Moral as a strategy in mafia
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  1. ISO #1

    Moral as a strategy in mafia

    Many years back I had a conversation with Thingyman about some of the underlying flow of how games work in a few respects. Sense then I have questioned the morality of using some aspects where as they can be very useful 'if' they are appropriate to use as opposed to 'if' they provide an advantage. Dual meaning with the title the first that comes to mind is moral. Specifically in MMA I consider breaking your opponents will to win as an absolutely massive advantage independent of performance but is it ethical in mafia?

    In concept breaking the will of your opponents to even try to win absolutely gives massive advantage and can be done without even knowing who your opponents are. You can make players feel excluded and unwanted. Demoralizing them individually to decrease their desire to try. Making them feel excluded or like they are hopeless and there is no point in trying; (or alternatively) making them feel like they have already won so they stop putting in effort. I coined the term 'game tempo' to place this and another concept in a category of strategy but where do we draw the line between whats ok and what is not?

    I have played somewhere between 15-20 games where I made the opposing team feel so helpless they straight up surrendered. I found that in post game regardless of if I actually made my opponents helpless or if I just made them feel that way, they felt bad about the game. They often felt the game was imbalanced even if I felt the game was slanted in their favor or if they were not in as bad of shape as I made them feel they were.

    When I first started playing mafia I worked hard at getting better but at some point I started questioning if being 'good' should even be the objective of playing. Maybe the question is between the balance of fun vs winning or between how you win vs if you win but I figure its worth discussing; but maybe its really just a question of how much fun everyone has in the community playing a game.

    Where would you guys land on the subject and what other issues do you feel like cross that boundary? I could probably rattle off quite a few other concepts I struggled with this line but at the end of the day I even question where community management should land on the issue. Should we focus on individuals creating a good experience for themselves or should we focus on a larger amount of people having a good experience? Basic function of hedonism vs utilitarianism there but as an approach for moderators and community managers its an interesting concept..
    Intellectual growth comes from discussions, not arguments. If you are unwilling to change your position and hear the other persons side you are closed minded and wasting your time.
    If you can not clearly explain what the other sides reasoning is you can not disagree with their position because you do not understand it.

  2. ISO #2

    Re: Moral as a strategy in mafia

    The many > the few.

    There is no long term benefit in fostering a community that rewards and/or encourages negative individualism (to the point that it results in people not even wanting to play like in the first half of your example) in a game that's built upon positive social cohesion for longevity. Doing so creates a "community" that is churned relentlessly as people leave eventually for numerous obvious reasons. There is only so many churning until there is no one left to churn and the community is dead.

    The only type of website that can successfully pull this kind of "community" off that I can think of is 4chan (specifically /b/ and /pol/) but that is only because of the immense publicity it has gotten over the past ~20 years (user churn doesn't matter as much because there is always a new generation of edgy internet users looking for a home), and it's universally accepted amongst all users that it's normal to behave in such a way.

    There is no mafia community that I am aware of that has had this type of reputation and been for the better. Across the board this type of community is destined to fail or fade into obscurity.

    That's not to say there is no place for a more "competitive" environment that is flexible when it comes to "advanced tactics". There is always a market. I just think the market is so miniscule it's not even worth entertaining.

  3. ISO #3

    Re: Moral as a strategy in mafia

    As for your MMA comparison I don't think it's fair to compare it to FM. The method of employing these kind of tactics is vastly different.

    MMA is inherently aggressive... you are literally bashing people unconscious or breaking their bones in order to win. It's accolades are worth way more than winning a FM game. Unless you are fighting in a small circuit, you will probably never see/fight the person again. Being an asshole = more publicity = more market capitalization from people wanting to see your head get smashed = more contracts, fights, whatever it may be.. MORE shit for YOU. It's a solo venture. As long as you can fight, and win win fights you will keep fighting. Unless you do some heinous shit that clearly crosses the boundary. And in the smaller circuits where you do fight the same people regularly - if you are employing questionable tactics to get an edge I 100% believe you will find yourself having a much worse time because like in FM, nobody likes assholes.

    At the end of the day it's a game. Games are meant to be fun. If you can only have fun at the expense of ruining the fun for other people you are going to have a hard time fitting in.

