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#1 JustinS   Members   -  Reputation: 151

Posted 04 June 2013 - 06:39 AM

Long before I wanted to be a game designer, I wanted to be a writer. And, in fact, was a writer. I wrote a number of short stories, and got mostly positive feedback for them. I know my strength as a writer lies in my characters and settings, and I imagine that once I make the transition to visual media, namely video games, this will remain the same. I've always written deep, convincing characters who were developed enough (even in stories as short as a couple pages) that the reader could understand their actions and begin to see how they worked. My settings, similarly, have always been detailed and have held my readers' interest quite well. The only universal comments from my readers have been "I'd like to know more about this setting," "I want to see this setting" and "are you going to do more in this setting?" And settings are the fun part for me. That's most of the reason I wanted to do game design, in particular, as making my settings interactive is the best way for me to let people explore them, and all the people I've had read more than one story said I should do some form of visual media because my settings would be interesting to see.

 

But that's where my strengths end. I'm decent enough at writing stories, it's not my strongest suit but I am still competent. The rest falls flat. My sense of humour is strange and grim to the point of turning a few softer readers off and prompting comments on me being "sick." When I write a story with a moral message (I used to do this a lot) it's either too heavy handed and turns the reader off the discussion I'm trying to turn them on to or it's too subtle and is missed entirely. My social, political, cultural and legal commentary falls under this as well. Often, rather than writing to make a statement I write to raise a question, but this brings a new issue as the question I am trying to raise tends to sail over my reader's head. While a lot of this should get easier in a visual media, I'm not entirely sure and I KNOW I need to work on these things. Well, not the humour part. My sense of humour is not going to change.

 

So I'd like to ask writers that are strong in these areas for advice, especially when it comes to writing in games. In particular, on delivering moral messages as well as social, political and legal commentary with the right level of subtlety and making complex philosophical points comprehensible to those who are not as erudite as I am. I'd like to be able to lead them to a question, usually about a viewpoint that is commonly held and I disagree with, and give it to them in a context that will provide them a counterbalance for their likely bias and hopefully get them to think about it rather than immediately throwing it away. I can't let them know what I'm doing or they'll stick their head in the sand but I can't let them miss the question entirely or it might as well not have been brought up in the first place. I've never been able to get the balance right, and if any of you have I would like to hear from you on the matter.


Edited by Jeremy Williams, 04 June 2013 - 06:40 AM.

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

 

-John Donne


Sponsor:

#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9677

Posted 04 June 2013 - 08:16 AM

But that's where my strengths end. I'm decent enough at writing stories, it's not my strongest suit but I am still competent. The rest falls flat. My sense of humour is strange and grim to the point of turning a few softer readers off and prompting comments on me being "sick." When I write a story with a moral message (I used to do this a lot) it's either too heavy handed and turns the reader off the discussion I'm trying to turn them on to or it's too subtle and is missed entirely. My social, political, cultural and legal commentary falls under this as well. Often, rather than writing to make a statement I write to raise a question, but this brings a new issue as the question I am trying to raise tends to sail over my reader's head. While a lot of this should get easier in a visual media, I'm not entirely sure and I KNOW I need to work on these things. Well, not the humour part. My sense of humour is not going to change.
So I'd like to ask writers that are strong in these areas for advice, especially when it comes to writing in games. In particular, on delivering moral messages as well as social, political and legal commentary with the right level of subtlety and making complex philosophical points comprehensible to those who are not as erudite as I am. I'd like to be able to lead them to a question, usually about a viewpoint that is commonly held and I disagree with, and give it to them in a context that will provide them a counterbalance for their likely bias and hopefully get them to think about it rather than immediately throwing it away. I can't let them know what I'm doing or they'll stick their head in the sand but I can't let them miss the question entirely or it might as well not have been brought up in the first place. I've never been able to get the balance right

 

Simply knowing where your weaknesses lie is a tremendous strength. You may be already well on the path to fixing the problem you describe. It could help helpers help you if you mentioned your age in general terms, putting your situation into a setting, as it were. 

I think you should not dumb down your writing. Imagine your writers are as erudite as you are - when I'm reading something above my head, part of the joy is challenging myself to rise up to the writer's level. 


-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 FLeBlanc   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3101

Posted 04 June 2013 - 09:16 AM

Story needs to come first. That is pretty much the first rule of storytelling that any spinner of yarns is going to tell you. Moral message, theme, etc... all of that is just gravy, and should follow on from story, using the story to express itself. Whenever you write, you shouldn't be thinking "how can I lecture the reader about such and such moral crusade I am on?" but instead you should be thinking "how can I craft an entertaining story that will engage people?". People are hard-wired, evolutionarily and biologically speaking, to enjoy a good narrative. What they are not hard-wired for is being lectured to. You can often sneak that stuff in there, but if the story is not strong enough to stand on its own and merely serves as a delivery mechanism for moral arguments, then it's going to fall flat on its face. 



#4 JustinS   Members   -  Reputation: 151

Posted 04 June 2013 - 10:27 AM

Odd how I can get two replies and NO notification Email, despite being subscribed. I thought it wasn't being answered.

 

To FLeBlanc:

What's the point of a story, if you can pull nothing out of it? I'm not a moral crusader, in fact the very idea of moral crusading inspires a deep, seething hate within me. I'm a philosopher, and the purpose of any discussion of morals, politics and culture serves that end. In particular, the morality of law comes up a lot in my stories, but despite my best efforts I can't seem to have the discussion come up through the story itself and I don't really want to have a big debate scene to serve that purpose. When I try the former, it flies over the reader's head. When I try the latter, I just can't get it into a condition I feel does both sides justice and doesn't break the story. As I said, I'm not a moral crusader and presenting only my viewpoint, or presenting a caricature of the opposing viewpoint, just feels wrong to me.


Edited by Jeremy Williams, 04 June 2013 - 10:32 AM.

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

 

-John Donne


#5 FLeBlanc   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3101

Posted 04 June 2013 - 11:24 AM

To FLeBlanc:
What's the point of a story, if you can pull nothing out of it?

Entertainment. Believe it or not, most people don't read to be lectured to or learn deep moral lessons. They read because they want to find out what happens next, and if the guy is going to get the girl. There are parallels between traditional narrative structure and actual human experience going deep into our evolutionary history, so narratives that can make use of those parallels tug at our heart strings and trigger an instinctive response. We like to hear about Jim defeating the Big Bad Dragon because it reminds us of our own triumphs.

I'm not a moral crusader, in fact the very idea of moral crusading inspires a deep, seething hate within me. I'm a philosopher, and the purpose of any discussion of morals, politics and culture serves that end.

Whatever particular drum it is that you want to bang, if banging that drum is the sole purpose of your story people are going to sense it. They'll put your book down and say "It's okay, but it's just not grabbing me." Because it's the story that is the hook, the story that is going to reach out and grab people and make them want to stick around. If all you are doing is plastering a vaguely story-like veneer on top of a discussion of politics, you are going to drive people away.

In particular, the morality of law comes up a lot in my stories, but despite my best efforts I can't seem to have the discussion come up through the story itself and I don't really want to have a big debate scene to serve that purpose.

Well, if it doesn't come up in the story itself, then it probably doesn't fit that story. The worst thing you can do, in my opinion, is to try to force and wrench your story around to fit your philosophical point. That, to me, represents a form of intellectual dishonesty, and as Stephen King (one of my favorites) is always emphasizing, you have to be honest about what you are saying. People just know when you're bullshitting them. You can tell a lie (that's what fiction is, after all) but you need to be honest in the way you say it.

#6 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3234

Posted 04 June 2013 - 12:03 PM

What they are not hard-wired for is being lectured to.

 

I am going to disagree somewhat with this statement as the immediate image that springs to mind is that of the hellfire and brimstone preacher who basically spends his time on the pulpit lecturing to his flock about the evils of sin. Lectures that are presented well (without using a story) can engage the audience quite effectively. If you are referring more along the lines of a parent lecturing to a child and it going in one ear and out the other (or something similar)...this to me is more about the failing of the parent to adequately relate the material in such a way as to communicate effectively. With respect to literature, the bible whilst it contains stories, it is very much concerned about the imparting of "appropriate" morality and behaviours by which to govern ourselves. However if you take the ultimate lecture in the bible i.e. the ten commandments it is situated in the midst of a tale that effectively presents this lecture in a palatable form it can be argued. Delivery and relatability are key to an audience's attention 

 

 

 

 

Long before I wanted to be a game designer, I wanted to be a writer

 

You will find whilst there can be some overlapping skills...there is a great deal of difference in these two roles.

 

From the perspective of your writing it is difficult without seeing examples of it to truly make any appropriately relevant comments with regards to your style, delivery etc. All I can do is provide some generic advice.

 

 

And, in fact, was a writer. I wrote a number of short stories, and got mostly positive feedback for them.

 

Were any of these stories published? As a writer if your stories are only seen by your initial surrounds i.e. school, family and friends you may not be receiving appropriate advice that will strengthen your writing rather what you effectively receive is feedback from a limited population pool that most likely falls into the same socio-economic and geographical pool and thus will have similar responses for the most part which may or may not be valid for a much larger audience....for example the work's of Jules Verne may not be to many people's tastes but in the larger population pool he is considered a great writer by many. If you haven't been, you should be dispatching your short stories off to the various magazines, competitions, editors in order to start garnering feedback as well establishing a portfolio for yourself (just take into account that rejection does not automatically imply a poorly crafted story). Do you belong to any writing organisations in your area/region/country/internet that affords you access to others who write, who have the advantage of also providing feedback as well creating the beginnings of a network of contacts that will serve you in a future career associated with writing.

 

If you are writing for games a good example of a typical situation you might face is that shown by Project Divine Thread, in this case you have no control over the initial ideas, the gameplay, the environment rather you are given the task of weaving all of these elements together to provide a plotline that works within the boundaries they have already established. Elements such as where the protagonist finds that they are a child of one of the gods is probably negotiable but learning to work with other people's ideas and having the skill to push for modifications to some of their thoughts is a tricksome process, at times requiring you to have the courage to speak up but also the wisdom to step back when our suggestion gets shot down in flames.

 

I really can't comment about your zephyr-like versus chainsaw to the head delivery of morality/commentary issues in your writing as I would need to read some of your work in order to make a judgement for myself as to how I perceive your delivery.

 

Tom was very right in pointing out that recognising your weaknesses in writing is a very good thing...my only caution to this is make sure what you have identified as weaknesses are in actual fact so. Hence the need to ensure feedback you receive is from a variety of sources. With specific reference to your humour in writing, you can not make everyone laugh...it just doesn't happen. There will always be some people who find humour in some things that other will define as sick...don't take it to heart and don't consider reader who can't accept your humour as being soft...just simply recognise that the type of story you are writing is the type of story they would never buy anyway i.e. not your target audience..:learning to write humour outside of your normal comfort zone is simply another skill and can be developed if you wish to.

 

 

From a game designer's perspective. This is where you go through the game design forum as it doesn't directly relate to the writing forum except in the smallest part.


Edited by Stormynature, 04 June 2013 - 12:09 PM.


#7 JustinS   Members   -  Reputation: 151

Posted 04 June 2013 - 12:24 PM

Entertainment. Believe it or not, most people don't read to be lectured to or learn deep moral lessons. They read because they want to find out what happens next, and if the guy is going to get the girl. There are parallels between traditional narrative structure and actual human experience going deep into our evolutionary history, so narratives that can make use of those parallels tug at our heart strings and trigger an instinctive response. We like to hear about Jim defeating the Big Bad Dragon because it reminds us of our own triumphs.Whatever particular drum it is that you want to bang, if banging that drum is the sole purpose of your story people are going to sense it. They'll put your book down and say "It's okay, but it's just not grabbing me." Because it's the story that is the hook, the story that is going to reach out and grab people and make them want to stick around. If all you are doing is plastering a vaguely story-like veneer on top of a discussion of politics, you are going to drive people away.

 

Even the idiotic, overplayed story conventions you're talking about in order to say a story doesn't need a message are messages. "The guy getting the girl" and "Jim defeating the Big Bad Dragon" are both supposed to send messages that one can triumph when it seems unlikely for them to do so. Without a message, a story cannot entertain. With a good, well played message you need nothing else. If you took away all the fancy special effects, the unrealistic Hollywood firefights and grim humour, would The Dark Knight still be an interesting film? Yes. The film uses the story of Batman and the Joker to discuss human nature. The fancy special effects are just there so people will be drawn in to watch it, the Hollywood bullshit posing as a firefight is just part of the story in use (and a good example of the director's lack of knowledge on the subject) and the grim humour is just to add personality to the characters so people pay attention to what they are saying. This is a story that exists for no other purpose than to raise a philosophical point, and it's still a fun film that people who can count their functioning brain cells on their fingers can enjoy.

 

On a slightly different note, the same things can all be said about V for Vendetta. However, in this case, the film has an entirely different philosophy and the director isn't gifted with an established setting, as good of a cast, an enormous budget or a competent supporting actress. This film is not funny, or flashy, or exhilarating. It's actually pretty goddamn depressing until the end. But it sends a stronger message, stays with the viewer better, and in the end is a more memorable film because of that. The Dark Knight is a film that you will remember for a long time. V for Vendetta is a film that you will never forget so long as you live.

 

Finally, look at James Cameron's Avatar. This movie has everything that makes a movie "fun." It's a bright, colourful film with a romance story, huge special effects, and a lot of action. It's also based on a shitty message that comes off as hollow and preachy. Anybody who looks at it as more than a delivery system for pretty pyrotechnics or offscreen blue alien sex fantasies is going to be put off by what an incredibly preachy bastard James Cameron is. In five years, nobody will be watching it anymore, the discs will just collect dust. In twenty, nobody will remember it even existed.

 

What's my point? The message of a work, and how it is delivered, will determine not only the user's interest in the story, but how long they remember the work itself. While games are interactive and can get off with mechanics alone (another thing I'm good at) the story of the game with no message WILL be forgotten even if the gameplay isn't. And if you want your game to be anything more than a toy, that's a problem.

 

Well, if it doesn't come up in the story itself, then it probably doesn't fit that story. The worst thing you can do, in my opinion, is to try to force and wrench your story around to fit your philosophical point. That, to me, represents a form of intellectual dishonesty, and as Stephen King (one of my favorites) is always emphasizing, you have to be honest about what you are saying. People just know when you're bullshitting them. You can tell a lie (that's what fiction is, after all) but you need to be honest in the way you say it.

 

It's not that it doesn't come up in the story. It comes up all the time. It just gets missed by all my readers, because apparently the reader just won't notice something that isn't directly said.


No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

 

-John Donne


#8 JustinS   Members   -  Reputation: 151

Posted 04 June 2013 - 01:03 PM

You will find whilst there can be some overlapping skills...there is a great deal of difference in these two roles.

Given my particular skill set, which includes a great deal of sense for gameplay balance that has helped me craft a number of tabletop systems, I would likely be better as a game designer than a writer. I was never truly happy as a writer because the worlds I created just weren't communicated properly through words alone. I always felt they needed to be seen, and I had a hard time getting across the more visual aspects of events as they played out in my head. A visual, and especially interactive, medium will allow for much more exploration of the settings and characters I like to write than a book.

From the perspective of your writing it is difficult without seeing examples of it to truly make any appropriately relevant comments with regards to your style, delivery etc. All I can do is provide some generic advice.

Given that I've had a hard time keeping my work recently, usually throwing it away because a change I make in the setting has made it non-canon, it's hard to find a good example now. I don't think any story I've ever written has remained canon for more than a year, and I throw out non-canon work so I don't get confused.

Were any of these stories published? As a writer if your stories are only seen by your initial surrounds i.e. school, family and friends you may not be receiving appropriate advice that will strengthen your writing rather what you effectively receive is feedback from a limited population pool that most likely falls into the same socio-economic and geographical pool and thus will have similar responses for the most part which may or may not be valid for a much larger audience....for example the work's of Jules Verne may not be to many people's tastes but in the larger population pool he is considered a great writer by many. If you haven't been, you should be dispatching your short stories off to the various magazines, competitions, editors in order to start garnering feedback as well establishing a portfolio for yourself (just take into account that rejection does not automatically imply a poorly crafted story). Do you belong to any writing organisations in your area/region/country/internet that affords you access to others who write, who have the advantage of also providing feedback as well creating the beginnings of a network of contacts that will serve you in a future career associated with writing.

Reviewers have included:

1. Yes, friends and family. They're convenient.

2. Other writers I've met on the internet.

3. Random internet blokes with no writing background.

4. English teachers, as I've been writing since middle school.

 

Of these, a family member proved the most valuable. She gave detailed and meaningful feedback in a way neither the friends nor random internet blokes nor other family members were, and she wasn't as transient as the other writers or English teachers. Unfortunately, none of the work she's read is still canon. (Rather sad, actually. It hasn't even been that long, and all of those stories are excised from the setting. I really need to find a version I like and stop changing it so damned much.)

