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Shirking Our Responsibilties
Those who know me find me infuriating at times. I love to argue. Not in the common sense of the word. But the true definition: to consider the pros and cons of: DISCUSS (argue an issue). This is my high – it’s how I learn best. Many would call me stubborn but in actuality I’m quite pliable, you just have to argue your point well so that I can learn from you. Then give me time to mull it over.
This means I have no fear of confrontation.
Fear of confrontation baffles me. So many “bad” things happen because people simply don’t say, “no, you can’t do that”. The odd thing is, if it were a child behaving badly – even one not your own – a person usually doesn’t hesitate with a “no!” But an adult behaving badly? We look the other way.
Me, not so much.
This is the other thing about me that infuriates (or embarrasses) those who know me. I will subtly (or not so subtly) let an adult know they’re behaving badly.
I do it in games, too. Frequently. I think it’s why I play Xbox Live without a headset. I’d spend too much time annoyed with childish behaviors. The children don’t bother me when they act childish – they’re children! But…hey, having fun doesn’t mean acting childish! I firmly believe in play.
Ellen DeGeneres once said that she thought that part of what’s wrong with the world today is that when we grow up, we forget how to play. So, the next time you’re on the street? Run up to someone and say, “Tag! You’re it!” Try it sometime. One out of five will play with you!
There’s something that’s key in what Ellen says: play Tag. We all know the rules of Tag. And when someone acts badly? It’s not fun anymore so we either don’t play with that person or stop playing altogether. That’s rather how most social norms work. We have expected rules of behavior and when people break outside of those rules we only accept it to a point.
Along comes the internet…anonymity, an audience, and competition. Can you imagine a more volatile situation given the fact that there were no social norms for behavior when we all got together to play? And since that time, we’ve all just shirked our responsibilities because well…we’d not only have to confront one another but take a hard look at ourselves.
What’s worse? That we may have contributed to the cheating and griefing and plethora of bad behaviors in gaming? Or that we did nothing and have let them permeate our game space and now consider them normal?
This speaks directly to an ethical issue... The problem in the online space is the lack of accountability, which enables people to behave "lawlessly". Many of those doing so are children. We are not their parents, and so we hold no authority with them. (Although in the US, I wonder how many parents actually maintain authority over their children...)
As an idle thought, what if the instances (does the term shard now apply universally in this context?) of each virtual world were arranged like a medieval conception of afterlife. Players reward other players by tagging them as 'friendly'. The more friendly-tagged players become, the more they "climb the ladder" to friendlier servers. (Of course, we might think it better to go the other way, and descend unfriendly players to more hellish domains - but any such system would be a tool for griefers to abuse).
Perhaps it would be sufficient to sort the players into instances by their age. ;)
It's an interesting area, but not one in which solutions will come easily. Experimentation in virtual world structure will eventually provide some progress, I suspect, but as to when - who can say!
Or, I could just write longer posts! (I'll see if we can force them in the original text but in short posts it bunches them all up together)
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