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Mar 28, 2006

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1.

Fritz Effenberger>It just looks like this MMO is going to be formed using democratic ways.

That's democratic?

In tribal systems, if you want anything done you go to the chief and petition for change. The chief weighs up what everyone has said on the subject, and then makes a decision. It's only the chief who makes the decision, though, not everyone else.

That's what's going on here. Consulting the players doesn't put a designer under any obligation to do as they ask. Yet you say that's democratic? Why?

Cynical aside: in chiefdoms, you have a say but no vote; in a democracy, you have a vote but no say...

2.

Dan Hunter>It's been clear for a while that devs don't have total autonomy (and indeed if they thought about it, wouldn't really want that anyway)

It's not clear to me. Indeed, it's my belief that devs have total autonomy whether they want it or not. Saying that players share sovereignty with devs is like saying humanity shares sovereignty of the universe with God.

Richard

3.

re: open source MMOs: Just wait, it's still early. There are serious open source projects happening at every level; network infrastructure, authoring tools, management tools, AI, story, etc.

It requires free and open source means to make a free and open source MMO. The first attempts were people trying to create everything from scratch. Now, folks are focusing on specific pieces of the puzzle.

Free and open source MMOs are not an if, merely a when.

4.

Richard Bartle > It's not clear to me. Indeed, it's my belief that devs have total autonomy whether they want it or not. Saying that players share sovereignty with devs is like saying humanity shares sovereignty of the universe with God.

The devs are a very Discword sort of God, though; in a sense they (or their worlds) shrivel up and disappear without adherents.

Now for some words from beneath the devil's advocate hat . . . "Sovereignty" as a term confuses more than it explains. The devs have executive power; players have influence over a world's revenue, norms, and population. Arguing about who has "sovereignty" in this situation is really arguing about what the definition of "sovereignty" is, not about any issue of actual import.

5.

Dan Hunter > "The degree of user-generated content on the fora--ideas, suggestions, gripes--demonstrate the huge amounts of time and effort that individuals will donate to the design of the world."


User generated content may exist in abundance, but content that would be useful, or actually improve the quality of the game as a whole seems hard to come by. The people willing to devote the most time to the "design" of the world are the people who have a vested interest in some aspect of it.

Without even picking on particular classes, I could design boatloads of content that would destroy the balance of a game by buffing some items or making areas easier. In a democracy, a fair amount of this challenge/fun-destroying-content would be implemented because players will approve anything that improves their characters.

Is it possible for players to design content for a game that would make the game more fun or better balanced? Yes. But it's not going to happen very often.

And a game that implements all player-made changes, or democratically approved changes isn't going to stay fun for very long.

6.

Ironically -- given they never used it -- SWG had an excellent method of handling the forum folks. They appointed someone with a proven record of levelheadedness and interest in the profession (and a mature attitude) to "Profession Correspondent" and had them cull the forums to compile lists of the most pressing bugs, imbalances, and issues facing each profession (and they had correspondents for things like PvP and non-profession game mechanics as well).

Of course, SOE: Austin totally ignored them, lost half to 2/3rds of their user base inside of six months with an ill-advised change that EVERYONE warned them against, and replaced the correspondents with "Senators" who posts in private forums and whose advice -- I'm guessing -- is still ignored today.

7.

This isn't democracy, it's MMORPGocracy -- letting little flashmobs of fanboyz in with the game-devs to become an amen-corner for what the game-devs (or a faction of game-devs) want anyway. Um, what percentage of the gamers in this game read the forums? What percentage post? Please.

As for why open-source fails, I don't know enough about this subject, but I'd wager that it has to do with people not sufficiently valuing what they don't pay for : )

Richard, if you feel cynically in a democracy that you have a vote but no say, I can only surmise that a) you live in a place where you're in the minority of political opinion and your political beliefs are not sufficiently compelling to the majority of your fellow citizens; b) you're not aware of how much say you might really have c) you're not comparing how it might be elsewhere, and not concluding that democracy of this sort is, yeah, the worst sort of system...except for all the others : )


8.

I think it's true, James, that the concept of sovereignty can easily cloud the issue of online governance, if it is taken in the typical sense of marking supreme authority. I recommend Jens Bartelson's A Genealogy of Sovereignty on this issue.

In any case, we must get in the habit of thinking about the multiple sources of control (law, the market, social convention, code) which, as Tim rightly says, accumulate through history, and the multiple sources of contingency (Tim also points to contingency) in order to see governance as emergent from the ongoing dance between these forces, and avoid the trap of trying futilely to rescue a notion of absolute control that never existed anyway.

(Sorry, Richard, but I see these as relative distinctions--after all, I can't leave my god's universe, and a game designer can't change the nature of the internet constraints within which his world works. But we've talked about this before...)

The Introduction I've written for the edited volume Command Lines (based on last year's conference that included wonderful contributions from many here) addresses this issue directly -- I'll post the link as soon as I get it up on SSRN.

9.

Doh. On preview, Thomas basically beat me to it, but anyway:

> "Sovereignty" as a term confuses more than it explains.

Well, maybe. But to me it explains at least as much as the terms you replace it with. Sure, the devs have "power" and the players have "influence," but the distinction makes it sound like you're talking about two separate spheres of control. And you're not. These are different *modes* of control, in the same way that legal code and computer code are different modes of regulation. And depending on the context, either can be more efficacious, more controlling, than the other.

So great: The players have influence and the devs have power. You have a Fiery Crossbow of Shadow Wrath and I have a Big Fucking Gun. These are interesting distinctions, but the big question--the question of "actual import" here--is who, ultimately, pwns whom.

That, to me, is the question of sovereignty. We can call it pwnage instead, or governance, or control, or agency, or whatever, but I don't think it explains anything to confuse the thing that's being struggled over with the various ways of exercising it.

10.

In a democracy, a fair amount of this challenge/fun-destroying-content would be implemented because players will approve anything that improves their characters.

This remark suggests a confusion of individually expressed self-interest with the collective wisdom of crowds. It is also unsupported by the evidence.

Properly tapping the wisdom of crowds, under appropriate, deliberately designed circumstances, has been shown to be quite beneficial to product and service development in many fields of human endeavor.

In fact, under the right conditions, large populations are measurably and consistently wiser than the wisest individual expert in any given field.

The key is understanding the dynamics, creating the right conditions, and, first and foremost, a willingness to entertain the possibility.

11.

Julian Dibbell> Well, maybe. But to me it explains at least as much as the terms you replace it with. Sure, the devs have "power" and the players have "influence," but the distinction makes it sound like you're talking about two separate spheres of control. And you're not. These are different *modes* of control, in the same way that legal code and computer code are different modes of regulation. And depending on the context, either can be more efficacious, more controlling, than the other.

This is absolutely true. I think that the distinction between mediated and unmediated forms of control, in particular, is quite useful. The developers have unmediated power to reshape the code of the world. The players have unmediated power to join or quit, and on the norms of the virtual world. (The process of norm-formation, of course, is fantabulously complex.) The players have mediated influence on the code of the world through whatever it it is they can do to get the devs' attention. These are different mechanisms, they function differently, and they're differently efficacious under different circumstances.

For purposes of asking whose say really controls the world, I think that "pwnage" may well be a better term than "sovereignty."

12.

In a democracy, a fair amount of this challenge/fun-destroying-content would be implemented because players will approve anything that improves their characters.

I want to pick on that and point out that players will quickly discover that this is not fun. Those who care enough to stay will begin to work against this trend. Players can be extraordinarily cognizant of the need for balance in their game; you either attain a balanced world by sheer luck, or an empty one.

It's a risk. But democracy has always been a risk.

13.

Michael Chui: "I want to pick on that and point out that players will quickly discover that this is not fun."

If we end up (during the course of our discussion of methods for content creation) with a game where players vote on what type of content or modding is implemented, then one path to the improvement of your character is now through political manuevering rather than repetitive goat killing. Would not players sieze upon such an opportunity? I think it might indeed be fun.

14.


I actually never heard of such a thing before: gamers have a voice in balancing reworks, common opinions get re-posted by the devs and re-discussed by the comm.

He's not paying attention then. Our MMOs have groups of player representatives who are integral parts of class rebalancing. Mythic has a similar system.

--matt

15.

Richard: Democracy is not necessarily what we're used to think of it. It's definitely not throwing a ballot and returning to the tv-set for the next four years. I think democracy is more about participation in political decisions, and representation of different political opinions within a community. I believe lobby groups and NGO's are having great power in our democracies. In small communities you would rather find a representation through acclamation than counting ballots: a proposal is brought up, accepted, or not and sent back for rework. Like in my example.

