Amoral behvaiour in IF

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Magnus Olsson

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Jun 13, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/13/95
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While working on my new adventure game (tentatively called
"Deadlock"), it struck me how often the player character of adventure
games (and other games as well) behaves in a totally amoral way,
gladly doing things he/she would never do in real life, and even
getting rewarded for it.

Everyboy is, of course, familiar with that in many games you're
supposed to collect all the useful or valuable objects you can find -
even though it's pretty obvious that the objects in question belong to
other people - so stealing is probably the most common example of
amoral behaviour in IF. Breaking and entering is also a common theme;
just think of the white house in Zork.

Of course, there are pieces of IF where you have to behave morally to
win, and in "Infidel" you behave in "classic adventure game" fashion,
but have to draw the consequences at the end.

But still it seems that in most IF, you are at encouraged to behave in
a way that's not at all acceptable in real life. It would be
interesting if you out there could come up with some more examples than
the widespread kleptomania. :-)

Note: I'm not on a moral crusade against "immoral games" or anything
like that; I'm just amused by the phenomenon. In my own game "Dunjin",
the hero is just as much a kleptomaniac as the hero in "Zork"...

Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se) / yacc computer club, Lund, Sweden
Work: Innovativ Vision AB, Linkoping (magnus...@ivab.se)
Old adresses (may still work): mag...@thep.lu.se, the...@selund.bitnet
PGP key available via finger (to df.lth.se) or on request.

Jonathan Badger

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Jun 13, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/13/95
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m...@marvin.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:

>While working on my new adventure game (tentatively called
>"Deadlock"), it struck me how often the player character of adventure
>games (and other games as well) behaves in a totally amoral way,
>gladly doing things he/she would never do in real life, and even

>getting rewarded for it. [...]

>But still it seems that in most IF, you are at encouraged to behave in
>a way that's not at all acceptable in real life. It would be
>interesting if you out there could come up with some more examples than

>the widespread kleptomania. :-) [...]

Well, something that's true in most adventure and RPGs is murder. Assuming
that orcs and trolls existed, you couldn't just randomly kill them to take
their treasure without the authorities getting upset!

Harrison Page

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Jun 14, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/14/95
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In article <badger.803074735@phylo>, bad...@phylo.life.uiuc.edu (Jonathan
Badger) wrote:

Consider the White House in Zork I. Immediately, you have breaking
and entering. From there, the player goes on to trespass, to kill a
troll (assault and battery, brandishing a weapon, and if you're lucky,
murder in the first), then grand theft. Any others?

..Harrison
--
Harrison Page (harr...@adobe.com)
http://www.spies.com/harrison
"Nearly all invertebrates of a suitable size fall prey to frogs,
and even such vertebrates as mice and reptiles may be eaten."

Jason Compton

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Jun 14, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/14/95
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Harrison Page (harr...@adobe.com) wrote:

: Consider the White House in Zork I. Immediately, you have breaking


: and entering. From there, the player goes on to trespass, to kill a
: troll (assault and battery, brandishing a weapon, and if you're lucky,
: murder in the first), then grand theft. Any others?

What you're discussing is "illegal", not "amoral." Nobody seems to LIVE
in that house. The troll tries to kill you, in case you didn't notice.
Nobody seems to OWN that stuff, it looks like this great underground
empire is pretty much a ghost town...

--
Jason Compton jcom...@xnet.com
Editor-in-Chief, Amiga Report Magazine (708) 741-0689 FAX
I know what I like... ...and I like what I know.
AR on Aminet - docs/mags/ar???.lha AR Mailing list - Mail me
AR on WWW - http://www.omnipresence.com/Amiga/News/AR


Magnus Olsson

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Jun 15, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/15/95
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In article <badger.803074735@phylo>,

Jonathan Badger <bad...@phylo.life.uiuc.edu> wrote:
>Well, something that's true in most adventure and RPGs is murder. Assuming
>that orcs and trolls existed, you couldn't just randomly kill them to take
>their treasure without the authorities getting upset!

I don't think adventure games in general are very encouraging of _murder_.
Trolls and orcs normally attack you before you are supposed to kill them.
Besides, in many casese it's pretty clear from the background to the
story that in the fictional world, trolls and orcs are not considered
equal to human beings.

But while killing the troll in Zork doesn't strike me asmurder, but
more as self defence, the thief is more problematic. Sure, he will try
to kill you if you get into a fight, but you can easily avoid fighting
him. Having to kill him just to get your treasure back could be amoral
problem, I suppose. And what about the Wizard of Forbozz? Sure, he's
obnoxious and a general pain in the neck, but he doesn't actually try
to kill you. And yet, once you've solved the demon puzzle, you're
given the choice of killing him. You don't have to - it suffices to
get his wand - but you're not "Punished" in any way for killing him. I
always felt sorry for the guy... :-)

Hack'n'slash games like Moria are a bit more problematic; the entire
point of the game is to kill as many monsters as possible, but some of
these monsters are actually human (if you see a novice mage
approaching you in Moria, just waste him before he gets you). Most of
these "NPC's" are of course hostile and would gladly kill you unless
you kill them first, but what about the filthy street urchins and
singing, happy drunks that abound on the town level in Moria? You
don't get any points for killing htem, but you certainly don't get
punished for it, and you can collect any money they happen to be
carrying. That worries me a bit more...


