In the last few days, the Illyriad forums have been full of rumors of war – or at least, hinting at wars – and the same subjects have been cropping up on Global Chat, and (no doubt) in Alliance Forums.
Now, the wonderful thing about these wars, is that both seem to have a similar cause. They aren’t fought over land, or ego, or gold. Both started because it was felt that new players were being picked on. Two new players were attacked, they asked for aid, and people leaped to their defense: in one case it is an alliance backing one of its small members; in the other case it is a non-aligned player receiving support from two larger alliances. Now, in my opinion, that is wonderful: I am unaware of any other strategy game where the community rallies around defenseless newcomers to the world, and I applaud it.
But there is a cause for caution here, too.
What is less wonderful about this is peoples’ readiness to leap to an extreme conclusion, based on a small amount of information, and to then begin a spiral of escalating repercussions. So, a player from Alliance X has attacked Player Y – and a few people start baying that Alliance X’s members are all evil bullies and should be attacked in response. Player Z leaps to the victim’s defense, and then lots of people in Alliance X are saying that Player Z attacked them and suggesting that they might launch counter-attacks on Player Z’s allies. This is bad, bad, bad! These people are not involved, doubtless do not know the whole story (I’m sure I don’t!) and yet are ready to escalate the whole thing to a point where lots of innocent players will suffer! And worse, once people have proclaimed their (largely ignorant) opinions, they then feel they should stand by their stated opinions.
This is one of the less attractive parts of human nature. The human tendency to divide the world into “them” and “us”, to assume that “us” is always the wronged party and “them” is always at fault, and then the desire to strike back against “them” after a perceived injustice… this gets people (and nations) into a lot of trouble in the real world, and it can be seen at work in Illyriad as well.
The moral of the story?
In Illyriad, as in life, it is as well to remember that there is more that you do not know, than there is that you do know. Keep that in mind, and you can prevent your righteous indignation (or any other opinion) leading you into over-reactions.