If you are writing for games a good example of a typical situation you might face is that shown by Project Divine Thread, in this case you have no control over the initial ideas, the gameplay, the environment rather you are given the task of weaving all of these elements together to provide a plotline that works within the boundaries they have already established. Elements such as where the protagonist finds that they are a child of one of the gods is probably negotiable but learning to work with other people's ideas and having the skill to push for modifications to some of their thoughts is a tricksome process, at times requiring you to have the courage to speak up but also the wisdom to step back when our suggestion gets shot down in flames.

I'm the kind of person who prefers to have at least a vague outline of everything ready before anybody starts working. I've been on modding teams before, I know how this can happen at least in that context. Back in my pre and early teens I worked with a modding team that had a tendency to just keep adding more... and more... and more... until eventually we just couldn't get all the features (working features, mind you) to function properly together (my best efforts were in vain, as the moment it was all balanced they'd add something new) and the whole project fell apart. While with them, I was once in charge of writing a plot for a series of Halo: Custom Edition story maps, but every time I'd get a good draft I could run with the artist would make something new that just had to be added in or just had to have plot significance. (Nothing against the team, I wish I still knew them. But two of them died, then I moved and lost contact with the remainder.)

 

Maria: "Hey Jeremy, check it out! I made a seraph! We need a mission around them!"

Myself: "But there's no point in the plot where our characters will have access to spacecraft, or even high-altitude aircraft. When could they possibly come up against seraphs?"

Maria: "I don't know, just throw something in. You're the writer."

Myself: "..."

 

I really can't comment about your zephyr-like versus chainsaw to the head delivery of morality/commentary issues in your writing as I would need to read some of your work in order to make a judgement for myself as to how I perceive your delivery.

 

Tom was very right in pointing out that recognising your weaknesses in writing is a very good thing...my only caution to this is make sure what you have identified as weaknesses are in actual fact so. Hence the need to ensure feedback you receive is from a variety of sources. With specific reference to your humour in writing, you can not make everyone laugh...it just doesn't happen. There will always be some people who find humour in some things that other will define as sick...don't take it to heart and don't consider reader who can't accept your humour as being soft...just simply recognise that the type of story you are writing is the type of story they would never buy anyway i.e. not your target audience..:learning to write humour outside of your normal comfort zone is simply another skill and can be developed if you wish to.

My works are mostly serious, but the humour is either used to help define the setting or character, or else to help keep interest in the slower parts of a story. I think it's actually a bit more important because it acts to reinforce drama and isn't just for its own sake.

From a game designer's perspective. This is where you go through the game design forum as it doesn't directly relate to the writing forum except in the smallest part.

?


Edited by Jeremy Williams, 04 June 2013 - 01:05 PM.

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

 

-John Donne


#9 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4858

Posted 04 June 2013 - 01:50 PM

If you want to talk about moral, cultural, social, etc. stuff in a way that's interesting and non-preachy, I suggest building it into the worldbuilding, not directly into the characters.  Have it be something the main character is clueless about or uninvolved with at first, and they discover it during the course of the story.  (Though, I do not write short stories, only long ones, so you may have to reinterpret the concept a bit for short stories.)  Then take a second character and give them good reasons to feel the opposite of the message you ultimately want to get across.  You definitely don't ever want to have every character in agreement about an issue.  Only at the climax of the story should the thematic argument between/among these characters get narrowed down to a clear 'winning' point of view.

 

As far as humor goes, do you like other people's humor?  If so, it's something that can be studied, like a stand up comedian studies how to be good at that.


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#10 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3234

Posted 04 June 2013 - 02:27 PM

There are times when I truly hate when a post does not save correctly. It means I get cranky and my carefully chosen words then need to be recreated and end up as a bastardised version of my original post.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

With respect to your question mark. We tend to keep forums relevant to their focus. By this I mean aspects of your post that lead into the game design side of things you should recreate into a thread on the game design forum. That way people with the relevant skills who may not inhabit the writing forum are more likely to post with appropriate information, as well it also ensures visitors to the forums find information relevant to their needs in the right forums.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

I find it almost incomprehensible that you don't maintain some sort of record of previous works (even from a game design perspective)...by not doing this you deny yourself the ability to rediscover ideas you had forgotten, perceive how your writing/design has evolved over time and for a variety of other reasons.

 

Which brings me to the question about your use of the word "canon", does this mean your works are done only in a set universe or universes?

 

My concern is in the absence of any actual work you are at best simply going to get generic advice based on your outline describing your work. So if you can post any work even if it is in rough shape you will be making our jobs easier trying to provide helpful and pointed advice.



#11 JustinS   Members   -  Reputation: 151

Posted 05 June 2013 - 02:54 AM

There are times when I truly hate when a post does not save correctly. It means I get cranky and my carefully chosen words then need to be recreated and end up as a bastardised version of my original post.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yeah, and I hate when I'm waiting for a notification Email and it just never comes. I thought unsubscribing and resubscribing would help, but it didn't, and I had no idea there were responses. Again.

With respect to your question mark. We tend to keep forums relevant to their focus. By this I mean aspects of your post that lead into the game design side of things you should recreate into a thread on the game design forum. That way people with the relevant skills who may not inhabit the writing forum are more likely to post with appropriate information, as well it also ensures visitors to the forums find information relevant to their needs in the right forums.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Given that this is asking for writing advice, I doubt that it applies to game design.

I find it almost incomprehensible that you don't maintain some sort of record of previous works (even from a game design perspective)...by not doing this you deny yourself the ability to rediscover ideas you had forgotten, perceive how your writing/design has evolved over time and for a variety of other reasons.

I don't delete them, I just file them in a seperate folder and don't show them to anybody.

Which brings me to the question about your use of the word "canon", does this mean your works are done only in a set universe or universes?

For the most part, I stick to one universe with a number of settings within it. This universe is the one my short stories and any future games are in. I do have another universe, but that's only for my tabletop and I've never written short stories for it. I also don't intend to make any video games about it, at least not any time in the foreseeable future, because the setting isn't fleshed out enough for that and won't be for a long time.

