Philosophical Ranting of an Engineer

I found Burke’s article on self governance in games particularly interesting as I’ve spent time thinking about the possibilities of self governing economies in game, but I hadn’t thought about them from a player’s identity point of view. Nor had I considered the identity of a player in an MMO as a citizen of developer-dictator state but it makes so much sense in the context of community forums. The WoW forums are rampant with “why did you nerf my class?” “my class needs to be buffed” “this situation is imbalanced, fix it!” As citizens of a world where they don’t have a vote about how it is governed, the only thing the players can do is voice their opinion. I imagine a game where much of the hot balancing topics were controlled by players, through a voting mechanism perhaps, much of the complaints would disappear. Players would realize that they are no longer governed with an iron fist, but determine their own fate. Whether or not mob-rule makes for good game design is an entirely different question.

I do think there is oppurtunity for in-game, mechanic relevant self-governance and not only in the realm of economics where self governance seems to be widely accepted as a good thing even if it’s not always implemented. Allow players to form governments and manage the resources of their nation to buy NPC guards or fund quests or subsidize certain crafting professions. The biggest problem is who makes those decisions? A purely democratic approach could work technically but it still lacks the vision of a single leader. Probably the easiest would be to piggy back on guilds that are already mainstay in MMOs and let them get voted into power. Or give anyone who wants, a chance to rule their own city/nation and like the saying goes “if you build it, they will come.” Self governing leaders can be problematic if people are unaware of the cultural situation in the community. The moment you raise some of the players up over other players in terms of importance, people beging to feel they are getting the short end of the stick. Or if players are unaware of who their leaders are, how can they make good decisions when picking them? A developer would have to be very careful in implementing something like this or else the self-governing system could be worse than the developer-governing system.


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