Have we progressed?

From the blog logs, I note now that most (95%+) of those who first read this blog as a result of the Twixt story — and all the other many comments about the Twixt story — are gone.

LIkewise, most of those who hit and ran with their own comments about the Twixt story have moved on.

Have we progressed, I wonder?

Can we agree on these?

  • Twixt played by the rules of the pvp game inside RV.
  • The goals of Twixt’s play were “kill vills, win zone.”
  • Regardless, Twixt should not have been harassed.
  • Some players enjoyed playing with Twixt.
  • Making a judgment about Twixt’s play requires making a judgment about game goals and game rules.

Are these fair?  Im almost certain, if they are not, someone will let me know.

These remain, apparently, points of contention:

  • Twixt’s pvp play was griefing play.  I’ve stated, in part, my position on this.
  • Twixt was skill-less/used broken powers/exploited game design flaws.  I’ve stated, in part, my position on this.
  • The RV pvp zone was poorly designed.  My position — abridged — is this:  Yes, the pvp game design could have been improved, but, overall, that design was interesting and fun, if and when the game was played according to the rules and spirit of the game.
  • Twixt’s pvp play was unethical play.  My position — abridged — is this:   Play inside a game, according to the rules and spirit of the game, cannot be unethical play.  On the contrary, play inside a game, according to the rules and spirit of the game, is the most ethical play possible.

To support my position regarding the above, I’ve offered a definition of games composed of (not only, but importantly) two parts:  the game’s constitutive rules, which describe both the game goals and those obstacles preventing the most efficient means of achieving those goals, and the contextual rules governing the voluntary acceptance of the constitutive  rules.  If you break the former, the constitutive set of rules, then you are a cheater.  If you break the latter, the more contextual rules — by failing to adopt a “lusory attitude” (Suits) — then you are a spoilsport.  Both of these break an important social — yes, social — contract that all games require between one game player and another.

This is a very important social contract in competitive games in particular, because, in competitive games, things can get out of hand.   If competitive game players aren’t properly cooperating, if they aren’t following the same set of rules, then there are hard feelings.

A quick example:  Once upon a time, Joe Frazier was perfectly willing to play by the rules of the boxing game, but he didn’t much like it when his boxing game opponent, Mohammad Ali, began talking about skin color.  Joe Frazier was pretty sure that talking about skin color was outside the rules of the game.  There were hard feelings.

In effect, the social contract of the game requires that all other social norms and expectations — those outside the game — become null and void.  This odd social contract of the game — a sort of anti-social contract — is precisely why games are subversive:  because games get away with stuff, that, if that stuff were judged according to social norms and expectations, would not be gotten away with.

Should Jesse Owens have been prevented from playing in the Olympic Games because he was griefing the prevailing social norms and expectations of 1930s Germany?  Should Bobby Fischer have been banned from competing for the world chess championship because he was, according to dominant social norms and expectations, a douchebag?  Should Michael Vick now be stopped from playing in the NFL because he is, according to the social norms and expectations you hear on radio talk shows, a miscreant?

No.  Because skin color doesn’t matter; because douchebaggery doesn’t matter; because time in jail doesn’t matter.

Or, if any these outside-the-game things do matter somewhere, they don’t matter inside the game — because, inside the game, the game matters MORE.

I assumed — rightfully, I think — that when Twixt zoned into RV, there was a social contract there.  That social contract had nothing to do with research or observation or analysis or who was a professor or who wasn’t.

What mattered was the pvp game, the rules of the pvp game, and voluntary acceptance of the rules of the pvp game.

Twixt — and some others — accepted those rules.

But some others — more than one, but definitely not all —  did not accept those rules.  Yet they zoned into RV anyway, and they brought all their outside-the-game stuff with them.