Finally, just to address your remark abouit trolls and orcs: in the
RPG "Shadowrun", trolls and orcs are actually considered just as human
as ordinary humans (in fact, they're subspecies of Homo Sapiens) and
killing a troll in the Shadowrun world would be as much a crime as
killing a human. WHich, of course, doesn't stop Shadowrun campaigns to
become extremely violent affairs.


----
Magnus Olsson / m...@df.lth.se (play), magnus...@ivab.se (work)
Unix hacker, Windows user
IF games in progress: Akorny, Bast, Deadlock, Recursive Descent


Tim Hollebeek

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Jun 15, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/15/95
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In article <harrison-140...@bertholdbaskerville.mv.us.adobe.com>,
Harrison Page <harr...@adobe.com> wrote:
:In article <badger.803074735@phylo>, bad...@phylo.life.uiuc.edu (Jonathan

:Badger) wrote:
:
:> m...@marvin.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:
:>
:> >While working on my new adventure game (tentatively called
:> >"Deadlock"), it struck me how often the player character of adventure
:> >games (and other games as well) behaves in a totally amoral way,
:> >gladly doing things he/she would never do in real life, and even
:> >getting rewarded for it. [...]
:>
:> >But still it seems that in most IF, you are at encouraged to behave in
:> >a way that's not at all acceptable in real life. It would be
:> >interesting if you out there could come up with some more examples than
:> >the widespread kleptomania. :-) [...]
:>
:> Well, something that's true in most adventure and RPGs is murder. Assuming

:> that orcs and trolls existed, you couldn't just randomly kill them to take
:> their treasure without the authorities getting upset!
:
:Consider the White House in Zork I. Immediately, you have breaking

:and entering. From there, the player goes on to trespass, to kill a
:troll (assault and battery, brandishing a weapon, and if you're lucky,
:murder in the first), then grand theft. Any others?

Unfortunately, performing strange rituals in order to gain access to
Hell is not a crime AFAIK. You also might get let off the hook for
trespassing after the owner finds out you left several million dollars
in treasures in his trophy case.
--
---
Tim Hollebeek 'There will be a better sig when I have time'

Tim Middleton

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Jun 15, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/15/95
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MS= it struck me how often the player character of adventure games (and
MS= other games as well) behaves in a totally amoral way, gladly doing
MS= things he/she would never do in real life, and even getting rewarded
MS= for it.

After much consideration on this topic I finally came to this startling
conclusion:

Adventure games are NOT real life!

(-:

---
...with love and cries among angelic orders.

gs6...@cnsvax.albany.edu

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Jun 16, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/16/95
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In article <badger.803074735@phylo>, bad...@phylo.life.uiuc.edu (Jonathan Badger) writes:
>m...@marvin.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:
>
>>While working on my new adventure game (tentatively called
>>"Deadlock"), it struck me how often the player character of adventure
>>games (and other games as well) behaves in a totally amoral way,
>>gladly doing things he/she would never do in real life, and even

>>getting rewarded for it. [...]
>
>>But still it seems that in most IF, you are at encouraged to behave in
>>a way that's not at all acceptable in real life. It would be
>>interesting if you out there could come up with some more examples than
>>the widespread kleptomania. :-) [...]
>
>Well, something that's true in most adventure and RPGs is murder. Assuming
>that orcs and trolls existed, you couldn't just randomly kill them to take
>their treasure without the authorities getting upset!

I wouldn't consider killing the troll in Zork I as murder. He attacks you
without provocation. It's totally self-defense. I'd hardly consider going
into the white house trespassing either, since it's obviously been abandoned
for many years, and is in fact in the middle of an empire that collapsed
centuries ago. Do you consider archaeologists to be trespassing in Egyptian
tombs...? Heck, you don't even TAKE the treasure, you just move it around a
bit...

Greg

Greg Brisson

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Jun 16, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/16/95
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Jonathan Badger <bad...@phylo.life.uiuc.edu> writes:

>Well, something that's true in most adventure and RPGs is murder. Assuming
>that orcs and trolls existed, you couldn't just randomly kill them to take
>their treasure without the authorities getting upset!

Actually, there was an old Infocom cartoon to that very same effect! Appear-
ing in one of their newsletters (I forgot which), there was a guy who was
being handcuffed by the police, holding a sack, a lamp etc...The police were
calling in the case to their headquarters and said something like: "Yeah,
we got him. Breaking and entering, there was blood on his sword...And you
should just SEE the basement!" It was pretty funny...

- Greg Brisson
2li...@delphi.com

Magnus Olsson

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Jun 16, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/16/95
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In article <60.5744.41...@canrem.com>,

Tim Middleton <tim.mi...@canrem.com> wrote:
> MS= it struck me how often the player character of adventure games (and
> MS= other games as well) behaves in a totally amoral way, gladly doing
> MS= things he/she would never do in real life, and even getting rewarded
> MS= for it.
>
>After much consideration on this topic I finally came to this startling
>conclusion:
>
> Adventure games are NOT real life!

Are you surprised? :-)

Seriously speaking, what I was after was exactly this: what are the
differences between the adventure-game world and the Real World(tm)?
Some of these differences are of course artifacts of the medium, but
others clearly aren't. There's nothing in the medium of IF that says
that you have to get away with - or even be encouraged to do -
breaking and entering and stealing,and yet many adventure games seem
to reward that very behaviour. Why?

Answering that adventure games aren't the real world is just restating
the obvious. The interesting point is _why_ it's different from the
real world in precisely that way. Is it just for historical reasons -
the first adventures were treasure hunts and others followed th
ebeaten track?

Julian Arnold

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Jun 17, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/17/95
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In article <3rqvps$8...@rebecca.albany.edu> you (gs6...@CNSVAX.ALBANY.EDU) wrote:

> centuries ago. Do you consider archaeologists to be trespassing in Egyptian
> tombs...?

Actually I think there is an argument to be made for an affirmative answer to
this question.

--

Jools
jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk

Julian Arnold

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Jun 17, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/17/95
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In article <3rr71h$o...@nic.lth.se> Magnus Olsson (m...@marvin.df.lth.se) wrote:

> Answering that adventure games aren't the real world is just restating
> the obvious. The interesting point is _why_ it's different from the
> real world in precisely that way. Is it just for historical reasons -
> the first adventures were treasure hunts and others followed th
> ebeaten track?

Yes I think this is one reason. Many IF writers have tended to follow the
`beaten track' -- look at all the homages to/ripoffs of Adventure/Zork.

But also, isn't another reason that in nearly all IF the player is
(necessarily) the central character. The world revolves around the player's
actions. Whereas in real life each individual is a tiny part of society as a
whole and generally behaves according to the dictates of that society either
through an inherent sense of responsibility to other individual members of
the society (and thus to the society as a whole) or through fear of the
possible outcomes of his acting against these dictates (ie, punishment
inflicted by society upon the individual in retribution for actions
previously committed by the individual against society).

In summary, In RL the well-being of society is central while that of the
individual is peripheral. In IF the individual supplants society, and
society is thrown out the window -- IF provides a playground for selfishness
(or a release for a freed imagination, depending on your point of view).

There, that might help. If only I understood what I've just written... =-)

--

Jools
jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk

M. Williams

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Jun 18, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/18/95
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I also find that the behaviour in Zork etc detracts from the game, because
of the artificiality of the quests you are on. It seems to assume that
your character is 2-dimensional and only after personal profit. Many games
explicitly give you a 'character' (Guild of thieves, LGOP) which
effectively defines what your morality is. HHGTTG was clever in that
changed the sort of tasks you had to perform in line with your changing
character.

My favourite IF was 'The Pawn', for just this reason, in that it revolved
around twisting the normal morality of situations completely (selling your
soul to the devil, killing the knight in shining armour, NOT rescuing the
princess and so on). It very much mad a play on it's own amorality. It
worked because the game was never specific about what was going on, or why
(e.g. what the point of the game was). So much so that I finished it and
still don't know.

Mark

Arlo Smith

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Jun 18, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/18/95
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Magnus Olsson (m...@marvin.df.lth.se) wrote:
: While working on my new adventure game (tentatively called
: "Deadlock"), it struck me how often the player character of adventure
: games (and other games as well) behaves in a totally amoral way,

: Note: I'm not on a moral crusade against "immoral games" or anything

Well, first you call it 'amoral' then 'immoral'! There's a difference. ;)
Anyhow, what do you suggest? What's the alternative.... waiting outside
the home for the object to get thrown in the trash....
asking permission.... trading and
bartering? I don't think it's an issue of amorality or immorality--it's
a method of most convenience.

Secondly, to feel rules outside a game belong inside the game,
otherwise the game is amoral, is ridiculous. It's not that simple. Man is
not by nature amoral or immoral. That's society's label.

Finally, keep in mind that morals are created and destroyed by
society, to protect that society, and the society itself may be a rotten
apple.

Xiphias Gladius

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Jun 18, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/18/95
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bad...@phylo.life.uiuc.edu (Jonathan Badger) writes:

> Well, something that's true in most adventure and RPGs is murder. Assuming
> that orcs and trolls existed, you couldn't just randomly kill them to take
> their treasure without the authorities getting upset!

I believe that the basic set of GURPS describes a standard
dungeon-crawl as "a bunch of racist thugs breaking into a tribe's home
and murdering and looting."

I've not really had the stomach to play AD&D since then . . .

