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[Column] General: When Power Diminishes Us

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,595MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Rich and poor are facts of human existence. It's something we all know. But does that same disparity factor into the games we play? In this week's Devil's Advocate, we examine the notion and offer a few ideas. See what you think before lending your voice to the conversation in the comments.

The short version of the research: The richer you are or seem to think you are, the likelier the chance you act like a douchecanoe being rowed atop the lava from a douche-cano. Yes, I said almost the exact same douchecanoe joke nearly a year ago. It’s perhaps more relevant here than in a piece about Guild Wars 2. Read on!

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Devil's Advocate: When Power Diminishes Us.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • WereLlamaWereLlama Lubbock, TXPosts: 243Member

    Victor, excellent article.

    I think we as gamers and/or developers can benefit from 'reflection' after our various successes, and encourage each other in and out of the game.  

    The benefits outside the game could be exponential.   

     
  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member
    Nice article and I would have to say it coincides with my experience. I do pretty well in the real world and I am not to grand most of the time in the virtual. Oddly enough I haven given away things in the virtual world that alot of people I play with would never give away. Rare mounts and in game currencies large amounts of in game currency. I have found that having everything I need takes the wind out of my sails when it comes to enjoying the games I play. I wonder if it works in the real world like that too? I'm to scared to try. This article also reminds me. I got a huge chuckle out of all of the Neverwinter drama that went on. People were complaining left and right, I only observed and I just couldnt help but laugh because I was poor as poor could be in Neverwinter, yet I was still having fun and the broken economy didn't have any effect on me whatsoever. I thought to myself as I read the various complaints, "boy that would really stink to be those people" then I logged back into my dwarf guardian fight and wooped up on some demons. At that point in time my focus went from " boy it sux to be those people" to "man this combat sure is smooth and alot of fun"
  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,273Member Uncommon
    Thanks man.
  • drowelfdrowelf phenix city, ALPosts: 104Member

    This is going to anger some, but the video proves one of the lesions that Christ gave in the parable of Lazzarus and the Rich man that is the rich don't see the poor as people, nor do they fear God. The Bible says do not say " I got this gain (money)  from my own effort". and so they prove Scripture. 

     

  • WraithoneWraithone Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 3,592Member Uncommon

    Its not the power (money) that corrupts.  Its the choices that it makes available to the people possessing it.  Its also the unaccountability that power allows those with sufficient of it.

    But given the ideologies involved, all sides are likely to draw their own biased conclusions.

  • lugallugal Escondido, CAPosts: 636Member Uncommon
    Berkley CA. Not exactly a hot bead for leveled headed mainstream views on any subject.

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    The reviewer has a mishapen head
    Which means his opinion is skewed
    ...Aldous.MF'n.Huxley

  • WraithoneWraithone Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 3,592Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lugal
    Berkley CA. Not exactly a hot bead for leveled headed mainstream views on any subject.

    Do you know why its called "mainstream"? Because its too shallow to be a river... ^^  Even those at Berkley are capable of doing science.  I'd have to examine their methodology before I made any judgement in the matter.

  • MondoA2JMondoA2J Henderson, NVPosts: 258Member

    Wait...what people with money and power misbehave? Nooooooo.

    People in games acting like asshats in games? Noooooo.

    I find that people most of the time choose to take their money and power and stomp on the people below them. This isn't different in real life or in a gaming scenario.

    Absolute power, corrupts absolute.

    This isn't about being cynical but look at the plenty of examples in history. The nature of human beings is naturally a selfish one. Our body wants to preserve ME. I need to find shelter for ME. I need to find a mate to spread MY genes.

    Get the idea? Give a man power and money and you will see the true merits of his character.

    Same applies to women as well btw.

    MMORPG Gamers/Developers need a reality check!

  • WraithoneWraithone Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 3,592Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by mm0-pleyer
    i hate to come barreling in here on my douchecanoe but while i honestly dgaf what others do with their money i highly urge people not to donate to any kind of charity except for work, time and items, in the US there are only a handful (literally) of people who oversee spending corruption and ethics in these businesses, i did a job at Save the Children and that place should be called Save Our Children, all driving brand new 150k benz in a super nice HQ in Conn. right on the river, insane really, its too bad there isnt better ethics and checks for this but its hard for people to get things running correctly it seems..
     
