[MUD-Dev] Fw: [MUD-Dev] Self-organizing worlds (was: Elder Games)

Kylotan kylotan at kylotan.force9.co.uk
Sun Apr 11 09:17:47 CEST 1999

Matthew Mihaly wrote:

>On Sat, 10 Apr 1999, Kylotan wrote:
>> I would argue this totally invalidates the experiment. When you tell
>> people that they can earn money based on their performance, they will
>> try and guess the way in which you want or expect them to perform...
>> will generally mimic real-life, maybe not for the reason that it's
>> behaviour, but because it is the behaviour that the participant thinks
>> experimenter expects, and will thus stand to earn the participant more
>> money.
>> As soon as the participant in an experiment knows what the experimenter
>> 'wants' from the experiment, the study loses validity. -Especially- if
>> participant stands to gain from it. This is known as 'demand
>> characteristics' and references/data can be found in many experimental
>> psychology textbooks.
>This isn't true. If you are trying to model the way a group of people
>compete or organize to gain resources, the only way TO validly do it is
>make the reward (the resources they are competing or organizing to gain)
>something that the people want, and money is the most generalized
>expression of that.

Just to clarify a term here - when we conduct experiments, it's not
usually to 'model' behaviour, it's to observe it. To 'model' implies that
you know what results you are looking for, and you are trying to encourage
people to do or emulate this, which means you are not learning anything
new. The idea is to discover '-why- do people do this?', and if the reason
is 'because you have told them beforehand that you want them to do it'
then your study is useless before it begins.

>Example: Game theory. Stick a pile of money in the middle of a table,
>a group of human lab rats sitting around the table. Tell them that every
>minute, you will double the amount of money that is on the table. Also
>tell them that any of them can take the money at any time. See how long
>takes them to learn that by cooperating they can, eventually, all end up
>with more than if one person happened to get all the money at the centre
>of the table. Valid experiment and the sort of thing that is very
>important to think about when setting up an economic system (that's a
>simplistic example, but it sort of underlies most of game theory).

No, that is different to what I meant. My original point was that paying
people to 'act more realistically' (where the reward is not part of the
experiment, but is given out as payment for 'performing well') is not any
more valid than paying people to act in any other pre-determined manner.
This is what appeared to be the intention of introducing the 'bag of real
money' in the original post.

Besides, your experiment above involves an unrealistic situation with an
unlimited, exponentially growing economy and therefore, since it bears
little resemblance to either real life or a game, tells us next to nothing
because the circumstances are artificial. To name just two (of many)
factors not completely accounted for by the above setup- in most games the
resources available don't double every minute. Maybe they double every
week, if your game is very imbalanced. If you told your group of human lab
rats that the money would double as often each hour rather than each
minute, chances are someone would get impatient and take the lot in a
fairly short time. You might find in a real life experiment that the
goodwill shared by the participants would lead to them splitting the money
evenly and going home. On a game, would you really want to split that cash
with someone who could use the money to buy a weapon and kill you?

To get back to the original point, people use money differently in game
economies because their needs are different, their motives are different
and their environment is different. To requote:

Koster, Raph wrote:
> there's enough of a difference in the psychology online that
> people will not do the same things they do in the real world.

I don't however think that the psychology is so different as to be
unpredictable. I just believe that it is naive to expect people in a
swords and sorcery fantasy world to behave like we do in the 20th century.
In our society, most money earned is almost forcibly put back in to the
system, through taxes and living costs. Do characters on muds often have
families to support?

Maybe the introduction of insurance policies on muds etc. may lead to
players spending money on that, instead of hoarding in preparation for
disaster..? A mud I used to play on had an insurance system, which was
similar to rent in that you paid by the item, and when you died, items
covered by your insurance would be collectable from the insurance office
rather than from your (perhaps remote or inaccessible) corpse. No, not
very realistic, but judicious use of powerful magic could make it
acceptable, and it certainly kept the economy from overflowing.


MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the mud-dev-archive mailing list