Ethics: Type-2 Metagaming

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Post Post #0  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 10:57 am

(I hope Mith doesn't mind me starting this. It came up in the other thread.)

Normally, players are assumed to maximize their probability of winning in the current game. This goal conflicts with other possible goals, such as punishing or rewarding players for certain types of behavior, or establishing a pattern of one's own behavior to refer to in future games. Pursuing these other goals at the expense of winning in the current game is called "metagaming".

An example of metagaming is the "Lynch All Liars" rule.

Assume someone was caught in a lie. Assume you're an innocent townie, and for whatever reason, you think the liar was probably also an innocent townie. Lynching him may cost the town the game. However, lynching him will also dissuade future townie lies.

What's the ethical thing to do here?

I'm going to take an unpopular opinion and say Lynch All Liars is bad, and metagaming is bad in general. You have a duty toward your fellow players to maximize your team's chances of winning in the game you are currently in. If you're interested in modifying people's behavior in future games, in-game mechanisms like lynching are not a legitimate way to do so. The only legitimate way to change people's behavior in future games is by convincing them your way is better. (Maybe we should make all new players read a list of the top ten dumb newbie mistakes, for example.) (Obviously, you'd still lynch most liars, because most liars are scum.)

I'm not sure, though. I just changed my mind on this. Thoughts?

[title edited to reflect that this is only one of two types of metagaming mentioned here]
Last edited by Fiasco on Wed May 24, 2006 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Post #1  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 11:07 am

I'm not totally sure about this one, but I'd say that Lynch All Liars is actually a good way to do things. As you pointed out, most liars are in fact vile deceitful scum, and getting rid of them is a Good Thing from the town's point of view. In addition, even a pro-town role can work against the town if they've lied about something; whatever they say in the future (in that game) will be taken with a weighted amount of skepticism, and that little bit of distrust could easily give the scum a wedge to work their way in. The only scenario where I'd be suspicious of the logic I just put forward is at Lynch or Lose, and in that case, you're probably already in too deep.
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Post Post #2  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 11:14 am

Some good points. From the "maximize my team's chance of winning" point of view, the following are all legitimate reasons to lynch liars:

* Liars are more likely to be scum.
* Liars are more likely to be bad players (if they're protown).
* Liars are less likely to be trusted during the remainder of the game (if they're protown).
* Lynching liars will deter future protown lies in the same game.

I don't think those reasons are always strong enough, though, so I'd modify it to "Lynch Almost All Liars".

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Post Post #3  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 11:45 am

You forget to ask the question, "Why are most liars scum?" - this is a result of the LAL mechanism.

Say I'm in a C9 newbie, I'm vanilla, and I'm being bandwagoned Day 1. What do I claim? In a LAL universe, I'd almost certainly claim vanilla, and continue to try to talk my way out of it. In a non-LAL universe, I might choose a different action - fake-claiming gives me a 50% chance of no counterclaim, so improves the towns' odds, if people believe me. If they don't, I can explain why it was a legitimate pro-town action for a pro-town player, and then what?

The LAL is to discourage such behaviour which otherwise, I think, could easily slip into being standard practise (with WIFOM variations, naturally).

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Post Post #4  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 11:57 am

If in a non-LAL universe, it's good play for a townie to fakeclaim cop/doc, why is that something you'd want to discourage? If in a non-LAL universe, it's bad play for a townie to fakeclaim cop/doc, why not convince people of that by arguing? Is it really fair to put your teammates at a disadvantage because of your personal preferences about behavior in future games? I'm not convinced at all.
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Post Post #5  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 12:20 pm

Fiasco wrote:(I hope Mith doesn't mind me starting this. It came up in the other thread.)


He asked us to start topics that we thought were worth discussing, so if he minds, it's his own damn fault. ;)

Normally, players are assumed to maximize their probability of winning in the current game. This goal conflicts with other possible goals, such as punishing or rewarding players for certain types of behavior, or establishing a pattern of one's own behavior to refer to in future games. Pursuing these other goals at the expense of winning in the current game is called "metagaming".