  4. ISO #4

    Re: Moral as a strategy in mafia

    I didnt even know Helz was in this, who invited them? All that text and for what?
    Nothing is going to change, and no one will even listen to your reasoning. They just see this text and think. Yeah that just some text..again.
    Thinking you can come here and get in the circle lol.

    But in the end you are right. There isnt even a debate on this, your point is completly solid.
    No point in continuing this, might as well lock the thread.
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  5. ISO #5

    Re: Moral as a strategy in mafia

    I think my point was not understood. I agree intentionally hurting another’s experience is objectively bad and has no place in mafia.

    The last game I pushed the opposing team to quit was on this site and it was done mechanically. I confirmed myself as town then structured the towns actions building a POE with mech analysis that I felt was optimal. The non town felt they were in such a bad position they just quit.

    I personally don’t see MMA as any different. When you feel like your being outplayed (wether you are or not) it can kill your motivation to play. There is also a flip side to this. As scum I have worked to make town feel like they totally had the game in the bag so they would try less. These kinds of tactics are very effective imo although I do hope this clarifys what I was saying.
    Last edited by Helz; April 4th, 2024 at 01:51 AM.
    Intellectual growth comes from discussions, not arguments. If you are unwilling to change your position and hear the other persons side you are closed minded and wasting your time.
    If you can not clearly explain what the other sides reasoning is you can not disagree with their position because you do not understand it.

  6. ISO #6

    Re: Moral as a strategy in mafia

    For giggles; other questionable strats:

    Crunching other game history data to identify idiosyncratic patterns in a current game
    Breaking down sociometric patterns to identify interaction patterns in a current game
    Eliciting emotions to draw reads
    Leveraging empathy in oog claims (like your grandma is sick or w/e) for in game reasons
    Pushing false reads based on unverifiable info (like meta reads) to push a view you can’t justify
    Going ad hominem / attacking a players credibility in order to hinder them from pushing their reads
    Misrepresenting a hosts rules / statements to shift how players will play

    Off the top of my head those are some other concepts I would question if they should be acceptable. Kinda draws back to sociology where there are laws, norms, and taboos. What’s is ‘cheating’ or acting against the spirit of the game? What other behaviors have I not included that you would call out as questionable?
    Intellectual growth comes from discussions, not arguments. If you are unwilling to change your position and hear the other persons side you are closed minded and wasting your time.
    If you can not clearly explain what the other sides reasoning is you can not disagree with their position because you do not understand it.

  7. ISO #7

    Re: Moral as a strategy in mafia

    Was this a reference to the S-FM I recently hosted? I had so many complaints from both Town and Mafia side that they felt the game was unbalanced against their favors. Town thought they were in a huge disadvantage, and Mafia thought they were in a huge disadvantage. Despite being a balanced game, the mafia was very discouraged to play, ended up missing deadlines, and surrendered to town before game was actually over. It was a little hard to watch on my side. I wonder how the game would be played differently if mafia had different attitude and approach. I clearly remember both side arguing the game was not favored on their side and called bullshit to the other side after the game ended.
    Last edited by powerofdeath; April 4th, 2024 at 05:54 PM.

  8. ISO #8

    Re: Moral as a strategy in mafia

    Quote Originally Posted by powerofdeath View Post
    Was this a reference to the S-FM I recently hosted? I had so many complaints from both Town and Mafia side that they felt the game was unbalanced against their favors. Town thought they were in a huge disadvantage, and Mafia thought they were in a huge disadvantage. Despite being a balanced game, the mafia was very discouraged to play, ended up missing deadlines, and surrendered to town before game was actually over. It was a little hard to watch on my side. I wonder how the game would be played differently if mafia had different attitude and approach. I clearly remember both side arguing the game was not favored on their side and called bullshit to the other side after the game ended.
    I believe was. I thought that was a very good setup.

    Moral as a concept played a huge factor there. The only intentional play I had for moral was to not make the town feel like they had the game in the bag to prevent social loafing but I remeber both sides feeling the game was rigged against them.