     
     

    I'm certain that we just need to give the "right people" enough *power* to "do something" about this... ^^  Depending on ones ideology, the "right people" would be neo cons, "progressives" or some such.  After all, thats "worked" so well in the past... Hows that "Hope and Change" working out for you?  ^^

    Until people realize that NO ONE can or should be trusted with power, the world will continue to be ruled by sociopaths.

  • BrynnBrynn Albuquerque, NMPosts: 345Member
    mm0-pleyer, I greatly agree with you! It's a shame really. There are ways to donate to those in need, but not through the large named charities.
  • Jairoe03Jairoe03 Winthrop Harbor, ILPosts: 732Member
    I find the people that are quickest to discredit a source rather than arguing actual points are the most likely to fit into the negative category of a research paper, in this case, upper-class people. 
  • TheodwulfTheodwulf Brockton, MAPosts: 231Member Uncommon

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power"

      Abraham Lincoln

       There are many bullies in waiting, just waiting until they have power  to pull a horror show.   MMO games draw these people, as it is the only way to have power over others. Those people were always douches, they just never had an opportunity to exercise their desires to dominate and torment others.  Through their actions they feel empowered and thus feel that they matter, it's actually really sad.. It's not so much a product of wealth, wealth is just one of the means to execute these desires if they exist in a person.

      In game, charity removes the challenge of the game for the recipient . Are they playing the game or do they want the game played for them? Are they learning anything about game mechanics from your charity? Are they going to buy things they actually need or are they going to buy stupid things because they don't understand the game?  Is charity "GOOD" in a game?

  • WraithoneWraithone Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 3,592Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Theodwulf

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power"

      Abraham Lincoln

       There are many bullies in waiting, just waiting until they have power  to pull a horror show.   MMO games draw these people, as it is the only way to have power over others. Those people were always douches, they just never had an opportunity to exercise their desires to dominate and torment others.  Through their actions they feel empowered and thus feel that they matter, it's actually really sad.. It's not so much a product of wealth, wealth is just one of the means to execute these desires if they exist in a person.

      In game, charity removes the challenge of the game for the recipient . Are they playing the game or do they want the game played for them? Are they learning anything about game mechanics from your charity? Are they going to buy things they actually need or are they going to buy stupid things because they don't understand the game?  Is charity "GOOD" in a game?

    The irony of the above quote from Lincoln, who went on to become a tyrant, is lost on far too many people.  They wouldn't have had me in their test. I'd have refused to play a game that wasn't balanced.  But how many people would have responded in that fashion?

  • killahhkillahh calgary, ABPosts: 437Member
    Did Lincoln become a tyrant? Hmm

    Can't make a cake without breaking a few eggs.

    Gonada Dahung,over 20 years of mmorpg's and counting....Please Lord, let someone make a game that had all the awesomeness of UO, EQ and EVE...

  • KonfessKonfess Dallas, TXPosts: 949Member Uncommon

    "When the powerful have power, they likely attribute their success to their skills, becoming less cognizant of how developers gave them the opportunity to shine using potentially crappy balancing." 

    And this is the reason for a call for more sandbox games.

    Pardon any spelling errors
    Konfess your cyns and some maybe forgiven
    Boy: Why can't I talk to Him?
    Mom: We don't talk to Priests.
    As if it could exist, without being payed for.
    F2P means you get what you paid for. Pay nothing, get nothing.

  • sirachsirach , PAPosts: 53Member Uncommon
    I think this is my favorite article I have ever read on this site. Great job. 
  • PurutzilPurutzil East Stroudsburg, PAPosts: 2,924Member Uncommon

    Human beings are greedy. As we get power, it tends to corrupt us and we continue to seek more. Its a bit sad to look at ourselves in this way but in some ways its just how natural selection works. The shame is how we can't realize this and still become more greedy and self conceited of ourselves in the process. 

     

    Personally, I enjoy RPGs. More so, i enjoy the aspect of working hard to make progress. Most of all though, I enjoy toppling people who use their 'power' or 'superiority' of wealth(gear) or other boosts letting skill over-take them. Its such a thrill to do such. On the flip side though, as I get better equipped, even though I know full well its partly to do with what I have over someone else, I do at times finding myself with a superiority complex over others, attributing it to myself being so good rather then the gear I've earned. I KNOW that gear is factoring in yet at the same time i can't help but feel that way. 

