I’ve been playing Clash of Kingdoms and it has gotten me thinking about Loyalty.
In Clash of Kingdoms every player starts in one of six kingdoms. Over the course of the game the kingdoms fight for control of the various cities on the map and try to wipe each other out. Starting all players in a kingdom that has a good chance of winning the game is a great game element and something that’s pretty unique to the genre so far. However, it also bring up questions of Loyalty. The game gives each player 3 chances to “Betray” their kingdom and join a different one. Surely this is a tempting offer, especially when my current kingdom, Tao, is quite far behind. However, there is a sense of loyalty that keeps me fighting the good fight. Tao for life! There is a stigma attached to mutineers, but I am wondering why this is.
When first choosing a side in Clash of Kingdoms, the player is given very little information. There is a very brief description of the real-life Chinese province the kingdom is supposed to represent, the location of the kingdom on the map, and then there are two in-game values, “Resource Output” and “Recruit Speed”, and there’s only a 5% difference in the various values. With so little information, it’s safe to say that the player is going in blind and the kingdom he chooses is quite random. In fact, “Random” is actually a choice.
So then, after a week of game play and discovering that his team sucks, why wouldn’t a player decide to jump ship to one of the stronger kingdoms? Mostly this is because of loyalty. But are we bound by loyalty, even to strangers in an online strategy game? Does this work in the real world?
Of course it works in sports. If you support Arsenal, you have to support them even when they don’t win the championship. You can’t suddenly decide to support Manchester because they’re having a few good years.
I also watched “Scent of a Woman” recently. In this film the main character, Charles, witnesses some classmates set up a vandalism prank and has to decide to accept a bribe to rat them out, or stay silent and be expelled. The film suggests, and probably most of us feel, that the noble path, the path of integrity, is for Charles to hold his tongue. Certainly this makes sense if these classmates were his friends, but the film describes that they were not; they just happened to attend the same school; they just happened to be in the Tao kingdom. Nevertheless, we must be loyal.
But how far does that loyalty go? In the film, the classmates splattered paint on a car owned by the school. Sure, it was a prank, but what if it was worse? If the classmates had stolen something, is Charles still bound to be loyal to these acquantences? If they had killed someone? Lord knows if I saw some random classmates kill someone, I’d call the bloody cops. At the same time, I know that even if the other kingdoms conquer all our other cities and have Gaung-ling surrounded, I will proudly die a loyal member of Tao.