The Rookery

Madeline's thoughts on social deduction games, forum/community meta, and any other philosophical musings
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Mistakes Will Be Made (and other stuff)

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Never argue with idiots; they'll drag you down to their level and then beat you on experience.
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Again, lots of different conversations bouncing around and playing into each other.

This came up in a social/political context, but it's relevant here too:

madelineb wrote:
This applies to many situations in general, but: having emotions is an inevitable part of being human, and I think we are all humans and experience emotions. (Probably.) However, the extent to which I let my emotions influence my responses is not completely automatic, there is some level of choice and self-reflection there.

"But Madeline, if I tell a stupid joke and you start laughing, or if I say something provocative and you look upset, your emotions dictate your reactions and you didn't have free will."

Yeah, that's an effect of talking face-to-face in real life and real time, and I'm probably below-average at hiding my instinctive expressions even when I would like to. But a lot of my socializing (especially now but even before) is on the internet where I don't have to make snap judgments about body language, and I also have the ability to think before I post. So my default philosophy is "I have the ability to disclose my emotions, but I can also choose not to, I can ask myself 'what if everyone did that' and 'when someone else did X I felt Y, is it a good idea for me to do X right now given that context'?"

I have also very much learned from experience that my brain might not be typical this way.

*

Hypothetical conversation.

A: Here's the game I have in signup, look at these cool themes and mechanics!
B: Oh wow, that looks great!
A: By the way, dusk is at 1 AM BGG, and dawn is at 2!

Hypothetical response 1:
B: Oh...well...I'm never going to be around any time close to then, and I feel like I wouldn't be much help to my team, so I'm going to pass. Too bad, because it looks fun. Good luck modding!

Hypothetical response 2:
B: But I live in Bolivia, and those deadlines are at 2 and 3 AM when I'm sound asleep. This means I can't play, that's not fair
A: Well, maybe I'll catch you in another game.
B: Bolivia is a developing country and our economy is relatively mediocre. Clearly a New Zealand conspiracy picking on helpless Western Hemisphere nations D:

The reason response 1 is "nicer" than response 2 is not only because it's somehow more "polite," but also because in the second case, user B is clearly not taking into account the existing distribution of players and games. For a user in New Zealand, those dawn/dusk times translate into 6/7 PM local. Those are times that are probably convenient for a lot of people (say, people who are catching up after work)--but because they're difficult for a lot of North American users, there are very few games scheduled with those deadlines. User B is right to say that this isn't an ideal situation for them. But most of the games that already exist are not an ideal situation for the New Zealand players! Again, you can tie everything back to selection bias; maybe the reason the New Zealanders don't scream and complain about conspiracy theories is because they've given up on finding convenient games.

*

Vanderscamp wrote:
I think it's a pretty crazy notion that it is morally wrong to lie about your perspective as an alignment in a game that requires lying about your perspective.
MD1616 wrote:
AAYOWMtBM (always assume your opponent will make the best move)
The conversations that prompted this (in a couple different places) were on the subject of: Sometimes in known rolesets, "good" (uninformed majority) players say things that almost certainly mean they're not evil, or don't have a specific evil role. Like "oh, the cub doesn't know the wolves? I thought they were informed of the wolves" is very likely not something that the cub would say, because the cub would have that information. This unbalances games and makes it easier for good, who already have it pretty good.

One possibility to prevent this is to normalize faking this kind of play ("angleshooting") as evil. For instance, if you draw the cub, maybe you deliberately make a post like the above one so everyone says "oh, X is definitely not the cub."

Question: is this an ethical strategy?

On the one hand, I'm sympathetic to Vanderscamp's viewpoint above. Evils can, and do, lie about all kinds of things ("I'm not the seer, I was just a villager trying something weird!" "I wouldn't have nightkilled X, it was her first game back after a long hiatus." "Pleeeeeeease don't kill me it will hurt me in my feeeeeeeelings.") in ways that might seem distasteful. It would be very difficult to draw a line that excludes angleshooting but allows everything else.

However, I also think that MD's point on gaming philosophy in general is profound. In order for games to be played "well," we should incentivize playing "well," not playing "poorly." If we reward fake angleshooting, we incentivize a "race to the bottom" where everyone competes to outdo each other in helplessness, and the actual challenge/fun/puzzle of the game is lost.

In the same way, if you regard the best measure of your skill as the better of your good and evil win percentages, often the good one will be higher. You can try to up your evil percentage (and hence "base skill") by posting less as every alignment so people find you inscrutable and let you sneak by as evil, but this doesn't improve the game as a whole.

So I think The Right Thing (TM) is not to draw specific rules but to find a way to punish angleshooting/accidental clears whether genuine or not. One game in progress has the idea of "modkill players who make these kinds of slips, at mods' discretion." I think that's an idea worth experimenting with, it might not be a cure-all, but it's worth a try.

The caveat is, that's only an incentive if you consider the results of the game to be an incentive! Some people are going to say "of course I don't want to be modkilled, because that will hurt my team's chances of winning." But others are going to say "nah nah, journey not destination, it shouldn't matter one whit whether my team wins or not, so if I get modkilled then, oh well." How do you incentivize those people to follow the rules? Winning isn't everything, but trying to win is--as long as the game is "robust" enough that people trying to reach their win condition will cause fun to emerge naturally. If you have to tell people "the spirit of the game is X, play to that," even though it's not defined in the rules, that's a sign that your game is fragile. And if people decide for themselves that the incentives are boring, well...

*

Thanks to brianmccue for encouraging me to monologue about this
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