Philosophical Ranting of an Engineer

I found the paper “Tradegies of the ludic commons – understanding cooperation in multiplayer games” to be particularly interesting both from a game theory point of view (an interest of mine) as well as from a cooperative design point of view (a significant interest of mine).

Much of the article deals with trust, when and why do we trust people we are competing against. Obviously the kind of trust we have for our teammate is a different kind of trust we have in our competitor but it can be just as important. In the Warcraft 3 custom map playing community there is a widespread dislike of people who disconnect partway through the game. Unlike the standard game type, there is no penalty for leaving halfway through the game and many maps work best when there are two teams of five each. If one person leaves 10 minutes into an hour long game, the rest of the game has been ruined for the other nine people. This means that people are often very picky about who they allow in their game. If you download the map slowly you are targetted as one with a slow connection and a high probability of disconnecting and booted! It is worth the extra few minutes wait up front to find ten “reliable” players.

In the same way that we must trust our opponents to ensure a good match, we also want to trust our teammates especially in strictly cooperative setting. In World of Warcraft players are careful to ensure that their teammates for a dungeon run are of the appropriate level, appropriate class, and appropriate spec. There is little room for lenience when it might mean an unsuccesful run. However more leniency is given when that player is a friend or a guildmember. This seems to go back to the whole Monkeysphere as well as Smith’s discussion of clans. By only playing with clan members, in a cooperative or competitive setting, the player is more likely guaranteed a positive play experience as opposed to playing with random people where the experience is also random.

Of particular note with this article is the discussion of Ebay’s reputation system and how few or no games have ever implemented something like this. Obviously a rating system in a game like Starcraft would different from a game like Counter Strike which would differ from a game like World of Warcraft, but the idea that players are rated based on their past performances is interesting, especially when that player is an opponent. Would people positively rate a challenging opponent after a difficult, but fun match? Or is a reputation system for opponents only useful for marking deviant play? This is something I will be exploring in my final project and will be writing on later.


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