[MUD-Dev] Thought Experiment: Permanent Monster Death

games at anthemion.org games at anthemion.org
Fri Jan 9 09:43:48 CET 2004

Note: This message was written via the list web archives.  There is
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Original message: http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/2004Q1/msg00036.php

On Thu, 08 Jan 2004 22:57:24 -0800
Paul Schwanz <pschwanz at comcast.net> wrote:
> games at anthemion.org wrote:

>> What we normally think of as content (i.e., aesthetic, play, and
>> technical content) is non-rivalrous; a single unit can be shared
>> by many players without lessening its utility to any of them.

> Unless the unit's true utility as a game piece is tied strongly to
> its ability to act as a status symbol when comparing yourself to
> others, in which case mass production would indeed lessen its
> utility.  Someone made this point over at TerraNova, but I can't
> seem to find the thread and don't remember who posted it.  --Phin

As I see it, status in the game world is much like power. They both
form zero-sum games (i.e., one person's gain necessitates another's
loss), and as a result, they cannot really be created by developers,
only allocated.

As such, content and power (or status) are distinct in their nature
and their entertainment value, and I don't think it's useful to
conflate them as your example does. The power (or rarity, or status)
associated with some content is completely arbitrary, after all; the
same graphic can represent a newbie item or a powerful artifact (or
both). If the value of an item is primarily emergent from the power
associated with it, then I think it must not contain very good
content (or perhaps it's better to say, 'it must not contain very
*much* content'). If players value the golden widget for its power
and rarity, and then it suddenly becomes more common, then perhaps
power will accrue to those with the most widgets; otherwise, the
value that this power represents will simply move to some other
item. The total amount of power in the game will remain constant,
and the golden widget will be just as shiny and pretty as it ever

Jeremy Neal Kelly
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