Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Anonymity of the Avatar

This post is a little... muddled, but whatever.

"I love Alma's red eyes. They make her sexy! Who cares if she is a child, she is dead! Fuck her all night long!" - Terminator, Action Trip video comments

I found the above comment by a rather vulgar Action Trip reader to be ... incredibly funny. Not because of the content of the matter, but because of the incredibly straight-forward and easy going manner in which this individual addressed his/her desire to fornicate with an underage girl. Or should I say, ghoul. I imagine your everyday soccer mum, not used to the horrible things people say on the internet, would find this behaviour unacceptable and demand that this pedophile be put to justice. For the rest of us, we just smile, shake our heads and read the next obnoxious comment...

We all know that what people say on the internet is not a good reflection of how a person behaves in society. Being anonymous is a shield, a big sign in red letters informing you to be a douche-bag. Hell, I've done and said offensive and terrible things online before so I am not exempt. For the most part it was actually pretty fun, letting the illogical, frothing-at-the-mouth cave troll side of the human mind come forth in all its glorious stupidity. And all its horror! I can imagine for some, saying completely ridiculous and terrible things can be a form of stress relief (or something). Although for some people, what they say may actually be what they believe/intend to be true :S

Anyways, this got me thinking about people's anonymity in games. I already know some people play games just to be tools. Ganking and corpse camping in WoW, a form of Schadenfreude in gaming format, is a prime example. But that is negative behaviour, reinforcing the idea of being anonymous. There are many other types of player behaviour when gaming, besides this. Some (and hopefully most) people play competitive games to do well, to the best of their ability. Some are genuinely helpful, serious in their attempts to make others understand and improve their game. Some are even so helpful that they may even turn the act of helping into a game of their own:

I think players of games are generally less inclined to be douche-bags primarily because they are required to interact directly with other people. They can be punished, so to speak. Assuming you are not cheating, any game mechanics you exploit can be turned on you. Anything you say in chat, no matter how offensive, is ignorable as it is not the focus of the game. This is of course unless you are actually a good player though (very rare!).

I like to think most people would avoid using 'cheap' tactics in gaming so as not to belittle themselves by once AGAIN using a dominant strategy. This is not always the case however as I found not so long ago in the terribly imbalanced and skill-capped multiplayer of Modern Warfare 2. Noob-tubing, the act of using a grenade launcher attached rifle in combination with the 'Thumper' M79 grenade launcher itself to guarantee yourself at least 4 near instant kills per spawn. Combine this with One man Army and you have a lot more chances. Grenades kill anyone, dead, at any range (except point blank) and at any health. I estimated nearly 70% of players in some of the last games I played using this 'strategy', sometimes with the argument "everyone else is doing it". You could argue that this is equivalent to the AWP wars that Counter-Strike turns into after 15 mins, but I disagree. You spawn from the very start of the game with Noob-tubing equipment in MW2 whereas AWP snipers must play for at least 15 mins, building up their cash for the ultimate weapon. Should they die, they lose it. That's called balance. It disturbs me that modern games developers have totally lost the plot when it comes to it in their games...

Getting back on topic, when you are playing games with friends or in real-life, you try not to be a wanker. People don't like to be associated with their gaming behaviours and disposition. You only have to look at the recent hiatus about Blizzard's real ID system on their forums to understand that. This is because it is either a) not what they like to see themselves as, or b) gaming is generally not seen as a positive thing in the eyes of others. It's still the 'childish' activity of immature people according to older generations. Hell you only have to ask my parents opinion of it to get an incredibly ignorant and biased view on it.

Most people in this world are genuinely good people, even if they don't know it. As ill behaved and awful as they may be online, whether through forums, chat rooms or gaming, they probably are not like that in the real world.

But then again, there are some people who are just ... jerks! Anywhere and everywhere.

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