My concern is in the absence of any actual work you are at best simply going to get generic advice based on your outline describing your work. So if you can post any work even if it is in rough shape you will be making our jobs easier trying to provide helpful and pointed advice.

Then I'll have to settle for that, then. With all that's been going on (college, building a tabletop, so on) I haven't had time to write anything and there's nothing I have that's still canon. I don't show non-canon works.

 

And mostly, I was hoping for ways I can use the unique strengths of our medium for these purposes. If I were to pick a subject, such as the inherent moral implications of law, to explore within a game, what elements of the medium could I use besides dialogue to make points or ask questions in this matter? (Actually, you might be right. Game design might be a better place for this.)


No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

 

-John Donne


#12 JustinS   Members   -  Reputation: 151

Posted 05 June 2013 - 03:16 AM

If you want to talk about moral, cultural, social, etc. stuff in a way that's interesting and non-preachy, I suggest building it into the worldbuilding, not directly into the characters.  Have it be something the main character is clueless about or uninvolved with at first, and they discover it during the course of the story.  (Though, I do not write short stories, only long ones, so you may have to reinterpret the concept a bit for short stories.)  Then take a second character and give them good reasons to feel the opposite of the message you ultimately want to get across.  You definitely don't ever want to have every character in agreement about an issue.  Only at the climax of the story should the thematic argument between/among these characters get narrowed down to a clear 'winning' point of view.

I'm here looking for writing advice on games, and how to use their strengths for these ends. I don't want to force the player along. I don't want to ever have a clear cut "right" answer in the game, and I want to make the games lean towards a less popular viewpoint so that they can overcome the player's bias and get them to think about it a bit more openly. I don't expect to change their mind completely, just get rid of their inertia.

 

If my topic is "the moral implications of law" we all know the viewpoint drilled into everybody's head is "always moral, no matter what the law is." Although most of us have enough common sense to understand at some level that some laws are immoral in their intent and application, even with all the attempted brainwashing. My opinion on the matter is "immoral by nature, although it does have some moral applications." If this is my topic, I want to create a game that explores the moral implications of law as it is played. It would have to show how law is detrimental by default but also shows that it can be used positively.

 

Now, this isn't actually the topic of any planned game. It is, however, an important topic for me and has come up a lot in this universe, so some time down the line it is bound to come up.

 

As far as humor goes, do you like other people's humor?  If so, it's something that can be studied, like a stand up comedian studies how to be good at that.

Eh. I still prefer mine, and I'll stick to mine. If they don't like it, tough. I only brought it up because I thought it was funny.


No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

 

-John Donne


#13 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4858

Posted 05 June 2013 - 09:50 PM

The point your trying to get across is that law is inherently immoral?  No wonder people don't get it unless it's spelled out and grumble about it if it is spelled out.  Only a small fraction of an average audience would be receptive to that idea before the beginning of the story, and it would be really difficult to present a convincing argument to get the rest to become more receptive to the idea because it goes against people's deep beliefs about human nature and what society is for.


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#14 JustinS   Members   -  Reputation: 151

Posted 06 June 2013 - 10:01 AM

The point your trying to get across is that law is inherently immoral? 

 

As I said, it's not in any of the planned games, it's just an example.

 

No wonder people don't get it unless it's spelled out and grumble about it if it is spelled out.  Only a small fraction of an average audience would be receptive to that idea before the beginning of the story, and it would be really difficult to present a convincing argument to get the rest to become more receptive to the idea because it goes against people's deep beliefs about human nature and what society is for.

 

You appear to be hostile to my viewpoint, sir. Thus, I feel I must explain it.

 

The purpose of law isn't to protect the well-being of those under it, it is to protect the interests of those writing it, even if that is to the detriment of those living under it. While most laws are benign, once examined benign laws serve no purpose. Practically nobody would do any of the outlawed actions in benign laws if they were legal, and those who would aren't going to follow the law anyway. Heroin, for instance, is a horrible drug. It's understandable to decide that nobody should use it, and most people would never use it legal or not because of how absurdly harmful it is. To the few that would, illegality is not a significant additional downside to make it a dealbreaker, especially since most of them have enough common sense to know the chances of them ever being punished for it are extremely low. All making it illegal does is create a black market for it, which actually increases the amount sold, the price it is sold for, and the profits of those selling it. Since the presence of a black market is also a safety hazard, this law does a great deal of harm and no good. And that's how law always functions. If it's actually a bad idea, most people won't do it legal or not. The few that will are not going to be deterred by law. The important laws to my standpoint, however, are malign laws. They're something that will always exist, because they're what law is for. Their purpose is to protect the interests of the writers or the masters of the writers, regardless of its impact on the people beneath it. Laws like the provision in the NDAA 2012 that allow the US military to detain any individual, even US citizens, for an unlimited amount of time without trial or charge as prisoners of war. Or the law that allowed them to do that to prisoners of war in the first place. Better known (but actually a lot less evil) are SOPA and PIPA, which were thankfully shot down because it was rather clear that there would be war in this country before those laws passed. (Then the government went and exercised the power these bills would have given them anyway.) These laws are clearly harmful to those living under their charge, but their purpose is clear. SOPA and PIPA are attempts to allow the US to censor and regulate US citizens access to the internet, which is beneficial to those in power as it allows them to choose what information reaches their people. That provision in NDAA 2012 serves to provide a pathway to bypass the legal system overtly without having to cover it up. Since this basically means they can arrest people and imprison them without having to prove they did anything illegal, they can use it for any purpose should they deem it worth their time and the inherent bad press. This includes silencing dissenters, of course. Other examples, including the Patriot Act, come to mind as well, but I don't have all day and neither do you.

 

Frankly, the only way law can ever be applied that is to the benefit of the people living under it is if it is set up to protect their rights, rather than remove them. That's not its intended purpose, but if we restricted everything to its intended purpose we wouldn't get anywhere. The best possible approach is summed up in the quote "The right to swing my fist ends where another man's nose begins." Laws that act only to draw a clear line between exercising your rights and infringing on another person's are laws with a good purpose. And of course, there aren't very many of them. Part of this is that the purpose of law is different, part is that you don't need too many laws. It's a lot more complex than "just don't hurt anybody" but it's still fairly simple and doesn't need the intentional obfuscation present in modern law because even if it's completely transparent, there's no points within it to attack. Adding on a few necessary evils, such as taxation, would allow a nation to sustain itself and maintain society without any further law, but that's never going to happen. The reason it'll never happen is because there will always be people in power who want more power, more money and more privileges, and will create more laws to get them, even if this is entirely detrimental for their followers. And people won't have any say in the matter, either. Especially since most won't know a law contains any such elements until it passes, because the people are kept intentionally misinformed.

 

And if you could decide a society wasn't worth its laws and leave, then I wouldn't have as big of a problem with law. Then it's just be a consensual agreement, and even if it was overall detrimental to those agreeing to it, that would be their choice and I wouldn't take issue with it. It would still taste of extortion, but such is the nature of power. But that's not how it works, is it? You don't get a choice, you abide local law or those in charge will destroy your life and everything you ever hoped for. You can't leave civilization or find another country to live in, and you can't choose to give up benefits in exchange for not having to follow laws. The difference between a contract and law is the difference between sex and rape. It's not consensual, and that's a problem for me.

 

In summary:

1. Law is non-consensual. That alone makes it wrong as far as I am concerned.

2. Law is intended to further the interests of those in power, rather than those under its jurisdiction. (And if you think those in power are under its jurisdiction, you haven't been paying attention.)

3. Laws that appear to be in the interests of the public usually do more harm than good. Stupidity or malevolence, it's still harmful. 

4. Laws are written in a manner that intentionally obfuscates their contents. This doesn't sit well with me.

5. Laws that are abnormally evil, even by the standards of law, are passed without the public's knowledge or consent. It's a rarity the public becomes aware, and when they do they can seldom do anything about it.

 

If that is not enough for you to understand my viewpoint on law, you are not considering it.


Edited by Jeremy Williams, 06 June 2013 - 10:34 AM.

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

 

-John Donne


#15 Zokk   Members   -  Reputation: 113

Posted 06 June 2013 - 12:31 PM

So I'd like to ask writers that are strong in these areas for advice, especially when it comes to writing in games. In particular, on delivering moral messages as well as social, political and legal commentary with the right level of subtlety and making complex philosophical points comprehensible to those who are not as erudite as I am.

This is closely related to something I learned from my own progress as a writer and from film school, where you just write the story, and themes, morals, and questions will automatically begin to emerge from it as you review it and think it over. I never write anything with a specific message in mind. I only write a story that happens to have an underlying point or theme to it.

 

I didn't go into writing the script for the surreal fantasy adventure game I'm working on thinking: "OK, it's going to be about the balance and interplay of power, freedom and responsibility; about growing up, coming of age, and finding your place and purpose in the world." Of course not. I just wrote what I thought would be a good story, and I only realized afterward that those where the things it was about, under the surface. Same with the script for a 45-minute animated film I wrote an number of years ago, now. I didn't realize until after I'd written it that it was really about coping with grief and loss; moving on with your life, and continuing to live life fully, despite whatever reality throws at you. Again with the post-cyberpunk novel I'm writing, as well- but you get the idea.



#16 JessieJess   Members   -  Reputation: 251

Posted 06 June 2013 - 04:11 PM

This may be off topic, but since you felt the need to write an essay on the topic of the moralities of law, I hope you don't mind me offering my 2 cents.  I am by no means a professional writer nor philosopher, and you may well regard me as an ignorant internet bloke, but this is my viewpoint as both a reader/gamer:

 

Don't you feel that you're looking at it in a very black and white perspective? I agree with sunandshadow in the fact that its an idea that is hard to comprehend on a common sense level of a general wide audience. It is because of this that he (or she) mentioned that it's a philosophy that you would have to slap the reader over the head with for them to understand. This is simply because your idea isn't very well relatable.

 

The purpose of law isn't to protect the well-being of those under it, it is to protect the interests of those writing it, even if that is to the detriment of those living under it.

This your thesis. The below is how you supported it. You also might want to note that you are specifically talking about the US Laws.

 

While most laws are benign, once examined benign laws serve no purpose. Practically nobody would do any of the outlawed actions in benign laws if they were legal, and those who would aren't going to follow the law anyway.

And this is your support. You use the ban on heroin as your example and claim that no one in their right mind would use it in the first place. Note however in the old days when heroin was not outlawed, many people at first did not know of its very harmful effects. They only hear about the ecstasy it brought, and then once taken they get horribly addicted to it. Think about teenagers who live in the now rather then the future who don't think twice about taking a risk. I know it seems obvious in this time and age, but back then, it wasn't. Same with moon shine and other toxic drinks and drugs. It served a purpose to inform and protect the public from those trying to trick folks who didn't know better. And look where we are now. Now its common knowledge thanks to it.

 

Since the presence of a black market is also a safety hazard, this law does a great deal of harm and no good. And that's how law always functions. If it's actually a bad idea, most people won't do it legal or not.

Again, you use strong words that paint a very black and white picture of laws. "Does a great deal of harm and no good" along with "that's how laws always functions." Do laws simply fall under good and bad?

You fail to neglect things such as "murder" or "child abuse." Does outlawing either of these things really harm people? Does it not do good? Think back in the medieval era where people murdered family members to acquire their wealth. To them, this was common sense. Why wouldn't you benefit yourself by murdering that brother of yours that you've always hated so you can get your father's land all to yourself?

