Aetolia is a game that centers itself around conflict because at its heart the game is a collaborative story about the Midnight Age and the characters that inhabit it. The game encourages players to explore different roles and embrace and or branch from the many themes and ideologies that are provided as the foundation of the game. And yet...
There is this constant tension between two types of players around this understanding; those who wish to engage the game from a roleplay/story driven perspective and those that wish to power game their way through similarly to an MMO-style video game. Naturally there are those that fall somewhere in between both ends of the spectrum and in truth neither end of the spectrum is the right/wrong way to play the game. However, what's become alarming to me is that over the years, we've lost sight of the story and as a result appear to be aggressively phasing out one in favor of the other.
To the power gamer and some might even argue casuals, you don't typically control territory or collect quests to spread the influence of your faction’s ideology and enhance the story; you do it to win/complete the minigames and prove your skills. Guild/Tether ideology matter less and organizational culture end up getting built around a personality or friend group/clique - often with as mild and generic a philosophy as possible to keep the most appeal by not rocking the boat. But more importantly the roles of competing ideologies get changed or outright ignored in favor of taking on a mere moderator role amongst the community where "disturbing the peace and quiet" or conflict outside the minigames are considered bad form and punished. As this becomes more prevalent throughout the game, overall conflict diminishes and indirectly regulates conflict to exist almost exclusively in hard-lined mechanisms like Sect, Orrery, and Lessers.
This often fuels misunderstandings or mistrust between players OOCly. Motivations get misconstrued as "griefing" or bad faith actors because people can't fathom or see why else would anyone rock the boat? “Good/Bad" guys don't get to clash because they stand in the way of RP. In fact, they are generally encouraged to ignore each other outside of the minigames or worse issued without any real exploration of resolutions. Antagonists are ultimately ostracized and or punished first as "griefers" instead of being engaged for their role.
In literature, a conflict is a literary device characterized by a struggle between two opposing forces. Conflict provides crucial tension in any story and is used to drive the narrative forward. It is often used to reveal a deeper meaning in a narrative while highlighting characters’ motivations, values, and weaknesses. It feels like a growing portion of the community has either forgotten and or doesn't care about "playing the game" per se but more about "winning the game" despite the fact that it's intentionally impossible to "win" in this type of format.
This isn't a post to say we should or shouldn't do anything in particular as much as it's a PSA that I think more of us should discuss or at the very least be consciously aware of.
¤ Si vis pacem, para bellum. ¤
Someone powerful says, "We're going to have to delete you."