role play vs. game play (the game within a game)

Day 561, 05:50 Published in USA USA by scrabman

This is an article that I've been having a hard time writing. Not that I'm not full of opinions but this is just a difficult one to put all together. I've been talking about these things for weeks and months though and that is that I feel that eAmericans are playing a different game than the rest of the world. When I say that the eUSA is a game within a game what I mean is that so many eAmericans are not interested in the rules of game play and are more interested in role playing.

I was a victim of this too when I first started eRep. I joined up and started writing my paper about a month before V1 (when you didn't have to pay for a paper). I was cautious not to call eRep a game in my articles in case someone would be offended that I broke the illusion that we were building a better government. I can also distinctly remember getting into political discussions with people and spouting RL political ideas. Then I got elected to Congress in the first state elections and I swear one of the first things I did was to inquire about raising the minimum wage which is such a cliche of noob Congress members. I'm glad that those old Forums don't still show what a noob I was back then.

In those next months I learned a lot about how the game works and I heard the Beta Giants talking about RL politics and how they have no bearing here and it took me a while to start to get that. They told me that personally as well as in the old Forums when advising Congress yet it was still difficult to separate the role playing for so many, myself included. While I wasn't one of the Congressmen asking for a Q5 hospital for my state because "my constituents deserved it" I did become the Party President of the USWP and played that role for the betterment of my party during my service. That service eventually led me to become the eUSA President and then the game changed. Serving as the POTUS has caused me to become a pragmatist ... and to give up role playing.

The fundamental problem with the eUSA is that at least half of eAmericans play this game solely on the level of the eUSA and never pay any attention to the larger picture. These are the ones who delve into party politics, who pretend they are famous leaders like John F. Kennedy, or who pretend they are a girl or something else. I've met plenty of players who tell me that they are a Real Life (RL) liberal playing as a hardcore conservative, or a dove playing as a warhawk, or a nationalist playing as an imperialist. Many eAmericans like to play a role and that is their primary enjoyment of the game. These are the people who put us at risk of losing the game for the sake of our game-within-a-game.

The eUSA really is a game-within-a-game. There are so many things to pursue in our large and rich e-culture. Party politics draw some, military matters draw others, while the pursuit of fun or even trolling make others happy. These players often fail to note the larger aspects of the game and how our style of play places us at risk from the rest of the world, particularly the larger and more organized nations, who are playing the game on the basis of game mechanics.

The game mechanics are all of those things that the role players hate to hear about. They are the reasons we will never raise the minimum wage, will never put a pair of Q5 DS and Hospitals in every state, and will never manage to have our own high iron resource. The game mechanics are what govern what Indo and Romania do on a daily basis and why their actions seem so mysterious to us. I learned these things first hand when I became eUSA President and have been learning them on a near daily basis over the last 70+ days.

The game mechanics style of playing is very distasteful to the role players. The role players like to pride themselves on moral stances, on points of pride, and on what they perceive as fairness. However, the big players in this game are looking at the "cold equations" of the game mechanics. You can do this, this, and this and they are all fair game because the game allows them (even some things that seem shady like PTOs). The eUSA refusal to engage in such things places us at more and more of a disadvantage every day. We barely held off the PTO attempt of Spain last election and were unable to help South Africa from falling (and they fell hard and are now off the map). PTOs are nasty things, take over a congress and you can impeach the President repeatedly till you get your man in there who can surrender one territory after another till the nation is gone ... or just bleed the nation dry if you can't get the President.

It would have taken only 227 votes to PTO the eUSA Congress last election. Looking at the bottom 25 states it would have taken between 3 and 13 votes to win each one while the top 5 states commanded 149 of the 549 votes in the top half of the states. So that is 776 of the 3185 votes cast for 184 candidates. How much better use could those extra 2409 votes have been put? If we were attacked with a PTO would those 2409 votes for some marginal or unqualified candidates have been our downfall? Could some of those votes have helped to prevent South Africa from falling or have given Romania a few more seats in their PTO of Indonesia giving them a majority? I say yes, but the eUSA's unwillingness to embrace non-traditional concepts of game play will result in our being disadvantaged as the other nations who see them as simple "game mechanics" learn how to organize and use them against us. Sometimes it isn't even unwillingness as much as it is a lack of understanding of how the larger game is played.

