I wrote a last minute paper for the CHI workshop on Secrets and Lies in Computer-Mediated Interaction: Theory, Methods and Design . Here’s the abstract for the paper I submitted.
Deception in massively multiplayer online role playing
games is a complex and nuanced issue. Anonymity and
the deceptive behavior it enables are required to
facilitate the role play activities that develop and
support the game world. However, the same anonymity
and deception are key contributors to the cheating and
fraudulent behaviors that threaten the quality and
viability of online gaming.
In short, my paper briefly charts a completely untested theory that the anonymity that facilitates online role play also facilitates deception which can result in bad things and that players are largely not away of this.
Some (read: crazy people like me) might even say this is a problem of intersubjectivity. In games, there’s much discussion of the “magic circle” which is a sort of separate reality (“lifeworld”) that’s distinct from normal reality. Gamer players enter this magic place and semi-separate themselves from the outside.
However, bad guys are not entering the magic circle and partaking of the separate lifeworld. Their ability to do bad things is largely a result of the disconnect between the horizons of the magic circle and those outside of it. Bad guys prey on a lack of intersubjectivity.
I’ve probably stretched a few too many theories a bit too thin for one blog post, so I’ll stop now. Comments please! 🙂