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Wavinator

Inspiring VIRTUAL Patriotism (RPG-like)

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What would it take to inspire your loyalty to a fictional nation-state? Let's assume that you're the citizen of a tiny island nation that has survived a global catastrophe. In the beginning you're really too poor to invest enough into the nation to care about it. You can't yet influence people, or contribute to the island's prosperity, or gain rank and recognition. These come later. What story there is (apart from the big story) involves constantly generated plots and plans between characters or factions on the island, which go on endlessly. But in the big picture threats to the island constantly arise in different forms. As you strive to gather wealth to improve yourself, the island "levels up" around you. New services and opportunities appear based on completed construction or new arrivals. But pirates, smugglers, subversives (and even outright invasion forces from other nations) also arrive to stall the island's progress. Given that you're not really a citizen of anything IRL, and haven't been indoctrinated into caring about your virtual nation, how do you get players to relate? How do you get them to "die for their flag," so to speak? I don't want the island's fate to be so connected to the player's that if it dies, they die. But I do want to get players worked up about its fate and future when they choose to become one of its citizens.
btw, here are some specific things I'd be interested in getting players to care about:
  • Sacrificing for a resistance movement by fighting risky battles, or hiding and moving refugees and revolutionaries
  • Caring enough about the island that they don't want to see it become a puppet of a foreign power, or fall under an enemy ideology
  • Getting involved in inter-faction political strife in order to protect their nation's honor/way of life/values
This might be a bit over the top, given that we're not talking about a character the player can emotionally gravitate to. If the player never successfully leveled up enough to influence the island, the only thing they could look forward to was it growing more prosperous and possibly expanding to other areas. Or getting invaded/coopted/nuked by a foreign power. Thoughts?

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I think it's not an un-feasible goal. Most players will inherintly(sp?) care about the fate of their character, if the game is designed with a well-enough story line and enough choices that the player can make that impact the "big picture" you could draw them in very well.

If, as what it seems you're talking about, you're referring to a grand-scale, epic game, then I think this only increases the nationalism/patriotism that the player will wind up feeling, granted that the different factors that threaten to doom them from both inside and out are varied often enough that it's not just a new "invasion fleet" every few minutes coming to destroy them.

The game "Republic" allows you to control a faction in a former soviet blok country that is currently under the control of an oppresive dictatorship, and you must vie against not only other factions threatening civil war but against the larger "big-brother" government itself.

It might be hard to actually make the player care about the made up country as they would their own homeland. However, if it is largely the premise of the game that they do their part in aiding their city-state nation to glory, then that will be the motivating factor. If however, you build your standard adventure/rpg game, which bases itself soley (in large part) on personal achievement, why should the player care whether or not a single nation lives or dies?

Anyway, there's some things to think about, my two cents worth for now.

Vopisk

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Original post by Vopisk
If, as what it seems you're talking about, you're referring to a grand-scale, epic game, then I think this only increases the nationalism/patriotism that the player will wind up feeling, granted that the different factors that threaten to doom them from both inside and out are varied often enough that it's not just a new "invasion fleet" every few minutes coming to destroy them.


What do you think they need to know, and how much? That is, would it help to know "who's the best" or "who's on top" in the region? Or how much danger the nation is in?

Symbolically, many people can relate to "best of" (like strongest or richest nation in the region/world).

Maybe this could be done with titles? Like: "Regional Superpower" or "World Leader" (or "Insignicant Yanqui Lapdog"[grin]).


Quote:

The game "Republic" allows you to control a faction in a former soviet blok country that is currently under the control of an oppresive dictatorship, and you must vie against not only other factions threatening civil war but against the larger "big-brother" government itself.


Thanks for reminding me about this game. I never played it (didn't have the money at the time), but it would be useful as a benchmark. It's a shame that it did so horribly, though, since it was so innovative.

Quote:

However, if it is largely the premise of the game that they do their part in aiding their city-state nation to glory, then that will be the motivating factor.


What about something on this scale, done in a freeform way:


  • You come to a town, find a faction whose territory is a block or couple of blocks, and improve its lot by solving its problems. The faction consolidates power and improves.
  • The faction's now has enough power to try to capture control of the town (politically or otherwise). Player goes on series of missions, does freeform gameplay, wins. Faction controls the town.
  • Faction now vies for regions of the island, until it controls the whole island.
  • Because the regions have improved so well, the whole nation's success (financial / military / technology / etc.) has improved.


