25 August, 2006
In this design challenge, you get to do something very hard: act like Will Wright. One of the truly amazing things about Will is that he learns from and is influenced by a wide variety of topics. He regularly looks for inspiration outside of the game industry. He has talked about looking at chair design, mathematics, rock gardens, and many other things as inspiration for this designs. He gives fascinating talks at conferences, even though he usually only talks about Spore these days.
So, your task is to describe some inspiration that comes from something beyond games. My bit is below the break.
One of the more interesting experiences I had was on jury duty. It was actually fascinating to see how justice works from that perspective. I was interested in learning more since most people shun the activity as something that wastes their time; there had to be something more to it.
It was eye-opening to see how people would try to get out of serving on the jury. The case was important to most of them: it dealt with an insurance company trying to recoup money spent on a settlement from the city. The insurance company claimed that the city’s policy for foliage removal (or lack thereof) had helped contribute to the fire that required the payment of the settlement. In other words, this directly affected how much money the city would owe. It was also interesting because the city had since removed the plants due to a change of policy, although we were not told that before ruling on the case. We were actually instructed not to do our own investigation. So much for playing Matlock, although it would have given incorrect information.
The case itself wasn’t too painful. It lasted a few weeks as I saw the lawyers argue the case. It really was interesting to see a courtroom from the inside, without the added stress of having a court case involving you going on. In the end, the jury found in the city’s favor. I have to admit, I was really leading the group as most people seemed not to have strong opinions on it.
I learned a lot of things by doing this. Specifically:
* People are scared of jury duty for no good reason.
* The state doesn’t really pay very well for jury duty.
* Investigation isn’t for jury members.
* Unlike TV, court cases are a little dry; even if they are important.
* People really don’t get very excited about court cases, even when on jury duty.
* People look for a leader to lead them about things they have no opinions about.
Okay, but what does this have to do with games? Well, it’s valuable information for when people start talking about player governance in online games. People seem to have this notion that the people will rise up and save the world from the bad people. Unfortunately, they are wrong.
People don’t like jury duty, even when they should take an interest in the case. They don’t want to be bothered and even if they can’t escape the clutches of jury duty, they don’t really want to exert much effort. If we can’t get people excited about their civic duty, can we really get them excited about doing the same thing in a virtual world where they have the ultimate escape: the logoff command? Will they really go through the pain and suffering required to do the right thing? Given my experiences with jury duty, I don’t think so.
So, what’s your observation?