- Ian

ELockhart

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Jun 18, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/18/95
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Haven't any of you played Busted? The whole point (you're a college drug
dealer, escaping from the feds and handing out pot and ecstacy to various
people you meet) is to revel in behavior that is FREE from the
restrictions of everyday morality.

ELoc...@aol.com

Charles Miller

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Jun 18, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/18/95
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Magnus Olsson (m...@marvin.df.lth.se) wrote:
: Answering that adventure games aren't the real world is just restating
: the obvious. The interesting point is _why_ it's different from the
: real world in precisely that way. [involving theft and murder] Is it just
for historical reasons -
: the first adventures were treasure hunts and others followed th
: ebeaten track?

IF is not the real world, it is simply the manipulation of symbols in
order to see what happens. Often this involves the solution of
logical/illogical problems.

The problem 'put the square peg in the square hole' is identical in
coding to the problem 'stab the orc.'

However, to involve the player in the game, IF changes from a logic
puzzle into Interactive fiction. The objects are given a familiar
description and a context. This is why The 7th Guest was not a good
game - it was a bunch of logic puzzles, but they were in no way
connected, and in fact were completely seperate from the cut scenes that
seperated them.

To manipulate symbols, you must first aquire them. In the early IF
games, you did this by simply picking them up - more complex interactions
were often proscribed by the way the games were coded. Thus you get the
tradition in IF that all items are there for the player to manipulate,
and property is theft. After all, why bother to code the objects in if
the user is not allowed to manipulate them?

Actors in IF are usually problems to be overcome. They block a pass, or
hold a key that you want, the solution to a maze and so on. To be a
problem, there must be some reason that they do not want to give this to
you.

As for killing actors, This is also the simplest path to neutralise an
obstacle. If your enemy is dead, you have disposed of its symbol
permanently - there is no chance of it coming back, changing its mind and
so on. Examples in this thread have been an orc and a troll - elements
that we have been conditioned since Tolkein to regard as mortal enemies.

It has been my experience in IF that disposing of human enemies is a lot
less brutal - you are more likely to get them stoned, or trick them, or
give them some pizza. Even if you were to kill them, you are always aware
that they are simply symbols for yet another square peg, square hole problem.

Charles Miller

Magnus Olsson

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
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In article <DAD8GK.D7...@torfree.net>,

Arlo Smith <bl...@torfree.net> wrote:
>Magnus Olsson (m...@marvin.df.lth.se) wrote:
>: While working on my new adventure game (tentatively called
>: "Deadlock"), it struck me how often the player character of adventure
>: games (and other games as well) behaves in a totally amoral way,
>
>: Note: I'm not on a moral crusade against "immoral games" or anything
>
>Well, first you call it 'amoral' then 'immoral'! There's a difference. ;)

Didn't you note the little '"' characters around the word 'immoral'?
They are there for a reason, viz. that *I* don't call the games
'immoral', I call them 'amoral', but that some people may very well
call them 'immora' and try to ban them. My point was precisely that
I'm not one of them.

>Anyhow, what do you suggest? What's the alternative.... waiting outside
>the home for the object to get thrown in the trash....
>asking permission.... trading and
>bartering? I don't think it's an issue of amorality or immorality--it's
>a method of most convenience.

Using the "method of most convenience" in situations like this -
"why buy something, when you can just take it?" - is *exactly*
what I had mind when talking about "amoral behaviour".

>Secondly, to feel rules outside a game belong inside the game,
>otherwise the game is amoral, is ridiculous.

Yes, of course. I'm not saying the *game* is amoral. I'm saying the
character's _behaviour_ in the game would be amoral if it were moved
to the real world.

I'm perfectly aware that if the rules of a gmae say that it's OK to steal,
pillage and kill, then it's not immoral for the players of the game to
do so. Still, I'm interested in _why_ the rules are that way.

> It's not that simple. Man is
>not by nature amoral or immoral. That's society's label.

Says you. I nkow of quite a few people who would dispute that point.

But this is not a discussion of real-world ethics.

Let me tell you what I'm _really_ interested in:

I'm writing a piece of IF, right? In this game, the character needs a
thing that isn't hers. The only way to get it is to steal it. I don't
have any moral problems with this, personally - after all, it's only a
game.

*However* I'm going to be cute and put in a little snide comment to
the effect that the player is doing something wshe would never do in
real life. This comment will be along the lines of "Of course, taking
what isn't yours is usually frowned upon. But if you could get away
withkilling the poor wizard of Frobozz and stealing all his stuff, I
guess you can get away with this as well". I just wanted to see if
there were any other good examples apart from the stealing and killing
in Zork.

>Finally, keep in mind that morals are created and destroyed by
>society, to protect that society, and the society itself may be a rotten
>apple.

Even if we accept that thesis - so what? The behaviour of characters
in many adventure games will still be at odds with those morals. I
was merely after some examples of such behaviour, not attacking the
morality of the games themselves, which you seem to believe despite
the fact that I specifically disclaimed it.

Phil Goetz

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
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In article <3rkpj4$s...@nic.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson <m...@marvin.df.lth.se> wrote:

>supposed to collect all the useful or valuable objects you can find -
>even though it's pretty obvious that the objects in question belong to
>other people - so stealing is probably the most common example of
>amoral behaviour in IF. Breaking and entering is also a common theme;
>just think of the white house in Zork.

This is a sore point with me -- not because I'm on a moral crusade
(the Internet is corrupting our children! Exon/Gore 84-16! 8-P ),
but because it destroys the sense of realism, and makes me fall out
of character.

Phil go...@cs.buffalo.edu


Arlo Smith

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
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Magnus Olsson (m...@marvin.df.lth.se) wrote:

: others clearly aren't. There's nothing in the medium of IF that says


: that you have to get away with - or even be encouraged to do -
: breaking and entering and stealing,and yet many adventure games seem
: to reward that very behaviour. Why?

I've already said something about this and everyone probably wants me to
go away now, but I feel strangely compelled (perhaps trying desperately
to learn Inform has done something irreparable to my mind).

The morality is in the real world-- B & E, stealing in
a world which doesn't exist is different. So different, that talking about
the morality of it, or even using the word morality in reference to it is
hard for me to accept (apparently! my second message about it).

Magnus Olsson

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
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In article <3s2rt3$3...@newsbf02.news.aol.com>,


...and perhaps part of the fascination of gmaes like Zork is to revel
in the feeling that you're alone in this great, abandoned world, and
that you're free to go around pilfering things without anyone
interfering?


Magnus

Julian Arnold

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
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Magnus Olsson (m...@marvin.df.lth.se) wrote:

> In article <badger.803074735@phylo>,


> Jonathan Badger <bad...@phylo.life.uiuc.edu> wrote:
> >Well, something that's true in most adventure and RPGs is murder. Assuming
> >that orcs and trolls existed, you couldn't just randomly kill them to take
> >their treasure without the authorities getting upset!
>

> I don't think adventure games in general are very encouraging of _murder_.

I agree. Most IF probably doesn't encourage murder or violence. The default
reply in the inform library for attacking <someone> or <something> is along
the lines of `Violence isn't the answer'. However, the underlying philosophy
often isn't one of morality -- usually you can't commit violence because (a)
IF (by its nature) demands intellectual rather than physical solutions to
problems, or (b) if you were to get in a fight, you'd come off worst -- self
preservation.

BTW, sorry my message keep being posted twice. Don't know why but I'm
looking into it.

--

Jools
jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk

bout...@blade.wcc.govt.nz

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
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With regard to the pillager of the great underground empire, as seen in zorks
1-3, there is an example of internal morality (morality established by the
game) which the adventurer must violate in order to succeed.

This is of course saying "Hello Sailor", the height of hubris. People have been
burned at the stake for less.

Giles

Cory L. Kerens

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
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In article <3s384m$e...@nic.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson <m...@marvin.df.lth.se> wrote:
>Yes, of course. I'm not saying the *game* is amoral. I'm saying the
>character's _behaviour_ in the game would be amoral if it were moved
>to the real world.
>
>I'm perfectly aware that if the rules of a gmae say that it's OK to steal,
>pillage and kill, then it's not immoral for the players of the game to
>do so. Still, I'm interested in _why_ the rules are that way.

There are days when I get tired of being good in real life, and what I
want to do is go be amoral in a setting where it doesn't hurt anybody
(a game). But those days are rare, and most of the time, I feel like
playing a game but don't *want* to be forced by the game to behave
amorally -- at such times I play a paladin in Omega (a roguelike game,
not an IF game), so that I can be rewarded by the game for being good.

Maybe I'm ridiculously squeamish, but I didn't like taking the egg out
of the bird's nest to give to the monk in Unnkulia, because the egg
was the bird's potential child, and it seemed cruel to steal it right
out of the nest. (Yes, I AM a vegetarian in real life. :-)) I also
don't like taking an object that seems as if it belongs to a game
character, as opposed to an object that's just lying around and
appears to belong to no one. I usually feel much better about taking
something if it's clear that its owner died many years ago, and I
usually feel better about killing monsters if they attack me first. A
game such as you propose, where the player was forced by the design of
the game to behave amorally, then scolded by the game for doing so,
would bother me.

This is an interesting question -- thank you for bringing it up.

Cory Kerens

--
*******************************************************************************
Who needs drugs when we have sex and chocolate?
co...@miso.wwa.com
*******************************************************************************

Andrew C. Plotkin

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
to
bl...@torfree.net (Arlo Smith) writes:

> The morality is in the real world-- B & E, stealing in
> a world which doesn't exist is different. So different, that talking about
> the morality of it, or even using the word morality in reference to it is
> hard for me to accept (apparently! my second message about it).

I'm rather baffled that the discussion has got this deep.

IF is a kind of fiction. There is plenty of fiction where a hero
charges in, despoils, steals, kills everybody who opposes him, and
charges out again. Is he acting immorally? Sure. That story isn't
about morality. It's about action. There are endless reams of
celluloid come out of Hollywood to prove that this sort of art can be
popular.

If you happen not to like that sort of thing, there are plenty of
alternatives.

As to whether IF has a "tradition" of this sort of thing -- well, the
earliest games were that way. But, really, only the earliest. Infocom
caught on after Zork 3 that plunder was wearing thin as a plot line;
every game after that had some sort of story, and the protagonists of
those stories didn't behave any more amorally than in the average
novel.

Can anyone think of an example from an Infocom game *other* than Zork
1, 2, 3?

Other companies I paid less attention to.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."

Tim Middleton

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Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
to
JU= in nearly all IF the player is (necessarily) the central character.
JU= The world revolves around the player's actions. Whereas in real life
JU= each individual is a tiny part of society

This is a very nice little perspective, and well stated too. However, there
are more obvious and less complex explanations that should be considered
first. For example: communist plots. The dirty commies start up this
"infocom" organization as a propaganda scheme to infiltrate and weaken
the... oh wait.. russians aren't commies anymore. Well it could be the
chinese then! ya, that's it the chinese. Ah, na... someone stop me, i'm
thinking like a antiquated social relic! What am i saying?! It's the
aliens!! It's the aliens!! It's all part of the little grey guys with big
eyes experiments at mind control. That's so obvious, why didn't I think of
it before. They want to see if... uh... wait... somthing... (youch!)...
implant... damned implant... errrr.. rrr..

Right, as I was saying, in nearly all IF the player is (necessarily) the


central character. The world revolves around the player's actions. Whereas

in real life each individual is a tiny part of society...

Hold on. In novels the "world" revolves often around a central
character--meaning really that the world seen and analysed in relation to
one character, but they are more realistically portrayed (hopefully).
[please, this is a generalization of certain styles of writing, there are a
billion exceptions and other points of view, and details... i know!]

Ah but then lets get down to genre. Okay lets not.

Lets talk about Dungeons and Dragons. Okay, forget that then.

Um... lets talk about escapism and a sense of power and excitement and
reckless abandon... about the lawless chaotic seed of evil in each of us
struggling to vent itself in selfish greedy orgies of... nyah... you're
right, lets not talk about that either... it's so... so.. um...

It's the aliens damn it! They are controlling our minds!! They are
experimenting on us like so many fruit flies! Help! Help! Help!!!

---
...with love and squalor. <as...@torfree.net>

John Payson

unread,
Jun 20, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/20/95
to

When must one say this? I thought it merely offered a way to complete
the game without solving the mirror puzzle.
--
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
supe...@mcs.com | "Je crois que je ne vais jamais voir... | J\_/L
John Payson | Un animal aussi beau qu'un chat." | ( o o )

Alan Cox

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Jun 20, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/20/95
to
In article <3s12of$j...@lyra.csx.cam.ac.uk> mw1...@cus.cam.ac.uk (M. Williams) writes:
>My favourite IF was 'The Pawn', for just this reason, in that it revolved
>around twisting the normal morality of situations completely (selling your
>soul to the devil, killing the knight in shining armour, NOT rescuing the
>princess and so on). It very much mad a play on it's own amorality. It
>worked because the game was never specific about what was going on, or why
>(e.g. what the point of the game was). So much so that I finished it and
>still don't know.

Knight Orc (Level 9) was another one with a very clever twist on position. I
never liked the game, but the concept that you are the orc and all these
adventurers keep being a nuisance was very clever. And the final twist on
that was brilliant once you twigged what the game was all about.

I don't believe in spoilers play the game

--
..-----------,,----------------------------,,----------------------------,,
// Alan Cox // iia...@www.linux.org.uk // GW4PTS@GB7SWN.#45.GBR.EU //
``----------'`----------------------------'`----------------------------''
Redistribution of this message via the Microsoft Network is prohibited

Magnus Olsson

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Jun 20, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/20/95
to
In article <3s0o6j$1...@styx.uwa.edu.au>,

Charles Miller <cmi...@tartarus.uwa.edu.au> wrote:
>Magnus Olsson (m...@marvin.df.lth.se) wrote:
>: Answering that adventure games aren't the real world is just restating
>: the obvious. The interesting point is _why_ it's different from the
>: real world in precisely that way. [involving theft and murder] Is it just
>for historical reasons -
>: the first adventures were treasure hunts and others followed th
>: ebeaten track?
>
>IF is not the real world, it is simply the manipulation of symbols in
>order to see what happens. Often this involves the solution of
>logical/illogical problems.

(rest of article deleted to save space)

What your argument seems to boil down to is basically "It's only a game",
right?

I can agree with you that in most computer games, the man-like figures
on the screen (or whatever) are jus "symbols" to be manipulated, and
their behaviour has no more relevance to real life than that of
chessmen. After all, we don't normally think too much about the moral
implications of the Mario Borthers' actions, or about what Pacman does
when he isn't being hunted around a maze by hungre ghosts.

_However_, I must contest your view that IF is "just games" in that
sense. IF is a branch of literature (albeit usually of not-too-high
literary merit, but still it's literature). I'm not saying this
because it fulfils some subjective criteria of mine; I say it because
of the way most people relate to IF.

In a nutshell: I've seen so many people on this newsgroup writing
about crying when Floyd died (in "Planetfall") that I flatly _refuse_
to believe that these people regarded FLoyd as just a "symbol" to
manipulate.

People _relate_ to the characters in IF. People tend to view the
worlds described in IF as they view the worlds described in novels.
_Ergo_, discussing the morality of the characters (as measured by
real-worl ethics or the fictional ethics of that game) is a perfectly
valid field of discourse and not to be dismissed as easily as some people
seem to think.


Besides, I wasn't asking whether the world in IF is differnet from the
Real World(tm) - of course it is; if I thought otherwise I'd be fit
for a lunatic asylum - nor was I trying to apply real-world ethics to IF.

I was merely asking about examples of cases where the actions of IF
characters would have been regarded as "amoral" or even "immoral" _had
they taken place in the real world_, and as a follow-up question, why
that kindof behaviour is quite common in IF (or, if you prefer to see
it that way, why so many of the fictional worlds of IF seem to have
radically different ethical norms than the Real World). Please don't try
to tell me not to confuse reality with fantasy; I'm not crazy yet and
I have no difficulty keeping the two apart, thank you.

Greg Koster

unread,
Jun 20, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/20/95
to
I've held back on posting this idea in the hope that someone else would
offer it (and spare me the risk of a poor memory), but here goes:

Return to Zork did try to address the amorality issue of the earlier Zork
games. The game has an explicit set of moral rules, which are pretty
close to real-world morality (no stealing, for example)--and if you break
the rules, you are punished.

Most of the discussion on this newsgroup about Return to Zork as a game
has been negative.

Is there a relationship between these two paragraphs?


Greg Koster This is what the Lord asks of you, only this:
g...@maclaw.law.cuny.edu to act justly
to love tenderly,
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8)

Arlo Smith

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Jun 20, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/20/95
to
Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:
: the society (and thus to the society as a whole) or through fear of the

: possible outcomes of his acting against these dictates (ie, punishment
: inflicted by society upon the individual in retribution for actions
: previously committed by the individual against society).

People want to experience fears but not the same ones, the
same way. Everybody wants, um, --say the neighbor bought a nice car.
Naturally a little envy sets in. The guy wants that car! But he can't
take it. Why doesn't he take it? BEcause he would be arrested and have to
give it back. The fear of being arrested and having to give the car back
in a game would be unpleasant, though perhaps the fear of being roasted
alive by a dragon guarding the car, a dragon which can be destroyed in
some way, is enjoyable.

ANother thing, morality in the real world is based, I think, on not
wanting to hurt someone else. To steal his car, for example, would. In
games no one is being hurt! There's the difference. Voila!


gs6...@cnsvax.albany.edu

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Jun 21, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/21/95
to
>I was merely asking about examples of cases where the actions of IF
>characters would have been regarded as "amoral" or even "immoral" _had
>they taken place in the real world_, and as a follow-up question, why
>that kindof behaviour is quite common in IF (or, if you prefer to see
>it that way, why so many of the fictional worlds of IF seem to have
>radically different ethical norms than the Real World). Please don't try
>to tell me not to confuse reality with fantasy; I'm not crazy yet and
>I have no difficulty keeping the two apart, thank you.

I still don't really see all these "cases" that supposedly exist. As far as
I've seen, the vast majority of items taken in IF games are either given or
have no apparent owner, and the vast majority of creatures killed pose a deadly
threat to the character. Where's all this "amoral" behavior? (Other than
those games mentioned which were specifically designed with a "bad" character
in mind, which are exceptions.)
Hey, I cried my fool head off when Floyd died. Just like I cried when Marvin
died in So Long. You're right, IF and novels aren't much different. Neither
are the way the characters interact...

Greg

Julian Arnold

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Jun 21, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/21/95
to
Tim Middleton (tim.mi...@canrem.com) wrote:

[ Much bleating about commies, Chinese and aliens ]

No, my friend, you are wrong. It's the cows. Haven't you seen them? They
gather in fields, by the sides of main roads, on the edges of our towns, in
the furthest reaches of our countryside ... they're everywhere!

They plot. They conspire. They make plans ... for ... for ...

***WORLD DOMINATION***

The cows are coming, the cows are coming! Heeelp, there's one at the window
... it's coming in ... it's coming for me ... noooo, st

Adam J. Thornton

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Jun 21, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/21/95
to
In article <gek-200695...@198.180.141.67>,

Greg Koster <g...@maclaw.law.cuny.edu> wrote:
>Return to Zork did try to address the amorality issue of the earlier Zork
>games. The game has an explicit set of moral rules, which are pretty
>close to real-world morality (no stealing, for example)--and if you break
>the rules, you are punished.
>Most of the discussion on this newsgroup about Return to Zork as a game
>has been negative.
>Is there a relationship between these two paragraphs?

