The Chain World Controversy: Jia Ji Speaks

By Alec Meer on March 18th, 2011 at 8:41 am.

that's not him on the left

Chain World, the secret Minecraft game that we first posted about here, has already encountered a difference of opinion that threatens to tear it apart. On the one side, you have the supporters of Chain World’s original intentions – for the world to stay closed, relatively mysterious, and for it be passed on from player to player with reverence.

On the other side you have the second custodian of Chain World, Jia Ji, who has elected to bend the rules and, rather than simply handing the USB stick with the world on it to someone who “expresses interest”, turn it into a charity auction. With the auction to be third inhabitant of Chain World ending in a matter of hours – head over now if you want to bid – we spoke to Ji about exactly why he’s so controversially changed the project and what he intends for it next…

RPS – Tell us about yourself.

Jia Ji -Yes, I usually try to keep a relatively low profile so most people have probably never heard of me. I started off as an MMO developer in both the US and China. A Tale in the Desert is probably the only thing I’ve worked on you’ve played. I also launched an exercise gaming platform to promote senior fitness, but after that was acquired in 2008, I semi-retired from the gaming industry to do full-time charitable work (http://couchange.org). Nowadays, I only occasionally help out with gaming projects I believe in, which usually have a socially-beneficial slant like Apps For Healthy Kids or Chain World. Oh, and I’m a longtime reader of RPS and usually post under my WoW character name of Zoetrope.

RPS – So how’s being the second custodian of Chain World playing out? It’s got a whole lot of profile for something that started so small.

Jia Ji – It’s been interesting and unexpected. Before we set up the charity auction and ChainWorld.org, our main worry was if people would actually use the site and if we’d get any bids outside our circle of friends. And now we’re on the frontpage of RPS, so I guess we’ve hit the big time :) It really does feel like being a custodian, or perhaps more accurately, a janitor. I’ve mainly been trying to clean up messes and put out fires. I prefer the title, FlashDrive-Bearer of the Sacred Chain World though…

RPS – How do you feel about the criticism about what you’ve done with it? Do you sympathise?

I totally sympathize with the criticism and appreciate people bringing up valid concerns about the meaning/intent of Chain World, suggested commandments, and generally adding more drama to make the meta-game more interesting. However, what I don’t appreciate is personal attacks, especially those directed at my friends and colleagues who are merely trying to support creative gameplay and charitable works. Any vitriol about the charity auction should be directed solely at me, but please try to keep your death threats and insults creative and humorous, not creepy and offensive (http://chainworld.swio.ws/?page_id=2#comment-69).

RPS – Any plans to adjust your plans for it in the wake of what’s been said? And do you think McGonigal and Wright will play ball if it does end up with them?

Jia Ji – Plans will be adjusted, I have a habit of being accommodating, but it’s impossible to please everyone. Volunteers are aggregating the discussions at ChainWorld.org and the @ChainWorld twitter account, so I’m reading through all the commentary nightly. I even read the translated non-english commentary and listened to the first podcast about the situation last night, so we’re trying our best to make sure everyone’s opinion is heard. So far, the best suggestions I’ve heard are:

1. Donate to the tsunami relief efforts. Which we will be doing with all proceeds in excess of $1000 (the amount we need to run the annual children’s hospital fundraiser), so please continue bidding here, currently only halfway to our goal.

2. Schism Chain World into at least two copies/sects, one being the orthodox free-for-all advocated by Darius and the other being the cause-oriented charitable version proposed by myself.

3. Destroy Chain World, as devilishly advocated by Jonathon Myer. If he wins the auction, I offered to personally take a trek up the nearby active volcano and toss it into the crack of doom like any good FlashDrive-Bearer would do.

4. Create a hidden physical shrine for the original Flash Drive in an isolated area with guardians for intrepid Indiana-Jones/Lara-Croft/Nathan-Drake wannabes to track down. The is actually more feasible than it sounds since I’m currently interacting with off-the-grid jungle communities. I’m reluctant to get any more detailed or commit to a specific plan because another suggestion I like is to be intentionally vague/mysterious and even go so far as to propagate false rumors/myths. As for Jane and Will, I’m pretty sure they’ll play Chain World if it’s sent to them and do something great for their preferred charity. That’s another thing I didn’t understand about the protests, why wouldn’t you want to play a design game with amazingly skilled designers? It’s like if people complained about the opportunity to play music with Mozart or paint with Picasso.

RPS – You seem fairly interested in breaking the original Chain World rules/concepts, or at least bending them: why is that?

Jia Ji – Rules were made to be broken or at least challenged, stretched, adapted, and built upon. How else do we make progress and leave our mark upon the world? I think that’s the part of Jason’s presentation at GDC that spoke to me personally. I loved the story about his grandfather and the legacy he left on his small Ohio town that arguably made it much better. Being also from the Rustbelt (Pittsburgh), I can appreciate that Midwestern stubbornness.

RPS – Have you stuck to/will you stick to Jason’s original rules?

Jia Ji – I’m trying to follow the spirit of Jason’s commandments, but perhaps not to the letter. Obviously, it’s hard to accurately interpret somebody’s will and intention (a challenge many religions have had), so ultimately I will be judged by future generations of players. I think most of the drama around Chain World comes from people tossing out judgement early since we’ve tried to be very transparent and communicative about the process.

RPS – Is this becoming, as intended, like a religion?

Jia Ji – It’s getting increasingly more religious, as many people have already written about, so Jason should consider it as success. However, some of us are trying to keep the holy wars on a low simmer, which is probably not what real religious leaders would do. However, we are trying to keep Chain World partially focused on doing good works in the real world, which is basis for many world religions.

RPS – Can you reconcile what you’ve done and what you intend with that concept?

Jia Ji – One thing I find amazing is how consistently people have been acting according to their own personal beliefs. Besides a handful of people trolling because they like internet drama, I think the vast majority are being entirely sincere. We’re not roleplaying a religious schism, we are having real disagreements about the future of an artifact some people ascribe much value to and the legacy of a set of beliefs and rituals. I’m pretty sure if you polled most of the people involved about what they think of their actions, they would have little or no regrets.

RPS – What do you see as being the likely future of Chain World?

Jia Ji – I’ve done my best to make sure it doesn’t drift into obscurity, escape just the indie game development community, and hopefully do some good work along the way. Other than that, I can’t say. After it leaves my hands, I have hardly any influence.

RPS – Obviously you cannot tell us anything about the current state of the in-game world (and I suspect doing so couldn’t live up to our imaginations anyway), but does it feel distinct from being simply a game of Minecraft that no-one else can see? Is there some degree of otherness to it?

Jia Ji – No comment, I’m still holding to the 8th commandment.

RPS – You offered RPS a copy of Chain World. Why?

Jia Ji – It’s not against any of the commandments and I really wanted you guys to make another joke about Quinn’s lack of iron…

RPS – Those jokes are, we can assure you, inevitable anyway. Thanks for your time.

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95 Comments »

  1. Stijn says:

    Create a hidden physical shrine for the original Flash Drive in an isolated area with guardians for intrepid Indiana-Jones/Lara-Croft/Nathan-Drake wannabes to track down. The is actually more feasible than it sounds since I’m currently interacting with off-the-grid jungle communities.

    Oh my.

    • Jhoosier says:

      As long as they keep it in a Ziploc it should be ok. The last thing you want is some hunter-gatherer using it to sharpen their arrowheads.

    • Mattressi says:

      Well, so long as they show an interest in it and don’t talk to anyone about what’s on it, there’s no way a hunter-gatherer using it for an arrowhead would break the rules.

    • Fuu says:

      “As long as they keep it in a Ziploc it should be ok.”