Matt: no, i have not played all MMOs ever published. My email to TN, starting this discussion, pointed to one single MMO (Neocron) where i have found democratic structures. If you can add to this from your own playing experience, you are very welcome to contribute.

Michael: That's why we're having governments. Or Devs. For balancing reasons.

Democracy in a virtual world (or having an opportunity for political decisions at all) is on one hand a mirror of our societies (which are slightly different from nation to nation around the globe) and on the other hand a fascinating social experiment: how can you take part in public decision making, beyond choosing the Horde or the Alliance. Or, in Neocron lingo, between being a loyal citizen of the City of Neocron vs. a rebel from the Dome of York.

16.

Fritz wrote:

Democracy is not necessarily what we're used to think of it. It's definitely not throwing a ballot and returning to the tv-set for the next four years. I think democracy is more about participation in political decisions, and representation of different political opinions within a community. I believe lobby groups and NGO's are having great power in our democracies. In small communities you would rather find a representation through acclamation than counting ballots: a proposal is brought up, accepted, or not and sent back for rework. Like in my example.

The difference is that in MMOs, there is a dictator who can choose to listen or not. It may be suicide not to listen, but it's completely up to the 'whims' of the dictator.

Democracy definitely doesn't involve an unimpeachable leader-for-life.

--matt

17.

There are indeed many examples to look at, particularly historically.

Already mentioned are SWG's correspondent system (now abandoned), Mythic's Team Leads program, and Iron Realms games. I'd add of course LambdaMOO, fan faires from many companies, and SOE's guild summits.

What happened on Neocron in particular directly echoes past events such as UO:3d. UO hosted in-game marching-in-the-streets protests prior to that as well. There's plenty of historical examples that go well beyond what Reakktor is doing.

That said, I applaud them engaging at that level -- it's what is needed for good customer service, so it's not just an idealistic democratic viewpoint, but a pragmatic one as well.

18.

"And yet no open source MMOGs..."

Bah. There have been many MUCKs and MUSHes that were heavily colloborative open source (in a myriad of ways) efforts. The reason we haven't seen any major MMO come out of open source is because right now people are equating fancy pants graphics and showy special effects with good MMO, and open source has a lot harder time building those assets...

19.

Prokofy Neva>Richard, if you feel cynically in a democracy that you have a vote but no say, I can only surmise that a) you live in a place where you're in the minority of political opinion and your political beliefs are not sufficiently compelling to the majority of your fellow citizens; b) you're not aware of how much say you might really have c) you're not comparing how it might be elsewhere, and not concluding that democracy of this sort is, yeah, the worst sort of system...except for all the others : )

No, I live in a place where it's hard to tell what the majority political opinion is because the electoral system is so skewed that the Prime Minister can wield dictatorial powers on the say-so of 22% of the electorate.

The consituency I live in is guaranteed to return a Conservative member of parliament. The country as a whole has a Labour government. If I vote Conservative, I can influence my MP but not the government; if I vote Labour, I can't influence the government that I support. If I vote Liberal Democrat, I can't influence either. However, if I voted Liberal Democrat in the local council elections I could because they do stand a chance of winning at ground level. Oh, and at the last general election Conservatives got more votes than Labour in England but fewer seats.

This may be politics, but it's a poor excuse for democracy. There are worse systems than we have here in the UK, but that doesn't mean there aren't minor mods that can make our system significantly better.

Richard

20.

As one of the leaders of an open source MMORPG project, I'm interested in what the group here defines as "success" for an open source MMORPG. Certainly having 10's of thousands of online players (or more) would be a start. Although we've had almost 80,000 registered players in our 3rd alpha release since our last db wipe about 3 months ago, we only average 100 online players at a time, or 200 on the weekends.

Why such a low ratio? As a guy who has worked on the project for years basically just to give joy to other people (and scratch my gamedev itch), that question has bothered me. Part of it is that the game is still quite rough in some ways. I think the bigger reason though is that we just don't have enough "content". We currently have 50 or 60 quests, not 5000 or 6000, and so on.

As a small team OSS project, believe me we have thought about and tried various ways to get players to help us develop content. None of those have really worked. Most of the content problem is either 3d modeling/texturing, which takes real skill, or it is settings work--quest design, back story development and so forth--which requires a consistent writing style, interlocking NPC character needs and a staged sequence of difficulty in quest completion that players can rarely, if ever, visualize well enough to execute. Really, even our Settings devs have the same problem and they know all the existing quests. Players in the dark are capable of writing good fanfic and we have a lot of that, but not much usable in-game.