I disagree with this definition and characterization of metagaming. I'll spend more time on this later (after work, if my HoneyDo list isn't too big.)

An example of metagaming is the "Lynch All Liars" rule.


Lynch All Liars is more than just a meta game ploy, but one of it's big reasons for use is that it is one.

Assume someone was caught in a lie. Assume you're an innocent townie, and for whatever reason, you think the liar was probably also an innocent townie. Lynching him may cost the town the game. However, lynching him will also dissuade future townie lies.

What's the ethical thing to do here?


WHY do you think he was an innocent townie? LAL is a mindset to help you deal with this situation. In games, I assume all players will play to the best of their ability and that their ability is comparable to my own. It keeps me from making silly moves in the hopes of trapping a weaker player, since I don't want to rely on things like that. With that assumption, you have to assume that the other player is using your hesitation against you and therefore, is probably scum.

You are assuming that the player is stupid. "Stupid or scum" was a common phrase once upon a time. I decided I didn't want to assume anyone was stupid, so I therefore assume they are scum.

I'm going to take an unpopular opinion and say Lynch All Liars is bad, and metagaming is bad in general.


I disagree, obvoiusly. I think you CANNOT avoid meta gaming. Yes, it sucks when you get killed N1 every time, but it's cyclic. Eventually, people will stop killing you N1 for any number of reasons.

You have a duty toward your fellow players to maximize your team's chances of winning in the game you are currently in.


Within reason. Clearly, you shouldn't cheat to do so. So what are your boundry conditions? Is using outside information legit?

If you're interested in modifying people's behavior in future games, in-game mechanisms like lynching are not a legitimate way to do so. The only legitimate way to change people's behavior in future games is by convincing them your way is better. (Maybe we should make all new players read a list of the top ten dumb newbie mistakes, for example.) (Obviously, you'd still lynch most liars, because most liars are scum.)

I'm not sure, though. I just changed my mind on this. Thoughts?


So if we talk about LAL, the behaviour modification is simply a wonderful side effect. You shouldn't LAL because it will change behavior (I should change how I wrote that piece up. Punishing bad play is a side effect, not the reason.) I should LAL because despite my instincts, Liars are almost always scum.

This is a huge topic. I'll try to write more later.

-JEEP

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Post Post #6  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 2:05 pm

LAL is, at least imo, a great tool in games. Protown players shouldn't have to lie to win the game. Mafia players HAVE to lie to win the game. Thus, Lynching Liers increases the towns chance of winning.

There are only a VERY few acceptable reasons to lie, one is if you're the doc (w/in the first few days of the game) and you're about to be lynched. If you can fakeclaim and keep your true identity a secret, then that's good for the town (even if you're killed later when/if they find out you're the doc (most likely if you counterclaim someone claiming doc)).


Other "metagame" things to concider are "lynching BAD players" for the sake of education and things like Pooky's promise (and a strategy that i've started lately of claiming Day 1 when i'm a vanilla townie).
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Post Post #7  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 2:19 pm

Fiasco wrote:(I hope Mith doesn't mind me starting this. It came up in the other thread.)

Normally, players are assumed to maximize their probability of winning in the current game. This goal conflicts with other possible goals, such as punishing or rewarding players for certain types of behavior, or establishing a pattern of one's own behavior to refer to in future games. Pursuing these other goals at the expense of winning in the current game is called "metagaming".

An example of metagaming is the "Lynch All Liars" rule.

Assume someone was caught in a lie. Assume you're an innocent townie, and for whatever reason, you think the liar was probably also an innocent townie. Lynching him may cost the town the game. However, lynching him will also dissuade future townie lies.

What's the ethical thing to do here?

