Ask (nicely) and it shall be answered.

Re: Play Redux [Re: Supermax]
#12639353 – Wed Nov 26 2008 03:50 PM

-When you first started on your ‘Twixt’ persona and it developed, how long did it take for ‘fame’ to occur?

The paper somewhat documents this process.  Twixt information traveled relatively quickly, since the groups playing at the upper levels of CoH/V pvp are already largely inbred and connected through a variety of game and game-related channels.  I’d say by the time I was kicked from my supergroup on Champion, many on Champion were aware of Twixt and his play.  The pvpers tended to exchange Twixt information with others on a limited basis through the test server.  Twixt became best known after transferring to the Freedom server, but by that time the Twixt seeds had already been fairly widely spread.

-Did you find people emulating your behaviour or perhaps even your archetype and power choices?

Again, the paper mentions this briefly.  Yes.  But, the social pressures against Twixt and his play were so strong that these copycats had to be very strong-willed to persist, since they would very quickly face the same harassments as Twixt.  Many in rv were devoted to making the game unfun for Twixt and Twixt-like characters.  By and large, their tactics were successful in limiting Twixt tactics, over time, to Twixt alone.

-Did players ask you for advice or to join your guild?

Occasionally, but these were largely newbies or others unconnected to the status quo.  And, once these unconnected players were informed — by the social powers that be — that aiding or accompanying or emulating Twixt would bring great grief upon them, they tended, predictably, to shy away from doing so.  I did, at one point, post my build on the forums, but it was immediately ridiculed.  I also had some requests to join my guild (a guild of one person).  But I interpreted virtually all of these requests as disingenuous attempts to infiltrate and destroy — similar to how I finally came to interpret requests made by others to team with Twixt.

-What were the main causes of distress caused? Was it the TP Foe into mobs/turrets, the cryptic speech or simply your playing ‘outside the box’.

The droning was the most hated, prolly.  Few, if any, ever admitted that I was playing “outside the box”; much more commonly, Twixt’s play was discredited from every possible angle, including any angle of creativity.  The cryptic speech — particularly the poems — some found intriguing, but not intriguing enough to give Twixt any credit for anything other than some kind of strange and mysterious savant ability to spurt out “whacky poetry” from time to time.

-Did you observe behaviour in any other MMOs or did you stick to CoH?

Yes, with very similar results, but none of these observations were nearly as detailed as those in CoH/V.  Also, as some of my other papers indicate, the CoH/V design situation is somewhat unique in erecting areas of direct conflict between pve and pvp interests.

-Did the various PvP subcultures in zones (farmers, fight-clubbers, teamers etc) react to you in different manners?

Yes, in content, but not in form.  That is, in all cases, these subcultures took actions that marginalized Twixt’s behavior, dehumanized him as a person, ignored his successes as a player, misrepresented his motivations during play, attempted to ostracize (and largely succeeded in ostracizing) him from their particular group (and, eventually, from the game as a whole), etc, etc.

The biggest difference was that the hard-core pvp’ers did these things with much more flair and with much more intensity than the other groups.  That is, in addition to doing all the things above, the pvpers actually fought Twixt in game (which turned out, in many cases, to be fun).  The other groups — the fight-clubbers and farmers, for instance — tended to wail on Twixt in the com channels and more often in supra-game contexts (on the forums for instance).  Most interesting, of all, I felt, was that none of these groups attempted to beat Twixt at his own game (i. e., the NCSoft game of “winning the zone”).  They did instead what they did best — whether that activity had any relation to game rules or goals or not.  Almost always, it did not.

And, let me emphasize this point a bit further, since it deals with some apparent criticism of the Twixt paper by people who really should know better.  The criticism, as I understand it, is that Twixt’s behavior somehow “harmed” players in rv. Or, put more specifically, the criticism seems to be that when Twixt attacked another player in the zone (whether or not this attack was connected to “winning the zone” is really irrelevant here) this was an intervention or interruption of play within the zone.  I deny this emphatically.

The status of this game — any game — is most clearly defined by the rules of the game, which, in this case, allow and, in fact, encourage hero-villain combat within rv. Therefore, I cannot fathom how anyone can call any hero attacking any villain (or vice versa) as either “harmful” play (as defined by its consequences on other players) or “griefing” play (as defined by speculative assumptions concerning the attacker’s motivation).  Those who would criticize the study on these grounds seem to apply these terms of “harmful” and “griefing” play indiscriminately, subjectively, and, at least on the surface, self-servingly.  On the surface, this seems to claim that NCSoft has created a game that, when it is played as it was designed, is inevitably harmful to its players and that those players who play it as it was designed are inarguably griefers and (by same strange extension of this argument that I also do not understand) justifiably griefed “in return.”  Is such a claim really being made?  It seems ludicrous.

-Did various servers react differently?

In fact, the servers acted almost identically.  There were variations in terms of the number of people involved in rv on different servers, but, remarkably, the pattern was almost precisely the same.  Objective game rules meant little; social order and status meant everything.  I speculate in the paper that this is more likely a characteristic of mature mmos than newly released ones.