Friday, January 29, 2010

Do you have to be an arsehole in real life to be an arsehole in game?

(Apologies for the crudity of my language but I do feel a certain robustness of expression is required to fully express what I am trying to get at).

Thanks to Syncaine I read an interesting piece about a Darkfall player called Darwoth who pulled of a series of impressive guild bank heists by tricking players into making him an officer in their guild.

I admire what Darworth achieved. It required audacity and cleverness and I believe this type of behaviour is entirely in keeping with the hardcore ethos of a game like Darkfall. This is exactly the sort of meta-game scheming that makes EVE a great game and is essential to the atmosphere of danger and mistrust that this type of game needs.

Unfortunately while I admire what he did I have nothing but contempt for Darworth himself. In his writing he comes across as a racist. He comes across as insulting and bad mannered. He comes across as a whinger. He constantly whines about what he calls zerg guilds. He whines about guard towers. He even whines about Trammel!!! Trammel happened almost a decade ago and he is still whining about it.

Am I completely naieve to think that it should be possible to role play a villain in the context of a game without being an arsehole in real life? I guess Hollywood has spoiled me. Too many David Niven and Michael Caine movies have led me to believe in the concept of the gentleman swindler who will rob you blind but with a debonair politeness.

14 comments:

Thallian said...

Well, one thing usually holds true, people who choose to be genuinely evil (not talking fake evil Horde here) in games usually are reflecting their selfish desire to gain power through any means necessary, especially if its easier to get through morally bereft shortcuts. When someone does something nice for you for no reason in a game it is usually a reflection of the person playing, not the roleplayed character right? So the opposite holds true as well. Now I draw a line when the game mechanics encourage bad behavior, such as guild hopping, treating friends as expendable, taking more than your share of the treasure, etc... Sometimes these are entered into ignorantly or without enough thought for the consequences to others. They are still selfishly motivated but they are not as purely evil as some other things.

mbp said...

Did you read the Rock Paper Shotgun playthrough of Solium Infernum Thallian? Solium is not an mmorpg but it is clearly a game which encourages underhand and duplicitous behaviour and those guys sure went for it. Yet I don't get the impression that Kieron Gillen and friends anre nasty in real life - they were just indulging in a bit of healthy rivalry in game. Darworth, on the other hand, comes across as a thoroughly unpleasant fellow.

Stabs said...

After playing pen and paper rpgs a lot I would say the answer is No. I played with a group who would all turn on each other and backstab, a group where if I left a NPC with them they'd have her stuff and possibly had sold her corpse to the local sausage factory, who used to steal the traps out of dungeons and re-sell them.

They were all lovely people, considerate and generous.

mbp said...

Hi Stabs. I think that answers the question of whether or not an "nice person" can play evil in a game. Of course if someone was genuinely unpleasant you wouldn't have invited them to your house to play D&D in the first place. In an internet mmorpg you don't get that choice.

Actually thinking further I am getting a bit confused now. How do I know this Darworth person is really unpleasant in real life? All I really know is that his internet persona is unpleasant. I suppose I am making the assumption that anyone who makes racist and abusive comments on an internet forum or blog is probably not very pleasant in real life.

DM Osbon said...

Playing a arsehole and actually being one seem much more a natural duplicity, than say being one but not the other.

ME2 allows you to be an arsehole but the results could mean the cost of your characters life in ME3 - now that's something to consider!

mbp said...

Hi DM. I guess I could have asked a complementary question. I think it is true that some "nice" people in real life role play villains. I wonder if there are any villains in real life who role play nice characters?

Anonymous said...

Ah, but, in real life, do they consider themselves as villains?

Plenty of people agreed that Iraq deserved to be bombed to shit in 2003. Then suffer an invasion of terrorism that didn't exist there beforehand.

Who is the villain?

Watch the BBC doco: The Trap - What happened to our Freedom?


Solbright

Anonymous said...

I'll put forth an idea that ties together much of what I've said in various threads ...

People are social beasts. What does being social mean? It's contributing to the wider community.

This is a basic urge and need we all have. We can't stay sane without regular successful contributions.

Can bringing about harm to others be considered as a contribution to the community? This certainly could explain the enthusiasm some do exhibit towards bullying. More than mere politics that's for sure.

So ... A contribution can be either constructive or destructive, the human psyche doesn't make a distinction.


Solbright

mbp said...

Wow Solbright that is pretty deep. Are you suggestion that grifers paly an important social role? That they somehow add to the community?

From my limited experience in EVE I can almost agree with that. Without Nasty people EVE could be a very boring game. Its the nasty people and the sense of danger they bring which makes the game exciting.

Anonymous said...

Important, as in the community needs such active bullies, I don't think so.

There will be arguments about preparedness and vigilante justice but those don't have to involve bullying. That's just politicking.

Eve does indeed reduce it down to constructive vs destructive. Any loses are kept to in-game investments. So it's a purist clean room exercise where both sides actually end up wanting the conflict as much through boredom as anything else. That said, the excitement of suddenly finding your efforts at risk and the possibility of beating or escaping the opposition does get the heart pounding.


Solbright

mbp said...

There is also a pretty big distinction between anti-social behaviour in a game and anti social behaviour in the real world. Whereas I might grudgingly admit that EVE is more exciting because of its ruthless pirates I would not extend the same leniency to pirates, murderers and thieves in real life. In real life I will happily choose safe boredom over dangerous excitement.

Anonymous said...

:) Ya, I certainly have plenty to obsess over already. And don't have plans for a short life either.

Anonymous said...

There's a good one for the villain question - All the Iraqi birth deformities from the nuclear waste that was dumped on them by the US military.

Anonymous said...

Destruction certainly adds change and can spur on renewal. However, such change is more out of necessity rather than desirable though. The end result is not necessarily an improvement. We celebrate what we have, both the preserved and the renewed alike.

The question of preparedness is maybe a bit more important than I gave it credit for earlier. Even the most well designed rulebook will lapse into disused if nothing ever calls for it. Humans are naturally lazy and will take shortcuts when given the chance. This can easily spill into public policy - overriding the rulebook.

The rulebook would have to be self-monitoring and likely self-aware to streamline human activities to no longer depend on conflict or, for that matter, even competition.


Solbright