Episode 146: Virtual Ethics: Morality and MMOs

April 25, 2013

Featuring Matt Anderson and Ben De Bono

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One comment on “Episode 146: Virtual Ethics: Morality and MMOs

  1. Fun listening to Matt trying to take the crash couse in MMOs. Sounded a bit like a grandpa trying to figure out the remote… 😉
    A few comments:
    -You should give Cory Doctorow’s “For the Win” a look (free download for ebooks). It’s a speculation on where gold farming might be going and speculates on what would happen if these workers unionized. It considers many of the concerns you raise.
    -Regarding Ben’s comment that this is only a recent phenomenon because it’s only recently that technology has made it possible. In it’s current graphic-based incarnation, yes. However, I think you’re overlooking earlier forms of MMORPGs. The Multi-User Dimension (MUD) and Multi-User Shared Hallucination (MUSH). These were text-based and played over telnet, with some attempt at rudimentary graphics by arranging keyboard symbols and by using some coding that could add color and simple effects (like blinking) to the words.
    MUDs were like Diablo (Hack and Slash to get gold and loot). They got old quick and I don’t care for them. MUSHes were a lot more like your D&D tabletop games, where you focus much more on communal storytelling and character development in a realtime environment.
    In a MUSH, typically, rolling virtual “dice,” getting items and making money play a secondary role to telling an interesting story, and often never are even used in a session.
    Finally, there are Play by Email (PBEM) games, where a group mailing service is used to tell a story a bit at a time, leaving “Tags” to indicate where other characters should write what they are doing and how they are reacting. These can range from Diablo-like numbers-focused games to pure storytelling.
    -Did you ever hear of the game “DragonQuest”? It was a Christian-focused tabletop roleplaying game that I used to play when I was a kid.
    -Sure, Ben, there’s nothing you have bought when you buy an in-game item. I mean, what’s next, we’ll pay to watch light on a screen? Or a monthly fee for countless 1s and 0s? Or pay to get a little ticket that gives me a chance to win money at a probability so low it’s indistinguishable from zero.
    I mean, you might as well say little pieces of paper have actual value…
    (Despite my sarcasm, the actual money for virtual items can get absurd, it’s true. But I guess I do see it as similar to gambling. If it brings entertainment and enjoyment and is done in moderation – Bensmokinganddrinking. *Cough Cough* – I fail to see the actual harm).


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