(Some) Pixels Are People, Too!

So, after a long day at work, I decided to get on and play some WoW, in hopes of closing that long gap to 70. I’m on a PvP server, mind you, but the mentality that some people have while in-game still ceases to amaze me. I was camped for over an hour and a half by a single person who apparently had nothing better to do with their time. All I wanted to do was finish off a couple quests in W. Plaguelands, but to no avail.

I could go on ranting, but I felt the need to repost (in part, it is slightly updated) an article I wrote for NotAddicted.com a couple months ago. Thank to Julie at VirginWorlds (she runs the PodCast No Prisoners, No Mercy) for originally sparking the idea for this article in my head. I look forward to feedback.

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How “brave” and cold some can be behind the shield of anonymity.

I was listening to the “No Prisoners, No Mercy” Podcast over at Virginworlds.com and Julie, the show’s host, brought up a very good discussion topic that really got me thinking.

How many times have you had a really bad day, and just wanted to log into your favorite MMO and let loose, only to have a run-in with an in-game asshat? I know I can speak for most of you when I say it’s happened much more than once. Why is this though?

While I truly believe that the ability to remain anonymous is one of the root causes, it is not the whole reason. I think back to reading a little book called “Lord of the Flies” and can see a definite parallel.

A bunch of children (players) are stranded on a desert island (log into game) and are left to their own devices. There is no true governing body to lead them on a moral path, so they are left to choose their own. While GMs do get involved sometimes, they do not have a direct relation to how one player treats another.

Humans are fallable. We all make mistakes from time to time, it’s just a fact of life.

In the book “Lord of the Flies”, Piggy, one of the main characters, is killed because a few of the other children get so mixed into their own little world, that they forget that their actions may have dire consequences for others. We can see this happening every day in our MMOs.

No, no one is killed by the game, but feelings are hurt and friendships are broken. Groups are destroyed, and Guilds are decimated. I truly believe that sometimes we get so drawn into our own little fantasy world while playing a game, that we forget the reality that there are other living, breathing human beings behind the other pixels on our screens.

I’m not saying that getting drawn into the game is a bad thing. Hell, I for one love to Roleplay. But what I am saying is that — and I’m just as guilty of this — we tend to treat others as less than human, and this gets even worse as we see players push towards end game and grow an even bigger e-penis. And this leads us back to the whole anonymity aspect of the MMO world.

While I tend to feel that the ability to be anonymous plays a major role, it is not the only cause of this online nonsense. What do you guys think? Does it all stem from the anonymity? Or is there another underlying cause? Where does all of this Ass-Hattery come from? Inquiring minds like mine want to know!

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Discuss away!

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