[WF-General] WF and RPG potential in public health

Max Klohn max.klohn at gmail.com
Mon Aug 28 15:15:09 PDT 2006

On 8/28/06, Max Randor <max.randor at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Firstly this looks very interesting.
> I don't realy know very much about this type of thing but I think that more
> detail might be useful.
> I know that things like complicated poisons are envisoned for the games but
> I do not think that any are currently under development.
> I also understand that the idea is for players to suggest to their
> characters what to do but if the character gets bored or is incapable of
> doing something because they are drunk etc. then they will make mistakes.
>  This could be very interesting but would probably need more resources if
> Max Klohn wants this done any time soon. incedentaly public health for which
> government in which country.
> Hopefuly someone who knows more than me will respond soon since I am still a
> learner and still quite new.
> --
> Max Randor
> http://max.randor.googlepages.com/home
> http://maxrandorspeaks.blogspot.com/


It is an idea I am brooding since a couple of days after seeing
worldforge. First reactions to it have been positive.More on this

I can think of several aspects.
Some elements could be built in the features of the avatars and bring
interesting aspects to the game.

For starters I would never put it at the center of the game explicit
goals and quests, but bury it in the gameplay's rules. IRL addictions
are rarely in focus and become a problem to people only when the more
unpleasant consequences surface.

What could be modeled? I can think for example of a "trait" for
craving/addiction. According to some evolutionistic speculations it is
to be found in populations because it is associated with novelty
seekig / live fast, reproduce & die young behaviours, the same ones
most mythic heroes seem to be tailored from.

As some sort of dark side, the more heroic the character, the more
addiction-prone it would be.
The trait would reveal itself only if the character is exposed to
certain situations (for example rate of addictions among peers and
surrounding bots, availability of the substance through trade or
production, etc.)

Addiction(s) would mean, for instance
a) losing health points at determined intervals, like some sort of
slow poison as you mentioned,
b) losing control of the character during semi-randomly occurring
binge/craving/berserker/stuporous phases that would put the character
and/or its surroundings (friends or foes) in danger,
c) if there is an organized in-game economy, needs of money to get the
d) (feel free to add your own)

So for the affected character a part of keeping alive, well and
thriving in such a game would mean (but not exclusively) having to
deal with losing control, money and health at various degrees.
Ideally the gamer should find himself testing strategies to minimize
the damage (for instance, keeping away of the stuff/situations/company
that trigger the unwanted consequences...).

Most of this should occur in the background of other interactions and
goals, as the whole should remain a great fun to play. The model
should be thoroughly tested with players to make sure its effects are
not paradoxical (reinforcing undesirable messages for instance)

Additional, more explicit, less important elements could be delivered
through sub-quests and interactions with bots bearing parts of the
message (visit to the medicine man etc)
Other aspects of public health that could

As for institutional affiliation: we are certainly not Stanford (where
interest & research on MMORPGS certainly rides high) but a small
public health universitary institute in Geneva, Switzerland, a
city-county of about 400'000 people. The team leader is an
internationally known specialist in Tobacco adddiction.
We have a modest budget for developing a couple of prevention web
sites that have grown a bit old, and are going through this right now,
but my feeling is that to reach the people with the most needs we
should explore new strategies, including the one exposed above.

If there is interest in the community and the state of maturity of the
code allows for it, we could think of elaborating a research proposal
to get some kind of funding (for example used as a "bounty" to get
this or that feature).

We would need to have a readily installable client. Haven't tried with
the windows client, but on my FC5 installation ember with the
autoinstaller dies asking for GCC_4.2.0, the ember compilation dies

../../../src/services/logging/LoggingService.h:167: erreur: extra
qualification 'Ember::LoggingService::Observer::' on member 'Observer'

and the sear compilation dies with:
bar.cpp: In member function 'virtual void gcn::Bar::draw(gcn::Graphics*)':
bar.cpp:115: erreur: invalid use of undefined type 'struct gcn::Graphics'
/usr/local/include/guichan/widget.hpp:73: erreur: forward declaration
of 'struct gcn::Graphics'

So I haven't been able to try the available "worlds". Any help with
that would be the most welcome...


>  On 28/08/06, Max <max.klohn at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
>  Dear all,
> I am new here, I am posting this to the "general" list, please
> redirect this to the adequate mailing lists if applies.
> I have been looking with much interest to the impressive amounts of
> code and experience accumulating in WF.
> I am a MD working in public health. An important part of our current
> mandate is to promote on-line interventions addressing the growing
> problems of the young {adolescent, adults} related to substance abuse
> and dependences. Most interventions that apply to other ages have not
> worked in those groups, and people tend to consult quite late when the
> problems and behaviour are deeply rooted.
> On the other hand, there is a growing literature and experience
> showing us that several kinds of psychologic interventions (including
> various degrees of RPG and motivational interventions) do have some
> effects when delivered through the Internet. Interactive interventions
>  require modellization, sometimes in the form of bayesian networks, and
> different degrees of AI to interact with the person and deliver
> customized content. This is usually done through interactive web pages
> or 2-d graphics. But the limited time per page of a typical surfer
> sharply limits the information that can be delvered in one
> What we are currently missing is a truly attractive (and fun) means of
> interacting and delivering the messages.  My feeling is that an
> immersive and attractive "universe" such as WF could have a huge
> potential to deliver implicit health messages and allow people to
> experiment with different behaviours in given scenarios during
> sufficient time.
> This raises naturally a lot of questions, such as: Is it mature
> enough? does the currrrent framework for character AI allow for this
> (if pig farming is possible, would it be possible to model
> addiction...?), does it raise an interest in the group?
> So I am very interested in getting your opinions on this matter and
> discussing this.
> If there is interest, I can provide the basis of the behaviours we
> would like to mimick and confront the users with... We have limited
> means (it is public health) but if a framework gets established one
> could always imagine further ways of helping with the development.
> Max
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