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Role Playing (Games) United States Entertainment Games

Lawmakers Game The System 116

Thanks to Wired News for its article discussing government officials and massively multiplayer game designers sharing ideas on the best ways to deal with community feedback. Neil Eisner of the Department Of Transportation explains: "We're both dealing with large populations, and (like with the public-comment process for legislation) the public helps them design the rules for the game, or petitions them to change the rules to have things happen." Raph Koster of Sony Online adds that it "was startling to me... that (the federal comment process) is identical to how we build our patches and patch notes", although since the government has "a legal obligation to protect the privacy of people submitting comments on legislation", this means some disadvantages compared to MMO feedback, as Koster explains: "We get to know the people who are good testers, who are good at catching bugs. The federal government is legally not allowed to do that."
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Lawmakers Game The System

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  • Massively multi-player voting system with feedback! Cool!

    • Re:Voting for all! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DaliTimepiece ( 751334 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:47AM (#8246837)
      No. I think this is truly important. We have an opportunity here that we are taking too lightly. These Massively Multiplayer games are probably the best models of theoretical societies that we have ever seen. We have an obligation, as interested parties, to see that there is some validity in their existence. I truly believe that there will come a time when the theories and practices as viewed in these virtual worlds will influence the physical world as we know it. Mr. Ludlow [nytimes.com] was banned from a virtual existence for espousing real beliefs. Let us not allow this to be the trend of a medium that most of us have fought to keep free.
      • Fully. I was vaguely thinking that I would really like to see us all participating in a voting system that in reality could affect the real outcomes of real politcians in real time, instant feedback on issues of the day...like /. but as a referendum device this would be both fast and effective....and insecure using todays technologies..we can all dream for real.

        No joke.
        • Not sure that the insecurity of it isn't offset by some of the practices of our current system though. Bussing in voters, massive contributions to losing candidates just to draw support from the real potentials, etc. Paper will always be more secure, much more prone to error and much less efficient. Not really proposing a solution here, just acknowledging that there needs to be one.
      • Mr. Ludlow's banning corresponds very nicely to an execution by angry priests of the local deity. While you may not be happy with that aspect, any social model that doesn't include that possibility is incomplete.
    • by Vengeance_au ( 318990 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:04AM (#8246889) Journal
      Knowing my luck all the powerful senators with good drops will be camped....
    • MMPVoting? I'd call it Vote-Vote Revolution. Keep practicing voting, and vote, and you can overthrow the government!
  • This sounds good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TurnerK12 ( 748592 )
    The community should be more active in the design phase of video games. It should make for a better game with more comments from the public about how the game should look and play.
    http://spaceruckus.web1000.com [web1000.com]
    These guys are putting together a free 3D action/adventure game.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:32AM (#8246793)
      The community should be more active in the design phase of video games.

      Yep, because influencing the way games look like is soooo much more important than influencing our legislators lawmaking, isn't it?
      • Yep, because influencing the way games look like is soooo much more important than influencing our legislators lawmaking, isn't it?

        And what about posting snarky comments to Slashdot? Is that more important too?
    • Have you tried doing things by 'Community'? Nothing will come of it I tell you, nothing.

      Er. OK.

    • and you get a camel not a horse

    • by Shinobi ( 19308 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @06:29AM (#8247122)
      Listening too much to the community can be very detrimental to the development process, however, since you might lose sight of your original ideas and planning, and wind up in an unstructured mess of widely disparate ideas.
    • This is actually what i'm doing on Paradox.

      http://www.paradox-online.net (down because of DDoS attack currently, but soon back up)

      It is still on the beta phase and the player base has affected at making the game a lot, hugely. Still, i as the designer need to make design the bigger chances and come up with them.
      But all smaller things is affected by the player base etc. going to improve player feedback still
      a lot more.
    • The community should be more active in the design phase of video games. It should make for a better game with more comments from the public about how the game should look and play.

      In theory that's a great idea, but no matter what you do, you won't be able to please everyone. Maybe just make them more customaizable, give people more options to choose from. Just my 2 cents.
    • In theory, perhaps (Score:5, Insightful)

      by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:26AM (#8248298) Homepage Journal
      The community should be more active in the design phase of video games. It should make for a better game with more comments from the public about how the game should look and play.

      Like it does with movies, you mean?

      Hollywood movies are extensively tested on the general public, and carefully tweaked based on their feedback. I guess we all love the intelligent plots and inventive movies that result, huh?

      Design-by-marketing has costs as well as benefits. In general, it will turn bad products into palatable ones... but it also turns really good products into palatable ones. Most really good art is polarizing; for example, Terry Gilliam's "Brazil", half the audience came out of the previews and said "That was the best movie I've ever seen", the other half came out and said "That was the worst movie I've ever seen". If you apply the public feedback process, you get something which pleases more people, but the result is the infamous "Love Conquers All" edit of "Brazil".

      Personally, I think we have enough Hollywood-style "Well, it was OK I guess" video games. What we need is more people taking risks, more people producing truly innovative and unique games like "Rez", "Ico", "Sentinel", and so on. Of course, I think that because those are the games I like to play. If you like playing "Generic Sports Game 200x" or "Movie Tie In FPS", you will indeed prefer the results of designers taking more notice of user feedback.

  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:25AM (#8246772) Homepage Journal
    You can't make a difference if you're only ever a faceless minion. To really participate in democracy you have to be willing to stand up and be counted.

    I'd probably feel different if I'd ever been threatened based on the way I voted, but since no party or politician I've ever voted for has got into power I don't think that's likely to happen.

    • Yes, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonytroll ( 751214 )
      ...this is only when you want to make a difference as you say it. It's a no-brainer to acknowledge that you can't do that if you keep your face hidden (no offense intended). However, then it is your conscious choice to do so. Anonymity means that if you don't take that choice, you can remain hidden and not be counted anyway because your democratic government thinks you should be.
    • Sure would solve the whole voting problem, too. Just put the whole damn country's votes online in one big searchable database. Everyone can check that their vote is right. Right?

      Good luck with your chosen parties/politicians. :)
    • Call me a cynic, but to really participate in democracy you need to be part of some powerful lobby group or business that the government wants to please for votes or campaign donations. In my country anyway, there's a serious disconnect between big government and the general populace that is only barely bridged by the sensationalist media.

      It's nice to hear that governments are building processes for getting feedback from the general public I still don't see this helping the little guy affect big picture l

    • Democracy doesn't work!

      - Homer J. Simpson
    • Certainly if you want to be more than a faceless minion you can't be anonymous. But you can be anonymous and say something that comes to the attention of known people. If your point is good enough, it will stand on its own without your reputation to back it up, or it will be backed by the reputations of people who find and promote it.

      Furthermore, there are ideas that nobody wants to officially back, but which people will bring up if they have been mentioned anonymously. People can say, without lending thei
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:28AM (#8246778)
    As I am sure you would all agree, at a certain point you stop patching and redo entire functions in a program. So why doesn't the government enforce the laws on the books and repeal (remove from the books, etc) laws that are being contradicted in the patching? Just like you optimize code (removing the crap) they should optimize the laws.
    • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:26AM (#8246963) Homepage Journal

      Things You Should Never Do, Part I

      http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog00000000 69.html [joelonsoftware.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, and the article advocates re-working individual pieces of the code as the grandparent post suggests. The article you mention only says you shouldn't throw everything away.

        That having been said, the difficulty with changing the laws in this manner is that you have to have two votes, one to add the new law, and another to repeal the old. Both have to pass or you have problems:

        addition passes, repeal fails: contradictory laws
        Repeal passes, addition fails: You have no law

        You have the same principles
      • That article explains why you shouldn't throw away an entire codebase and start over, which would be analogous to scrapping this whole America thing and having another constitutional convention. We can't do that, practically, for reasons that are well-described.

        The article in fact encourages you to refactor, optimize, and prettify an existing code base, instead of throwing it out -- and I think that's exactly what the grandparent suggested.

        The answer, by the way, to why we can't refactor our legal code, i
        • I guess that's the problem of a constitution, we have no such encumberance here. Unless you count the European Parliament. I think we can just leave the EU if it becomes a burden.

        • The American Constitution is designed with the idea that it's weakest point is also it's strongest point. Although it takes forever to get a law change that's positive, it also makes it near impossible for draconian laws to be put into the constitution.
        • We can't run the new changes in an unstable branch and see how they work out (unless you count, say, Nevada or Vermont).

          Well, that was one of the cool things about having lots of states... each one could try something different, and if it worked the rest could adopt it too. The Federal Government has taken on too much stuff to really allow this to happen, though...
      • He's wrong. What shouldn't be done is a rewrite while abandoning the old code. Rewrites should be done every so often so that the experience from the old code can be put into a new architecture, but the old code should be continued to be maintained until the new code is production-ready.
    • Those old laws can come in handy--the executive branch can selectively enforce them until doomsday.

      Cabaret laws made a recent comeback in NYC and in other cities. You know what those are? An establishment needs a permit if people there are going to dance to recorded music. That includes shimmying in the corner because the jukebox is on. From what I've been told, the law in NYC was passed way back in the days of yore to keep a handle on clubs in the disreputable parts of town (ie. Harlem). Nowadays the
  • by Kor49 ( 748163 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:31AM (#8246790)
    Something like Punkbuster for politics would have definitely caught George W.

    PWNED !

    • by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:12AM (#8246914)
      G30rg3_BU5h69 has joined the game
      G30rg3_BU5h69: WASUUUUP!!!
      France: Aw damneet, 'ow deed he getz in 'ere?
      Australia: Oi! One of ewe buggars betta' notta' told 'im tha' passy!
      England: Aw now, don't be silly chaps! No one 'ere woulda done a thing like that now!
      Russia: *growls*
      England: Hey! Wot ewe lookin at me for?
      Germany: Ach! Ver ish das admin?!
      UN: Hey guys how do buy stuff???
      Korea: Bah! Admin is dumb like bowl of noodles! No good for us!
      Cuba: Si, and without admin, we stuck with this... loco muchacho.
      Afghanistan: Pfft.
      Bomb has been planed!
      G30rg3_BU5h69 was killed by Afghanistan
      Afghanistan: Eep.
      Afghanistan was killed by G30rg3_BU5h69
      Iraq: Hahaha! George is silly, like little infidel boy!
      G30rg3_BU5h69: WTF FAG U WNT SUM 2?!?
      Iraq: You cannot touch me! The will of Allah will not allow it!
      Iraq was killed by G30rg3_BU5h69
      G30rg3_BU5h69: PWWWNEED!!!
      PUNKBUSTER: Warning, cheats detected!
      G30rg3_BU5h69 was kicked: WMD-Spoofing
      France: Haha!
      Germany: Haha!
      Canada: Haha!
      Russia: Haha!
      Italy: Haha!
      Japan: Haha!
      Switzerland: Hey guys, whats THAT?
      CONNECTION ERROR: HOST NOT FOUND - #877: Catastrophic Meteor Event
      Exiting game.
      Logfile closed, 02/13/04 02:11:32
  • Not true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:34AM (#8246801) Journal
    Raph Koster of Sony Online adds that it "was startling to me... that (the federal comment process) is identical to how we build our patches and patch notes", although since the government has "a legal obligation to protect the privacy of people submitting comments on legislation", this means some disadvantages compared to MMO feedback, as Koster explains: "We get to know the people who are good testers, who are good at catching bugs. The federal government is legally not allowed to do that."

    This is not true. I can come up with at an example that should work from a practical standpoint off-the-cuff.

    You can build a black-box database that can identify the same persona as being the source of multiple input submissions. This box must be given supeona-proof status. There are a lot of improvements you could make to the thing, but this should work at a basic level.

    Now, this may or may not be acceptable in terms of data logging. However, statistical analysis of the text will inevitably allow linking of comments to some degree, and if the MMO guy is right about a practical benefit to logging, this should work. There would be some onus on users to not submit information that could be linked back to their real identity, but that's true of just about any anonymous feedback system I can think of.

    There are people [cmu.edu] much more experienced in this field who could give a much more intelligent answer than I do -- if the gov't wants a good system that can provide a certain set of functionality with certain privacy restrictions, they and similar folks should be talked to. It's hardly an insoluable problem.
    • Re:Not true (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:54AM (#8247034) Homepage
      Mod parent up (damn - already at 5).

      Let me second the parent and put it a little differently.

      Koster explains: "We get to know the people who are good testers, who are good at catching bugs. The federal government is legally not allowed to do that."

      Anonymity and authentication are not mutually exclusive. My userId doesn't have to be "Robert Bushman".

      Heck, look at the various karma systems at sites like this - they don't rely on knowing the true identity of the poster. They don't even care (and shouldn't care) if it's one person, a company, a collective, or a computer program - only that it's the same entity as last time.
  • by Einer2 ( 665985 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:35AM (#8246804)
    "When they told us that, several of the gamers said, 'Well, you're doomed then. Without some degree of accountability, you're going to have problems.'"

    That's not the only issue. Most readable MMOG-related websites maintain a contingent of flame-happy antibodies to kill any infectious stupidity, and those that don't slide rapidly into sycophancy. I really can't see your average busybody soccer mom taking well to being told to die in a car fire, especially not under the auspices of the federal government.
  • Uh oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by rune2 ( 547599 )
    Now let's hope that the government doesn't actually start playing these games. The last thing we need is for the bureaucrats to be playing Everquest (Evercrack) all day.
  • by dave_oc ( 737700 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:35AM (#8246807)
    Applicatants must have experience with SimCity, Communism v1.1 or higher, and experience manipulating the Everquest or Ultima Online Economy. Player Killing is a plus.
  • Dumb & Dumber (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gnuman99 ( 746007 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:37AM (#8246812)
    This seems to be analogous to Microsoft getting advice from IBM on how to listen to the end user feedback.

    If they want feedback, they should just create slash.gov and post proposed laws there so every could post feedback. At least that would be better than some anonymous e-mail comments that never get acknowledged. But wait, we can't have democracy, we need "democracy"

  • by Da Rabid Duckie ( 731742 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:38AM (#8246819)
    Billmaking + Public Online Forums... /.gov, anyone?

    • by Walkiry ( 698192 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @06:08AM (#8247065) Homepage
      Your vote "BUSH" on February 25th,@11:45AM (#112734123) has been moderated "-1, Troll".

      Somewhere else: Your moderation to vote #112734123 -1, Troll has been meta-moderated "Unfair".

      And most importantly, CowboyNeal would be in every single voting and election!
    • Good ideea - ./gov , but a better one should be Forum.gov.The advantage is mutual - for the politican and for the public. the public can raise questions witch can be wiewed - and the politician has the possibility to choose the questions. Trolls ? Well i currently browse ./ at +3level - and still get a good ideea about what's happening , plus i catch some interesting ideas. The only problem is why hasn't anyone thought about combining the ./ moderator system with a forum - thus giving power to the viewers.
      • Aye, that's very true! I think it's a great thing and I plan on using it to be more active in my government's lawmaking processes. However after thinking of the trolls abound on most political forums you couldn't PAY me to be the admin of that forum. o_O
      • There are actually a number of freedom of speech issues here. A Slashdot-style moderation system is meant to moderate based upon the wills of the majority. Odds are, a comment will have a score that reflects the majority's view. A minority of moderators may vote something +1, but if they're in the minority, the comment can gravitate towards -1.

        There's no system to protect the viewpoint of the minority, which makes it unsuitable as a true representation of public views and opinions. All you hear about a
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I dont see 30 people armed with BFG's helping :)
  • by obyrne ( 523944 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:51AM (#8246850)
    The legal system the MMORPG 'A Tale in the Desert' formalizes player-generated petitions for game requests, and lets the players vote democratically on whether they should be implemented (within reason).

    It seems to require a lot more time to filter and prioritize requests, but I think it's more honest than the 'lobbying' style that most games (and government) use. The citizen most adept at being heard by the developers/lawmakers isn't always the most representative.

    • I agree. I played this game for a few months and was really impressed with the way they designed the whole thing. There was a system where just about anyone could create a "bill" that you then had to get a certain number of people to sign off on before it could be voted on. Then "citizens" were notified when a vote had begun and could go and help decide things that could be implemented in the game to change the way it was played. If everyone felt that a certain feature was being exploited and made the
    • "The citizen most adept at being heard by the developers/lawmakers isn't always the most representative."

      Not to take anything away from your (valid) point, but neither is the overwhelming direction of a thread in a forum necessarily representative. Quick and dirty examples from recent /. threads: the prevelance of 'why the name change' posts in the Firefox 0.8 announcement and the impassioned responders to the "What the Internet Isn't" thread who missed the low-level focus of the original essay entirely.
  • by gen2002 ( 680844 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:01AM (#8246877)
    Althought those two area that holds the same kind of public feedback , they are still very diffrent in that the goverment affecting every people life by thier action . not so in the game industry that you can choose right away what the best game fot you.
  • MMOG... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zeruch ( 547271 )
    ...MMOGs and such are probably the best large scale working models of societal interaction to date. They work more dyanmically than mathematical models. While you have to abstract out the suspension of disbelief (i.e being a Nanomage doesn't really translate to a common role in meatspace), you essentially have many of the same macro and micro level interaction you do in real life, and being in a virtual world, aggregating behavioral data (i.e population migrations based on opportunities, aggressive versus
  • great, just great, nerfing real life.
    • Maybe, just maybe they could have loaded a back-up made pre-Sept. 11th/Enron/Worldcom/Iraq Reloaded/ect, but then we'd have Gigli again...

      Anyone else suddenly feel forced Realm vs Realm wouldn't be so bad?
  • by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:27AM (#8246970)
    As so many online games and forums such as slashdot have proven, their will always be people who manipulate, troll, or game the system in a democracy. Most systems use a form of dictatorship to keep people in line. Slashdot has editors who not only ban crapflooders, but decide what things people get to even think abouto on the site. Apparently more egalitarian systems such as Kuro5hin start slipping into failure modes and the editors have to uncloak to fix them. Online games of course have game masters and sysops that have the power to ban naughty players.
    The same applies to governments of all sorts.
    So if it becomes clear that any sort of government on the masses is going to susceptable to cheats, hacks and manipulators, the conclusion must be that the thing must not be allowed to become too important.
    Game and internet forums already have the built in, regardless of what some slashdot readers might think ;)
    To keep government from becoming important, the individual must choose to be responsible and independent of the government, lest they become manipulated into little slave cells by the greedy and unscrupulous.
    • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @06:41AM (#8247154) Homepage
      Slashdot has editors who not only ban crapflooders, but decide what things people get to even think abouto on the site. Apparently more egalitarian systems such as Kuro5hin start slipping into failure modes and the editors have to uncloak to fix them....

      So if it becomes clear that any sort of government on the masses is going to susceptable to cheats, hacks and manipulators, the conclusion must be that the thing must not be allowed to become too important.

      Your post operates on two assumptions:
      1. There is no such thing as fair administration.
      2. Slash, K5, etc. represent the pinnacle in public commentary systems, and cannot function without admins.

      Item 1, while probably true in an absolute sense, is not true in a general sense. Reasonable administration is entirely possible, and I would argue works pretty well here. We already assume that it works in our gov'ts - for example, in the US, we assume that Congress is capable of administering law creation.

      Item 2 may or may not be true, but it's certainly too soon to tell. Massively multiposter forums have only existed for a couple decades, and have only acheived true mass within the past 10 years. It is still a science in it's infancy, there's a lot of room for advancement.

      The "don't let it matter too much" theme I agree with, sort of. Slashdot works because the amount of investment in impartiality of the system is in proper proportion to the weight of the subjects at hand. K5 works, even thought the subjects tend to be weightier, because there is a larger investment in the impartiality of the system. One might argue that the US gov'ts current failings are, likewise, a direct result of the lack of investment in impartiality of the system - EG: rather than pay the price of campaign finance reform, we have chosen to take the less expensive route of letting our politicians sell their votes.

      To clarify the last rambling paragraph: Absolute impartiality is not possible, and so critical decisions should not be left to the system. But there are very few truly critical decisions in gov't.

      Things like whether to nuke Cuba during the missile crisis should probably not be decided in an online forum (at least not yet). However, for a huge percentage of more mundane decisions, it is entirely reasonable to assume that with a sufficient investment of effort, a sufficiently impartial system could be designed. It could be made sufficiently impartial that the benefit of the public participation would outweigh the cost of the remaining partiality.
  • Five years ago when I decided on the spur of a moment to join one of the two Team PvP servers in Everquest, I never thought I'd spend the next 3 years there. As I became more involved and the game continued to evolve with new expansions, being on a PvP server became increasingly difficult to just have fun on. I posted on those damn forums every single moment I could, I worked up relationships with the GM's, I e-mailed Abashi more than I'd care to admit. And for what? In the end they chose to simply remo
  • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:35AM (#8246990)
    I used to run and develop a version of the Promisance Browser-Based game system. At its peak, had about 100 active players and found that only about 20% participated in the forums and larger community. From what I have read on the subject, only about 10% of people ingague in say active forum participation and those tend to be from the 5% that are the most addicted and the 5% that are trolls and hate everything you do.
    • Doesn't sound too much different from the real world. People that are the most unhappy will always be the most vocal. We just have to make sure that they are rarely the people in charge.
    • My browser-based game, Paradox @ http://www.paradox-online.net (down currently because of DDoS) doesn't have that much of forum participation in percentages, but if you put it ingame, you will have a lot of participation. I tried this and got a lot of positive feedback, also after trying this more people joined the forums also. and i'm getting more feedback.
  • Grammar Nazi. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by torpor ( 458 )

    Its one thing to talk about government knowingly, its another thing to have a good command of the English language:

    The federal government is legally not allowed to do that."

    Should be:

    The Federal Government is legally required not to do that.

    There is a huge difference between 'not allowed' and 'required not to'.
    • There is a huge difference between 'not allowed' and 'required not to'.

      I'm sorry, could you explain that difference? I just don't see it.
      • v. allowed, allowing, allows

        v. tr.
        1. To let do or happen; permit: We allow smoking only in restricted areas.
        2. To permit the presence of: No pets are allowed inside.
        3. To permit to have: allow oneself a little treat.
        4. To make provision for; assign: The schedule allows time for a coffee break.
        5. To plan for in case of need: allow two inches in the fabric for shrinkage.

        6. tr.v. required, requiring, requires
          1. To have as a requisite; need: Most plants require sunlight.
          2. To call for as obligatory or appro
  • by patiwat ( 126496 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @06:03AM (#8247057)
    The article states:

    "In other words, Koster explains, the government has a legal obligation to protect the privacy of people submitting comments on legislation and, therefore, it can be difficult if not impossible to assign any kind of special weight to a comment from an expert on a topic.

    "You're not allowed to look at the history of the given proposals that person's made in the past to see if they have a good history," Koster argues.

    with the following caveat:

    "There's not a whole lot of anonymity," Stuart Shulman says. "Most people want you to know where they're from, who they are ... to be part of the justification for taking their comments seriously."

    The first statement is hopelessly naive. The second only partially hits the real point.

    Politicians do have screens to identify high-value high-credibility input. These include:

    - Reputation
    - Power
    - Money

    Together, these traits are wielded by lobbyists. Lobbyists, by practical definition, yield influence through reputation, power, money.

    Reputation. A highly reputable source of input can have a very high impact to legislation. When the National Academy of Sciences (historically very objective, and producer of excellent research) makes a finding or suggestion, it certainly has more weight than the Federation of American Scientists (which, although it has over 60 Nobel-prize winning endorsers, was founded on a political stance against the A-bomb).

    Power. Legislation always involves compromises, and input coming from a very powerful party usually takes much more weight. When the Sierra Club, America's largest (and oldest) environmental advocacy club, makes a statement or sponsors research that could have legislative impact, you can bet that legislators will give it more thought than many other groups.

    Money. When a certain company is a legislator's former employer or when the company is funnelling money into a legislator's pocket/campaign-fund, you can certainly bet that that company will have a big say in legislation.

    Everybody with a stake in legislation has a chance to make their voice heard in a democracy. But face it, some voices just will be louder, clearer, and more persuasive. That sometimes works to the benefit of society (FSF, EFF, etc.) as well as to its harm (Big Tobacco, oil lobby, etc.) To beat the game, you've got to play the game.
    • This is a little (ok maybe a lot) off topic but I'll come back around. I promise.

      I don't think Big Tobacco really fits the role here. They are in defensive mode now. We have managed to strip them of most of the benefits of a capitalist system and still manage to vilify them.

      Trust me, there are plenty of people who would put the gaming industry in the same department. What we are ultimately talking about here is freedom. We know the limitations of the political/legal systems. I think some of us just had hi

      • Off topic as well, but:

        I don't think Big Tobacco really fits the role here. They are in defensive mode now. We have managed to strip them of most of the benefits of a capitalist system and still manage to vilify them.

        Big Tobacco is in the defensive now, but historically, they have been very powerful. Lots of money, lots of jobs at stake, and ruthlessly unethical management made for very effective lobbyists and influencers of legislation/policy.

        It took decades of solid science, credible whistleblowers
        • No argument. I just think it is a battle that is won. The amount of energy that goes into driving it into the ground is what scares me. Is the next step to outlaw tobacco? What comes after that? Do we start to outlaw potential threats? I'd just like to see the virtual communities run their course a little before we slam them up in the rule books.
  • It seems people like virtualities precisely because they incorporate a communicational fluidity that is diametrically opposed to the the hierarchical constraints in real life - you cannot really aks to change anything out there, the best you can do is answer when someone asks you whether you want to have it changed.

    Now, I don't want all of my life to hang of a menu-driven system, with somebody else designing the menu. I think that if the online games culture rigidifies to the same extent as political life
  • by dhall ( 1252 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @06:52AM (#8247183)
    How many people really get involved with politics unless it affects them? It's the most common remark, that people don't care unless they benefit. From the top/down, politics is about personal gain, whether it be Senators and/or Reps who must juggle the good of the nation versus that of their own constituency. You'll often see the same in MMO's, where the loudest voices are quite often those who have something to eitehr gain or lose.

    The largest outcry of customer response in MMO's have typically been the extreme gamers with an agenda, or those who currently reside in an operational game that feel either disenfranchised or threatened by the development cycle.

    During game development, you have the RP'ers who want elements that allow them the freedom to practice role playing, although each person may have a completely separate intrepretation of this. You'll have the hardcore players who'll want rather strict rules of PvP, as cutthroat as possible. You'll have other players, the perennial drifters from game to game, who want the perfect utopia.

    Once the game has been launched, you'll have factions built within the gaming community. The vocal components will voice their concerns over whether certain aspects are unbalancing. In a class style system (which most are), you'll have classes, which fearing nerfs will be quite adamant in professing their perceived flaws so that they will pose less of a target to the masses. You'll have others, who might feel their class is disenfranchised and not seeing the same benefits from the company, wanting dev attention.

    This is fine for MMO's where not only is "all characters are created equal" the creed, it's also, "all characters must remain equal, regardless of time, effort or ambition". MMO's cater far more towards the Lowest Common Denominator than you'll find in modern society. You can't take these same concepts of lowering the bar of achievement and transferring them to the real world, otherwise you end up with schools that don't teach children how to compete.

    Basically people are only willing to speak up when it benefits them, since our "Commercialistic Democracy" as a whole centers around being selfish. People will cater to that which benefits themselves the most, and given a choice, they don't care unless it affects them.

    Those who typically have an agenda are those you normally fear the most. People with a single item or issues they wish to push through. Yes, the US is founded upon fervent idealism, but far too often you have passion coupled with politics. Political issues that are far more emotional than objective, and yet you're creating laws for the populace. One thing you want to avoid is kneejerk "nerfs" in the real world, that purely emotional, otherwise you end up with such far reaching laws like the Patriot Act.
    • I wasn't really into politics and how this country was run for a long time. But thats to the Bush administration, I felt i needed to do something.

      When Bush got into office due to some shady politics in florida, I shrugged.

      When Bush shit on the Geneva Convention and the UN for his war on Iraq. I got curious.

      But when I found out that Bush is driving this country into the ground while lying to our faces, I stood up.

      The point of this is that it I stood up because my fellow countrymen and women were being ro

  • how to govern? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mandalayx ( 674042 ) *
    Raph Koster of SWG is now an expert in designing societies?


    If you play SWG, you know what kind of society it is. One where players are encouraged to do mindless missions in pursuit of the mystical plum to be a jedi. Have players complained? Sure, check out the development forums (restricted to paying subscribers of SWG), and you'll find many requests going untouched. And the people who actually go and complain on a bulletin board is just a small percentage of the persons who actually play, get disg
    • Most MMOGs are in the habbit of banning like there's no tomorrow. And that goes double for Sony. They've been known to ban people for stuff like posting a distateful fan-fic about their game.

      The RL government of banning would be capital punishment.

      That's it. No lawsuit, no jury, no appeal, no recourse. Bang, you're out of the game. Just because we didn't like the article you've posted about our country. Bullet to the back of the head, right here and now.

      Do we really want to live in that kind of a country
    • That's Raph in a nutshell. He refuses to believe he is simply a game coordinator.

      And slashgov is a good idea! With all the spin, it would be nice to have a forum such as slashdot where political concepts could be discussed from all angles.

      Maybe just a sub-board under slashdot, like the game section.
    • "Raph Koster of SWG is now an expert in designing societies?"

      I don't recall that being mentioned in the article at all.

      The article was about the similarity in the methods of handling feedback between the SWG team and some agencies within the federal government. Raph Koster was not billed as anything more than a designer of SWG, and the article also had nothing to do with the current quality of SWG.

      It's a shame you started your post by flaming Koster, because your second comment, about having a /.-style
    • The Raph Koster model of communication between ruler (developer) and subject (player) [unknownplayer.com] represents the future of political discourse. He's perfect for the job!

      > Raph Koster of SWG is now an expert in designing societies?
      > Please.
      > If you play SWG, you know what kind of society it is. One where players are encouraged to do mindless missions in pursuit of the mystical plum to be a jedi

      "He's perfect for the job!"
      - Treas. Secretary John Snow

      > Have players complained? Sure, check out the

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @07:38AM (#8247298)
    One former government (Reagan or was it before then?) went to actresses that had played farmers wives to get input on agricultural policy, so in comparison a bunch of gamers is a very solid source of information.

    Good ideas should be judged on their merit whether they come from reality or a simplistic model or reality, since reality is hard to measure.

  • It is scary considering how long it takse for anything to get fixed in everquest (bankers standing behind the bank in felwithe, Epic quests being broken, network problems "caused" by routers or ISP's that had no problems with more advanced games with higher bandwidth and lower latency requirements which suddenly disappear after a patch... although it does seem familiar, both SOE/Verant and the US Government refuse to admit there is a problem untill they have a solution and like to blame others for their pro
  • "We get to know the people who are good testers, who are good at catching bugs. The federal government is legally not allowed to do that. When they told us that, several of the gamers said, 'Well, you're doomed then. Without some degree of accountability, you're going to have problems.'"

    Sony Online (EQ in particular) was notorious for ignoring bug testers. Heck, I remember when I still played and there was a public forum, I gave a 100+ itemized bug list, to which they completely ignored. And after that
  • by Kaashar ( 738775 ) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .rahsaak.> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @09:50AM (#8247961)
    Preface: I'm an old gamer, not a political activist. I've placed several MMOGs (UO/EQ/DAOC/Earth and Beyond/Priston Tale/Savage Eden/AO/Eve/Horizons)

    As was stated here before, MMOGs aren't a very good model to base real life on. Why?

    1)Accountability. In MMOGs you can't get a punch in the face for making lewd comments to a member of the opposite sex for example. People are more 'loose' with their actions and statements without the imminent threat of physical pain or restrictions of their freedom. If the worst thing that can happen to you is a few days suspension or even a ban from the game....if you want to be counter-social there isn't much to stop you.

    2)Input, and how it changes things. Every MMOG I've played to date provides lip service to user input for change, but it's false. As a gamer you can't really change anything the developer doesn't want you to. This may seem to be a parallel to real life until you realize that the chance is always there for revolution through the use of violence. I mean really, what are you going to do when something is changed hundreds (thousands?) don't like? Stamp your virtual feet and hold your character's breath till they turn blue? I suppose if you're wanting to model a dictatorship then it may be accurate. I know from personal experience at least one of these 'industry leaders' behaved more like Sadam or Adolf than Washington or Kennedy.

    3) Don't like your elected officials? Vote them out! Don't like your developer? Here, have this nice can of Vaseline and a pack of Marlboros. It's either that or pack your toys and play in the other sandbox.

    4) Freedom of Speech.
    As of Tuesday, Sept. 9th at 2pm PST, the SWG community forums will only be accessible to active players of SWG.

    For most of you, there will be no significant impact. The forums already required that you be an SWG player in order to post. The main change most of you should notice is that you will be required to log into the site before you can read any messages. Thanks for your attention on this matter.
    -Raph Koster,
    Creative Director

    Er, I was referring to the negativity, not the closed nature of the forum. Sorry you spent all that time hunting around...
    -Raph Koster

    Don't like what your 'community' has to say about you? Filter it! Castro would be proud. I'm sure if he was involved the first thing that would happen is you'd have to prove you're an American citizen to post on slashdot.gov (I mean Koster, not the other dictator).

    "And maybe that's because the designers of virtual worlds like Star Wars Galaxies, Second Life and others face some of the same issues as the government types."
    Hardly. In a game 'money' isn't a commodity that runs out. People don't starve to death because you made a bad policy decision in EQ. The last time I looked mothers weren't crying because their SWG babies were killed during the batte of Endor. And try as I might, I can't recall a single Jenquai in Earth & Beyond complaining about the developer's healthcare plan.
    Your whole perspective on life is changed when you can just push a mouse button and you're back alive again.
    Saying a MMOG is a good model for real life is like saying paper airplanes are good models for stealth fighters. MMOGs are without exception ran like miniature dictatorships.
    I suppose I should quantify my statement. MMOGs are good models for tiny communist island nations, not large democracies.
    • In fact, I've watched MMOG makers make the same political comparisons and make the same dictatorial policy decisions over and over for years...

      THe bottom line is that the dictatorial solution is always what wins out because it's easy. In a MMOG no one has any share in the game except the owners of the company that produced it. People keep saying "listen to the players", and the result of this is that the winner is the one who fakes the hardest while trying to put across an impression of being "democratic".
      • > In a MMOG no one has any share in the game except the owners of the company that produced it.

        Exactly as with a real-world government. The MMOG model should therefore work in the real world just as it does in the game world.

    • Well said. One of the (many, many) reasons I'm looking forward to World of Warcraft is that Blizzard has promised to treat it as a game instead of an experiment in sociology.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      Talking about games and government reminds me of nomic [cam.ac.uk] Fun stuff.
  • US Treasury to Post Previously Private Email Addresses Online:
    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04 /01/09/00 10200&mode=thread&tid=103&tid=158&tid= 99

    http://news.com.com/2100-1028_3-5137488.html?tag =n efd_top
  • Having been involved in a number of MMOGs, the goals of a MMOG and Gov are (should be?) very different.

    1) MMOGs design and admin can't please everyone. The good one's accept that, and design around a creative vision that will appeal to some people and not to others. The others will just play some other game, or not play at all. Government, on the other hand, does not have that option. It can't create a paradise for 5% of its users while pissing off the rest (or maybe it can, but it shouldn't be able to).

  • 'Raph Koster of Sony Online adds that it "was startling to me... that (the federal comment process) is identical to how we build our patches and patch notes"'

    Well that explains why both the govt. and SOE take forever to create change, and when they do, it's usually a change that no one wanted, that doesn't manage to fix the original problem. I suppose it's interesting that the Feds are looking at MMORPG as a model, blah blah blah, but why for the love of God did they have to pick SOE? Expect households w

  • ... where people can submit "(feature|law)" requests to existing "(features|laws)" and can comment on certain "(bugs|law inconsistenties)" in the "(sourcecode|democracy)" ?
    Sounds reasonable. But how does the "(project administrator|government)" decide which requests will be implemented ? Do they use a "(priority|voting process)" to decide which requests are more important ?
    Would there be a versioning system like CVS for the "(sourcecode|democracy)" ? And can I download the "(sourcecode|democracy)" version
  • by Critter92 ( 522977 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:45AM (#8248532)
    This discussion occurred in the afternoon/evening after State of Play. It was very interesting to learn about the rulemaking process. For those who aren't familiar with it, rulemaking is when government agencies convert policy decisions passed by congress ("reduce automobile emissions") into actual federal statutes ("all light trucks lines will reduce their average emissions by 5% by 2007"). Part of the rulemaking process is posting the proposed rules and then soliciting public comment. In the old system, these periods of feedback were announced via the Federal Register [gpoaccess.gov] and feedback was submitted via snail mail. The result was that a small number of lobbyists and individuals who scoured the Register would submit feedback. The agency in charge of the new statute would then publish a response, and eventually, the new law. The government doesn't have to follow the feedback but is often influenced by multiple submissions with similar viewpoints. The new system (partially implemented) allows for automated searching of proposed rules and electronic responses. A requirement is that posting be anonymous. As readers of /. can see, this is a very gamable system. The lobbyists now have a cheap and easy way to scan all proposed rules for ones that touch on their area and a undetectable way to submit massive numbers of similar viewpoints from apparently multiple sources. The new system is supposed to make the system more democratic but the actual result is to make it less democratic. Somehow not at all shocking that the Wired article missed that. Now, given that there were many smart game designers/developers in the room who've had experiences managing communities that are full of people who try to game systems, there were ideas put forth -- /. was even mentioned -- but the government folks who were there weren't particularly interested in hearing that there system was flawed. Instead they just wanted information on how to educate people about the new system. It was an enlightening and terrifying view into how senior government employees attack problems.
  • Ultima Online. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DAldredge ( 2353 )
    Goverment is already like Ultima Online. By that I mean that if you pay extra you get special treatemnt. Just look at the 29.95 'enhanced' characters they offer.
  • Um, is the government forbidden to permit people to identify themselves voluntarily? Because you could start out with everybody as AC and let people opt in for identification.
  • All we need is www.bugzilla.gov.
  • they can't even manage their own people properly much less make any sort of constructive changes tio the game. Whatever BS they pass off to the public, if you play EQ for a while you see the truth...Trial and error, mostly error, greed, and stupidity rule the SoE world. SoE is barely able to keep up with the exploits that are pointed out to them and documented by someone else much less find, derive, or intuit any themselves, don't make me laugh :)
  • If the government started patching all the exploits inherint to the system what would all the lawyers and accountants do?
  • Sorry, but the headline on this article gave me a very weird idea of our representatives sitting at home "playing" the "United States House of Representatives" online role playing game - a sort of virtual congress where you can walk your level 20 lobbiest up to congressional committee members to hand over cash donations via paypal.

    I guess I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.

  • Er ... feedback doesn't necessarily mean success. I see nobody pointed out that Raph Koster of Sony Online headed up StarWars Galaxies. That development group bent over backwards to get community feedback, but look what we got. Game design by committee. No sig for you. (now to read the Wired article)
  • [test post]

Yet magic and hierarchy arise from the same source, and this source has a null pointer.