[MUD-Dev] "An essay on d00dism and the MMORPG"

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 27 13:55:30 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Sunday, November 26, 2000, 3:41:11 PM, Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl> wrote:
> On Wed 15 Nov, Koster, Raph wrote:

>> An essay on d00dism and the MMORPG
> [essay by Arios Truthseeker snipped]

> I am somewhat amazed that there is no reply, nor comment,  at all to
> this essay.

Well, I thought about commenting, but decided that the issues I would
have raised have been raised here before.  Basically, I don't agree
with the author's contention that it's useless to try to keep d00ds
out of a mud.  However, we've been over that ground before, and I
don't think anything new would come of discussing it again.

> The underlying principle of this entire essay is  that it is somehow
> bad to have these 'd00ds' on a mud. Yes they are occasionally annoy-
> ing and even obnoxious, but maybe we should be honest about it. Have
> we not just created the exact game that they are playing?

Actually, no, I haven't.  I've created a game that they're playing in,
but the game that they are playing is not that game, if you follow me.

In the pencil-and-paper RPG world, "d00ds" are subdivided into
two main types.  Here are my own definitions of them.  (Note that
there is some disagreement over definitions; many people lump the
types together into "munchkins".)

Munchkins:  A munchkin is an immature player whose goal is to "win"
the game by beating the other players.  Note that the munchkin's focus
is on other players, not on the game being played; a munchkin often
doesn't care whether or not the goal of a game gets accomplished, as
long as he/she "beats" the other players.

Munchkins will cheat in any way they can get away with, freely
violating the spirit of the rules, and even the letter of the rules if
they can.  Munchkins are often what muds would term "PKers", and many
will seek to kill other PCs through indirect means if direct means
can't be used.

If the GM does not watch while a munchkin rolls up a character, the
munchkin will come up with an amazing set of rolls.  If a point system
is being used, the munchkin will cheat anyways, and will claim to have
"made a mistake" if caught.  They'll also attempt to pressure or
cajole the GM into letting them break or bend character creation
rules.  In play, they'll cheat on die rolls, "forget" damage that
their characters have taken, and the worst ones will simply
outright lie -- e.g., claiming that their characters have equipment or
abilities they do not.

In computer games, they'll cheat if they have the capability of doing
so -- either by trying to hack the system (or get a friend to do it)
to change things, or by taking advantage of bugs and loopholes.

Munchkins generally cannot be reasoned with.  Given time, most of them
will grow out of it, but until they do, they'll continue to behave
this way.  If someone comes down on them for it, they may change
temporarily, but will revert when they think they're no longer being
watched (or, on a mud, may just create a new character).  If forced to
stop behaving this way, they'll either leave for greener pastures or,
in the worst case, hatch a grudge and start working to discredit or
damage the person or persons who have forced them to stop.

Munchkins are the gaming equivalent of joyriding teenagers; they
either can't see or don't care about the harm they're causing to
others.  They do generally recognize some line or right and wrong, but
haven't yet reached the stage to realize that the kind of harm they're
doing is important.

Powergamers:  A powergamer is focused on character power, but does not
have the hallmark of immaturity that distinguishes munchkins.
Powergamers want to have the most powerful characters that they can
build *within the game rules*.  A powergamer will not outright cheat,
but may exploit loopholes that have not yet been ruled illegal.

Further, while powergamers are looking to "beat the system" by building
the most powerful character possible, they're not focused on "beating
the other players" the way a munchkin is.  The worst trait in a
powergamer is being oblivious to the effects on others of what he/she
is doing -- e.g., not thinking about the fact that while going and
grabbing the Great Sword of Poobah gives him/her the best weapon on
the mud, it also prevents anyone else from doing Quest X.

The best trait of powergamers is that they enjoy sharing what they've
done -- not just with a clique of friends (which munchkins will do),
but with anyone and everyone.  Since they're not trying to beat the
other players, they don't try to keep information to themselves to get
an "advantage" over the other players.

Powergamers can be reasoned with.  They'll continue being powergamers,
but if you point out that "doing X is ruining the game for other
people", they'll generally stop doing it.

Powergamers are the gaming equivalent of the guy who spends every
weekend outfitting his car with more chrome, a bigger engine, etc.
They want to have a powerful, flashy character, but are also happy to
share their knowledge with others.

(There are other types that exist in a P&P context, such as Rules
Lawyers and Everywhere People, but the setup of muds tends to prevent
them.  Conversely, muds have types that P&P games don't, like
Spoilers; the fact that P&P games require that a group of people be
willing to tolerate your presence prevents them from staying in any
P&P game for long.)

Whew!  In both cases, though, the player is focused on their own
peculiar metagame, rather than the game that the game designer
designed.  In many cases, munchkins and powergamers have little
interest in the game itself -- it's simply a medium in which they can
play their own game.

> The author builds his entire argument by showing the 'd00d' as young
> male who  'does not get it in social environments'  and sees the mud
> as a game where he can gain acceptance, but 'still does not get it',
> even though he makes all the right moves.
> To me this is not only condescending, but also quite wrong. I do not
> propose a mud as an environment to teach social skills, but to treat
> anybody inside a mud  the same way  as these archetypical youths are
> treated in their real lives  is morally reprehensible (always wanted
> to use that word ;)  These people may not 'get' the social aspect of
> the game, but the do 'get the game' quite nicely.

I don't agree in all cases, as outlined above.  They may be playing in
the game, and may even be succeeding at it by some measures, but that
doesn't necessarily mean they "get the game".  Especially when they
indulge in behaviors such as kill-stealing and taking advantage of
loopholes to PK characters who don't stand a chance against them.

> Rather than seeing
> them as a 'force of nature' that should be tormented out of the game
> we, as game designers, should perhaps give them some hooks to create
> rudimentary social skills.  They get enough tormenting in real life,
> that the mud is an essential escape for them.

Here I must protest.  Torment?  Munchkins/d00ds are generally social
misfits, and may be outcast by their peers, but tormented?  I have
friends and family who have been prisoners of war, victims of
politically-motivated physical torture, and victims of gang beatings.
My grandmother and great-grandmother have never fully recovered from
beatings they were given by a gang who invaded their home -- yet they
have felt no need to start trying to "beat" other people.  My cousin
was beaten and tortured under the Communist regime in East Germany --
yet she does not feel any such need either.

Being a social outcast is certainly painful, but I do not consider it
"torment", and it is certainly no excuse for indulging in behaviors
that hurt others -- even if the hurt is only "virtual".

       |\      _,,,---,,_    Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)   

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