Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Constructive Criticism

Lauren Admire | 29 Jun 2010 08:32
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In response to "The Player and the Pusher Man" in The Escapist forums: Yeah this is the case, has been for years. But games are not the start of it, MMOs are not the paragons of this underhanded technique, why, it has been used far before the scientific research was done, and perfected, to much the same result.

The manipulative art of addictiveness has a firm grounding in the realms of literature. I will use as an example the author Alexandre Dumas, known widely to have been a self-aggrandizing egotistic ass with a tongue of solid silver, able to pen stories that would enrapture the nation (France) and the world.

Some of his notable works were published in pieces in the papers of the day, where they built up fanatical attention, the people enraptured were set clamoring for more week after week in what I believe to be one of the biggest examples of a finely executed "addiction" behavior.

This technique proved successful was prevalent in television, books, and comics (the weekly hooks) and has been for now over a century an art perfected. Games are in the introductory phase of this at the moment, the system to be completed, the rules to be written and finalized.


I think the only ethical issue present in the gaming world is when real life money is exchanged by the user for something to get ahead of another person opposed to something that is acquired through the playing the game normally.

I see no issue in collecting 100 gold coins to get an extra life in Mario, it is a sense of accomplishment even if it is not required. It is harmless, it is a small ploy that might help shift games or maintain interest/create fans which developers/publishers need to do.

A more recent example would be for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise. I think it is perfectly normal and acceptable to unlock new weaponry, be it purely aesthetic or something that is far superior dependent on achieving something, i.e. attaining level 30 or getting x many heads shot or w/e. It is a computer game after all, you should be rewarded for working at the game.

However, I deeply oppose paying for content to get ahead of the next player as it is deeply exploitative and companies know this. This is where it becomes unethical; exploiting the knowledge that players want to get one up on their competition by getting them to part with their money.

Again, using CODMW but on a lesser scale, I think it is deplorable to charge an additional £10-20 quid when purchasing the game to get a code to unlock a weapon in advance. The reward is to have something that other people don't have and it is a really small example that shows how F2P models have their place and could be commercially viable.

On a more sinister scale would be any one of the many MMOs or MUDs out there that allow you to play for free but require the user to pay for additional content be it weapons or armor etc. Perhaps the average user won't expend vast quantities of their money but enough do to make this payment model successful and worth doing- DnDO stated that they are finding people spending more money on the F2P model than the usual 6-15 pounds monthly subscription charges. This model exploits those who wish to better others or have the new shiny and will endlessly pump money into the system to yield better weapons, crops, orbs or whatever is on offer.

I'm really against this as I've experienced it for many years, essentially since the first fully graphical MMOs appeared, examples being Final Fantasy Online and World of WarCraft. Prior to their arrival, the MUD scene (text based versions of MMORPG'S) was incredibly popular. Several games I played were frequented by excess of 100+ players (this was a lot specially back in the AOL days of paying for the internet per the minute). Upon the arrival of MMOs, many players left MUDS behind and a lot of MUDS died due to a lack of population. A lot of MUDS could no longer continue to develop the game and monthly charges were often waived in favor of F2P; users often had to pay money to receive buffs or new equipment.

The problem is how quickly it consumes people. It is like smack, not everyone does it but enough do it that is warrants a whole illegal drug trade to appear.

It is a horrible system which not only consumes people and their wallets but also ruins the games atmosphere and community. F2P MUD games suddenly become less about achieving something in the game as a group, i.e. slaying a certain difficult monster as a group or having a amazing role-play to what I could only describe as a, my dick is bigger than your dick competition. It got to the point in certain games where you were literally forced into buying new items/weapons to progress or to have a chance to compete with another user and in doing so one could easily spend more than the previous monthly subscription.

F2P has developed so much as it is now mainstream and it will only further worsen the gaming addiction. F2P is essentially the latest Heroin.



In response to "Gunners and Gamers" in The Escapist forums: I approach guns with great respect. All tools/machines in this world have the capacity to either harm or kill you. The minute you don't respect what you're using, what you're using fails to respect you. I learned to assemble and operate the M16 A3 in the IDF as part of training program called GADNA when I was 17. Up until that point I was an avid FPS and RTS kinda guy. Half-Life and Medal of Honor were pastimes of mine and I couldn't count how many I times I saw Saving Private Ryan. But my time in Israel really slapped me in the face to show me how ignorant I was.

My short time in training unveiled a sense of reality that I was never in touch with. But the thing is that I don't consider myself crazy enough to devote myself to a career in the military where (in these turbulent times) I could possibly die in combat. So to be safe, I tried my hand at airsoft. I find myself doing something that I never do in videogames. When in the field with all my gear and weapons (or toys) on me, I find that I hesitate with my first shots of every airsoft game I have ever played. It is an odd dynamic that when I have a set of pixels sighted in that I can click away and watch programmed animations of recoil and watch my target's pixels fall. I can actually puts rounds downrange at a printout of a human silhouette through the head but shooting plastic pellets at people actually freezes me up. I don't like hurting people.

Guns are beautiful and marvelous pieces of a combination human ingenuity, mechanical engineering and manipulation of physics. There's a saying that goes: "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." and I tend to think that has weight to it. Do videogames make children more violent? I can't say but if my knowledge of history has taught me anything, if someone wants to kill badly enough, they'll find a way. The method is just pudding.

So to all the CoDers out there, if you claim to be genuinely interested in firearms, take the logical step and ask someone that knows more than you. Instead of going on in semi-blind ignorance, put some work into it and learn. You never know, it might boring as all hell and you'll never do it again but to I'm certain that the "CoD Effect" is going to lead to someone doing something stupid that is going to get someone killed and then videogames will just end up suffering.

p.s. I am not a gun owner. I don't see the point. I do rent every so often when I find myself at a range.

-Ari Brown-

First off, I'd just like to inform the non-American people here on gun laws in the US.

With the notable exception of Washington D.C. and some other major cities, rifles and pistols are available anywhere as long as you are of age and have no criminal past or mental issues. With the mental issues, someone brought it up before about the Columbine perpetrators.

There was no way of knowing they had mental illnesses, there was no evidence that had been brought up etc, so there really was no possible legislation beyond outright banning that would have stopped it. Hell, even then they likely would have still used explosives and knives, but I digress. Now, with rifles it's 16 years of age that you have to be to own one and 18 with pistols. None of these weapons can be automatic in almost any circumstances. The only exceptions are those owned by members of the military, those owned (sometimes this is allowed) by former members of the military, and those owned by place where you can rent out time with the automatics on the range. Now those assault rifles mentioned before and people buying them, the people who buy them are not buying military versions, they are buying civilian semi-auto versions of the same or similar guns.

Personally, I own a rifle myself (Age 16). My father gave it to me when I turned 16 and got a hunting license. (I don't actually hunt but the license is needed for owning a gun, I'm actually a pacifist.) Shooting is actually one of my favorite hobbies. Its fun, requires great skill in order to do well at distances, and shooting fruit whenever you can find produce is just epic fun :) (Hint, use watermelon, they explode nicely). Now with people using guns being more violent ... that's just plain stupid. I grew up with guns, it was just another way of having fun, But certainly not a toy. Even at 6 I was old enough to understand that and know exactly what would happen if I wasn't safe with a gun. Hell, most of the respect I learned I learned from shooting. At 10 I had a huge amount of disdain for most of my school because of that. I was able to realize that most of them were being immature idiots and not to copy what they did. Anyone who would argue videogames causes violence in a normal person would have to be an idiot. Unless they're under 8 or have mental issues then people already have their morals, shooting in game fake things isn't going to change them.



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