Sims Online Mob Justice
June 11, 2003 10:05 PM   Subscribe

Mobs move into 'Sims Online' power vacuum: "An underground group known as the Sims Shadow Government has taken over the fantasy world that is 'The Sims Online,' meting out mob justice." I don't play the Sims Online, but I'm curious: Has anyone on Mefi run into this phenomenon while playing the game?
posted by eclectica (28 comments total)
I hadn't run into the Shadow Government, but I had encountered "Mia Wallace" before. I can't believe that wasn't a chick half of the time! See, stuff like that is why I don't play anymore...

Actually, I would have continued playing if I saw more creativity like this pop up in the TSO world. Playing mobsters sounds way more fun than standing around making pizza and potions for hours on end.
posted by lnicole at 10:52 PM on June 11, 2003

Has anyone on Mefi run into this phenomenon while playing the game?

It's actually pretty common for players to do things the designer doesn't expect, I think.

E.g. once in the earliy days of Ultima Online, when Richard Garriot (aka "Lord British") made a in game appearence. He was supposed to be invulnerable, but a group of guys staged an assassination, and were successful.

Other MMORPGs are chock full of player-created governments, enforcement bodies, etc etc etc. So much so that different servers of the same game develop different "cultures" -- one is lawless, another has strict order, etc.

Was happening for years before that in MUDs too.

I am, however, surprised to learn anyone is playing The Sims Online.
posted by malphigian at 11:23 PM on June 11, 2003

ah, yes, the famous assasination of Lord British at the hands of Rainz... brings back memories of wasting hundreds of hours in drunken PK hunts on Pacific and Superior...

the most fun was when we figured out that if all you wore was a robe and some few other items, you would only take 1 point of damage from fireballs, which were the main PK tool at the time... so we went out with only a flimsy robe, a few potions and scrolls, and enough reagents to cast 1 or 2 spells -- and slaughtered PKs by the score. lasted about 2 weeks until it got fixed.

damn I'm glad I quite MMORPGs altogether.
posted by badzen at 11:40 PM on June 11, 2003

The talk by Will Wright in my post yesterday discusses this (search the page for 'mafia'):

There is one player that is the highest-rated player. She now has 367 friends, which is about to break our system, because we didn’t expect anybody would get that many. On the side, she’s started a mafia organization...
posted by jamespake at 1:17 AM on June 12, 2003

I guess it's Lord of the Flies made virtually real.
posted by PenDevil at 1:20 AM on June 12, 2003

Was playing Ultima Online when dozens of players named Bob were showing up, all with shaved heads, wearing robes, and harassing passersby. The pretend orc players were also interesting.

In whole, though, didn't find the experience itself to be very interesting. Spent about two months as a thief and house burglar, then got sick of all the rules/routines players are subjected to. I'd do a trial of one of these again, but no credit card number.

More interesting to me is the Japanese cartoon .hack//SIGN, which takes place inside a MMORPG.
posted by son_of_minya at 2:52 AM on June 12, 2003

reminds me of a story i heard about one of the first moo/muse/mush/mud thingies: in the beginning all the avatars of this particular environment could do was chat to each other and move around, but objects could be created if a vote was carried in favor of creating said object. the first two things made? guns and money. the effect of getting shot was to get temporarily kicked from the server.
posted by juv3nal at 2:59 AM on June 12, 2003

Stories like this make life worth living
posted by ajbattrick at 4:17 AM on June 12, 2003

So much so that different servers of the same game develop different "cultures" -- one is lawless, another has strict order

I was actually part of the development team for a MUD that sliced the playable area in half: One realm for Law, one for Chaos.

My brother, the guildmaster for the Vampire guild in the Chaos realm, used to lead raids into the Law realm occasionally.

For all the the MUD environment didn't contain graphics, the amount of tension that was in the air when the warning for a raid was belted from the throat of the first victim was a palpable thing. People would hide in churches, arm themselves with fire and silver, and generally behave as if all the characters flying by their screen had deep meaning.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:58 AM on June 12, 2003

posted by dopamine at 6:18 AM on June 12, 2003

This is an interesting feature on the real life of a shlub who is a celebrity inside the world of Anarchy Online.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:32 AM on June 12, 2003

it's a very obvious development.