There were 2843 votes cast in the last eUSA Presidential elections for 5 candidates - 3 of which had no business being on that ballot for having no realistic chance of winning the election. In the eUSA we like to root for the underdog. We like our egalitarian ideas of fair play and that any person can run for office and win the political lottery. So many of the Congressional elections are decided by moving a few votes but the Presidential elections tend to be a sheer waste in votes. I won the last election with 1695 of those 2843 votes - 1150 more than I needed to win and that was even after asking people to go vote in other elections to stave off PTO attempts.

We are a reluctant society when it comes to change. Yet, if we don't start to embrace new ways of playing eRepublik then our time of downfall is coming. The Admins have talked about implementing a citizenship module that they say will prevent these PTO attempts, yet I have my doubts. The other players in this game have shown a propensity for unwavering dedication to a singular task. Not valuing individuality as much as we do they don't mind making sacrifices for the greater good ... something that we tend not to do. That's not an admonition ... just an observation.

If we were as organized as these other nations we would organize an informal Primary system (as many of the top 5 parties do for the current races) and we would consolidate all of those winners into candidacy under the largest party in the eUSA to maximize the value of our votes. We could then take those other votes and dedicate them elsewhere. The military routinely does this to fend off PTO attempts in parts of the world that matter to us. If only we could do it on a wider scale.

There are many other aspects of this game that we could dominate if we just knew how to use our huge population advantage. Alas, so many people are so focused on the micro-world of eRep (eUSA politics and interests) that they miss the macro-world of eRep (the stuff that will eventually result in our loss of the game). If we lose all the high-iron regions (as we almost did last election) then the game is done. If we lose our top allies to PTOs then the game is done. If we can't find some way to organize our citizens militarily we will be left suck within our borders that are fortified on all sides by multiple MPPs and we will eventually be choked off.

This is the problem ... the solution is a much more difficult matter. The solution will require us to re-evaluate how we apply real world principles to this game. If we are to truly "win" eRepublik we can't do it on our terms. Our terms of fairness, morality, individuality, etc. are fine principles to live by in the Real World. However, in terms of the game they are major hindrances and will keep us down and will result in our downfall.

Many people have disagreed with me in how the Sweden - Germany War has been handled. To me, this is an example of putting our hearts into an effort that will only lead to weakening our ability to defend ourselves. It wasn't an easy choice to go against Germany but after talking to my closest advisers and those who understand these game mechanics even better than I do I made the decision that I had to do what I could to pull us out of Germany. This has been an unpopular decision as many want to help the underdog or are tied up in RL ideas of Germany as an ally. In game terms Germany gives us little compared to other alliances or places where we could invest our resources. Yet our nation remains torn over an emotional outpouring for Germany that ignores the game mechanics that make supporting them a bad idea. That decision falls on my shoulders and I've done my best to work with it and mitigate it and I have to take responsibility for it. This is part of being the President that is very unpleasant. I could have gone with popular sentiment, and it was very tempting, but that would have left us a weaker nation. I have no regrets.

So here we are ... at an impasse. The role players and the game players are at odds. Their goals are mutually exclusive in many ways. One path follows the "American Way" and that's a hard path to resist. The other path puts us in a position to be a major player in the game of eRep. We really can't have both because diving deep into our game-within-a-game will result in the eUSA not seeing the end until it is too late. We will either fall to a massive invasion or we will fall to a political takeover ... or even something that we haven't realized yet. These last 3 months have seen us grow tremendously as a nation through many measures that have been instituted under my watch: our budget, the boom to our economy and military training through war games, our status on the international stage because of those war games and other programs, and our relations with other nations as my cabinet has been focused on building bridges with the various nations of eRep and keeping our options open for a future alliance in a post-ATLANTIS world.

On that last point. ATLANTIS failed for many reasons. One of those reasons was a bit of rampant idealism. The nations of ATLANTIS were formed around the idea of opposing PEACE but on an ideological ground that proved to be fairly ineffective without Romania's muscle to back it up. ATLANTIS was an unwieldy Leviathan that was slow to act and often ineffective when it did so. It was no surprise when it fell ... now we need to learn from those mistakes going forward and we have several good options on the table that we are discussing and trying to plan for feasibility. This next month will determine where we stand as a nation and whether we will fall due to our obsession with role play or whether we will surge ahead by learning how to game play. We are rapidly approaching a crisis point.

scrabman - POTUS