Hey this blog thing is fun! Whilst (<--note cool word) muttering via comments on a previous post I realized that there's a difference between my own real life morals and values and those of my online characters in MMO's.
Down boy. I'm not talking upstairs at the Serpent or a back room at the Pony or double sitting on a mailbox or any of the other Hawt! Cyber! experiences that you may be turning over in your mind. I mean the basic structure of stuff like it's bad to kill living things and it's good to leave some for others.
When you get to the login window and type in your name and password how much of yourself do you leave behind? All? Some? None?
We all kill things in MMO's - we all then steal stuff from their corpses and then sell our plundered loot to either an NPC or another player. I don't know about you but in real life? Never done that. Never wandered into some strange place, killed someone, went through their pockets and then sold the stuff I found. Ever.
So I feel like it's safe to say that I'll do stuff in game that I'd never do in real life cause yes indeedy it's fantasy. It's not real. It's a game and in a game I can fly or run barefoot over icy stone roads or ride a goat. I can have horns or spines or transform into a leopard. I can kill trolls or goblins or snakes or pigs (EVERY game has pigs) and whatever else I'm assigned and it's all good. Its.. not.. real.
But- and here's the catch - the other, non-NPC characters? They're not real either except they are created and played by people that are. The pixels are constructs but the motivation and the movement is generated by another real person and here's where things get dicey. If you're rude to another character ingame are you being rude to just the character or to the person playing the character? It gets tricky.
Kill stealing is universally frowned upon because it takes away the hard work another player has already done. So somehow or other the concept that you should not take away the fruits of someone else's labor has made it past the login screen for most players while the whole you shouldn't kill things concept has not. I'd like to suggest that the reason for the descrepancy is that the killing is done to computer generated characters and the kill stealing is done to another player. You can do whatever you want ingame to an NPC but you can't do whatever you want to another player is a simplistic but accurate way to say it. Even PVP is a permission based system - people are either on PVP servers where they've given permission to everyone else to try and kill them or they're in a PVP zone or stance where they've given the same permission. But there's no way in game mechanics to kill other players unless permission is given and this backs up the players' characters are different from NPC's concept.
So. What is inappropriate behavior to another player? Stealing their stuff (unless that's written into the game mechanics.. full loot PVP is kinda sparkley shiney in an OH $#%^ kinda way) is forbidden and usually a bannable offense. But what about the classic /slap? Did you leave the part of you that would never consider walking up to a stranger in an airport and slapping them behind when you logged in? For most players, the answer is yes- no one gets banned for a /slap. How about trash talking? Would you actually start spewing curses and insults on the subway on your way to work if there are no seats? Most people wouldn't in real life but they would ingame. What about ragequitting? Ninja'ing loot? Rez camping? Would you do the real life equivalent and what is it about being in a game that changes that in you?
I leave a lot of myself behind when I play MMO's, mainly because it's fun to have a vacation from myself (and I can hear the comments now lol). But I do bring with me a lot of the awareness of other players' feelings and as such it's rare to see me /slap or the like. As a result, I usually find the most fun ingame hanging out with the roleplayers. It's not that they bring more of themselves into the game, it's that when they play they're trying to be the best of someone other than themselves, if that makes sense. If they're a champion, they're aiming for noble or inspiring etc. and they just don't have time to do things that their character would not do had they been actually alive. It's ironic but true - role players are by far the most realistic characters in a game.
And the other parts of us that we bring with us past login - the dream parts as I like to call them - these are the strong parts, the calculating parts, the intelligent or strategizing parts, the aim for the higher good parts. These are the areas in us that want to succeed, to win, to bond with others, to share excitement and to feel that adrenaline rush from a great fight or well done game puzzle. How much of these parts do we bring back with us to real life after we logout? Do we stop and explain a process patiently to someone that is clearly new to a situation in real life? Do we patiently save over time in RL the same way we'll patiently save ingame for a new piece of gear or a house or a mount?
Here's a challenge for ya. Next time you login, just notice how much of your real life self you take into the game with you and how much you leave behind. At the least it will make your playtime for that session interesting as you cut a wide swath killing your way through NPC's and then stop to help someone with their lower level quest ... or avoid doing a boss via a workaround but then hold yourself to strict ethical parameters when handing out loot. And when you logout - notice what parts of yourself that you bring with you back into the real world. How much of ourselves to we leave behind when we login and what parts of ourselves would we benefit from having in the real world after we logout?
God I love gaming.