      Surely you would keep it in an ark…

  2. rei says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with that. Just because something was one way at one point doesn’t mean it always has to be. I guess the internet is full of rules lawyers, but where the hell is the fun in things that just go according to plans?

  3. bill says:

    He should probably be less accommodating and reasonable if he wants to be a religious leader.
    PS/ If you want to help in Japan, maybe speed is of the essence, so give direct. http://www.redcross.org

  4. drewski says:

    You guys could probably make a pretty fun ChainMinecraft game without really needing to have the official ChainWorld software.

    Anyway, I’m going to treat this the way it is intended to be treated; that is, apparently, like a religion.

    I’m going to ignore it.

  5. FreakyZoid says:

    The secret Minecraft game appears to have split the internet in two

    Actually, there’s a third side. The people who think that the world of game literati jumped the shark when anyone started to think this was an issue or a real controversy.

    • TomSmizzle says:

      If “I don’t care” counts as a side then every argument has an extra side, that’s a ridiculous thing to say.

    • FreakyZoid says:

      It’s not “I don’t care”. It’s “christ, is this really the best thing you can find to have a big argument over? I thought GDC was meant to be for game developers to talk about game development?”

    • AndrewC says:

      Think of this whole thing as a discussion about ‘what is game?’ and ‘where does the game end?’ and so on. If you are offended by such discussions, may I suggest a manshoot game? It will make you happy. I only want you to be happy.

    • FreakyZoid says:

      But it’s just people stamping their feet and shouting “no no no, you’re playing it wrong, it’s meant to be about religion and you’re making it about fame and money” (which is sort of ironic anyway). The head-in-the-clouds version of complaining about the AWP in CounterStrike.

      Time to go back to making my manshoot games I guess. These guys are just too clever with their gamey thinking for me.

    • Recidivist says:

      [Make your point without screaming abuse or begone. - RPS]

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Except that this controversy isn’t answering anything about “what is game ?”.

      As it’s taken a subject of controversy, it speaks about what and who gravitates around a specific item, and therefore the game in itself isn’t at the core of the debate. You could replace the game with virtually any object in the world, you’d end up with the same arguments.

      The rules spawned the controversy and the fact that’s it’s a game (and minecraft, to an extent) created enough interested and incentives to create the buzz in the internet gaming community.

      While the original concept could be viewed as interesting from a gameplay point of view, people should really stop trying to make it fit with intellectual concepts that are completely foreign to the discussion.

    • bwion says:

      “I don’t care” absolutely counts as a side. As does “I want everyone to know how much I don’t care.”

      Not, er, that I care.

    • Urthman says:

      The idea that anyone is interested in this beyond the little group of people actually passing around their game is baffling to me too.

      Is it because “celebrities” (McGonigal and Wright) are involved? Is this like “OMG I heard that Brad Pitt and George Clooney totally played Boom Blox together in their trailer!”

    • Alec Meer says:

      Personally, I care because it’s a real-time, public game design discussion/debate between strong personalities. What should/shouldn’t this video game be? Granted an awful lot of abstraction from simply ‘game design’ is involved in the singular case of Chain World, but even so it’s not something the watching public often gets to witness, let alone potentially have a say in.

    • shoptroll says:

      It’s a little amusing that two of the biggest controversies coming out of GDC this year are Chain World and the story of the guy who “won” the social game at the Developer’s Rant this year. Both ultimately are stories of rules interpretations and the usual debates that go along with them.

      To be honest, I’m still not totally sure why everyone is all up in arms about this. The original game concept is interesting (yet derivative of a long standing Internet tradition) but people are acting like there’s only ever going to be one Chain World.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      A miserable little pile of secrets.