 

The laws of the US aren't perfect. And you are correct in assuming that some laws are very much for the benefit of big corporation and government officials. But take note you shouldn't generalize laws.

 

I mean, look at the 10 Commandments of the bible. Those are moral laws dictated by the bible for people to follow. Is that also bad?

A kindergarden teacher puts down rules for kids in class. These are moral laws meant to keep order. Is the teacher taking away the rights of students immoral?

 

Laws are inherently in place as such to keep order. (Hence, the "common sense" laws sometimes isn't shared among individuals.)

 

Your argument revolves around the politics of the creation of specific laws by the US government. As such, it feels hard to relate to simply because you are generalizing "all laws are bad" rather then "laws made through politicians and government officials are often detrimental." 

 

My suggestion, if you really wish to weave this idea into a story, is to narrow down your generalization. Make people take a look at the specifics rather then a broad (and lofty) agenda of declaring laws as plain bad. And (as said before) weave a tale to entertain first before subtly hiding your message away in the folds. You want to entice your player base first with something they might enjoy before tricking them into engaging in philosophical thought. You have the write to share your opinion with others, but you shouldn't expect people to always be able to understand or sympathize with your cause.

 

No matter how well you present it, there will never be a guarantee that readers (or players) will even bother to read into the details of your moral message. And unless you want to write a pamphlet on your philosophical view point, you shouldn't be bothered by it when most (if not all) your viewers pass your opinion over without a glance and get lost in the entertaining interactive aspect of your game.



#17 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4858

Posted 06 June 2013 - 05:17 PM

I am female, just for clarification.

 

As far as law goes, I don't think it's possible to get an unbiased concept of how law works by looking only at the way it works in the current time.  If you look further back in the history of our species, law existed in a lot more variety.  There are many more theoretical possibilities.  The fact that currently it is difficult to move to a different country with different laws is coincidental, not fundamental.  The degree to which lawmakers and law enforcers are separate from those living under the law is also variable.

 

I think the essence of law is this: people are social animals.  People are not inherently good or kind, nor are they inherently evil or cruel.  What they are is impulsive and self-centered (not meant in a negative way).  One can only see out of one's own eyes, experience one's own sensations and emotions; we theorize that other people are more or less the same as us, but it's natural to consider others' pain and problems as less real than our own because we can't feel them.  Whether toddlers or adults, humans have both sympathetic and sadistic impulses, as well as a desire to have all the good things we see others have, a desire to be recognized as special or better than others, a desire to make others do what we think they ought to do, and a desire not to be forced to do anything by others.  Additionally there are always a small percentage of humans who have some kind of mental disorder or other issue resulting in abnormal impulses and/or behavior.  So, if you take a random group of humans and dump them somewhere with no laws, some will be nice to each other, some will even be nice to everyone, but even someone who is kind 95% of the time can do long-term damage in that other 5% of the time that they follow an impulse to do something not-so-nice.  And at least 10% of people won't care about being kind or nice or not hurting others, and will make life unpleasant for everyone; that can be analogized to rape just like law can.  So I think that a lawless human society will be one where the average quality of life is low and 90% of people are unhappy.


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#18 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9677

Posted 06 June 2013 - 06:46 PM

If you folks are going to debate law and its function in our society, then shouldn't this discussion be moved to the Lounge?


Edited by Tom Sloper, 06 June 2013 - 06:47 PM.

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#19 JustinS   Members   -  Reputation: 151

Posted 06 June 2013 - 07:50 PM

This your thesis. The below is how you supported it. You also might want to note that you are specifically talking about the US Laws.

All my examples are US laws because I am a US citizen, but all nations behave in such a manner. It's just the nature of power to be abused. And just because I see law as evil doesn't mean I don't think it has uses. Everything has a positive use, the only issue is getting it to be used right and finding out if its use is worth the cost.

And this is your support. You use the ban on heroin as your example and claim that no one in their right mind would use it in the first place. Note however in the old days when heroin was not outlawed, many people at first did not know of its very harmful effects. They only hear about the ecstasy it brought, and then once taken they get horribly addicted to it. Think about teenagers who live in the now rather then the future who don't think twice about taking a risk. I know it seems obvious in this time and age, but back then, it wasn't. Same with moon shine and other toxic drinks and drugs. It served a purpose to inform and protect the public from those trying to trick folks who didn't know better. And look where we are now. Now its common knowledge thanks to it.

Don't forget that heroin was originally a pharmaceutical. The makers of pharmaceuticals intentionally misinform the users. "Oh, yeah, it's totally safer than morphine!" Suuuuuure. And this is a perfect example of my above point: Heroin, correctly used, is a fantastic painkiller. It's cheaper and more available than morphine, easier to manufacture, procure and use in safe doses, and although it's not as powerful it's still overkill for most purposes. And the proper use of heroin is ORAL ingestion, not transdermal injection. Heroin is a morphine pro-drug, in the digestive tract it is converted into morphine, and at a lower dose than a normal injection. Heroin pills could work quite effectively as a painkiller... if you don't have an even safer, less addictive option available or need the extra power than opiates provide. Under most circumstances, it's still like nuking a mosquito, and you should probably stick to codeine and other lower-power painkillers.

Again, you use strong words that paint a very black and white picture of laws. "Does a great deal of harm and no good" along with "that's how laws always functions." Do laws simply fall under good and bad?

You fail to neglect things such as "murder" or "child abuse." Does outlawing either of these things really harm people? Does it not do good? Think back in the medieval era where people murdered family members to acquire their wealth. To them, this was common sense. Why wouldn't you benefit yourself by murdering that brother of yours that you've always hated so you can get your father's land all to yourself?