I'm going to take an unpopular opinion and say Lynch All Liars is bad, and metagaming is bad in general. You have a duty toward your fellow players to maximize your team's chances of winning in the game you are currently in. If you're interested in modifying people's behavior in future games, in-game mechanisms like lynching are not a legitimate way to do so. The only legitimate way to change people's behavior in future games is by convincing them your way is better. (Maybe we should make all new players read a list of the top ten dumb newbie mistakes, for example.) (Obviously, you'd still lynch most liars, because most liars are scum.)

I'm not sure, though. I just changed my mind on this. Thoughts?


I agree. Of course, I've faked cop as a townie before... :shock:
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Post Post #8  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 2:40 pm

Lynch All Liars is sort of a sledgehammer, in my opinion. Sometimes it's useful to bring it out and smash someone with it, but it's often not the right tool for the job. There are many situations where lynching a liar is not the best possible pro-town move.

There really are situations where the correct thing for a pro-town person to do is to lie. For example, say you're a role-cop, and just found out person X is a doc. Further say that you are 100% sure that if the doc lives two more nights, the town is guarenteed to win. Now person X is being bandwagoned. You don't want person X lynched, but you also don't want person X to have to role-claim and you don't want to out person X. If you can lie in order to protect person X without revealing them as a doc, shouldn't you do so?

More generally, the real problem with absolute hard-and-fast rules like lynch all liars is that they simplify discussion, which makes it easier for scum to blend in ("Yup, lynch all liars, sounds good to me...") while generating less information. When possible, it's better to just assume the person was acting in a rational way, and then try to reason out the person's alignment from their actions (why would a scum like in a situation? why would a good guy? which makes more sense?). It's more work, but it's also more useful.

Lynch All Liars is useful as a general rule of thumb, it's a good starting point when you don't have anything better to go on, and it's a useful debating tool to drive your point home, but it should not be treated as a completly 100% hard and fast rule, in my opinion. Nothing should, mafia is too complex for that. It certanly shouldn't be followed for "metagame" reasons.
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Post Post #9  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 4:25 pm

Claiming Doc will almost certainly let you survive the lynch. Then if you die, you die. You have helped your team more than if you lie and then get caught later.

Claiming cop is flat out poor play, as far as I can see.

There really are situations where the correct thing for a pro-town person to do is to lie. For example, say you're a role-cop, and just found out person X is a doc. Further say that you are 100% sure that if the doc lives two more nights, the town is guarenteed to win. Now person X is being bandwagoned. You don't want person X lynched, but you also don't want person X to have to role-claim and you don't want to out person X. If you can lie in order to protect person X without revealing them as a doc, shouldn't you do so?


No. You don't need to lie and you don't need to reveal that he's doc. You can simply say you are a cop and you know X is innocent. I don't think that full role claims are required in most cases. If you lie then, and later you find supercop... you lied about Doc (and the mafia have killed that "known innocent") then why will people believe you? In fact, if you lie and the person turns up Doctor, why would anyone assume you were who you said? You might have just picked random person that you know wasn't mafia with you.

As to LAL being a sledge hammer, sure. There are clearly times when you want to keep a scum a live. Like keeping SK alive so that mafia don't auto win, as has been discussed before. The sentiment is supposed to say: Don't assume your opponent is stupid, assume they are scum. Anyone who lies, should be considered scum.

-JEEP

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Post Post #10  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 9:46 pm

I have to incline towards Yosarian, though certainly not as far as Fiasco. Lying can *very rarely* benefit you as town, and good scum shouldn't have to do much lying to get by.
...it should not be treated as a completly 100% hard and fast rule, in my opinion. Nothing should, mafia is too complex for that.
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Post Post #11  (ISO)  » Mon May 22, 2006 11:04 pm

jeep wrote:No. You don't need to lie and you don't need to reveal that he's doc. You can simply say you are a cop and you know X is innocent. I don't think that full role claims are required in most cases. If you lie then, and later you find supercop... you lied about Doc (and the mafia have killed that "known innocent") then why will people believe you? In fact, if you lie and the person turns up Doctor, why would anyone assume you were who you said? You might have just picked random person that you know wasn't mafia with you.


