Monday, September 13, 2010

The Guild - Episode 3: The Macro Problem

So for those of you who had no idea what was going on, this is a web series about a group of six individuals that play an MMO (massive multiplayer online game) just like World of Warcraft. I have never played the game nor do I intend on playing the game, but my knowledge of the game (because my fiancĂ© used to play… a lot) is that people log into the game as an avatar they created and go on raids or quests to gain levels. The higher your level, the better your skill and the more loot you have. When individuals get together and form a group, called a Guild, it helps them level their character faster. Most of the language they were using in the show came directly from the game. For example, AFK means “away from keyboard.” Essentially the only social interaction the players have with other players is through a microphone attached to their head and the keyboard in chat rooms.

Thinking about identity these individuals have created a pretend creature in this game that represents something they want to portray to the rest of the game. Most of the time it shows a more confident, well-distinguished individual. Unfortunately, the people that play this game will end up playing an insane amount of time, identifying themselves more with their avatar than their real self. They will end up talking “leet”, the language they use in-game as well as obsess over treasures they can get in the game.

I found the show funny and so true. When “Codex” suggested having a guild meeting in person, the rest of the guild was nervous as if they didn’t want to reveal their true self. As “Tink” said, “I like you guys the way you are. Cartoon characters who let me feel a sense of achievement in an imaginary world.” With any kind of online social network, people create an image of someone else by whatever they can find within the confines of the computer screen. So if you think about it, how can you truly know someone’s identity online? You can’t, really. They create an identity that seems real, but is not. It’s the same in real life. We put ourselves in certain social groups that create an identity, but switching to a different social genre can easily change our identity. In my pop culture class, we received this quote “Cogito ergo sum” meaning, “I think therefore I am”. We are what we make it.

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