Syp wrote about his experience welcoming people to LOTRO by giving items here. Meanwhile in EVE, it’s business as usual. Someone ran off with over $45,000 worth of ISK by making an investment scam. Both are linked by trust.
Syp is doing something to help newbies out. However while he is trusting them to use the items responsibly, he limits his trust by giving basic items that have little risk of being abused. Ironically, while he invokes his faith, and noticeably the Golden Rule, his faith has a more realistic take on the situation:
Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
From Luke chapter 17. MMO gift giving in its finest.
This is one of my problems with Christianity as well. Jesus didn’t just advocate treating others like how you’d want to be treated: he called for a radical break with all possessions because in the end they weren’t worth much, and could even help you slide into hell. Jesus himself in Christian theology was a lot more limited in his miracles as each were meant to be signs to his nature as opposed to gifts, but Christians don’t seem to view the teachings he did leave: a radical humanism that made men and their salvation the center and goods a shadow. That’s why we have tons of churches in every city yet they are so ineffectual in changing anything.
This goes back to trust problems. They don’t trust the givers to make good use of the gifts, and in the faith, I’d argue strongly they don’t really trust the foundations of their belief. They don’t believe in “treasures in heaven” in a real sense, so they add the trappings of faith to a normal life. In MMOs you give gifts to newbies, but you don’t expect them to make good use of it, and you don’t even expect them to stay, especially in a F2P game.
The opposite is true in the linked EVE article. That player won immense amounts of trust over years and tossed it out to gain a lot of ISK. Quite possibly enough to buy a car or more from RMT selling. EVE is the game where you simply cannot trust anyone beyond throwaway actions, and it’s why it never will amount to anything and is slowly declining into a dull PvE grind with some chaotic PvP on the side.
A sandbox gives players power. Trust is the only thing that can keep that power in line. With no trust, no one can use the power in creative ways. Courier contracts are dead in EVE because no one can trust players not to scam. You cannot trust people, so you use alts.
In Christianity, the lack of trust is not an issue because you will always be rewarded by a higher authority. The radical giving happens because people realize that the game of life is not serious at all, and what we grind will be turned off when our hard drive fails. However, even Christians don’t believe this at heart. They put the same trust in comforts as the rest of us, with the same ultimate lack of trust.
For MMOs at least, we’d do well to remember Jesus’s radical style of giving. Even more than in real life, the virtual goods we have are worthless. I know I need to take my own advice, because I’ve been burned often myself. But without that radical trust and realization this MMO world is an antechamber to more serious things, the lack of trust will just mirror real life.