Ooh, this strikes me as a mistake. IMHO, since social bonds between players inevitably migrate OOC, a mud which enforces no OOC contact whatsoever is actually be self-limiting. Its community will not develop precisely because it restricts itself to IC activity, which tends not to be as emotionally and socially engaging as OOC contact.
And of course, this means that it will probably never move beyond a niche. 🙁 For even though I myself would prefer an environment where I were totally immersed (that happens to be my style of play–IC all the way, never to break it except in OOC areas if any), there’s really DAMN few people who actually like that.
I think a true roleplaying game can survive and thrive–as long as it is small. But to grow beyond a very elite audience, it will have to accept the fact that it will need to direct players very firmly along predetermined ethical lines, it will have to shoulder much of the burden of organization on either the code or admin side, and it will have to sacrifice that sense of complete freedom. A large-scale pure roleplay game would basically have to be a fascist state. 🙁
The above led to several replies, including one drastic misreading of my final sentence.
…Urgh. I most definitely do NOT think that Stalinist politics was the pinnacle of human achievement. Hardly. I believe in freedom of thought, freedom of action within reasonable bounds, freedom of expression, choice, and so on. I also believe that if we are creating an environment which curtails some or all of these, then we are CODING a Stalinist government. What’s even less palatable to me is that we kinda HAVE to, at the moment, because it’s the best we can do. And the impetus to get beyond that stage of development underlies a great deal of what I’d do in designing a virtual environment.
If you are coding a system whereby nobody can strike another person *even in justifiable circumstances*, what sort of society have you made, and what sort of ruler are you? A system where it is not even possible to rebel against the thoroughly oppressive government, for that matter. In the virtual setting, we have as designers and admins, the power of gods. And yes, there are plenty of people willing to live under the rule of jerks, plenty of people who would prefer to live their virtual lives in a game where bullets can’t fly by the laws of physics, where you can wave a hand, but are programmed not to swing a fist. But I find it unpalatable persnally–and also find it limiting to the development of our code in that it reduces the problem set past the point of reason. If you, as I know you do, Mike [Sellers], feel that the work we do here is working towards greater things in the colonization of the Internet, in the development of virtual societies and virtual realities, then you must also concede that we are not going to solve the issues that those environments will create by coding in piles of restrictions that curtail freedoms.
To get back to what you said, I think that a pure roleplay game of large size will have to be a Stalinist setup, yes. And I don’t LIKE it. Then again, I think that MANY muds currently use such a restrictive setup.
There hasn’t been a government I know of that has not wielded the sword in order to enforce its mores. That’s what police are: the government’s sword. The fact that your average cops-arrest-robbers scenario does not actually come to shots fired doesn’t mean that it is not combat. Not every social issue needs to be solved with a sword, very true. But sadly, the ones that can most easily be solved by discourse tend to be at a higher level of social development than the issues we’re facing in virtual settings. Right now, virtual worlds (and other Internet games) are basically full of roving warbands with no allegiance to any form of government, and the odd occasional peaceful village that has moved beyond pillaging and into a more stable form of society. We’re not discussing zoning much yet. The pressing issues are the ones of murder, harassment, destruction of property, robbery, assault… I’m all for town council meetings, but you’re not going to get there without tackling the topic of police forces first.