I never played much MUDs and MMORPGS as yes, they became extremely boring.

But imagine that they become not boring, indeed an interesting diversion. Then yes, it is obvious that organizations will form.

I have wondered in the distant future, assuming that these organizations are commonplace, powerful, large, how they will interact with "real world" organizations - by then perhaps people's affiliations to these virtual organizations will be as strong as if they were "real" - which they "are", it's just a choice of words and a desire on the part of the members.

Consider the virtual governments. Unfortunately I do not foresee a military but they might be able to manipulate the economy and the infrastructure.

The development of virtual organizations aside from "pretend" ones or benign ones or extensions of "real" ones is foreshadowed in multiplayer games especially, as well as in the improvement in graphics and immersion. Diabo2 which is not really an RPG and is rather boring as well, has a functioning economy. The various free roaming galaxy games allow factions and piracy etc. As of a couple years ago ( a long time ago.. ) I found them too boring, but imagine that the games became as immersive as a movie, as if you were living Star Wars and the like.

I tell you, games and movies will converge in the future. Who doesn't want to play the lead? How many men in history have successfully resisted the urge to lead, to amass wealth? It will be possible to live a fantasy life, as good as and better than a movie, since you will be creating what is happening directly.
posted by firestorm at 6:45 AM on June 12, 2003

"Kacie Velie, a 21-year-old assistant manager of a residential facility for the mentally retarded in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is by night one of the SSG's capos. She said the drama became so intense she sometimes receives calls at work about developments.

``I am amazed personally as to how this whole game has become so real . . . I spend more time with my computer than I do with my friends,'' said Velie, who like about 60 percent of the players, is a woman."

And then there's Metafilter.

Meanwhile the meatspace world - which ultimately hosts all these actvities - continues it's unabated slide towards perpetual war and global environmental degradation.

Hey! What am I doing pecking away at this keyboard? I just remembered, I've got this free subscribtion to a simulation called "Life".

You can do things in this "Life" game - like walk the dog, have sex, cook and eat food, make friends, organize mafia actvity, whatever....

Sometmes surprising, unforeseen things happen too - cataclysms, anomalies, the miraculous - rains of frogs and healings at Lourdes, strange synchronicities and alien visitations; on this, the game's designer cannot be reached for comment.

It sounds fun. I'll think I'll give it a try.
posted by troutfishing at 7:18 AM on June 12, 2003

I have to say, MUDs and their ilk, whilst some just stuck to the tried and true D&D and space opera genres, others were doing a lot of things that were pretty experimental, (and plenty that were just lame) ironically because you didn't have to stuff around with creating intense graphics, and so had to rely on text to create the world in people's heads.

There were a couple of Nomic MUD servers around, and another MUD - Armageddon? - that would have massively staged last-man-standing PK all-in wars, on the hour, every hour, if you got killed you'd have to hang around as a ghost until the battle was over. Always fun when game balance was out of whack or one of the wizards went on a bitchy power trip harrassing newbies for the hell of it. The politics on some were pretty nasty. I wasted a lot of 1992 on some of these. I'd like that year back.

I guess it's much like how old text adventures have led to their modern-day descendants.
posted by GrahamVM at 7:27 AM on June 12, 2003

CunningLinguist: thanks for the NYT article.

its pretty interesting seeing the totality of this guys life that spends 50 hours a week playing an online game, i guess on one hand, he is excelling at something, but on the other hand, what could he have accomplished in that time to get his life back on track...
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 7:39 AM on June 12, 2003

I was a huge criminal on Ultima Online. A creative one that worked within the rules, mind you. It was the most fun I've ever had in any game to this day, but they changed the game so that my sort of play was no longer possible. The whole fun for me was trying to think of creative ways to outsmart the system.

One example: I had a house which I filled with trapped explosive boxes. A friend would try to steal from people while I waited hidden in the house. He would allow himself to get killed and would have a key and a teleport rune to the house on him. The noble thief-killers would rush to the house to try and rob my friend blind before he could get resurrected. They would pile in, open some boxes and explode and die on the floor. I would then appear and loot their bodies while their ghosts complained at me.

I've tried a bunch of other MMORPG's since they removed most of this sort of stuff from Ultima Online, but Everquest and Asheron's Call and so on seem to be even stricter and less into player creativity and freedom. I can understand why -- most users just want to hang out and chop trees and talk to their friends and decorate their houses, not wind up exploded on my floor. But as far as I'm concerned, when users are able to be creative within the system and creative gameplay never imagined by the designers, that's where the true magic happens.
posted by frenetic at 7:59 AM on June 12, 2003

* Welcome, game player. You now have been successfully assimilated *
posted by troutfishing at 8:11 AM on June 12, 2003

This all seems to be a roundabout way of getting over latent insecurity left over from high school.
posted by Fofer at 8:16 AM on June 12, 2003

I like my latent insecurity.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:15 AM on June 12, 2003

One thing I found as an admin for a MUD for a long time is that ever since the internet has become something that everyone can get to is that there are a lot of idiots out there, and they seem to gravitate towards online games. With the mud I was on, there was a definite trend towards more and more obnoxious players as the years went on. It's one reason why I find I can't play most online games, I just get sick of all the people that are there solely to abuse the system. Eventually with the mud, it just came to a point where the level of friendliness and respect had eroded to the point where I just didn't find it fun anymore, and was a major part of the reason I quit. (The other part was just my changing lifestyle making it harder to commit the time I needed to be an admin.)
posted by piper28 at 10:44 AM on June 12, 2003

How many men in history have successfully resisted the urge to lead, to amass wealth?

Sadly, I seem to be doing pretty well at it...
posted by jalexei at 12:05 PM on June 12, 2003

My husband got me Sims Online for Christmas. He thought that since I really liked the regular Sims game, I would like Sims Online. Not the case-- I found it dreary and high-schoolish. I would sit in front of the computer and knit while my Sim was skill-building. Which led me to think-- why don't I just go watch TV while I knit, since it would be more interesting.
posted by CoFenchurch at 2:50 PM on June 12, 2003


Just as in life, the "anti-crime" people on Ultima Online are more barbaric and evil than any criminal. The complete lack of real social justice is what drove me away. I just wanted to be a small-time con artist and burglar -- didn't want to do anything really wrong -- and I had mobs of murderous thugs after me all the time. In fact, I only saw an "evil" PK once in my two months of play.

Also, as in life, most people spend all their time carrying out useless, boring activities, and have no tolerance for anyone with a bit of personality or creativity.

The problem with games is that there is absolutely no way to avoid the rules. Artificial social constructs become Laws of nature.
posted by son_of_minya at 2:53 PM on June 12, 2003

I don't get how a mafia could work on Sims Online. There's no player killing or violence right? What threats / intimidation could be used to wield power? Is it an abuse of admin rights or something in-game?
posted by jcruelty at 3:42 PM on June 12, 2003

Out of curiosity (and I'm honestly curious), how can anyone play Sims, either online or not? I mean, obviously there's some sort of appeal to the whole thing, but I'll be damned if I can figure it out. I've tried the non-online version, and personally found the thing to be about as appealing as watching my grass grow.

I realize people have different tastes, but what on earth is appealing about the game? I really am curious.
posted by piper28 at 10:39 PM on June 12, 2003

It's just basically a god game. Why does anyone play sim games at all? It's that impulse.
posted by stoneegg21 at 10:46 PM on June 12, 2003

You know voodoo dolls? It's like that.
posted by GrahamVM at 6:37 AM on June 13, 2003

There is something immensely satisfying about making a Sim version of someone you hate, making a nasty horrid little house for them, and then trapping them in a room with no furniture, no bathroom, no food and the Tragic Clown. And letting them die.

That said, I'm thinking about uninstalling the game because I haven't played in 4 or 5 months and it's taking up an obscene amount of disk space.
posted by eilatan at 9:48 AM on June 13, 2003

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