(shrug) Well, you would have to already be a confirmed good guy rolecop by either giving the town multiple scum or be 100% confirmed in some other way in order to even try a gambit like that, sure. However, if you are in a position where you don't have to worry much about getting lynched, it might be better to lie and tell the town that the doc is a vanillia townie instead of either telling the town he's a doc or telling the town you're not going to reveal his role. It's a tricky situation, sure, but if a lie keeps the doc alive for a little longer, therefore keeping you alive and giving you time to find the rest of the scum and win the game, it might be worth the risk.

Or, here's a better example. You're in a endgame where when it goes to night, there will be 2 town and 1 scum left. Scum wins if they get 50% of the town. You're an unkillable role, but if you claim that, the scum will kill the other townie and win, so instead when you have to claim, you lie and claim doc, hoping that the scum will target you and then you can lynch the scum tommorow and win.

jeep wrote:As to LAL being a sledge hammer, sure. There are clearly times when you want to keep a scum a live. Like keeping SK alive so that mafia don't auto win, as has been discussed before. The sentiment is supposed to say: Don't assume your opponent is stupid, assume they are scum. Anyone who lies, should be considered scum.

-JEEP


Why?

If a person lies in one of the rare situations when it would actually make good logical sense for a good guy to lie, why would you assume that they're scum?
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Post Post #12  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 1:09 am

Fiasco wrote:If in a non-LAL universe, it's good play for a townie to fakeclaim cop/doc, why is that something you'd want to discourage? If in a non-LAL universe, it's bad play for a townie to fakeclaim cop/doc, why not convince people of that by arguing? Is it really fair to put your teammates at a disadvantage because of your personal preferences about behavior in future games? I'm not convinced at all.
It's not a good play to fakeclaim cop/doc, though. It might be good for that individual player, to avoid getting lynched, but if a cop/doc counterclaims, then you'll end up with a dead pro-town player either way.

To me, it seems as though LaL is a metagame strategy designed to avoid going through that thought process (and the sometimes-painful results of getting a doc or cop killed). It seems as though some players will listen to "lying will get you killed" as opposed to "lying might get a player with a power role killed."

I see this particular issue from a sort of utilitarianism standpoint. You sacrifice the lying Vanilla Townie in Game A to protect the integrity of claims and players in Games B, C, D, ... the greater good for the greater number of people.
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Post Post #13  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 1:14 am

If a person lies in one of the rare situations when it would actually make good logical sense for a good guy to lie, why would you assume that they're scum?


I'm still waiting for a scenario when it makes sense. I firmly believe you don't need to do a full role reveal. So clearly you don't need to claim that you are a vest. You can claim Townie, because you are.

If I find a situation where it's better to lie, then I'll give on that instance. Give me a good example that might be generally applicable, I might reconsider.

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Post Post #14  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 1:39 am

I think Lynch all Liars is horsepuckey. The game's about adjusting to new challenges. When a fellow townie lies, it's their right, and you should give their reasoning fair consideration before lynching. I do think these forums should have a mechanism for dealing people who ruin games repeatedly with flagrantly poor behavior, but that's a different story.

Twomz wrote:Other "metagame" things to concider are "lynching BAD players" for the sake of education and things like Pooky's promise (and a strategy that i've started lately of claiming Day 1 when i'm a vanilla townie).

If you guys want to do this kind of thing in private games, go for it. I think it's lame to do in games open to anyone. This game's like Christmas in that half the fun's in the unwrapping, and opening stuff early taints the fun for everyone. Worse, new people are at a disadvantage when you carry promises from game to game, and they shouldn't have to read other threads or trust people they don't know to find out why your claim is truthful. Finally, if the mod wanted the guaranteed townie in there, she'd have put it there. Why mess with a creation she's probably very proud of?

