Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Lack of Consequences

OK, I admit it. I read Wil Wheaton's blog. Like many trekkies I absolutely hated Wesley Crusher, but I started reading Wil's poker blog when he started playing and, well, he doesn't seem like such a bad fellow.

Anyway, he has this wistful post up about the disapearance of video arcades, which I remember even better than he does being 7 years older. The whole thing makes for good reading, but he makes a point at the end that really clicked with me.
My kids' generation, with their online gaming and its associated sense of anonymity and unaccountability, aren't getting the same social workout that we all got when we were kids. When I played a two player game against another kid and I beat him, if I taunted him mercilessly and made explicit references to his mother's sex life and my role in it, he would have justifiably kicked the everliving shit out of me; so I learned that it was always a good idea to be gracious in victory and defeat. Contrast that with the foul and profane behavior exhibited in today's online gaming worlds, by players who are old enough to know better, or young enough not to care.

I have played a fair bit of MMORPGs and I have to say that while most of the people you meet online behave fairly well, there is a distinct trend for a significant fraction of the younger crowd to behave in ways that are more than two sigmas outside of the normal distribution of social behavior. Sometimes way more than two sigmas. It has made me a big fan of /ignore.

I wonder how I will overcome this with my own son? Will gaming and social interaction get more and more anonymous as he grows?

No comments: