Sisters of the Forsaken - ESO

Yes, Sisters of the Forsaken now has a foothold in Elder Scrolls Online. Forced to choose an alliance at guild creation, Guildmaster Tzuzeku, an Altmer High Elf, has chosen the Aldmeri Dominion, but that alliance need only provide a point of entry to whatever guild objectives will be pursued on the Cyrodiil PvP battlefield.

Still in the early stages of investigating the mechanics of Elder Scrolls Online, we’ll be looking for those we can work around, pervert or otherwise turn to pacifist play and pacifist evangelism. If interested in making Sisters of the Forsaken one of your five ESO guilds, message @Tzuzeku in world.

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The Arc of the Virtual Universe

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” The sentiment ranks high among Martin Luther King’s many inspiring messages to struggling followers facing long odds and uncertainty in the face of seemingly intractable opposition. Not to trivialize but it could as well serve as the paradigm for good, challenging game development.

Games tap into and exploit our human experience of tasks as drivers of meaning, even when, as in the case of games, those tasks are nominally meaningless, nominally inconsequential to the “real world” in which we live. We derive a sense of accomplishment, which is not just technical but also and most importantly moral, from persistence through difficult tasks toward game goals. But more so than in real life, the fragile meaning-producing effects of arbitrary game tasks depends upon faith; faith and timely, repeated reassurance that, yes indeed, in the end, “We Shall Overcome.” Game tasks that are too hard quickly lose their charm. The game’s underlying meaninglessness emerges and we quit, with maybe a brief pout of frustration, even rage for some, but no lasting sense of shame. After all, it’s only a game, and evidently not a very good one.

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the_rules_of_the_gameThe concept of an avowedly pacifist virtual organization represents a constellation of ideas, ideals and intuitions I’ve been kicking about for quite a few years by now, ever since shifting the preponderance of my game time from the first-person shooters I’d played since DOOM (1993) to MMORPGs, starting with World of Warcraft, which I joined on Dethecus in 2005.

I want to be clear. It is not symbolic violence, per se, that disturbs me. For pure mindless joy and giddy terror — and I can get into it — no weapon has yet topped the pump-action single-barrel shotgun of the original Doom for leaping blind around corners and charging dangerous doorways, solo-berzerking or co-op with textbook Marine squad tactics. Neither is it, continuing in the ID Software vein, a simple differentiation between bot and human enemies that stirs my pacifist disposition. I still find the space for play opened by the smaller “courts” of Quake III – Team Arena as elegant in their way as the finest jostling mid-air ballet of professional basketball.

All games, all team sports are symbolic warfare. We understand that. We accept that. The overriding theme of “Fair Play” and “Equal Chances” weave their redemptive spell, whether it be Team Fortress II or Warsong Gulch. It is “game.” It is “sport.” Not “reality,” not even “virtual reality.” And within the fictive buffer of “game” or “sport,” symbolic violence goes down easily, whether the “tag” be represented as a touch, a flag, a tackle or a virtual death.

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