On my way back Hong Kong (20 hour+ flight, that was a nightmare), I come across a movie named Wonderful World. The main character named Ben second guess every pure good intention from anyone and thus lead to a miserable life. Of course this is yet another evangelical film (Is that a word?) but the setup is worth a thought.
In World of Warcraft (finally something related), promises are fragile. Guild drama happens all the time. This happens in all virtual world, e.g. Eve Bank Scandal.
It’s trivial to said that, since the player can stop playing at anytime, having different names (e.g. server transfer and alts in Wow). They had little to pay for the consequence, breaking a promise (defecting) is easy if you have nothing to lose.
Cooperation in Economic Realm
Let’s investigate in term of game theory. In the well known game, Prisoner Dilemma (PD).
There are two players and a banker. Each player holds a set of two cards, one printed with the word “Cooperate” (as in, with each other), the other printed with “Defect” (the standard terminology for the game). Each player puts one card face-down in front of the banker. By laying them face down, the possibility of a player knowing the other player’s selection in advance is eliminated (although revealing one’s move does not affect the dominance analysis). At the end of the turn, the banker turns over both cards and gives out the payments accordingly.
Given two players, “red” and “blue”: if the red player defects and the blue player cooperate, the red player gets the Temptation to Defect payoff of 5 points while the blue player receives the Sucker’s payoff of 0 points. If both cooperate they get the Reward for Mutual Cooperation payoff of 3 points each, while if they both defect they get the Punishment for Mutual Defection payoff of 1 point. The checker board payoff matrix showing the payoffs is given below.
Example PD payoff matrix
In “win-lose” terminology the table looks like this:
|lose much-win much
win much-lose much
In short, in a single game, player will always defect. Because they can’t predict what other player will choose, they’ll always be better off on defecting, assuming the worst case scenario. It sounds silly, since if they can co-operate together, they’ll be better off, but that’s what a rational player would do (Same as what Ben would do).
While a single game of PD(Prisoner Dilemma) always results in a bad ending, a repeated/iterated one do not. If the two players keep playing with each others for couples of game, said 10. They’ll be better off cooperating with each other. Since both cooperate (3*10) is always better than Both Defect (1*10).
However, there is a catch.
- Forgiveness is a virtue, A player should always try to cooperate (since cooperate is more profitable) but no blindly. Otherwise they’ll be only be preyed on.
- Revenge had it’s value, as long as the player refuse to cooperate in couples of turn if they got cheated. (To give opponent -ve gain from the cheat). Then both party will had mutual goal on not cheating
- No matter how nice they played, on the last round both player will defect. (Since no more consequences will occur)
While in real life, we rely on humanity. But why risk on that ?
Setting up systems that favor the common goal, encourage cooperate and reject defect.
There are many system setup that it contradict its. Take hourly paid customer service as an example.
My father used to work in a casino as a card dealer.
If there is not gambler on the table, they can take a break, and wait for the customer.
Each dealer is acting as unfriendly (cold gaze for instance) as possible to avoid serving the client.
The problem is that the casino pools all the tips of dealers, and evenly split without any relation to their performance.
If they can have a little % from the tips they received. All the dealers will have a better incentive to server their client.
While setting up measure can increase the staff’s performance. Rewarding good performance if much simpler and direct. They’ll work out how to get more tips from customer (By providing better service).
Different Guild had different policy, but while most of the “Friendly Progressive Guild”* is self-defeating. The better gear you got the slower progress you’ll get.
By expecting boost to others in Guild.
In an Elite-Jerk Progressive Guild, however better gear get you into better runs and thus better reward.
The very nature and policy will determine the destiny of the System.
In order to keep Promise/Deal valid in virtual world, One must always ensure, honoring the contract provides more benefits than breaking it.
(It goes as far as Guild Membership level)
*You can had a progressive guild with friendly environment, however, a boost-required guild without entrance limit will always fail