    Its really odd I have to say, and its a habit I have and I fully catch and just shake my head that my mind shifts in such a direction and I feel I need to remind myself about it.

  • Attend4455Attend4455 BirminghamPosts: 161Member

    Interesting as always Victor.

    I'm still waiting for commentators to note that wealth in MMOs follows a power law distribution, aka Pareto Law

    I sometimes make spelling and grammar errors but I don't pretend it's because I'm using a phone

  • WraithoneWraithone Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 3,592Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by killahh
    Did Lincoln become a tyrant? Hmm

    Can't make a cake without breaking a few eggs.

    Anyone who examines real history knows Lincoln became a tyrant.  His own actions demonstrate his lack of respect for his oath of office, and his trampling of the Constitution and Bill of Rights are well known.

    I've never subscribed to the concept that the ends, justify the means used to achieve them. Any more than I believe that one has to destroy the Constitution, to "save" it...

    Power corrupts in games and real life.  Its not a matter of picking the "right" people.  Its a fact that NO ONE should hold that amount of power.  Nor should anyone who actively seeks out power, be trusted with it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Real_Lincoln

    http://mises.org/misesreview_detail.aspx?control=207

  • IncomparableIncomparable KuwaitPosts: 872Member
    Its not so much being a douche, but how people percieve problems and importantly to the discusion here, how they deal with the problem.

    A wealtheir person might have a different perspective but ultimately how they deal with a problem might be to be verbally express their frustration. Since they most likely don't have to care how authority perceives them.

    However, a less wealthy person with also a similar or different perspective would handle their problem slightly more differently. Since also depending on the situation, i would conclude that a less wealthy person to be subtle in their handling of the situation.

    For example, a waiter might spit in a wealthy and rude patron. ( they could be poor and rude patrons - since being poor is a huge negative influence on mood. I guess the study focused on a demographic which is making ends meet and slightly well off kind of poor - which means its not a proper test)

    And in many cases less wealthy are sneakier due to their respect for authority, and a greater inclination to blow off steam due to financial frustrations and also a culture that somewhat glorifies it.

    This sneaky attitude could easily become very unethical.

    And overall, is wealth really a correlation to bad attitude?

    Maybe there needs to be a study on wealthy people. Maybe waiters who are depressed put some of their medicine in the wealthier persons food.

    Since imo, a financially well off person has less baggage and more reason to be happy and therefore less douchey.

    Or could be as simple as something related to drugs, and a lot of wealthy people do drugs which affects their behavior.

    And to combine poor and rich realities. Maybe poor drug dealers sell wealthier bored people bad drugs, because they don't care and are used to being sneaky.

    In conclusion, i find the study incomplete and goes against the idea that financial security is a positive thing. Look at any ghetto and the increase in violence compared to a suburban neighborhood. Its really case and point.

    “Write bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble”

  • OfficialFlowOfficialFlow HelsinkiPosts: 111Member
    well imho the world is headed towards doom the world economy is following the same principles the roman empire did and look how it turned out it BURNED "dont have enough money, lets print more"
  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,758Member Uncommon

    I say why don't we denigrate skill and achievement as much as we can? Why don't we make people who become better qualified and wealthier feel ashamed!

    Hey you wealthy guy! You must be an ethical slimebag because you are wealthy! Look at me I am not so wealthy, I must be a paragon of good!

    When it comes to relating this to MMO's you seem to be saying that whales need to be spreading their wealth among the F2P players. Of course a F2P MMO could not exist without the whales, I wonder what you make of that?

     

    Thanks DA for using your column to promote your political agenda, maybe we can get back to MMO's next time?

  • AbangyarudoAbangyarudo Prescott Valley, AZPosts: 156Member

     

    Originally posted by Incomparable
    Its not so much being a douche, but how people perceive problems and importantly to the discussion here, how they deal with the problem.

    A wealthier person might have a different perspective but ultimately how they deal with a problem might be to be verbally express their frustration. Since they most likely don't have to care how authority perceives them.

    However, a less wealthy person with also a similar or different perspective would handle their problem slightly more differently. Since also depending on the situation, i would conclude that a less wealthy person to be subtle in their handling of the situation.