And do you really think the law acts as a deterrent for the violent idiots that beat their kids? Do you really think the fear of the law is any more of a deterrent than the fear or reprisal for murderers, which is how things would be handled without law? Further, BOTH of these are covered below under my examples of good ways to use law. They fall under harming others and restricting their rights, both of which should be prevented if at all possible.

The laws of the US aren't perfect. And you are correct in assuming that some laws are very much for the benefit of big corporation and government officials. But take note you shouldn't generalize laws.

 

I mean, look at the 10 Commandments of the bible. Those are moral laws dictated by the bible for people to follow. Is that also bad?

The bible, as a source of morals? The same bible that says not to mix fabrics or fuck people with the same parts or you deserve to die, that says that taking slaves is a hebrew's god-given rights, that the price of raping a woman is having to marry her, that a woman exists to serve her husband, that children should be beaten for every dirty look, that people who work on sundays should be murdered, that committing genocide is justified as long as the other party isn't of the same religion and that it's A-okay for children to be SLAUGHTERED EN FUCKING MASSE? THAT bible? You're using THAT as an example?

A kindergarden teacher puts down rules for kids in class. These are moral laws meant to keep order. Is the teacher taking away the rights of students immoral?

Alright, much better. First off, if school was an optional thing I would agree with you. Agreeing to follow those rules in exchange for an education would be perfectly fine. But it's not. School is mandatory. Do I need to make the sex vs. rape metaphor again?

Laws are inherently in place as such to keep order. (Hence, the "common sense" laws sometimes isn't shared among individuals.)

 

Your argument revolves around the politics of the creation of specific laws by the US government. As such, it feels hard to relate to simply because you are generalizing "all laws are bad" rather then "laws made through politicians and government officials are often detrimental." 

Again, this is just part of the nature of power. Power exists for its own sake, and people will always use power to gain more power, no matter how it hurts others. It takes a lot more willpower than most people have, even if you don't have other powerful people pulling at you to get them more.

My suggestion, if you really wish to weave this idea into a story, is to narrow down your generalization. Make people take a look at the specifics rather then a broad (and lofty) agenda of declaring laws as plain bad. And (as said before) weave a tale to entertain first before subtly hiding your message away in the folds. You want to entice your player base first with something they might enjoy before tricking them into engaging in philosophical thought. You have the write to share your opinion with others, but you shouldn't expect people to always be able to understand or sympathize with your cause.

My stories are interesting, if character driven. They always have been. Keeping people interested isn't a problem, getting more than that is. 

No matter how well you present it, there will never be a guarantee that readers (or players) will even bother to read into the details of your moral message. And unless you want to write a pamphlet on your philosophical view point, you shouldn't be bothered by it when most (if not all) your viewers pass your opinion over without a glance and get lost in the entertaining interactive aspect of your game.

You know what? You're right, at least on this. I'm sure that most people will pass it by. The issue is that smart people, who pay attention, are going to be included. Now granted, we're few and far between, but we do exist and we do play these games. I want to give them something they can learn from it. Something to pull out of it. And at least in the game "Wounded Gaia" there are enough places to fit different stories with different lessons in the document system and the gameplay itself that I don't have to worry about it. And the main elements of the game, which are "human limitations," "self reliance" and "personal accomplishment while working with both of the former limitations" followed by a huge, morally ambiguous choice at the end of the game that the player will probably have to think about and will hopefully never be sure if they did the right thing or not, (not going into what) can be learned subconsciously through play even if the player doesn't realise it. If that's all they get, I've already done better than most game devs.


Edited by Jeremy Williams, 06 June 2013 - 07:50 PM.

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

 

-John Donne


#20 JustinS   Members   -  Reputation: 151

Posted 06 June 2013 - 07:57 PM

I am female, just for clarification.

 

As far as law goes, I don't think it's possible to get an unbiased concept of how law works by looking only at the way it works in the current time.  If you look further back in the history of our species, law existed in a lot more variety.  There are many more theoretical possibilities.  The fact that currently it is difficult to move to a different country with different laws is coincidental, not fundamental.  The degree to which lawmakers and law enforcers are separate from those living under the law is also variable.

 

I think the essence of law is this: people are social animals.  People are not inherently good or kind, nor are they inherently evil or cruel.  What they are is impulsive and self-centered (not meant in a negative way).  One can only see out of one's own eyes, experience one's own sensations and emotions; we theorize that other people are more or less the same as us, but it's natural to consider others' pain and problems as less real than our own because we can't feel them.  Whether toddlers or adults, humans have both sympathetic and sadistic impulses, as well as a desire to have all the good things we see others have, a desire to be recognized as special or better than others, a desire to make others do what we think they ought to do, and a desire not to be forced to do anything by others.  Additionally there are always a small percentage of humans who have some kind of mental disorder or other issue resulting in abnormal impulses and/or behavior.  So, if you take a random group of humans and dump them somewhere with no laws, some will be nice to each other, some will even be nice to everyone, but even someone who is kind 95% of the time can do long-term damage in that other 5% of the time that they follow an impulse to do something not-so-nice.  And at least 10% of people won't care about being kind or nice or not hurting others, and will make life unpleasant for everyone; that can be analogized to rape just like law can.  So I think that a lawless human society will be one where the average quality of life is low and 90% of people are unhappy.

It's like you didn't even read the part about the positive uses of law. Just because I think something is inherently wrong doesn't mean it doesn't have a good use.

 

Further, in smaller communities this isn't an issue. Nobody is going to be able to go around being a complete asshole in a lawless society because somebody else will make them regret it. Even if nobody else can, the community can do it. Even the vile, wicked murderers in the lawless old west would never ride into town and start killing people, at least not without a lot of help, because they'd have a lifespan of about ten minutes if they did and the risk clearly could never be worth whatever reward they could pull from it. (Unless they were trying to die, and law couldn't stop that. Actually, law might encourage it.)


No man is an island,

Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

 

-John Donne





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