[MUD-Dev] Historic lessons on fluid identity

David Lindsey somen42 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 8 00:19:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

John Buehler wrote:

> I'll relate a story from Asheron's Call that really surprised me.
> I primarily play the game solo for about an hour at a stretch,
> just for something to do.  At one point, I picked up a patron.  My
> attitude was that if he wanted to toss stuff my way, I was more
> than happy to give him the experience boost of a vassal. I
> certainly wasn't going to ask for any favors because I enjoyed the
> solo play.  Well, at one point we were text chatting and I
> observed how frustrating it is to try to play the game and talk at
> the same time.  He suggested that we use Microsoft Messenger's
> Internet Telephony feature.  As soon as we got that hooked up, it
> was like day and night.  My patron stopped being character Bob and
> instead turned into real person Dave.  He had a life, he lived
> somewhere, he woke up in the morning, he paid his taxes, etc.  It
> was a *completely* different attitude than I had about my
> 'patron'.  I considered him a human being, but it was a fairly
> obscure sensation. Hearing his voice made it all very real and
> substantial.

> Present a kid with the actual voice of an adult and I suspect that
> a lot of kids might be a little more respectful of other players.
> This won't stop all kids, but it will slow down some of them.
> Elimination of anonymity is another step in that direction.  Being
> able to teleport into the room with the kid in order to talk to
> him would be still another.  Please, no comments on the potential
> for abuse here.

I don't disagree with most of the observations in this thread about
anonymity and distance, whether psychological or physical, but the
focus has mostly been on the negative effects. I'd like to point out
one story that gave me great pleasure to read, it is from a piece
John Masterson did, not his full thesis, but something he called:
Ethnography of a Virtual Society.

> Indeed, one AAadministrator told me the following story: There was
> one woman I was speaking with about her son.  He was a very shy
> and withdrawn youth (about 12 years old), but when he began
> playing in the mud, he developed a quite boisterous and outspoken
> character.  Over the course of about six months, the mother
> noticed considerable improvement in his RL [real life] social
> skills.

A small story, but it and some of the others in that text cheered me

David Lindsey
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