  6. treat says:

    While I’m fully supportive of any philanthropic ends this project could be the means to, I’m still very disappointed to see how Haiti is losing out–even over a year later–to a nation with an exponentially larger GDP. Attention is bound to media outlets, however, so I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised. While both circumstances are equally saddening (I’m absolutely sure I have some sort of tsunami-phobia with the continuous nightmares I’ve experienced following the catastrophe, and even the morning of, simply due to waking up to NPR) I believe priorities ought to be arranged according to the greatest possible good.

    Either way, I’m astoundingly glad that this project has met as much strife to propel it in the direction of relief aid, and I’m proud to be among the ranks of these types of gamers when issues such as these arise.

    • Oozo says:

      “Attention is bound to media outlets, however, so I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised.”

      Proven just again in the last two weeks. While I don’t want to downplay the horrific tragedy that happened in Japan, the fact that people are now sending their money that way while more or less completely ignoring the situation in Northern Africa, where the money might be as much or even more needed, is telling.

      (Btw, it’s not only saying me so, there are big charity organisations saying the exact same thing.)

    • drewski says:

      Haiti doesn’t have any nuclear reactors for the international media to scaremonger about.

    • Maykael says:

      Excuse me, but how exactly is Haiti losing out over Japan? What is this, worst natural disaster competition? Relief efforts are still on-going in Haiti, even if quite slow because of the lack of experience of the local government. The US and UN are very much present in Haiti right now, still helping to get those poor people back on their feet again. Also, from Wikipedia: “On 15 January 2011, the Catholic Relief Services announced a US$200 million, five-year relief and reconstruction program that covers shelter, health, livelihoods, and child protection among its program areas.”

      The Japan disaster is quite recent, so it’s normal to be on news more than Haiti. With that out of the way, I have to say that I don’t get why countries with high GDP don’t deserve aid in times of crisis. It’s a terrible situation with babies left without parent, tens of thousands of people left without anything (exactly like in Haiti and deserving the same help and attention from the international community). Are we going to discriminate between orphan babies based on the GDP of their country of origin? Really? Also bear in mind that Japan has not really asked for money specifically, but for cooling equipment for the plant and for rescue teams to search through the remains of the settlements affected by that fucking tsunami. However, all of this is going to cost money and I’m sure that no matter how big is Japan’s GDP, our donations are going to help.

      It may help to know that having a high GDP does not mean that you automatically have money to deal with disasters, it just means that in normal conditions the quality of services provided by the state is better. Rebuilding whole cities is going to necessitate help from the outside.

      Also, Fukushima is a nuclear disaster. I agree that the media is scaring people absurdly, but we don’t need to downplay that grave danger that those who live around that plant are in.

      Regarding Northern Africa, we don’t need to send money there yet, we (I’m talking about Europe here) need to open our fucking borders for the refugees and stop it with the immigration scaremongering. Immigrants do not threaten our way of life or our security. Those people need to get out of their country and be safe while the political situation gets resolved and we have a government that we can trust will not deter or misuse our aid.

      PS: There is no possible way in which you can put forward a notion of “greatest possible good” that makes sense.

    • drewski says:

      A “disaster” is 10,000 people being killed, 650,000 people being displaced, hundreds of thousands of people being in desperate need of food, clean water and shelter, hundreds of thousands more having lost absolutely everything in their lives and tens of thousands of further lives being threatened by near zero temperatures without access to power or heating.

      A “disaster” is not some nuclear fuel getting a bit hot and releasing a little radiation. Chernobyl was a disaster – this is not Chernobyl. It is not a disaster. It is a serious accident, yes, but even in the worst case scenario – which is highly remote – it is unlikely anyone will die, or a large area of populated land will be contaminated.

      The most at threat region around the plant has already been destroyed by the tsunami. Places like Tokyo are under no threat whatsoever.

  7. phlebas says:

    Jia version seems a lot less interesting than the original concept – nothing against wanting to do something for charity, and it’s up to him how he decides who gets it after him, but the relinquishing of control and passing on the drive was important. Changing the rule to ‘whoever’s prepared to pay most gets next turn and then has to give it back so I can choose who goes next’ loses that.