    For example, a waiter might spit in a wealthy and rude patron. ( they could be poor and rude patrons - since being poor is a huge negative influence on mood. I guess the study focused on a demographic which is making ends meet and slightly well off kind of poor - which means its not a proper test)

    And in many cases less wealthy are sneakier due to their respect for authority, and a greater inclination to blow off steam due to financial frustrations and also a culture that somewhat glorifies it.

    This sneaky attitude could easily become very unethical.

    And overall, is wealth really a correlation to bad attitude?

    Maybe there needs to be a study on wealthy people. Maybe waiters who are depressed put some of their medicine in the wealthier persons food.

    Since imo, a financially well off person has less baggage and more reason to be happy and therefore less douchey.

    Or could be as simple as something related to drugs, and a lot of wealthy people do drugs which affects their behavior.

    And to combine poor and rich realities. Maybe poor drug dealers sell wealthier bored people bad drugs, because they don't care and are used to being sneaky.

    In conclusion, i find the study incomplete and goes against the idea that financial security is a positive thing. Look at any ghetto and the increase in violence compared to a suburban neighborhood. Its really case and point.

    ok find conclusive evidence and prove him wrong. Anyone can participate in the scientific method you don't have to be studying science. Furthermore everything you have provided is anecdotal at best Invincible ignorance at worst. As an example mostly everything you've said I've found to be false personally (again not representative because it would be based on anecdotal evidence) the minor true things i find to be incomplete. I'll just address a few of your points: 

     


    since being poor is a huge negative influence on mood.  

     

    This really depends on location as an example I've lived in two very different places. When I was living in Long Island, New York people were as you described and why i think your idea is incomplete is because in that environment you are confronted everywhere with income equality. I lived in a poor neighborhood but I could walk to a neighboring town that had gated communities,  fancy houses, etc. 

    When I moved to a small town in AZ it wasn't the same. Most people here are not confronted with the fact of their socioeconomic status in the same way. So I found them very happy even in conditions that would never be acceptable living back in Long Island. As an example I know a guy who has a house turned off his gas (in winter months he foregoes heat), uses his living room as a garage (stores a bike there) has shabby furniture (big holes in couches, permanently stained and cat urine seeped into the fabric) while that was bad it was not misrepresentative of the area. 

    While that evidence is anecdotal in nature recent studies (example) have found the same thing . It also perscribes this viewpoint to other factors. Either way I think its telling noting that despite popular theory I believe its more inequality  people have issues with than straight out socioeconomic class. 

     

     


     
    In conclusion, i find the study incomplete and goes against the idea that financial security is a positive thing. Look at any ghetto and the increase in violence compared to a suburban neighborhood. Its really case and point.
     

     

    This is really a case of Ignoratio Elenchi because if you do some research you'll find that it may not be exactly true. Illustrating this point I looked up my old hometown to give you some anecdotal evidence while I was there the Dunkin donuts next to us had been robbed multiple times, one of the employees was shot, there was rampant stealing at the store i was at, my store was held up once with a screw driver (they usually avoided us as Dunkin donuts was also 24 hours and they had 1 person as opposed to our 3 people at night). Here is those same statistics for the Hamptons if you are unfamiliar this is an area where many Hollywood stars and other economically elite live in or around. 

    I decided after this to make a new sample to further drive the point home. I looked up the same statatics for where I live now compared to the nearest urban center. While this stretches closer to your conclusion you can easily see some rather crazy statistics that seem to fly in the face of it. As an example where I live now has a higher murder rate per 1000 people than Phoenix. Phoenix has a really bad rep here for having murders everyday, etc etc. Rape is only .08 higher in Phoenix which I find very odd. Robby goes towards your opinion (mostly because no one here has much that is worth anything) but assault is close to .75 higher where I live now.

    So given that Phoenix was much closer to a ghetto and the small town I reside in was more violent in alot of ways I looked to the local newspaper.  Surely such a place would have a new site full of tragedies. There was 60 stories and about 3 were violent crime related. So I looked to Phoenix's paper and out of 10 stories 5 of them were violent in nature also they have a place on the website to view who has been arrested lately for what. So I think in all I've shown with evidence why your assertions are not supported by factual evidence. That is why I implore you or anybody for that matter to find their own evidence and forget the media bias, evidence doesn't lie. 

     

     

  • AbangyarudoAbangyarudo Prescott Valley, AZPosts: 156Member
    Originally posted by Scot

    I say why don't we denigrate skill and achievement as much as we can? Why don't we make people who become better qualified and wealthier feel ashamed!

    Hey you wealthy guy! You must be an ethical slimebag because you are wealthy! Look at me I am not so wealthy, I must be a paragon of good!

    When it comes to relating this to MMO's you seem to be saying that whales need to be spreading their wealth among the F2P players. Of course a F2P MMO could not exist without the whales, I wonder what you make of that?

     

    Thanks DA for using your column to promote your political agenda, maybe we can get back to MMO's next time?

    It is not a political agenda to state some obvious differences. For an example of this as stated in the study more successful people think that everything is directly related to their skills even if it flies in the face of logic. If this was truly a meritocracy type of thing I think we would have more competent people doing their jobs. Furthermore this is directly related to video games of all types. a company who produces a "hit" video game will usually assign their success to skill and labor put into the product whether or not its true. It's fine to pat yourself on the back and no one should say that none of those had a factor in their success but lets be realistic there are multiple factors which take center stage more then the physical labor and the skill of the development team involved. If this was the case smaller & indie companies would be idolized instead of behemoths like Blizzard and SOE. 

  • AbangyarudoAbangyarudo Prescott Valley, AZPosts: 156Member

     

     

    Originally posted by Wraithone
    Originally posted by killahh
    Did Lincoln become a tyrant? Hmm

    Can't make a cake without breaking a few eggs.

    Anyone who examines real history knows Lincoln became a tyrant.  His own actions demonstrate his lack of respect for his oath of office, and his trampling of the Constitution and Bill of Rights are well known.

    I've never subscribed to the concept that the ends, justify the means used to achieve them. Any more than I believe that one has to destroy the Constitution, to "save" it...

    Power corrupts in games and real life.  Its not a matter of picking the "right" people.  Its a fact that NO ONE should hold that amount of power.  Nor should anyone who actively seeks out power, be trusted with it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Real_Lincoln

    http://mises.org/misesreview_detail.aspx?control=207

    While some of the claims there is true. I don't find the author very credible due to his own shenanigans and while I agree people should research more about historical figures before putting them on a pedestal most of the books has been universally accepted as hyperbole and rhetoric. The fact that he fails to even know that the thing he accuses Lincoln of were the things his own party at the time supported. Some of his claims just fly against rational logic while others are severely out of context. An example: 

     


    [There are] a few, but an increasing number of men, who, for the sake of perpetuating slavery, are beginning to assail and to ridicule the white man's charter of freedom, the declaration "that all men are created equal." So far as I have learned, the first American, of any note, to do or attempt this, was the late John C. Calhoun; and if I mistake not, it soon after found its way into some of the messages of the Governors of South Carolina. We, however, look for, and are not much shocked by, political eccentricities and heresies in South Carolina. But, only last year, I saw with astonishment, what purported to be a letter of a very distinguished and influential clergyman of Virginia, copied, with apparent approbation, into a St. Louis newspaper, containing the following, to me, very extraordinary language: 

     


    I am fully aware that there is a text in some Bibles that is not in mine. Professional abolitionists have made more use of it, than of any passage in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace it, from Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jefferson, and since almost universally regarded as canonical authority 'All men are born equal and free.'


     

    which he shortened to: 

     


     
    I am fully aware that there is a text in some Bibles that is not in mine. Professional abolitionists have made more use of it, than of any passage in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace it, from Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jefferson, and since almost universally regarded as canonical authority 'All men are born equal and free.
     

     

    Ascribing this quote to Lincoln when it was quoted from a Virginia clergyman as stated initially just seems to try to pull the wool over people's eyes. It's dishonest, irresponsible and quite frankly insulting to people who are intellectuals and check their facts. While I agree that he like many politicians got this larger than life image after death that source is useless as evidence towards that fact. 

     

    Furthermore I dissagree with the assessment that absolute power corrupts absolutely. As an example politically I always wished people would have voted for Ralph Nader. He has stuck to the same basic principles and refuses to relent from them. I think the very people who are attracted to a political position are the worst people for the job. I think the best people for these positions are people who don't want them but have strong moral compassesses. As an example of this I think of Senator Bernie Sanders who has always advocated for the middle and lower classes despite all the outside influences seeking to turn that around. 

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