treat people as a type of vending machine - there is nothing that says one has to always just paint peoples free will as a mystery. You can instead treat it as a biomechanical machine - just a pile of drifting, wet, carbon based mud. Sometimes you have to cut the crap and see the truth of 'humanity' underneath. BUT NOT FOR A GAME! Surely? For just a freaking risk thrill? Surely not?

Treating someones free will as just a set of statistical odds is treating that person as a machine (and oh, there's truth in that, but lets not get into that truth simply for a mmorpgs sake, surely?).

And if you don't treat their free will as a set of statistical odds, it's simply not risk taking to face off whether they are logged in or on bio break. No risk taking is happening.

For more on the idea of free will, see my other post.

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