    • rei says:

      Nothing stops the next person who gets the drive from changing the rules back to the original version.

    • JFS says:

      And I sure hope they do. It’s like some sort of sports match, with a type of sport you don’t know the rules or anything, but still root for one of the teams to win, simply because it’s more fun that way. Which goes to prove the importanceness of foot-to-ball and it’s near religious status. We didn’t need some nerd developers to tell us how games can become a religion (at least the “we” who live in the Old World ;).

    • Navagon says:

      But then if it follows the original intentions of it being like a religion then the rules will only become further abstracted as time goes on.

  8. Kdansky says:

    You know what I would want: If someone had the resources to set up a server where you can connect with Minecraft, and you get a single world to play in which has been played in before. When you quit, you can never get into that world again, but will go to another one. In every world, there will only ever be a single person.

    Essentially the same thing, except automated and not expensive.

  9. Handsome Dead says:

    So what, is chain world like a minecraft version of those DF succession games but for twats who want to feel like special snowflakes?

    • Oozo says:

      Essentially, no, it’s not. As argumented by different people in the comment thread of that article. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/03/15/the-cult-of-minecraft-chain-world/
      (There are people claiming the opposite, obviously, but if you’re asking this out of honest interest and not only to show a “Who Gives A Damn”-attidue, which you propably aren’t, you’ll find some opinions there maybe worth considering.)

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Yeah, it pretty much is.

      It’s something that should (and will) have no effect whatsoever on anyone who isn’t involved. This is essentially “We made a secret clubhouse, and only a couple people can play, and YOU’RE not allowed!”

      Now some guy is selling his key to the Super Special Secret Clubhouse for charity, and fits are being thrown.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Yes, but I do feel bringing the concept of a succession game to Minecraft is laudable in itself. It could easily be an official game mode. With a map size limit the main Minecraft servers themselves could probably handle occasionally receiving your world file and bunging you someone else’s.

    • Oozo says:

      Edit: Ah, I take back what I had just posted. Won’t lead us anywhere.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      That’s actually a fair point. I suppose I’ll drop the subject.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      MikoSquiz: That’s already easily possible by communicating through a forum (or the like) and just passing around the latest version of the world when you’re done. Just like with Dwarf Fortress, if I’m not mistaken.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Yes, except for the “twat” part which suggests there’s something wrong with making a game that makes some players feel like special snowflakes. A lot of MMORPG game design, for example, is about making some players feel special by giving them access to special items or mounts. This is just a fairly interesting new kind of specialness–if the game itself is special and somewhat underground.

      Most close circles of friends probably have some “in-jokes” or other lore that they keep to themselves, Chain World seems to fit that concept better than it fits the religion metaphor, which is essentially broken at this point. Are there any religions that let me win an auction for the right to become the sole follower of a faith with at most one adherent at any given time? I get that the religion metaphor was a constraint of the original design competition, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most revealing way to interpret it now.

    • X_kot says:

      I agree – this system seems more like a lottery than a religion. To begin with, I had a near-zero chance of ever getting to take part in this experiment. With the addition of an auction, it drops to absolute-zero. Either way, there is little opportunity for this design to spread like a religion.

      Here’s my envisioning of this project: Rohrer plays a random game of Minecraft, dies, then wipes his existence from the game and leaves the world intact (per his original plan). Then he creates several “disciple” copies to distribute to people, who would then create additional copies of their game and pass them on. This would help distribute the experience and remove the cliquish atmosphere. I would also suggest another alteration of his plan: allow those who have played to talk to one another, but they could not speak of it to non-players. This would build a community that could share interpretations, and it would inspire others to play. Such a scheme would still be exclusive; however, there would be much greater absorbtion of outsiders than the present plan.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Hmm-Hmm: Yes, but I’d like it to be integrated into Minecraft itself so’s not to be a faff.