    Something I have been chewing on for a while is ‘what’ makes games fun. Sometimes its an interesting question of if it’s more important for a game to be balanced or for players to feel like it’s balanced. Softly messing with the concept through some of the KRC stuffs but I would like to have a discussion on the subject at some point as to what specific mechanics or role functions equate to a positive player experience
    Intellectual growth comes from discussions, not arguments. If you are unwilling to change your position and hear the other persons side you are closed minded and wasting your time.
    If you can not clearly explain what the other sides reasoning is you can not disagree with their position because you do not understand it.

  9. ISO #9

    Re: Moral as a strategy in mafia

    Just noting I do plan to weigh in on this conversation, as I had a similar experience as PoD's once as a host. Caveat though that was more-so due to me conducting compensation for rule breaks during that game (and ever since then have been very reluctant to do compensation). But this seems like it needs contemplation and focus by me and I don't really have spare time for that in the immediate future, but when I do this seems like an interesting conversation.
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  10. ISO #10

    Re: Moral as a strategy in mafia

    Quote Originally Posted by Helz View Post
    I think my point was not understood. I agree intentionally hurting another’s experience is objectively bad and has no place in mafia.

    The last game I pushed the opposing team to quit was on this site and it was done mechanically. I confirmed myself as town then structured the towns actions building a POE with mech analysis that I felt was optimal. The non town felt they were in such a bad position they just quit.

    I personally don’t see MMA as any different. When you feel like your being outplayed (wether you are or not) it can kill your motivation to play. There is also a flip side to this. As scum I have worked to make town feel like they totally had the game in the bag so they would try less. These kinds of tactics are very effective imo although I do hope this clarifys what I was saying.
    Outplaying your opponents by simply being good is what makes the game interesting. If your opponents do not control themselves well enough to resist this, it's on them, not on you, and I would argue they are the bad sportsmen, not you. It only gets bad if you're actively trying to make your opponent's experience unfun - such as by intentionally trying to enrage them so that they'll stop playing. In this case, I believe it just falls under rulebreaking: rules exist to stop people from using "strategies" that would be optimal gameplay-wise, but that make the game not fun overall. That's why you're not supposed to knock out your opponents in soccer (very much not fun) or to grab the ball with your hands (goes against the concept); that's also why you're not supposed to communicate with people about the game outside of the game (it would be "optimal" if allowed, but we forbid it for the sake of fun and good functioning). The same reasoning applies to what basically boils down to "intentionally crossing the line as an in-game strategy".


    Regarding the other questionable strats:

    - Meta data-crunching is a simple extension of metareading, which is already considered as part of the game, and I don't think I've ever seen someone be annoyed by it.

    - "Breaking down sociometric patterns" basically just come down to knowing a group of people to see that when X does that, Y usually reacts that way, right? That's also an extension of meta. Where it becomes problematic is if it ends up being like a pre-game alliance (e.g. "red text of truth", "I swear on my children's life I'm town" when people know you would never say this dishonestly [we had a case of that years ago and agreed with the person to stop that], etc.).

    - Eliciting emotions to draw reads: This is a matter of intensity rather than a binary yes/no situation. Making someone laugh to break their guard down, making them feel threatened (in-game, obviously), making them feel unjustly misread, even making them feel like they're losing, etc. is all fine because it remains an in-game attack that cannot be reasonably considered as an attack on their actual out-of-game person by the target. Calling them retarded repeatedly to make them feel dumb (hard gaslighting) is another story, though, because it attacks the person. It's also worth noting that the line is partly situational: if someone just had a loved one die and you're pressuring them to take advantage of it, a degree of pressure that would have normally been a little heavy, but fine, can become hardly acceptable, for example. Basically, the game does not allow one to stop being a decent human being.
    Idem for empathy, ad homs, etc.

    - False reads are a dangerous, but certainly not immoral strategy. If you can make it work and it pays off, good for you; if you're doing it poorly, then you simply made a mistake lol.

    - Misrepresenting host rules/statements feels like angleshooting? You're not supposed to discuss stuff related to host statements unless it's explicitely allowed, usually, for the sake of game integrity; this boils down to my earlier example about grabbing the ball with your hands in soccer earlier.
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