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Old 11-29-2004, 11:26 PM   #1
Burr
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How would Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs apply within the scope of mudding?

Maslow's Hierarchy can be summarized as follows:

1. Physiological Needs
2. Safety Needs
3. Belonging Needs
4. Esteem Needs
5. Self-Actualization Needs

Here is my attempt at analysis:

Physiological Needs

The "physiological" needs for a mudder amount to the ability to continuously perceive the act of mudding.  This obviously includes the ability to stay connected to the mud.  IMO, if a player connects and sees only "It is dark.  You bump into something," with no immediate ability to change the situation, then you aren't adequately satisfying the mudder's need for perception.

A mudder's physiological might also include a minimum amount of available interaction with the mud environment.  I don't think so; I'll discuss this more in the section about belonging needs.

Safety Needs

A mudder also needs a certain amount of security that goes beyond the ability to "survive."  This may include protection from cheating or false allegations of cheating, from abusive immortals, from extremely graphic depictions of traumatic events, or even from overzealous competition.

If ever a mudder's safety needs cannot be completely and utterly filled, it is best to at least make the risks as transparent as possible.  Of course, this may not be possible if the mudder's need for perception has not been adequately satisfied.

Belonging Needs

A mudder needs to feel as if they have a definite role in the community.  I think this is where new players most often get turned off of the muds they try.  It is typical of muds to attempt to satisfy the esteem and self-actualization needs of a player without having built any foundation by dealing with the need for belonging.

Here is where the ability to interact really matters, and the ability to interact with the community is far more fundamentally important than the ability to interact with the environment.  This is why I think interaction isn't a physiological need.  Interaction with people isn't necessary to merely survive as a mudder, and interaction with the environment is less fundamental than interaction with people.  Hence, a mudder may merely perceive to survive, whereas a mudder who belongs requires interaction with people.

Of course, not all interaction is positive.  No interaction is better than negative interaction, such as abuse, which is why fulfilling a mudder's safety needs is often of higher priority than fulfilling a mudder's need to belong.  Nevertheless, a mudder with no role in the community may realize that they can continue to fulfill their physiological and safety needs on most other muds, and by moving on they may get the chance to fulfill the third need in their hierarchy.

Esteem

There's really not much here that hasn't been said elsewhere.  As I said before, most muds emphasize the need for esteem.  The opportunity for achievement comes in all shapes and sizes.  What is important, then, is making sure those potential achievements are meaningful.  This is where the ability to interact with the environment comes in.  How meaningful is killing 10,000 goblins if there is a neverending supply of goblin clones?  What good is becoming lord of all one sees if there no real power transferred?  Why write the ballad to top all ballads if it dies wth the bard?  Etc., etc., etc.

It is important to note that esteem is generally perceived relative to the other members of a community.  Otherwise, how do you know that you've really achieved something significant?  Not every significant interaction with the environment is a significant achievement, for that aspect of the environment might simply be volatile.  A player needs peers; this goes hand in hand with the need for a role in the community and is a foundation for satisfying the player's esteem needs.

Self-Actualization

This is the final need a mud needs to worry about satisfying.  That's not to say it is unimportant.  Quite the opposite, how you satisfy this need goes a long way in determining just what kind of mud you are running.  Once the four fundamental needs are met, this need can be explored in an infinite number of ways.  It is more than the icing on the cake; it is the ultimate goal of everything a mudder does.  A mudder needs to be unequivocally unique, fully realized, and utterly connected to the community and to the environment.

It is not necessary to be an immortal to fulfill everyone's need for self-actualization as a mudder.  However, you will find that for many it is a requirement, and the others might often as well be called an immortal for all that they do.  

On the other hand, it is important to note that a person's ability to lead as an immortal will have a lot to do with how well founded they are in the lower-level needs.  An immortal with belonging and/or esteem issues could potentially become your next power abuser (not that this would always happen).  An immortal with prolonged safety or physiological issues probably is going to stop working for you long, unless that immortal is you.  Let's hope not.
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Old 12-13-2004, 05:50 AM   #2
Aminaka
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Firstly, it's good to see you propose the model as a triangle up-ended or reversed. Though Enlightenment (at the very bottom) whilst mudding still sadly eludes us, your analysis looks good. Secondly, it's intiguing to apply all manner of Educational theories to gaming; Dr. Tuckman's Forming, Norming, Performing, Norming, Adjourning/Mourning model intrigues me with regards to gaming and is just as valid. Golly gosh, I think it's all in the 'Performing' bit! Woohoo!

At any rate, how would you extend your analysis to the player's avatar? No, it's not a spurious question, nor humourous in origin. I can perhaps see your extended analysis clashing considerably in places with your original one. But it'd be interesting to find out.
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Old 12-13-2004, 08:47 PM   #3
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I can't give you a good answer. The problem from my thinking is that an avatar simply has whatever needs are projected onto it by the imaginations of those who perceive it. For example, if a player decides to leave the mud after his or her character dies, where goes the avatar's need to exist?
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Old 12-13-2004, 10:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Burr @ Dec. 13 2004,20:47)
I can't give you a good answer. The problem from my thinking is that an avatar simply has whatever needs are projected onto it by the imaginations of those who perceive it. For example, if a player decides to leave the mud after his or her character dies, where goes the avatar's need to exist?
Given that a player might feel a need to supply a considerable amount of emotional investment in her avatar(s) she might take them elsewhere never allowing them to die or become this transient in the first place. Anyway, permadeath is another kettle of fish. In RL, death makes Maslow's hierarchy irrelevant, as it does everything else. At least our avatars can 'try again'.

