The Standing Dragon Weekly (standing_dragon) wrote,
The Standing Dragon Weekly

Comedy and Tragedy -

I MUSH. Now, not everybody - in fact, I suspect not most people - who read this little slice of the web has any clue what a MUSH is. It's an acronym. Multi-User Shared Hallucenation.

These were the first MMOs - text based (a-la Zork), open-world sandboxes; chatrooms with an OO model laid over them and this pseudolisp codebase. Technically, they're pretty impressive for a nearly twenty year old technology. But - that's not the point.

The point is, this is something I do as a hobby, and like any other hobby when dozens of people are involved, you run across the same sort of troubles over and over again. Powermongering, bad feelings, people who forget that, in the end, this thing is pretty much a game - people who put their lives in, people who have no sense of humor... add it up. It's a nice, very glorious slice of the Monkeysphere.

It's like a LARP, only more persistant - a little more sandboxy, a little less face-to-face, both things that magnify the troubles of the form. Collaborative storytelling, regardless.

Lately, I've been a bit run down on the whole MUSHing thing - see, I staff one. I've decided that any time you let yourself see behind the curtain, you're by default letting yourself in for a definite change in the value system. It's like the theatre - once you've seen how the sets go together, and once you've been on stage looking out? Your appreciation of it changes. You.. lose something, and you gain something. It's not as easy to suspend disbelief, perhaps, but you can see more. You know more.

It's its own kind of enlightenment, really. You can't ever go back - you just keep growing, changing, learning on a new level.

That said, being staff is glorious... when things go well. Players take your story seeds and make them flower into vast vistas of idea that you never knew could exist. they see things from so many angles- man. Proactive players are just a joy. On the other hand? When it goes bad, it goes bad hardcore. Hurt feelings escalate into vendettas which segue into painful experiences that drive players away.

That's the part I hate. When players have no clue how what they're doing affects the grid, how the selfishness of one or two can actually damage and twist and destroy the collaborative story of the many. As of yet, there's no good solution - the players that do this insist over and over again that they're not doing anything wrong, it's just how their characters would act, that they really LOVE the game (they don't - they love /themselves/. They're so pleased with their own cleverness that they let no one else shine, most of the time.) - so how do you enlighten the ignorant? How do you show them the damage they do when they simply, patently refuse to see it?

Worse, how can you tell patent, planned ignorance from a willful attempt to destroy the experience, and how do you act to stem the damage?

Tough calls, all the way around. Ones I wish I didn't have to make. They just suck all the fun right out of running a game.

So - here's the point of all this: I have a challenge for you. If you're a player in a LARP or a MUSH, stop and think about your character, and the things you do. Are you making things more or less fun for other people? Are you tearing down, or building up your game?

What is fun for you may not be fun at all for others - but where is the line drawn, and what are the expectations? It behooves everyone to know, I think.

If you can't answer that - go ask staff. They'll tell you, if you're earnest. And take their advice to heart. Sometimes, it's really worth doing. If nothing else? Become proactive. Don't wait on staff to give you story - go make some. Give it to other people. Share. See what happens - you won't be dissapointed.

Me? I'm going to concentrate on throwing out more Fun Stuff.
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