  10. Tei says:

    Yea, but who is Justin Richards?

  11. Hoaxfish says:

    In an attempt to out-pretentious each other, one of the players built a small hole to live in, and sealed it up… since there was essentially nothing in Minecraft that could kill him in this state, nobody else will ever get to play it ever again.

    Claims that this is against the spirit of Chainworld have been ignored, with the player claiming “I’m a religious mountain hermit, and those are my juniper bushes”

  12. Jia Ji says:

    Wow, Tei’s the first person who’s actually done extensive background research. Justin Richards is my friend who set up the ChainWorld.org site, which I think currently just redirects to a subdomain on his personal server. He’s a just a nice guy who didn’t expect his server to get such a workout from the internet drama traffic.

    • Tei says:

      I hope you do good of the John Rohrer experiment. If you understands the idea, you are half-way there.
      Good luck!.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      That is Tei.
      His sayings make sense after your own research into his sayings.

  13. Javier-de-Ass says:

    what is this exactly, a minecraft savegame?

    • jonfitt says:

      Pretty much. As far as I can tell a batch file copies the save from the flash drive and launches Minecraft. Then when Minecraft exits it copies it back to the flash drive.
      There’s possibly something there to only copy it when the player dies, but possibly not.

  14. Gap Gen says:

    So, what, the Ji-ites and the Junnis*?

    *Work with me here.

    • Gaytard Fondue says:

      Not funny

      at all

    • rivalin says:

      ha ha ha ha ha

      so funny

    • Temple to Tei says:

      I want to add a third sect. Something like Jaffas…

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Jaffas? Like, Jaffa cakes? I’ve heard of those wonderous treats. The reason they’ve not been imported to the US is obvious, though.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      The Jaffas of course split into two camps, those who believe they are biscuits and those who believe they are cakes (oh, and a third hippy camp who think its not important and can’t we all just get along)

  15. Muzman says:

    About the only way it seems this would have worked is if they passed it through a good number of people before telling anyone else about it. And mostly you didn’t know who these people were (except maybe the first guy). Then at least it’s got some substance slightly more worthy of being a ‘Get me into Wired’ wank fest.

    You could even make up bullshit stories like Ray Kurzweil not only played it, he moved in.

    Too late now.

  16. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Bloody hell. McGonigal is almost as effing ubiquitous as Brian “stands atop mountain proudly” Cox

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Except I’ve heard of Brian Cox.

    • drewski says:

      Whenever I read McGonigal the only thing I can think of is McGarnagle from The Simpsons.

    • phlebas says:

      It seems the poet McGonagall did actually write some Minecraft tips:

      Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
      I must now conclude my lay
      By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
      That your central girders would not have given way,
      At least many sensible men do say,
      Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
      At least many sensible men confesses,
      For the stronger we our houses do build,
      The less chance we have of being killed.

    • Edawan says:

      Except I’ve never heard of Brian Cox.

    • Unaco says:

      “Except I’ve never heard of Brian Cox.”

      Yes, you have.

    • tomdavidson says:

      I swear, it’s getting to the point that when I see Jane McGonigal mentioned in any way in relation to a project, even peripherally, I just assume it’s some kind of pointless, self-aggrandizing stunt.

    • Edawan says:

      @Unaco
      I assure you, I’d never heard of him.

    • Urthman says:

      “Except I’ve never heard of Brian Cox.”

      Yes, you have.

      I’d actually never heard, heard of, or seen that guy before clicking on your link. Wikipedia could tell me why he’s famous if you’d tell me which of the four with articles about them you’re referring to.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      To be fair he’s only ubiquitous if you live in the UK and watch the BBC, where there currently seems to be no show he won’t go on. He’s basically a media darling in physics and science programming. The US will probably be treated to its own remanufactured version pretty soon, so watch out for massively over-produced CG shots of the solar system and a man looking proud atop a mountain. Then a glacier. Then a lava flow. He’s a pretty cool guy, he’s just an annoyingly successful ba*tard.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      “I swear, it’s getting to the point that when I see Jane McGonigal mentioned in any way in relation to a project, even peripherally, I just assume it’s some kind of pointless, self-aggrandizing stunt”

      Ah I dont know, there must be a good reason why she is in that photo above. I’m sure they just needed a light coloured background to photograph the flash drive against, and Jane happened to have a copy of her book handy. As well as her body. And face.

