Four types of game-related bloggers.

1.  The Relativist.

Do you believe in game rules? If you do NOT believe game rules have very important and very unique qualities that make them different from non-game rules — if, for instance, you believe that game rules and “social” rules and, in general, “life” rules are similar enough that you can talk about all these in the same rules boat — then you may be a relativist.

The relativist believes that rules are for the making and that the players are the makers.  Re Twixt, the relativist would disagree that there were any meaningful rules inside CoH/V apart from the rules established by the player “society.”  Therefore, according to the relativist, Twixt broke the rules whenever he did not follow the “rules of society.”  Therefore, Twixt was a cheater.

Here are some important questions for the relativist: What are the rules of society?  Which (of many) societies are these the rules of?  Who decides the rules of society — and how do they decide them?  When players, as the makers of the rules, disagree about the rules of society, how is that disagreement resolved (i. e., are there rules for the rules of society)?

2.   The Hedonist.

Do you believe in game goals? If you do NOT believe that game rules establish objective game goals and the means by which those goals can (and cannot) be achieved — if, for instance, you believe that game goals are basically the same for all games (e. g., to have “fun”) — then you may be a hedonist.

The hedonist believes that all games, regardless of their rules and goals, are intended to please and delight their players and, if this does not occur, then there is something wrong with the game.  Re Twixt, the hedonist would claim that anything Twixt did that impeded the fun of others, directly or indirectly, purposefully or not, regardless of whether it accomplished rules-based goals or not, was not in the spirit of the game; therefore, Twixt was a griefer.

Here are some important questions for the hedonist:
What is your definition of “fun”?  How important is “challenge” to fun (or, using Aarseth’s terms, how important is aporia to epiphany)?  And, when the game players, as the fun-seekers, disagree about what is and isn’t fun, who gets to decide — and by what sort of rules?

3.  The Psychoanalyst.

Do you believe in game scores? If you do NOT believe that the most effective way to evaluate game play is to look at the game’s winning conditions and whether or not those winning conditions have been met  — if, for instance, you believe that play is best evaluated with reference to the outside-the-game intentions of players rather than the in-game outcomes of their play — then you may be a psychoanalyst.

The psychoanalyst believes that different players play games for different reasons, which may or may not be (but most often aren’t) determined by the game.  “Socializers,” for instance, play to socialize; “griefers,” for instance, play to grief; and so forth.  Re Twixt, the psychoanalyst would be unconcerned that Twixt killed X vills, died zero times, and took Y pillboxes per night.  The psychoanalyst would evaluate Twixt as a psychological “type.”  If the psychoanalyst believed Twixt intended “to piss people off,” for instance, then Twixt would be a sociopath (or autistic, or have Asperger’s syndrome — something like that).

Here are some important questions for the psychoanalyst:
What is the basis for the psychoanalyst’s beliefs about intentions?  How does the psychoanalyst confirm those beliefs?  And, of course, if the psychoanalyst says that a player’s intent is one thing, and the player says that it is something else, who decides — and according to what sort of rules?

4.  The Social Engineer.

Do you believe in games? If you do NOT believe games have objective and common rules, objective and explicit goals, and some means of determining whether or not those rules have been obeyed and those goals have been achieved — if, for instance, you believe that games (particularly online games inside MMOs) cannot really be designed or played or even exist — then you may be a social engineer.

The social engineer is sympathetic to the relativist, the hedonist, and the psychoanalyst, but unlike those, the social engineer is writ large; the social engineer is interested in the Big Picture.  For this reason, the social engineer does not usually design games at all; the social engineer prefers to consult (about, for instance, the management of fee-based subscription systems).

Re Twixt, the social engineer would see Twixt only as a minor cog in The Great Social Experiment.  For, even if Twixt cheated, interfered with other players’ fun, and intended to piss people off, that could very well be, in the Big Picture, a good thing.  From the social engineer’s point of view, Twixt-like characters might well serve as a source of drama and interest for other players, or as an enjoyable target for other players to demean and harass.   The social engineer would let the players decide.   And, if anything needed to be done, then the social engineer would let the players take care of it.

Here are some important questions for the social engineer: If players “take care” of things, what do social engineers do?  And, assuming, at some point, there were games, what happened to them?  Also, if the social engineer bears no responsibility for how the game is played the social rules are constructed, who does?  And, most importantly, when players “take care” of things, what sort of rules do they follow — if any?