In fifty-and-some days we will see the conclusion of a two year U.S. presidential selection process. Temperatures have been rising as we draw near the end. Rather than finding a new means of arguing one's way into someone else's bubble, perhaps the partisan could profit from an altogether new method of persuasion. I wonder whether an MMORPG can have a political ideology, either by design or by accident.
A while ago I was thinking about John Micklethwait's reflection of The Economist's editorial conundrum - what does it mean to be a classical liberal weekly in a hypertensive American political landscape where "liberal" has a changed meaning (Jan 9, 2007, Independent) . The Economist has for a long time defied clear right-of-center or left-of-center definition and this makes its "ideology" hard to pin down in the American context.
At first blush one might argue that EVE Online with its deep laissez-faire market system and sand-box design that stresses player initiative and "creating your own story" offers a compelling classical liberal narrative. Dig deeper, does that mean pro-business? Libertarian? Ronald Reagan? Yet, players have fashioned "socialist" alliances in EVE Online; dirigisme also abounds as an alliance management style. "Ideology" involving large systems of people - even with well developed mercantile instincts - is never so simple.
What about Player-versus-Player MMORPGs - do they encourage militaristic world views? Not necessarily. Play the EVE alliance pew-pew game long enough - as I've argued in the past on this weblog - and the clearest lesson is the constraint of economic and political power on brawn.
What then of a well-crafted Player-versus-Environment MMORPG that discourages friction points between players by bubbling them in instances and doling out loot? Do such promote the Scandinavian welfare model?
If you were a consultant for your favorite political party intended upon designing an MMORPG to persuade voters to sympathize with your viewpoint - What would it look like? Or if you are conspiracy-theory nut, perhaps you have convinced yourself your favorite MMORPG tugs at you in some direction politically. Hmmm.