Running newbies out of games when you suspect they're just newbish townies often hurts town. "Teaching lessons" shouldn't be a factor in the decision if the lesson is at the expense of the town's success.

Jeep wrote:Is using outside info legit?

Let's say I run a spider on these forums and figure out what words people use when they're scum and not when they're town. If I then out mafia in all of my games and tell everyone how I nailed them, people will find me incredibly lame. If I do it, use the info, and don't tell anyone how I figured everything out, I'm still lame. I see mining forums for people's behaviors as the same concept to a lesser extent, and I plan to avoid it. The info in our heads should be what we bring to a game. It's not so much an issue of ethics as it is of the beauty of the game and a desire not to sully it.

fiasco wrote:Assume you're an innocent townie, and for whatever reason, you think the liar was probably also an innocent townie.

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Post Post #15  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 1:43 am

That isn't even the type of outside information I was asking about... I meant truly outside. That is, information about people that is not available on the forum/wiki.

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Post Post #16  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 2:16 am

MrBuddyLee wrote:I think Lynch all Liars is horsepuckey. The game's about adjusting to new challenges. When a fellow townie lies, it's their right, and you should give their reasoning fair consideration before lynching. I do think these forums should have a mechanism for dealing people who ruin games repeatedly with flagrantly poor behavior, but that's a different story.


If Lynch all Liars is horsepucky, then there ought to arise good players who can make consistently make beneficial lies for town or consistent examples of beneficial lies for town that helped win games. Go through and review the games, you might find half dozen in hundreds of games.

As for your second comment, we do have a mechanism for punishing poor play-if a person play poorly, they lose games and are shamed into either improving their play (or if they aren't able to do that, they just leave).

Basically, mafia playing styles work in a Free Market system-bad styles don't emerge and good styles are recognized as good styles. Lying has never emerged as a good playing style for townies.

MrBuddyLee wrote:Let's say I run a spider on these forums and figure out what words people use when they're scum and not when they're town. If I then out mafia in all of my games and tell everyone how I nailed them, people will find me incredibly lame. If I do it, use the info, and don't tell anyone how I figured everything out, I'm still lame. I see mining forums for people's behaviors as the same concept to a lesser extent, and I plan to avoid it. The info in our heads should be what we bring to a game. It's not so much an issue of ethics as it is of the beauty of the game and a desire not to sully it.


If you can build such a machine, I say go ahead and do it! I wouldn't consider it particularly lame; rather I'd thank you for exposing a weakness in my game and then proceed to adjust my playing style as scum and townie to make your spider fail, either by adding those words when I'm a townie or removing those words when I'm scum or some combination of both.

You're partially falling into the trap of assuming the the "best mafia" play is a static entity-in fact, all such behavior is cyclic.
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Post Post #17  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 4:17 am

Fiasco [0] wrote:<snip>Assume someone was caught in a lie. Assume you're an innocent townie, and for whatever reason, you think the liar was probably also an innocent townie. Lynching him may cost the town the game. However, lynching him will also dissuade future townie lies.

What's the ethical thing to do here?<snip>

This partially depends on the semantics of “ethical”. But to me, lynch-all-liars is not an absolute imperative that takes precedent over all other actions. It is effectively merely a tell- a strong one, to be sure, but nothing more. If others player have built up enough suspicion that a lying player seems innocent in comparison, then lynch the more suspicious player.

Take the most extreme example: Newbie setup; Player A is a doctor who lied by claiming to be vanilla; Player B has said truthfully said that they are mafia. I openly question the sanity of anyone who lynched the liar over the truthteller in this situation.

Protown players are discouraged from lying because it is suboptimal for them; how suboptimal depends on context. For a protown player, being caught in a lie will make them thought more suspicious and either they will become more prone to a mislynch or their opponents will be able to commit more suspicious acts unrestrained. The term “lynch-all” is misleading, because it is effectively “think-suspicious-all”.

[I would get into the semantics of “ethical”, but it involves a game-in-progress, and (pardoning the circular logic) wouldn’t be ethical.]