    • Gabe McGrath says:

      I first heard of Jane McGonigal when I watched her TED talk a while ago, about ‘using game theory to make the real world better’. She had some interesting things to say, and spoke well. I was impressed.

      But this is one of two recent events where I’ve been disappointed in Jane’s actions. Firstly the ‘collect the plastic coins’ challenge at GDC, where a much lesser-known blogger used some shady – but creative – social engineering to beat her. Jane still collected the ‘prize’ of being allowed to address the crowd at length.

      And now, this ChainWorld thing.

      Without going into the specifics of each case, I feel each was an opportunity for Jane to say “Hey, I’ve been able to put my message across at many events, and have expereiences that other game enthusiasts will never have. I’ll happily ‘pass’ on this – and allow someone else to have this prize/experience”.

      Yes, Jane has the right to do ‘whatever she wants’ with a prize. I’m just disappointed with her choices.

      Oh, and responding to critics with “You are seriously upset about raising money for sick kids?” is a distraction. Making another choice could have been cost neutral, or even raise more money for charity.

    • steviesteveo says:

      “Ah I dont know, there must be a good reason why she is in that photo above. I’m sure they just needed a light coloured background to photograph the flash drive against, and Jane happened to have a copy of her book handy. As well as her body. And face.”

      I don’t know her but she does strike me as the kind of person who always has at least one copy of their book handy.

  17. Unaco says:

    I guess there’s nothing wrong with this… as long as, when the winner of the auction receives it and decides to change the rules, that is also OK. When they auction it on E-bay for their personal charity, put it in a bottle and throw it in the sea, send it to Bill Gates/Colonel Ghaddafi/Jason Rohrer, throw it in a fire, leave it in the bathroom of a trans-atlantic flight, play it and blog about the whole thing, or just keep it and keep playing it forever, and ever, and ever… that’ll be progress, right?

  18. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    What confuses me is how people are trying to draw lines to religion. It seems a little far-fetched to me (and pretentious). Otherwise it’s an interesting idea.

    • sebmojo says:

      The whole thing came from a ‘make a game into a religion’ project. It’s about the way we imbue mundane objects with numinous qualities. The essence of religion. Can’t you see that?

    • Urthman says:

      Any time someone says “x is the essence of religion” I guarantee you they’ve got a very narrow, ethnocentric view of what religion is.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      Well I say it is about secrets and only the initiated seeing and ‘understanding’ those secrets.
      Different viewpoint! Schism! War! Let’s do this!
      Iconoclasts to the left, idolotars to the right. Trolls in the middle of course.

    • Consumatopia says:

      As a solution to the task “make a game like a religion”, this is about as good as anything I’d expect to find.

      But outside that task, the metaphor doesn’t make sense. All of the “religion-like” things that people are mentioning (secrets! elites! disagreements! charity auctions! mundane objects imbued with numinous qualities!) are both absent from some religions while present in many non-religious institutions.

  19. sonofsanta says:

    But to be fair, $3,300 for charity is bloody good work.

    • steviesteveo says:

      Absolutely. I may think the whole religion-game thing’s pretty silly but that’s an excellent fundraiser nonetheless.

  20. Deano2099 says:

    Kind of feel sorry for Ji as he’s clearly putting so much effort in to this it’s going to be funny when the person who wins the Ebay auction just ignores him entirely.

    I do wonder how long until someone sells on the chance to be the next player in a non-charitable way though. Or backs a charity that’s not exactly universally loved.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      What, like NAMBLA?

