Philosophical Ranting of an Engineer

“The people who exist outside that core group of a few dozen people are not people to us. They’re sort of one-dimensional bit characters.” And yet it’s the good will towards people outside of our Monkeysphere that’s the lubrication that makes communities work. Of course I may drive your kids to school when you are sick because you’ll drive mine when I’m sick, but what about giving that old lady a seat on the bus? She won’t ever return that favor. Perhaps it’s the religious regions mentioned in the article, perhaps it’s a general good will, whatever it is, community falls apart without it. It’s basic game theory with the biggest payoff requiring all of us to work together and no one cheating. Unfortunately this means cheating pays big. For some reason we end up helping each other out just a little bit and things work much smoother.

But what about online where anonymity rules and people seem inherently more hostile? A big problem with MMORPGs in the past has been ganking (killing other players, usually through some sort of sneak attack giving you an unfair advantage). World of Warcraft sort of solved this problem by forcing players onto one of two teams. You can’t gank players on your team, but you can gank players on the other team. This means that half the population (the other team) is outside of your Monkeysphere. Of course 99.99% of the people on your team are also outside of your Monkeysphere. But something strange happens. All of a sudden it’s not every man for himself where we make small groups or tribes that band together for survival. No, it’s us versus them! You may not know anything about PantyMcPants over there, but he’s on your team which means that when the other team comes to kill you, they are also coming to kill him! So through unspoken agreement, you protect each other because it improves your chances of survival. But that doesn’t really fall under the Monkeysphere anywhere does it? No, it’s game theory again. (game theory <=> social interaction?) You’ll do unselfish things for people inside your Monkeysphere and you’ll do selfish things for people outside of your Monkeysphere.

Say I have to kill some uber boss for a quest, right as I’m about to kill him someone on my team runs up so I invite him into my group so he can kill the uber boss too. That seems rather unselfish, after all I gain nothing from it, but the costs are low too. This falls under the community lubrication category. But the very next moment I might be farming Motes of Fire (gathering a rare material) with two other members of my team and I’m doing my best to collect these motes faster than the other two guys because even though they are on my team, they’re outside my Monkeysphere. All of a sudden two guys from the other team show up to farm motes. More competition! But these guys are on the other team which means I can kill them! So my two “buddies” and I team up to force out the rest of the competition. The moment the threat is gone I’m back to killing Fire Elementals before my two teammates can kill them.

So it seems like we behave the same way online as we do offline. Friends still belong in the Monkeysphere and the enemy is still the faceless ganking “shitcamel” lowlife. And everyone else is just looking after themselves. Only sometimes that means helping you, especially if it’s easy and it greases the community gears.

Near the beginning of a game night, a nervous guild member logs in and types ”/gu looking for healer for Shadow Labs run so I can get my Kara frag.” There is silence for a bit, and finally the sole guild priest online says “I will grant you your wish. Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to run my alt through Gnomeregan.”

Guild are like the Corleone family – WowInsider


1 Response to “Response to "Inside the Monkeysphere"”

  1. Darkell Says:
    Good blog. I like your WowInsider reference, lol.

Sorry, comments are closed for this article.