Assault by a Conscienceless Typekiller…

Digital anonymity, in a sense, has provided the ability to presume a false identity, where identity consists of race, gender and class. In light of this digital transcendence of self, one might decide to act differently on the internet because it is an opportunity to do and say things that are either not culturally appropriate to say, or do not reflect one’s true character/self. The big question here is: do digital beings (users in rpg’s) have to abide by a code of honesty, or should one be able, by virtue of anonymity be able to choose who they want to be? When we put names and faces together, we automatically let multiple signifieds flood into our minds and decide (un/subconsciously) based on race, gander, and class, whether or not the subject of discussion is appropriate having come from a specific user. In Ian Shanahan’s article, we have no idea, in any capacity regarding identity, who the antagonist is, and whether or not his (or her) choice of words is appropriate in any regard. Besides the fact that this person uses a racial slur, this remains a display of the use and/or abuse of anonymity in a digital world. How does the digital world help or hinder one’s online identity?

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1 Comment

  1. I don’t recall if I mentioned this explicitly in class, but one of the earlier responses to the questions feralmrmagpie is raising is here: http://www.raphkoster.com/gaming/playerrights.shtml
    Koster is a long-time designer of MMOs, having worked extensively on Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, EverQuest II. One of his most recent projects was Metaplace, a programming platform whose goal was to make it easy for users to create their own virtual MMO space. It was bought out by the company Playdom, which makes games for Facebook, and is itself owned by Disney.

    Besides this object lesson in corporate ownership trumping democratic ideals, my point here is that the document linked above offers a possible answer to what rights and responsibilities players and administrators have to each other in MMOs. It’s problematic in many ways–in particular, it seems to focus more on the player/adminstrator relationship than player/player, and assumes rather homogenous types for both–but it’s a good starting point for that discussion.

    MH


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