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Post Post #18  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 4:28 am

Lynch All Liars is bad, and metagaming is bad in general.


You have a duty toward your fellow players to maximize your team's chances of winning in the game you are currently in.


Contradiction right there. As a townie, you have no reason to lie. Only in very special cases, which will be judged individually anyway. LAL rules, it catches scum a lot, it lynches town in a very few cases.

Also, what does this has to do with ethics?
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Post Post #19  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 4:29 am

Just a nitpick: "ethical", this word does not really exists. The word you are looking for is "moral".
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Post Post #20  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 5:04 am

jeep wrote:
If a person lies in one of the rare situations when it would actually make good logical sense for a good guy to lie, why would you assume that they're scum?


I'm still waiting for a scenario when it makes sense. I firmly believe you don't need to do a full role reveal. So clearly you don't need to claim that you are a vest. You can claim Townie, because you are.

If I find a situation where it's better to lie, then I'll give on that instance. Give me a good example that might be generally applicable, I might reconsider.

-JEEP
I did have a situation once, which I thought was worth trying. I had cop powers, and I had effectively lead four scum lynches in a row. Furthermore, in a fairly small pool of plausible townie names in a theme game, I had proactively claimed a gimme role - I had the total trust of the town.

Furthermore, I was part of a mason group. The town knew I was a cop, but not a mason, although I had strongly hinted there was more to my role.

Now, under these circumstances, I had a cunning plan - lead the game into mass claim the following day. There was a shortage of plausible townie names, so I figured if I lead the claim and tried to get my comasons to claim early, and to fake-claim at that, then by the end of the claim process scum would see that some good claims hadn't been taken and might take them themselves. At that point, I could reveal I was a mason and so were my partners, that I'd told them to lie to set the trap, and that X is lying about his role-name because it's actually Mason Y's rolename.

Of course, the trap didn't work - but the reactions of the town to the reveal of the lie were quite useful, and it didn't backfire at all - the last three remaining alive were me and my two co-masons.

That's when I found out one was an SK and the other was a godfather with cult-recruiting powers. :(
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Post Post #21  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 5:05 am

ebwop: On reflection, it was my co-masons who lied, not me, and they were scum...
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Post Post #22  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 5:39 am

Ethical and Moral are synonyms. They both exist. It may be in a specialized study, but I've heard that ethics is what is right or wrong based on reason and morals are what is considered right or wrong behavior based on social custom. And ethical and moral are the adjectives related to those.

Seol, I'll respond to your scenario soon. I'm not convinced it was the best move, but as a mason, you can get away with a little more.

-JEEP

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Post Post #23  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 5:50 am

Not really. "Ethical" has been made up so people can say "moral" with less pressure.
"you behave unethical" Is just a polite way of saying "you behave immoral". No real difference of the meaning, just that "unetical" does not sound so hard as "immoral".
[/etymology]
"logic is in the eye of the beholder" -LyingBrian in Eyewitness 1
"correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't the CHANCE of something happening always 50% (either it will or it won't)?" -LyingBrian in BJs Wild West mafia

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Post Post #24  (ISO)  » Tue May 23, 2006 5:57 am

I lied as town as a confirmed innocent. After some crucial information was brought forth from it, I came clean and explained myself. I wouldn't have done it if I was not confirmed, but if you're in that place where you're not ever going to get lynched, you have a bit of freedom. And it was lynch-right-or-lose.... We needed that info.

I don't think lying as town is something to be done lightly though - even if you think it will help win the game for your side. You have to remember that you have a responsibility to the other townies. Saying untruthfully "I'm a cop and X is scum.. lynch them!" (just because you think X is scummy) is stealing away each townie's job of thinking for themselves about who is scum and voting accordingly. That's OK when it's your role to do that, but if it's not your role, then it's an unfair strategy (no matter the outcome).
I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing. I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing. - The police

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