As far as sovereignty goes, I'd say the players have the same sovereignty and influence over game direction that guys who shave every morning have over Gilette's new razor design. The overlapping modes of control are really just the invisible hand of the market, now with a voice instead of just a pocketbook. I don't know if Gilette has an online forum for Mach3 fanbois to provide design input on future razors, but if they don't they are stupid.

- Keith

p.s. Our little project is at http://www.planeshift.it/main_01.html if you want to check it out.

21.

Political. Closed.

N

22.

Richard, you're one of the accepted writers here, and I'm merely a poster, but if you're allowed to go off to off-topic land, well, I guess I'll join you a bit until the moderator steps in.

If only 22 percent of the British people back Tony Blair's grand resistance to Islamofascism, and even to some extent his lukewarm, but sufficient resistance to the remnants of Soviet totalitarianism still alive in Eurasia, well, it may not be democratic, but it's liberal.

Liberal democracies often have leaders who take the longer perspective and figure that things like Nazism are worth fighting -- or not -- for the sake of even having the democracy itself -- or not. Depends on how much you value democracy, which isn't just majoritarianism, but having the strength of leadership to identify what the liberal project entails, which isn't always a majoritarian position (i.e. the majority of the public may favour the death penalty, but in a democracy, the enlightened leader might either eliminate the death penalty in some states, or at least remove its application to juveniles.)

I personally, just so you don't start reaching for all your anti-American guns, didn't vote for Bush, opposed the war in Iraq, marched against the war in Iraq, and continue to raise the issue of what's happening in Iraq wherever I can. But...I don't get my way, because I don't have enough compelling arguments against people who aren't stupid SUV drivers playing video games and shopping at Wal-Mart, but who are fabulously successful doers and inventors who think, well, it's not pretty, but it's effective, what they're doing in the Middle East.

So I hear your pain being in the minority suddenly when you thought you had elected some guy to do something else, but I do want to hear your plan for fighting Islamofascism and the remnants of Soviet totalitarianism, however (a thing like Saddam combines the worst features of both those evils).

I personally am not sure I have a grand plan for successfully fighting these evils, but I can tell you one thing: it doesn't involve voting for, or approving of, Ken Livingstone. Not on your life.

Democracies are not always fun when they produce a leader you don't like. I know I sure feel that way in my country, but I wouldn't trade it for what they have in Belarus. You could argue that it was "democracy" that produced another unlawful presidential term for Lukashenka last week, and that if there are only 10,000 Belarusian-speaking Internet kids and Russian-speaking intellectuals getting their asses kicked in the center of Europe for their opposition to the remants of Soviet totalitarianism, well, too bad.

They don't represent "enough" of their 10 million fellow countrymen. Of course, you could go tell them to find something more compelling than flimsy Belarusian nationalism to hang their hat on to get the attention of all those pensioners and factory workers who are terrified of losing even their pathetic minimum wage and their chilly state apartments. But you could also say that sometimes, the liberal vision can't win, and sometimes, evil dictators screw with the media in order to keep out the information flow, and sometimes, well, change just takes longer than a 24/7 news cycle can follow.

Tony Blair cannot by any stretch have said to have clubbed any demonstrators to death, disappeared any of them, or closed down any TV or newspapers a la your European Lukashenka. So...no...I'm not prepared to buy your version of reality that these "only 22 percent" are really not also backed by a silent majority who either don't care, or care, but simply aren't persuaded enough that they should riot.

Those on the hard left who want to keep clinging to these socialist utopian ideals are simply going to have to moderate their views somewhat from the left to be able to acquire more followers, followers who support much of their agenda, but who can't understand their fascination and fellow-traveling with the evils of a Cuba or Iran. The disease of British socialism with regard to these blindnesses really needs to get cured.

Now, looking at your neighbourhood, well, I feel your pain. I, too, have this old Republican dude who was like 85 plus before they finally wheeled him away. No amount of hooting and hollering from people like me could get a young Democratic female in the city council instead. But...I also didn't really have a good, compelling argument as to why all those people who voted for the old Republican dude should be voting for someone who'd go on paying the freight for thousands of people in the district on welfare to sit and drink 40s in front of the TV in their city-funded apartments, in between bouts of holding up the Rite-Aid. And so on.

