A rival guild somehow found out about the plans.
As the grieving guild gathered, laying down their weapons and honoring their lost friend, the rival guild attacked, killing them all, while typing messages such as, "LOL! OWNED!" and other smugly triumphant words.
One player created a video of the entire event, messages and opinions flew around Internet boards, threats and retaliatory plans were issued, and a number of players were banned.
I heard about this on the radio news Friday morning while driving downtown. Because I'm not a gamer, I am unaware of gamer protocol and etiquette, but this struck me as really, really wrong.
I do play on the Internet, in message forums and blogs. I generally use my real name, although I have used a "nom de plume" for message boards. I stuck to the name I enrolled with, and remained true to myself whether using my real or assumed name. I don't post anonymously in order to be cruel or use the Internet as a shield to do whatever I want. I believe in the principle that "wherever you go, there you are and what you do follows."
Then again, I am representing myself online, not a character in a game.
And how different might that be?
My husband says very, very different.
I tend to think that online gamers are mostly adolescent males or those with that sort of mentality.
My husband says this is not the case in all games, although it is generally the case in the game in question (World of Warcraft). He plays a game called Eve, which he says tends to attract grown-ups. He's met people from all over the world, most of whom seem to be academics.
Regardless, all of the games seem to be focused on stalking, hunting and killing fellow players, while stealing their valuables. It simply doesn't appeal to me, on that basis alone.
My husband believes it is simply a fun outlet. I think it encourages a mode of thinking that is unproductive in real life. I can't believe that people can so segment their personalities as to never act as themselves in the game, or as their character might in real life.
I am especially concerned about how it might affect the forming morals and mentality of young people who are in the process of maturing. This concern escalates when you consider that the Internet interactions can supplant real life ones; take over the time and relationships one might form in the real world as one's self.
Players had a lot to say about this idea and the event in which mourners were killed in the game.
This opinion supports my concern:
In all seriousness, the fact that her horde and other friends mourned a real life death is pretty surreal. I mean, they know this girl, but they didn't really know her. This just goes to show that you that games are starting to simulate life every day. The fact that the other horde decided to crash this funeral to gain some PvP time holds the same bearings as the funeral. It shows that human beings are ruthless, and will do anything to gain any advantage at any time, whether it be in real life or the virtual WoW world.
While these two support my husband's opinion:
You don't bring real life into a game, no matter what the circumstances. In game, they were justified in ambushing a large gathering of...the ENEMY faction. Anyone who cries foul on this needs to stick their face on an electric range for ten minutes.
I agree, games are to escape somewhat from real life, to do things you cant do in real life. You shouldnt bring games into real life and go down the street and fire into traffic, and likewise you shouldnt bring real life into games.
And then there were the scary ones, such as
They wouldn't have the balls to do that at a real funeral.
...and that's what separates the Men from the Boys ;)
Living online has expanded beyond simple message boards, blogs, and games; now you can also have a virtual life in Second Life. Run just like "real life" players have avatars who have jobs, wardrobes, homes, cars, and so forth. Players make a living as real estate developers, architects, interior decorators, musicians, bankers, restaurateurs, and even event planners. Characters hold cyber weddings and more. Players earn salaries in real money---that's real, not virtual---money, which sometimes exceeds their real life job earnings.
People are living out fantasies online. Online we can form relationships, earn a living, and even try experiences not possible in real life.
So where is the boundary? How does the cyber life affect the real life, and vice versa?
Do we carry aspects of ourselves, even suppressed ones, into the virtual world? And once unleashed online, does it open up a trigger to that in real life?
Consider the case of the virtual rape in Second Life.
In April, the Brussels public prosecutor dispatched detectives to investigate a virtual rape in Second Life.
In her article, "Virtual Rape is Traumatic, but is it a Crime?" Regina Lynn of Wired wrote
Adult communities facilitate our need to go deeper into our sexual selves, even into secret places around gender and taboos that we cannot acknowledge anywhere else. We feel safe because of the peculiar blend of disclosure and anonymity provided in online communities, and we journey along paths we might not even glance at in the physical world. We don't expect to have our control wrenched away or our minds assaulted or even the intensity of our anguish during and after.
The truth is, anywhere people gather, we bring all of our potential with us -- for love, for sex, for community and creation, and for violence and destruction, too. That's why we still enjoy pondering whether cybersex is real sex and whether an online affair is more or less damaging to a relationship than a physical affair. It's a tacit acknowledgement that while the time-space continuum may change, people don't.
I believe this is true, whether you are blogging or creating an avatar (that in no way resembles you, with a name not your own) in some virtual world. Wherever we go, we carry who we are: our potential.
And what of our interactions with others?