I don't think so.

RTZ got negative reviews mostly because the plot was shallow, the mazes
were annoying, and some of the puzzles were illogical.

Plus, we all got _REALLY REALLY_ sick of "Want some rye? 'Course you do!"

Even the Guardian's enforcement of the "no stealing" rule was inconsistent.
Spoiler alert.

You need the shield from Bel Naire temple to perform the ritual.

I don't remember being told by the Priestess that I could take it. (Maybe
I wasn't listening, which invalidates my objection.)

Yet, you can take it and nothing bad happens, although it is clear that it
belongs to the temple.

Adam
--
ad...@io.com | ad...@phoenix.princeton.edu | Viva HEGGA! | Save the choad!
"Double integral is also the shape of lovers curled asleep" : Pynchon
64,928 | TEAM OS/2 | "Ich habe einen Bierbauch!" | Linux | Fnord
You can have my PGP passphrase when you pry it from my cold, dead brain.

Julian Arnold

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Jun 21, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/21/95
to
Arlo Smith (bl...@torfree.net) wrote:

> Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:
> : the society (and thus to the society as a whole) or through fear of the
> : possible outcomes of his acting against these dictates (ie, punishment
> : inflicted by society upon the individual in retribution for actions
> : previously committed by the individual against society).
>
> People want to experience fears but not the same ones, the
> same way. Everybody wants, um, --say the neighbor bought a nice car.
> Naturally a little envy sets in. The guy wants that car! But he can't
> take it. Why doesn't he take it? BEcause he would be arrested and have to
> give it back. The fear of being arrested and having to give the car back
> in a game would be unpleasant, though perhaps the fear of being roasted
> alive by a dragon guarding the car, a dragon which can be destroyed in
> some way, is enjoyable.

True. Good point. Relatively small rewards for stupidly high risks can make us do naughty things, as long as it's *exciting*.

> ANother thing, morality in the real world is based, I think, on not
> wanting to hurt someone else. To steal his car, for example, would. In
> games no one is being hurt! There's the difference. Voila!

Ooooohhh! I made this point in the first half of the sentence which you
*didn't* quote in your article -- `... through an inherent sense of
responsibility to other individual members of the society ...'. Hmm, maybe
not very clear. OK, you win, another good point.

=-)

--

Jools
jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk

Helen

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Jun 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/22/95
to
:In article <3s2f5g$f...@azure.acsu.buffalo.edu> go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz) writes:

: Newsgroups: rec.arts.int-fiction
: From: go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz)
: Date: 19 Jun 1995 00:08:16 GMT
: Organization: State University of New York at Buffalo/Computer Science
: NNTP-Posting-User: goetz

: In article <3rkpj4$s...@nic.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson <m...@marvin.df.lth.se> wrote:

: >supposed to collect all the useful or valuable objects you can find -


: >even though it's pretty obvious that the objects in question belong to
: >other people - so stealing is probably the most common example of
: >amoral behaviour in IF. Breaking and entering is also a common theme;
: >just think of the white house in Zork.

: This is a sore point with me -- not because I'm on a moral crusade
: (the Internet is corrupting our children! Exon/Gore 84-16! 8-P ),
: but because it destroys the sense of realism, and makes me fall out
: of character.

: Phil go...@cs.buffalo.edu

Different with me... I remember being stuck for hours in one of the King
Quests when I found a bag of diamonds or something in the dwarves' house and
the solution was to return it to the owner ! (he gives some object in exchange
which is necessary to advance in the game) this solution never occured to me...
I guess I'm already corrupted :-(

Is it possible anyway to create a game where you must strictly obey the laws
Probably it will be as boring as the real life... (or at least as the
Police Quest 4...)

he...@cc.huji.ac.il

Arlo Smith

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Jun 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/25/95
to
Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:
: Ooooohhh! I made this point in the first half of the sentence which you

: *didn't* quote in your article -- `... through an inherent sense of
: responsibility to other individual members of the society ...'. Hmm, maybe
: not very clear. OK, you win, another good point.

Most of my posts in this base have been too strongly-worded. I blame
myself, but also the Inform manual! Puts me in a bad mood. As a manual,
it's 'designed' to be a last resort. I HAVE TO LEARN MOST THINGS
STUDYING THE EXAMPLES AND ABSORBING THEIR PSYCHIC ENERGY.
If I don't understand something in the examples I bite my lower lip and
try the manual. The manual then slaps me around pretty good, steps on me
and kicks me in the ribs; my head spinning, I post a message. Sad, really.
;)

Anyhow, I'm committed (or should be committed to an asylum) to writing a
game, though I'm going slowly. Because ... because .... the manual. It's
written in Greek.

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