At each level of success, more powerful external threats surface. Maybe gunboat pirates at the town level, who ransack buildings, progressing on to subversive cells, foreign backed rebels, blockades and more.

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If however, you build your standard adventure/rpg game, which bases itself soley (in large part) on personal achievement, why should the player care whether or not a single nation lives or dies?


Very good advice. I do want you to be able to leave islands and go to other lands, though. So there has to be some level of personal leveling.

What about this: As you level up (socially) in any one island, you're less welcome / less able to defect to other islands? Doesn't quite make sense, but it might be a way of getting you more invested as you improve an island and it gains in power.

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Heraldry and symbolism, fables about past heroes and current important figures, portraying families threatened by evil enemies - any propaganda that inspires real loyalty can inspire fake loyalty too. I learned a lot about this when I was studying the historical environment which lead to the Nazi movement and the holocaust. Blue laws, McCarthyism, presidential campaigns, advertising to build brand loyalty, and the creation of the Marines' image are also good places to look.

It all comes down to personal mythology. People are loyal when they believe their group or territory is 'special', 'threatened', 'protecting important things', and 'cool'.

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Quote:
Original post by Vopisk
If, as what it seems you're talking about, you're referring to a grand-scale, epic game, then I think this only increases the nationalism/patriotism that the player will wind up feeling, granted that the different factors that threaten to doom them from both inside and out are varied often enough that it's not just a new "invasion fleet" every few minutes coming to destroy them.


What do you think they need to know, and how much? That is, would it help to know "who's the best" or "who's on top" in the region? Or how much danger the nation is in?

Symbolically, many people can relate to "best of" (like strongest or richest nation in the region/world).

Maybe this could be done with titles? Like: "Regional Superpower" or "World Leader" (or "Insignicant Yanqui Lapdog"[grin]).


I think a measure of who is best or more powerful at any given time would be viable information so you know which threats to look out for, as well as giving you a benchmark of how well you're doing to better the "image, economy, etc." of your personal nation. I suppose that it would also matter what form of communication with the outside world was available. If the only information on other city/states is that carried from merchants and travellers then there is a chance that the information could be flawed, or overly dramatized. In our current world we're able to do things like this because of "globalization" the same forces that allow us to communicate as we are, with people all over the world. However, if you're looking into a grim future where an apocolyptic situation has arised or the past then you're looking at a lot less exchange of information and the game should reflect that, mysteriously knowing that the enemy has Wealth: 1 Bazillion, doesn't make much sense, unless of course, you've sent in spies to report back to you.

Quote:

Quote:

The game "Republic" allows you to control a faction in a former soviet blok country that is currently under the control of an oppresive dictatorship, and you must vie against not only other factions threatening civil war but against the larger "big-brother" government itself.


Thanks for reminding me about this game. I never played it (didn't have the money at the time), but it would be useful as a benchmark. It's a shame that it did so horribly, though, since it was so innovative.


A stumbling block that "Republic" had was that all dialouges and the like were in Russian (I believe) and so it greatly enhanced immersion within the game, but for a native english speaker who doesn't know a word of Russian, it made it impossible to actually know what was transpiring(as not even english subtitles were offered) and therefore, the player could not truly get a grasp of what was going on in the game.

Quote:

Quote:

However, if it is largely the premise of the game that they do their part in aiding their city-state nation to glory, then that will be the motivating factor.


What about something on this scale, done in a freeform way:


  • You come to a town, find a faction whose territory is a block or couple of blocks, and improve its lot by solving its problems. The faction consolidates power and improves.
  • The faction's now has enough power to try to capture control of the town (politically or otherwise). Player goes on series of missions, does freeform gameplay, wins. Faction controls the town.
  • Faction now vies for regions of the island, until it controls the whole island.
  • Because the regions have improved so well, the whole nation's success (financial / military / technology / etc.) has improved.


At each level of success, more powerful external threats surface. Maybe gunboat pirates at the town level, who ransack buildings, progressing on to subversive cells, foreign backed rebels, blockades and more.


I think so long as the player was allowed to build ties with whatever faction they choose to ally themselves with, then it can be succesfully done in a freeform manner. Consider that the player enters the scenario, a free-lancer who has yet to establish ties with any local power. They approach/are approached by the different factions and learn about the ongoing power struggle, choosing the faction that best agrees with the player's paradigm or seems to be the most powerful, the player enlists in their ranks and as you say, performs various actions for the "Orginization". As the player is succesful they travel up the heirarchy within the faction. So, not only do we have the success of the faction being measured, but also character improvement (we can assign an experience variable that increases by X amount every time the player completes a "quest/job/whatever").

