Nature of MMO War - 5

"War is, therefore, not only a true chameleon, because it changes its nature in some degree in each particular case, but it is also, as a whole, in relation to the predominant tendencies which are in it, a wonderful trinity, composed of the original violence of its elements, hatred and animosity, which may be looked upon as blind instinct; of the play of probabilities and chance, which make it a free activity of the soul; and of the subordinate nature of a political instrument, by which it belongs purely to the reason.

The first of these three phases concerns more the people; the second more the general and his army; the third more the Government. The passions which break forth in war must already have a latent existence in the peoples. The range which the display of courage and talents shall get in the realm of probabilities and of chance depends on the particular characteristics of the general and his army; but the political objects belong to the Government alone.

These three tendencies, which appear like so many different lawgivers, are deeply rooted in the nature of the subject, and at the same time variable in degree. A theory which would leave any one of them out of account, or set up any arbitrary relation between them, would immediately become involved in such a contradiction with the reality, that it might be regarded as destroyed at once by that alone.

The problem is, therefore, that theory shall keep itself poised in a manner between these three tendencies, as between three points of attraction."

MMO players and leaders need to understand that within their chosen MMO, the conflict that arises through the game design is different every day, every hour, and every moment. While objectives may be static (e.g., obtain control of fixed points), how those objectives are obtained will change as players become smarter, developers change classes, skills, and code within the game.

Hitting upon the first two phases, leaders must inspire the passion within those they lead, which in turn encourages heightened display of ability. The interaction between leaders and general players is of the utmost importance to harmony when engaging the enemy. Because players will naturally gravitate towards guilds and clans that have goals which align with their own personal wishes and desires for their play time, it is important for leaders to recognized the goals of the individual in their development of goals and objectives for the guild, which will then be a part of the overall strategy in the game.

In the case of government, a guild's leadership and how it interacts with the greater game community is also of vital importance to the guild's success or failure within the game. Guild's that bring about a negative community are made pariahs (and their notoriety will stay with them across many games) while a guild who is a positive influence in the game will lead to long-standing success.


Nature of MMO War - 4

We see therefore how from the commencement, the absolute, the mathematical as it is called, no where finds any sure basis in the calculations in the art of war; and that from the outset there is a play of possibilities, probabilities, good and bad luck, which spreads about with all the coarse and fine threads of its web, and makes war of all branches of human activity the most like a game of cards.

It is very interesting that Clausewitz chooses to use a card game for his example of how war is played out. The website pokerology.com has a A Poker Winner's Checklist which would help MMO players, especially leaders in PVP, to better prepare their teams for victory. The key points of the poer player's checklist (discipline, focus, planning) are inherent in the development of strategies that win wars.

Theory must also take into account the human element; it must accord a place to courage, to boldness, even to rashness. The art of war has to deal with living and with moral forces; the consequence of which is that it can never attain the absolute and positive. There is therefore everywhere a margin for the accidental; and just as much in the greatest things as in the smallest. As there is room for this accidental on the one hand, so on the other there must be courage and self-reliance in proportion to the room left. If these qualities are forthcoming in a high degree, the margin left may likewise be great. Courage and self reliance are therefore principles quite essential to war; consequently theory must only set up such rules as allow ample scope for all degrees and varieties of these necessary and noblest of military virtues. In daring there may still be wisdom also, and prudence as well, only that they are estimated by a different standard of value.

Often MMO leaders only acknowledge their own morals, beliefs, and understanding of strategies without taking into account the same from those they lead. In some cases doing this make bring about a defeat; a team cannot stand if it is divided in its objectives. But as many recognize in MMOs, the individual player is not only playing for their side, they are playing for their own self-gratification through their chosen hobby. Therefore, the values and understanding each individual player brings are important towards determining the outcome of battles; a collective understanding of the strategy among players must exist, which in turn allows for victory through this understanding.

There is room for both the team and the individual in MMO war, but the role of the individual must always further the strategy of the team. Self-gratification outside of the strategy is at least a distraction towards victory, and if over-consuming may lead to self-destruction as well as loss.


Nature of MMO War - 3

"War is never an isolated act."

In MMOs one must look at the entire situation, rather than just a single battle. In PVE, a dungeon often consists of many small engagements, and a few larger engagements. In a strategic sense, how a group of players engages the entire dungeon to meet their goal of beating the content is just as important as each individual battle. In PVP, the smaller battles that happen do not just spring up for no reason at all, they in fact are outcomes based on the will of those participating in the game. Each event in the game is a step towards a future engagement, and the leader who can see in advance the outcome of the steps is indeed more prepared in the long run to defeat their enemy.

"It does not consist of a single instantaneous blow."

In MMOs one single battle of all forces does not bring about the final outcome of the game, instead it is a continuous sequence of battles over time. In most MMOs, PVE has a resolution through completion of content until a future expansion brings more challenges to the players. In PVP, many different mechanisms are used, often through continuous battles over terrain, or through ranking systems.

"The result in war is never absolute."

MMOs are unique in that the war never ends, and are continually subject to the process of strategy development and execution. Therefore, leaders much always strive to perfect their strategy given the changes within the MMO.


Nature of MMO War - 2

"The fight between men consists really of two different elements, the hostile feeling and the hostile view."

In an MMO, players develop hostile feelings (emotions) towards the opposing side from the fact they pose a threat to the advancement of their character, and the objectives of their guild and/or faction. While most MMO players are not hostile in their daily lives outside of a game, passions often run high in the game. The development of this hostility towards the opposition is both detrimental and helpful to a guild leader.

Players who have a hot-headed temperament become easily distracted by what is going on in the moment at the tactical level, rather than seeing how their actions in anger can bring down a strategy. For example, the player who is dead-set on killing a running enemy may walk into an ambush blinded by their desire to defeat the enemy. The opposition upon seeing this player act in such a manner can continually bait and trap them thus negating their effect in the game.

This is not to say that feelings do not matter; one cannot be a player without having a vested emotional interest in the outcome of the battle and how it will affect their character, guild, or faction.

Contrasted to this emotion is the hostile view, which is built upon the understanding that the opposition threatens the well being of the friendly faction. While emotions may run high, this understanding is necessary to build upon a strategy rather than acting out in blind rage when the opposition appears. When a guild shows intelligence in their ferocity, they engage in violence with meaning, and are able to impose their will upon the enemy.


Nature of MMO War - 1

"War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will."

As Clausewitz explains, violence within the game is the means with which to obtain the objective, which is the the fulfillment of will. In MMOs game designers often create wars and create objectives. As such a guild or a single player creates for themselves subsequent lower tiers of objectives to accomplish within the game. These can range from taking or capturing one or multiple positions on a battlefield to gathering more game resources than the opponent. These minor objectives though are part of the main objective, which is to win the overall battle through violent means.

Additionally, means are also everything available to the player within the gaming construct, and those available to play the game. Computer components and accessories, as well as internet connection speed are means along with communication practices (e.g., voice or typing), just as much as character classes and abilities are means. Leaders shouldn't take this lightly; a player is a sum of their abilities to play the game, both outside the game world and within it.


On MMO War - Introduction

Our look at On War will be different than our look at Sun Tzu's The Art of War; this will not be a complete rewrite but an expansion of thought and principle. This is important because unlike general guidelines, Clausewitz used a much more scientific approach in his writings on warfare.

As always, the opinions on the material are my own.