      Hee hee hee…

      Now I feel a bit ashamed.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Don’t worry, crossed my mind when I wrote that first post too to be honest.

  21. jonfitt says:

    Storm in a flash drive:

    For those people who fear the potential burning teacup storms could bring.

  22. Ubik2000 says:

    What’s the likelihood that Jia is actually going to send out the original flashdrive to the winner? And is he going to get some sort of guarantee that the winner is going to follow HIS “commandments” better than Jia himself followed the originals? Seems like a big chance to take, since I don’t think instructions in an ebay auction are legally binding. And while obviously Jia has plenty of copies he can (and, it seems, will) hand out, surely any “religious” significance is linked to the original flashdrive.
    You know, I’m rereading what I just wrote, and the more I think about this debate, the more interesting I’m finding it. I doubt this is an original observation (I’m only reading about it here), but it seems like its about control. Jia decided (and I say this with no condemnation) that the original idea was too anarchic, and so has tried to govern things by making lists and setting up a structure around it (with charitable intentions). Some people are reacting viscerally to that, and I’m wondering if that is because they are reacting to that imposition of a control structure. It really does mirror the evolution of actual religions, where someone at some point eventually decides, right, enough of this nonsense, we need some order around here. It’s just funny how quickly that happened.
    Of course, mailing off the entire religion to a random ebay winner is pretty much surrendering control entirely, so I’m actually quite interested to see what happens next.

    Edit: I don’t mean to impugn Jia’s honesty by suggesting that he won’t send out the original, I’m sure he will. It’s just that, having set up this structure, he seems to be taking a risk that the winner (and all subsequent auction winners!) are aligned to his view point. Just reading this thread, that seems unlikely.

  23. Robin says:

    “why wouldn’t you want to play a design game with amazingly skilled designers?”

    Because the ENTIRE CUNTING POINT OF THE GAME is that each member of the chain decides for themselves where it goes next.

    Giving the game to someone that the next bearer (not Jia Ji) believes has the required practical skills, creativity and unpredictability to extend the game world in an interesting way for their inheritors is valid. Demanding that it is given to a self-help quack whose main credentials are a seemingly bottomless PR budget is unacceptable. Will Wright I have less of an issue with (even if he’s done little but turn the handle on a money printer for EA for the last decade), but Minecraft itself and the most interesting things that have been done with it (and other UGC games) haven’t come out of the establishment – why should they get a free pass? I doubt he has the time to spare anyway.

    Ooh it doesn’t half wind me up.

  24. Yanko says:

    This pretty much sums it up to me:

    “I prefer the title, FlashDrive-Bearer of the Sacred Chain World though…”

  25. lowprices says:

    What astonishes me is how angry people are getting about this. Is it really that important whether or not a select few get to play around in their own little Secret Boys Club? A Secret Boys Club in which 99% of the people responding will never get to see or touch?

    What any piece of creative media is depends largely on how it’s recieved. In this case, Rohrer’s original idea is being changed, and whoever gets it next will probably do something different to what Ji intends. Meanwhile, life goes on, the vast majority of the world unaware and uninterested in Chain World.

    Although Rohrer can probably take solace in the fact that, between his “You do not talk about Chain World” secrecy and Ji’s grandstanding philanthropy, they’ve created armies of morons ready to argue the death (or forum ban, at least) over every detail involved.

    You hear that Jason? You HAVE created a religion. Because there weren’t enough of those things already…

  26. trjp says:

    It’s things like this which remind me why I preferred games before they started to pretend to be ‘art’.

    Art – y’see – is a world filled with pretentious pricks. For every amazing piece of art there’s a pile of people who paint a bicycle in monkey gizzards and stick antlers on it.

    This is the gaming version of that.

  27. RegisteredUser says:

    It’s yet another sad day for humanity when people WANT to create more/new religions.
    I guess we don’t learn.