Do our avatars have a 'will to live' then? Do we allow them such luxuries? Or do they, uncaring, skip their physiological needs and head straight for self-realisation and enlightenment? Is this a case of taking RP too far? Or do our avatars provide handy shortcuts for our own desires to reach self-realisation?

Keep it coming.
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Old 12-14-2004, 01:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
Given that a player might feel a need to supply a considerable amount of emotional investment in her avatar(s) she might take them elsewhere never allowing them to die or become this transient in the first place.  Anyway, permadeath is another kettle of fish. In RL, death makes Maslow's hierarchy irrelevant, as it does everything else. At least our avatars can 'try again'.
In muds with high magic or advanced technology (i.e., most muds), the exoticness of the world and character types means the needs of a character do not necessarily follow Maslow's Hierarchy in predictable ways, or even at all.  For this reason, I take "avatar" to potentially include more than one character, and possibly even an OOC persona, such that if one character died, the avatar would not necessarily die as well.  A broader definition of "avatar" allows for a more accurate generalization across muds.  Moreover, it is useful because an avatar, as I define it, can take into account things like whether or not a hunger system is implemented, whereas a character normally experiences hunger whether or not we actually perceive this experience.  Characters have life beyond the mud via the IC nature of the world.  Players have life beyond the mud via real life.  Avatars fill the intersection between the two.  Also because of this distinction, if a player moves to a different mud, the avatar does not follow, but rather a new avatar is created.

The question then becomes whether or not avatars contain any sphere of perception or influence which is not shared with the player or the character.  If not, then it is difficult to say an avatar has needs of its own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Do our avatars have a 'will to live' then? Do we allow them such luxuries? Or do they, uncaring, skip their physiological needs and head straight for self-realisation and enlightenment? Is this a case of taking RP too far? Or do our avatars provide handy shortcuts for our own desires to reach self-realisation?
I think we generally expect our characters to have a "will to live" not as a luxury but as a duty.  After all, how often do players complain that their character is still alive?  (Okay, I've actually seen that happen, but I'm pretty sure it was an exception to the rule.)  When we log out for a few days, we generally assume that our characters keep on carrying out daily activities.  That the story is hidden from us doesn't mean it didn't keep on going.

An avatar, on the other hand, is usually expected to disappear while we are gone, unless we are simply "afk".  For instance, I wouldn't want my topmudsites user id to keep posting to the forum without my guidance; nor would I even want it saying I am here when I am not.  This might change if avatars could be trusted to perform useful functions even while the player is away (e.g., advanced bots).  In such a case, an avatar truly might take on a life of its own and develop needs of its own.

As to self-realization, a character can achieve his or her full potential and still leave a player unsatisfied.  But I think it is each player's goal to create a character whose potential also meets some potential in the player.  Even the darkest of characters may express a self-concept that a player enjoys knowing is available but unchosen (yet), a kind of self-realization by way of contrast.

The avatar, then, may represent the full potential for self-realization that a player can gain from a potential mud.
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Old 12-14-2004, 06:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
For this reason, I take "avatar" to potentially include more than one character, and possibly even an OOC persona, such that if one character died, the avatar would not necessarily die as well.
I think it might be useful for a mutually acceptable definition of 'avatar'. Which end of the spectrum shall we go for? We can explore possibilities that an avatar is an extension of 'self', or we can go the other way and claim that the avatar is one or more distinctly indentifiable roles, as if acted out by one actor, a definition I prefer. The late, great, Peter Sellers, for example, thought of himself as merely a collection of his roles with the core person (Peter Sellers) as someone he didn't recognise. Or rather, he considered himself 'at his best' when performing these roles -we might say that in this case the creator was subsumed by both the process and by the product of his (superb) craft.

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Originally Posted by
Also because of this distinction, if a player moves to a different mud, the avatar does not follow, but rather a new avatar is created.
We've all seen it though. Sometimes the identification with character x is too strong, and this character migrates across with the player, fairly intact, needing only to adapt to a new environment. The base avatar remains the same. The investment has been too great to risk throwing away.

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Originally Posted by
The question then becomes whether or not avatars contain any sphere of perception or influence which is not shared with the player or the character. If not, then it is difficult to say an avatar has needs of its own.
Bravo.

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Originally Posted by
In such a case, an avatar truly might take on a life of its own and develop needs of its own.
Heavens. Mary Shelley would be pleased. Yours is a thought-provoking and somewhat disturbing claim. But, yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
As to self-realization, a character can achieve his or her full potential and still leave a player unsatisfied. But I think it is each player's goal to create a character whose potential also meets some potential in the player...The avatar, then, may represent the full potential for self-realization that a player can gain from a potential mud.
Potential and realisation of same. We're very high up (or low-down) in Maslow's triangle here. A question begs to be asked when we get deeper into this. Can we argue that a role of an Immortal, if earned by level-treadmilling and other in-game mechanisms, equals Enlightenment? Character X is now level 99...one more (exhausting level) to go and she becomes a demi-God. She transcends mere mortality and becomes a perfect being who, serpent-like, sheds her mortal skin and...transcends, as it were. She has fully realised her potential and at the apex(?) of Maslow's triangle.

I'd imagine that, at the very moment of obtaining 'Enlightenment' in this fashion, the player might feel very elated, to say the least, especially if a story arc reveals this to every other player in glorious style.
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