It's funny to me that on the one hand, you invoke majoritarian democracy to salvage the situation with this 22 percent Tony Blair problem, but then five seconds later, you turn around and whine that your own district is larded up with Conservatives that make it impossible to shift to a more liberal perspective. It could be that the more liberal perspective that does need shifting to isn't compelling, or -- just like you want it to be! -- is so compelling (like the war on Islamofascism) that people in the majority are willing to at least not revolt if the 22 percent get their way on it.

Knowing that we'll never successfully debate these matters on a blog, I can only challenge you to a duel -- erm I mean a debate in Second Life (I only have the Axe of the Leviathan and not Hiro's swords). Log on with your SL avatar named especially for you which you *never use* *cough* and let's have a debate about democracy:

"Can Democracy Be Achieved in Virtual Worlds?
Will the Democracy of Virtual Worlds, if Achieved, Affect the Prospects for Real-World Democracy?"

etc

23.

[Apologies to everyone else while Prokofy and I engage in some bar room talk about the injustices of politics]

Prokofy Neva>If only 22 percent of the British people back Tony Blair's grand resistance to Islamofascism

I didn't say that. I'm sure that many Labour voters don't support him in this endeavour and many Conservative voters do. I said that the prime minister can wield dictatorial powers. That means the government can do things like, oh, change any law we have on the statute book without asking parliament first.

>well, it may not be democratic, but it's liberal.

Liberal? The man wants us to have ID cards!

>Liberal democracies often have leaders who take the longer perspective and figure that things like Nazism are worth fighting

Yes, but occasionally liberal democracies have leaders who are themselves the problem. Hitler got elected on 44% of the vote in 1933. Tony Blair got 36% in 2005 (which is 22% of the electorate - I don't know what the percentage was for Hitler).

>I do want to hear your plan for fighting Islamofascism and the remnants of Soviet totalitarianism, however (a thing like Saddam combines the worst features of both those evils).

We were told that the invasion of Iraq was to get rid of weapons of mass destruction that it was patently clear at the time did not exist. If we'd been told that we were invading Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein or to combat Islamofascism, that would have been an entirely different matter. We haven't even had an apology. "Sorry for tricking you, but if we'd said we just wanted to oust Saddam Hussein it would have given him time to prepare".

>Tony Blair cannot by any stretch have said to have clubbed any demonstrators to death, disappeared any of them, or closed down any TV or newspapers a la your European Lukashenka.

No, but he does get people arrested for reading out in public the names of British soldiers who have been killed during the war, using legislation framed to deal with serious organised crime. Just because there are worse places, that doesn't mean we can't improve this one.

>It could be that the more liberal perspective that does need shifting to isn't compelling

It could be, but we'll never find out if people won't vote Liberal Democrat because they believe their vote will be wasted. The way our constituencies are set up, if you're lucky enough to live somewhere that isn't completely one-sided then you either vote for the government or you vote against it. You don't vote for which particular opposition party you want, you vote for the one that's going to stand the best chance of getting rid of the sitting MP. This leads the the bizarre situation where we have (say) more Liberal Democrats in a constituency than Conservatives, but in their droves they vote Conservative to try get rid of the Labour MP. They'd vote LibDem if they thought everyone else was going to, but because they know everyone else is thinking the same way they are, they don't.

I'm not complaining about other people having different political opinions to me. I'm complaining that the electoral system in the UK disproportionately favours some political opinion over others.

>Log on with your SL avatar named especially for you which you *never use* *cough*

I do when I have cause to visit SL.

>and let's have a debate about democracy:

I can only speak as a user of democracy, not as a designer of it.

>"Can Democracy Be Achieved in Virtual Worlds?

Yes, but we've yet to see it.

>Will the Democracy of Virtual Worlds, if Achieved, Affect the Prospects for Real-World Democracy?"

Yes. As to whether it will make substantive changes or mere drop-in-the-ocean changes, that's another matter.

Richard

24.

For those interested, the introduction to Command Lines, which discusses the multiple modes of control and sources of contingency in online governance, is now available from SSRN here.

25.