Quote:

Quote:

If however, you build your standard adventure/rpg game, which bases itself soley (in large part) on personal achievement, why should the player care whether or not a single nation lives or dies?


Very good advice. I do want you to be able to leave islands and go to other lands, though. So there has to be some level of personal leveling.

What about this: As you level up (socially) in any one island, you're less welcome / less able to defect to other islands? Doesn't quite make sense, but it might be a way of getting you more invested as you improve an island and it gains in power.


In tying back to the above paragraph, consider this, during the Cold War and WWII, defectors played a large part in both information gathering and the race for technology (see Einstein). Defecting from one "island" to another could serve as a very useful tool to the island that you defect to, being able to share detailed and informed information with the leaders of the new island as well as bring any new technology or wealth that you may be able to smuggle with you. However, doing this would obviously make you a wanted man, and the player must be sure that what they bring to the table of the other island is greater than any benefit the island may see in expediting him/her back to the original island of their defection. Also, there's always the danger that the new island will take your information and gold/technology/whatever, then stick a knife in your back since you've obviously shown yourself to be a no-good traitor, so there are consequences to every decision.

Anyway, that's a bit more to chew on, and it's time for me to sleep. Goodnight.

Vopisk

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Funny that I was just reading about this subject in the gutenberg e-book, "The Psychology of Revolution" I can send the text to you if you want. Its full of all kinds of juicy "whys" and "whats" It just might be the thing that gives you the causal constituents.

Adventuredesign

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On the part of beable/not able to go to other islands, I think that with how you'll have invasion forces and the like you could have island x is at war with country y, (Following assuming your from island x) this means that if you go to island y you are almost defenatly going to be attacked, but you'll beable to carry out 'missions' that help island x.

Plus you could then have island z who is at peace with island x where you can go and will be welcome and can do things for them and make things closer between x and z, maybe leading to z sending a force to help out etc.

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I think the biggest thing is a sense of ownership, of having a stake in the successes or failures of the faction/nation/whatever. I'm not saying they need to be in charge, but they need to be able to make a difference within the group. The ability to be a part of something bigger than their individual character will go a long way towards instilling loyalty/patriotism, as then it goes from being "a faction" to being "their faction".

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I think you should try to immersive the player within their little world. I tend to like to role-play and get inside the head of the character I play in games anyway, so for gamers like me, I'm wanting to care about the community that I'm playing in. As long as you don't starve this feeling (say with cardboard NPCs in an RPG setting, or by making units too expendible or personality-less in strategy games), then I'd be willing to fight within the game for my virtual homeland (well, unless I was role-playing a complete bastard traitor, but I don't do that too often as it's against my nature).

While not directly applicable to your problem domain, the example that sprung to my mind was that from my most favourite of space pilot sims., Tie Fighter. In that game, the designers could have employed stereotype that the Imperials were cold hearted ruthless killers. However, instead they interpreted a more realistic view; from the viewpoint of the Imperial soldiers they were noble heroes that were fighting to keep order in an increasingly chaotic galaxy. Through the use of smart mission design with decent writing for the briefings (not to mentionand very good music) I really got into the view of fighting for the Imperials, caring for my squadron, respecting my flight commander, and hating the Rebel "terrorists", and it made me think about how easy it is for propaganda to influence your world view.

If I remember the game, there was one chapter that seems to apply to the domain that you suggested. This campaign was to build an space outpost in deep space to help secure the area. To start with you had to clear out pirates in the area, then to protect the supplies for building the base as they arrived. Mid-campaign you had to protect the construction from more pirates and Rebels. Then at the end you had to protect the base from full on attacks. Since you watched the base being constructed, there was a greater sense of attachment than if it were a single mission.

But if you can, I recommend using some of sunandshadow's suggestions. If you make your island come alive with a culture of its own, then it will be easier for the player to "claim" it as their community.

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Its funny that you started this thread now because I just read that China's government is on the move to develop an MMORPG used to inspire "real" patriotism. So, they're basically getting ready to start their new form of brainwashing propoganda in a new form targetting their video game addicted youths.

Seems the game they want to develop will pit China up against the Imperialistic evil Japan. And guess what, you can only play for one side, China. Kind of a funny concept, but I'll bet if they made it pretty enough and fun enough, people will just get sucked in. Who knows, it just might work as well as all their other propoganda campaigns hey've pulled off thus far.

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