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Combat

Combat is an important feature of most game-oriented virtual worlds. It embodies conflict, drama, risk, bravery, friendship, honor, glory—it has everything! Indeed, in some virtual worlds it is everything; there's very little to do apart from move from one battle to the next. As explained in Chapter 3, by no means all virtual worlds are like this, of course: Merely having combat[52] doesn't inevitably mean that the virtual world will end up being “all about” it. Nevertheless, many virtual worlds are indeed “all about” combat; this causes an ideological conflict with worlds that are “all about” something else (for example, role-playing), and annoys the balanced worlds who are lumped in with them even though they may be anti-conflict[53].

[52] Or some equivalent. I've worked on an adult-themed virtual world where sex was implemented using the same routines that other virtual worlds use for swordfights.

[53] It's an established principle of MUD2 that attacking other players is a losing strategy; players discover that committing unjust acts of aggression simply won't get them anywhere, until eventually only those with a constant need to reinforce their self-worth (or who have already “won”) undertake it.

The subject of combat in virtual worlds brings out some of the most passionate arguments in the whole field. Let's take a look at it in detail.


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