Actually, I suspect that this "democracy" has more to do with an extension of the old entertainement industry standard of the the focus group than it does with any actual democracy. A games forums seem to frequently eb populated by those players who are most passionate about the game, and are most likely to have an impact on the marketing of the game. In essence, a games forums have the potential to be an enourmous focus group.
As for the failure of open source MMO's, I have to wonder if this isn't just the result of human nature. In a commercial game, there is a profit to be made, and the development team has an actual financial interest in the success of the product. In an open source MMO, the only real incentive for success is pride (and the possibility of turning it into something that can be a commercial success).
As the technology advances, I expect that, much like independent films, there will be more and more viable open source MMO's. I just don't think that the technology has reached that level of "ease of use" yet.

26.

Richard, there's much to address here, but if you feel it's a barroom convo, well, log into SL sometimes, which is like a kind of Grand Saloon, and have a debate. It's hard to go back and forth in this medium.

1. We have ID cards in the U.S. and I daresay you have them in the UK, too, they're what we call "social security cards" or "driver's licenses". Even people who don't drive get them to be able to cash checks. I appreciate all the civil rights implications but I'm just not ready to declare 666 the Mark of the Beat *quite yet*.

2. I'm not hearing your plan for Islamofascism. I'm hearing your harumphing about there being no weapons of mass destruction. Well, who the hell knows, maybe the Russians smuggled them to Syria with the help of fleeing Saddame regime tools. To believe there is only the U.S. as the bad actor in this complicated story would be naive.

Whether they ever find WMD or not, the fact is, some ordinary killing stuff was used to fill up mass graves. And terrorists keep killing masses of people and the American-led fighting of them engenders more killing. All I can hear from people who complain about the WMD stuff is that they wish they had left Saddam in charge, because he was able to keep the Iranians and the Shiites down. Nice plan! Didn't work though.

3. As for the electoral woes in your district, can you spell "jerrymander" lol? Yes, life is like that, you have to vote for parties you don't like to unseat even worse parties, because you were unable to build a social movement that was compelling enough to get a party on its own that could do both, attract votes and unseat the conservative.

27.

We had a good conversation here a while back on what constitutes a virtual world. (I'd link to that thread if I could find it, grrrr.)

One of the questions regarded whether the things that players create or bring into the virtual world become a part of that world. Some felt that the boundary of "the world" stopped at the code and data created by a world's developer; others felt that a virtual world includes dynamic data generated by players, as well as phenomena inspired by the world but not stored in it (such as fan sites, or even personal relationships formed within the world).

If it's the definition of what "the world" is that defines one's beliefs regarding sovereignty within virtual worlds generally, does it matter that a world is created using open source methods?

In other words, does creating a virtual world as an open source project necessarily change the definition of "the world" to include more player-generated dynamic phenomena than a proprietary commercial world?

--Bart

28.

Sure, if that distinction is seen as relative rather than absolute. That is to say, it was in my opinion never anything other than an idealization of the real circumstances to assume that "the boundary of 'the world' stopped at the code and data created by a world's developer." Virtual worlds of all kinds have always had different kinds of persistent effects or consequences that cross those boundaries. Still, an open source virtual world writes an acknowledgment of this reality into the structure of the world itself, and that presumably does influence (underscore, perhaps, or amplify) the boundary-crossing/invalidating activities of users.

29.

can you spell "jerrymander" lol?

Heh, yeah, it's spelled with a G. :)

(No opinion here on the British ID card).

30.

I feel this discussion got off track, somewhat. I just suppose there are better places to discuss questions like "who is worse: saddam, hitler, or bush"?

This thread was started on a report on the (ongoing) process of participating of gamers/customers in a MMO redesign/rebalancing. Richard asked if there'd be democracy in this process. If you see democracy as a system where everyone has a vote: no. If democracy is "actively participating of everyone in political decisions": yes.

To my knowledge, "ballot systems" (democracy per vote) are very rare in the neitherworld of MMOs. And i wonder why. May be because we're all tired of tv anchormen and chameleon politics, so we want to get simple answers in our leisure time sphere. But participation is a growing factor, from Devs browsing the forums for getting info on the players demands to actively led discussions like in my example above.

Participation of players/customers isn't just a democratic phenomenon, but a capitalistic one as well. Think market analysis. This is where Dan's "sovereignity" question comes in: does any manufacturer have full sovereignity on a product, as long as consumers have the right to decide on buying it or not? In other words, i'm not sure if the term "sovereignity" would apply to this matter. Probably it's more productive to see MMOs as unstable, but entertaining homeostats, balanced systems with a varying number of participants.

31.

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