Lynn expressed it well when she wrote, "We feel safe because of the peculiar blend of disclosure and anonymity provided in online communities, and we journey along paths we might not even glance at in the physical world."
Moving between real life and cyber life requires no passports; it requires only a shift in thinking.
In fact, a shift in thinking is exactly what the Internet can effect. How many of us have realized new truths, altered how we think, or chosen a different course of action due to something we read or experienced online? People consider their online experiences a real part of life, and often shift schedules and time to accommodate the activity. Our interactions with others online can be integral to our sense of self and our development.
I've heard it said time and again that the Internet won't bring different interactions to you than you find in real life. The emotions you feel are very real, and reflect how you feel about similar things in real life. As Lynn wrote, "...while the time-space continuum may change, people don't."
For example, when I read an article that expresses exactly how I feel about an issue, the blossom of relief that someone else gets it is very real. I do feel a degree of bond with this person on this issue.
My emotions don't distinguish reading these things on a blog from hearing these things from a real life friend.
My mind is a little more logical. Nevertheless, once I feel a bond has been formed with another person online, I have to be very careful to consider whether it is a bond of commonality or a bond of friendship.
This gets even more complicated when the online interaction becomes truly interactive and regular, especially if it is frequent, or moves off the main source of interaction (such as into private messages).
When a regular commenter suddenly vanishes and quits commenting on my blog, but continues to post and comment elsewhere, it feels a bit like being dumped and the hurt feeling of rejection is very real.
Of course I can logically remind myself that this is blogging not friendship, and people get busy and move on in interest, etc. I can console myself by saying, it wasn't me, it was an article on a page, like in a magazine...the interest moved on from my topics, not me, who I am. Although my words might be different than ones I use in real life, the method of consolation is similar. In this way, once again, I believe who we are comes through each experience, cyber or corporeal.
In games where you build a character---one that I believe in some way always reflects who you want to be or wish you were---it is even more difficult to separate the real you from the virtual you. The real person can feel slights and accolades to their avatar as strongly as if they had happened in real life.
It might be virtual, but it is, in a way, simply reality on a different plane. It's not just how you think of online and your investment in the online world; it's also a matter of the type of person you are.
The danger lurks behind the very features we laud and desire online: increasingly real looks, interaction and time. These features make it increasingly difficult to distinguish real from cyber in one's mind, but more especially in one's heart.
"It's becoming harder and harder to draw a distinction between the real world and the virtual world," said Lauren Weinstein, creator of an online discussion group called the Privacy Forum. "They've become so intertwined now that most of the same problems and risks that we associate with the real world are coming from the virtual side — and a whole lot of them that nobody thought of." Source: New York Times
At some point, we can cross a boundary online, and it's no longer just a name you cross frequently, now this is a person you really care about.
You can easily form true friendships. I count some people I met online among my best friends. The online friendships moved into real life, with real life meetings, as well.
You can also form true relationships. In the case of online affairs, when the emotion is real, ultimately it can become irrelevant whether it is a real encounter or a cyber one. I know marriages that have ended over cyber affairs. That's as real as it gets.
Online life is not exclusive to recreation and personal life, anymore, either. It now extends to professional life, and includes the even more mind-bending virtual reality.
There is online and virtual medical training in virtual environments, flight training, role playing, cross-continent online meetings, Internet conferences, even psychological treatment of phobias using virtual worlds, and more.
In fact, online personas and hearsay can affect your real professional life, according to the stories of real people in New York Times article "When Online Hearsay Intrudes on Real Life."
Brock N. Meeks, a journalist in Washington, believes that his activities in the virtual world sometimes held him back in his real-world job searches.
The online persona established him as a dogged, sharp commentator. But more than once, he said, when he applied for jobs at national newspapers, editors who knew of his online work were wary. He said an editor at The Washington Post told him, "I expected an angry old guy."
We are growing more and more accustomed to using the online world to work and function within the real world. Using emails or instant messages to communicate is as likely, if not more so, than using the telephone. Using video conferencing is more likely than traveling to meet face-to-face. As the power and realistic elements of online life grow, the line between cyber and real is getting fuzzier. Most people are unable to segment themselves so fully as to completely distance and disassociate themselves from cyber life, as is evidenced by the real grief of the online players of the warcraft game who lost not some avatar on a screen, but someone who felt like a real friend.
Other players can say it's not real, but clearly...it is.
And I'm not even sure that complete disassociation from online experience should be a goal. If the emotion is real, then the benefits gained from the online interaction can be real too.
Perhaps we need to alter our vocabulary and eliminate the word real when discussing life. Perhaps we should consider calling it cyber and corporeal life and acknowledge that both are all too real. Therefore, we must be careful where we put ourselves online, and consider our actions even more carefully. They do reflect our real life, and can affect it too.
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert