#4

Hithlain

Keeper of Ying
Nov 25, 2008
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I'm currently in school to be an economics major and I always think it's interesting when people complain about how people act online. Certainly, it is quite annoying when people troll or be sexist to me in online games and sometimes it's quite aggrevating because I know that some of the opinions that people spout online are either lies or something that would not come out in real life.

Econ teaches you that life is all about incentives. In real life, there are incentives for us to act like polite human beings because there are people all around us judging our every move. This is why laws usually work... if everyone decided to disobey the laws there is pretty much nothing anyone could do about it but we don't because we are afraid of the social (and other) consequences.

Online however, there are no consequences. There is no incentive to act like a normal human being therefore people don't. You can be as rude, sexist, mean, or stupid as you want and there is little anyone can do to find out who you are or to punish you for it. Imagine if there was a police of the internet who fined you if you sexually harassed people! I just think it's interesting to see how incentives work. The internet behaves just like it should since it is anonymous!

I do think that the things people do online and in games are part of their personality that perhaps they are not allowed to use in real life because of these incentives.

I certainly swear like a sailor when I'm playing Mario Kart and I'm pretty tame in real life!
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Mark J Kline said:
Videogaming, like many internet activities, provides a relatively anonymous way to interact with others. I think this anonymity, combined with the absence of important, behavior-regulating non-verbal cues, creates a powerful disinhibiting effect. By "disinhibiting," I mean the normal social cues and conventions that discourage people from giving free rein to their impulses are absent, or weakened, and what comes out is a full, unfiltered discharge of players' aggressive and sexual urges.
I think this is where the idea of RealID originated from, and unfortunately (imho) where it took a wrong turn. It's not the anonymity that changes you, it's what releases you.

You see, I don't think the disinhibition is a result of those games, but rather a return to our natural states.

I'm sure we could (and have [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/18.70218-The-Customer-Is-Always-Wrong]) detail all the little things in our life, from families to strangers that really get our goat. And we turn to our virtual worlds to escape.

The problem being that it's not just the angel that escapes to roam the pastures but the devil as well. (Ego and ID, if you prefer Freud)

While the angel is ballet-dancing with the flaming sword, the devil is remembering all the rude, ignorant people and all the slow, mean service, and all the painful joints, and that girl who 'justs want to be friends'.

Deep inside every adult is a child that wants its tantrums back, and - by god - it's found a place to throw them.

Games, as a whole, are a place where the child inside is allowed to burst free, a playground for sociopathy that the real world disallows. And we all have that malicious spirit within.

It's not so much that the games are dis-inhibitors; it's that real life is such an inhibitor at times. We're born with raging instincts that helped to evolve our race, but society's constraints keep them in. Before computer games, we had Wars.

The problem being that computer games, as a whole, aren't as cathartic as we need. Sniping someone is a burst of power as you become Godlike in your ability - but then it's followed by someone else snuffing your power instantly.

Add to that the fact that your body is spiking testosterone and adrenalin, fueled by caffeine, nicotine and sucrose - and the only release is to get more catharsis - usually by releasing a stream of curses that would paint a sailor turquoise.

It's not just games though, look at road rage. Even though the drivers aren't really "anonymous", that git in the Mini that just cut you up DESERVES TO DIE!!!!!!!!

Which isn't really the way we have to act in a normal society, but how most of us who commute will feel.

This also ties into the addiction factor, as we can't burn out the catharsis we need within the game, so we keep returning to it; but it's not the game that's addicting us, but our need to RAGE.

What we need to do is to exhaust our devil before we can let our angel play freely, and teenage boys - with their systems jammed full of hormones, e-numbers and strange, moist feelings - have that devil in superabundance.

TL:DR Games don't make us get angry, they let us get angry. RL gets us wound up.
 

Jared

The British Paladin
Jul 14, 2009
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MMO and People...they are alright (Usually) when not put together...but, with anything, you give someone an avatar to hide behind, and they dont feel they need to take any recourse for the actions they commit.

I think its quite sad how some people just use the mask as an excuse to be total, and complete idiots...I would like to see how they act when face to face with some of the people they try to demeen.

Brilliant article, and great to see an experts point of view on it
 

TraderJimmy

New member
Apr 17, 2010
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The_root_of_all_evil said:
I agree with some of your points - but the way I read Dr. Kline's article, it looked like he made many of the same points, just in different areas (obviously) from the place. I'd just like to take this opportunity to also make the point that Freud is stoopid. :p.

I really enjoyed this article. It feels like the good Herr Doctor (sorry, you must be sick of the TF2 references by now, but it's irresistible) has a good amount of free reign to talk about the actual issues affecting games, rather than the censored, neutered discussion that usually goes on (for instance, in mainstream media it would be "Why do gamers act like dicks? They get to be anonymous, next question").

I particularly liked that he addressed the high proportion of stoned and drunk players. I'd never made the connection (somehow) between disinhibited people on the internet and traditional disinhibitors.

Also, no pun intended on high proportion.

This was a complex and nuanced take on a complex and nuanced issue that doesn't usually get that level of discourse.
 

DigitalSushi

a gallardo? fine, I'll take it.
Dec 24, 2008
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Mark J Kline said:
I have also noticed many gamers who play at various levels of intoxication, from moderately buzzed, to downright shit-faced drunk or stoned out of their gourds. My sense is that people who are intoxicated are even more likely to be disinhibited and become abusive. In most public places, there are laws against drunk and disorderly conduct, or if you go into a bar, at least you know what you are probably getting into. Maybe we need separate servers for the wasted?
Hi Dr Mark, your above comment there, could it be possible to use a bit of text book psychology questions for when registering to servers to see what sort of gamer that person is?, if they happen to be the stoned out shit face's stick them all in one server together where their insults can blossom without me having to be called a "homosexual".
 

instantbenz

Pixel Pusher
Mar 25, 2009
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Honestly, I did not read the entirety of the column, but the gist is anonymity and reclusive social disorders can factor in. My girlfriend and I play Guild Wars all the time and since she doesn't tend to choose girly names plus the frequency of males playing as female characters is high enough that she is rarely ever 'harassed'. I will, however, say that it is sad that if a woman wants to have fun and express themselves with their name or how their toon looks in an mmo, that they are singled out. Furthermore I agree that it's an entertainment form for more than adults. Youth are learning about the foulest of the world via these games. Perhaps some games could have a running system to keep track of age and place people in realms or regions accordingly. This wouldn't solve everything, though, as young adults can be just as rude and vulgar as their elders.
 

Mark J Kline

New member
May 7, 2010
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This entire article is actually relevent to the decision // suggestion to implement the RealID system so people would have their names in the public. So whatever you said, you will degrade yourself and people will take notice. Maybe family or friends will see what you posted or said in an online world.

As always, I am glad The Escapist has a battle-hardened WoW veteran writing and answering the most burning questions within the community. Dr. Mark, you are an amazing person, I was not so trusting with the people in your trade, but you emit a comfortable aura. x] Keep up the good work!
 

tkioz

Fussy Fiddler
May 7, 2009
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My own personal opinion is "some people are just jerks", the thing is in a virtual world you are more likely to run into the jerks then the real world because virtual worlds are just so much smaller. Even the largest virtual world isn't any bigger then a small town, effectively.

How many people have a bar or pub in their town you just don't go near because it's got a reputation for being a hangout for thugs and crazies? If some moron makes a racist comment in a public shopping mall, chances are only a few people will hear it, in a virtual world everyone in that chat channel will see it.

So I don't really think general jerkish behaviour is more common online, it's just easier to notice.
 

quiet_samurai

New member
Apr 24, 2009
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They should make you take one of those personality test like on Match.com or one of those dating sites. After you get your results you sre given a list of servers for people that are most suited to your personality. However the one downfall I can see is that maybe joing in with your IRL friends might not be possible if this was implemented.
 

TheCakeisALie87

New member
Jun 7, 2010
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I think that there is a major difference between the two types of harassment. I've played on sports teams and the like where hazing is the normal, but it often conforms to the more "playful" teasing that you referred to earlier in the article. The thing that really angers me is the group of what sounds like 12 year old males doing one of three things:
1: Using racial/ethnic slurs directly.
2: Pretending to be the ethnicity that they are usually sluring. Usually a representation that far outperforms even the worst Jean-Claude Van Damme portrayals (Bloodsport).

I know that they probably should not be playing the more hard-core games anyway (COD4 is where I saw this most often), but I think that the least of the problem here. Team killing and other annoyances usually come along with this group. If a person gets their jollies by annoying other people, there is no way to stop them, because the very fact that they are getting people angry gives them an incentive to continue the action (this goes beyond the 12 year olds).

Finally in reference to an earlier post, I wish that it was easy enough to just exile the jerks to one server, but no matter what the system it is incredibly difficult to block a type of person from playing with you. For all the number of times I have reported people on xbox live (and always felt like a tattletale no matter how much they deserved it) there are always more people like them. I find muting them more tolerable, but it doesn't solve the problem.
 

snowman6251

New member
Nov 9, 2009
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It's impossible to completely stop people from being dicks on the internet but when playing a game like WoW there is a very simple solution. Block them. Problem solved.

If it's really bad you may be able to report them too but blocking should probably suffice.

As for the getting ganked aspect of being a dick online, as someone who used to frequently murder Alliance players, regardless of level and with no mercy, I'd like to tell you not to flag yourself. Don't play on a PVP server if you don't want to PVP. Don't flag yourself if you don't want to PVP. Doing either suddenly permits me to murder your ass and I will.

Or I would. I don't play WoW any more.
 

Dhatz

New member
Aug 18, 2009
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the cure for sexism in games would be women reacting by cussing appropirately, like callinmg em infantile skunk, mofo dickhead,If I wanted to hear asshole I woulda farted,etc.
Good point here, may I presume you all get to this topic by playing Alien Swarm lately?
 

cdb73

New member
Sep 23, 2009
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Hithlain said:
I'm currently in school to be an economics major and I always think it's interesting when people complain about how people act online. Certainly, it is quite annoying when people troll or be sexist to me in online games and sometimes it's quite aggrevating because I know that some of the opinions that people spout online are either lies or something that would not come out in real life.

Econ teaches you that life is all about incentives. In real life, there are incentives for us to act like polite human beings because there are people all around us judging our every move. This is why laws usually work... if everyone decided to disobey the laws there is pretty much nothing anyone could do about it but we don't because we are afraid of the social (and other) consequences.

Online however, there are no consequences. There is no incentive to act like a normal human being therefore people don't. You can be as rude, sexist, mean, or stupid as you want and there is little anyone can do to find out who you are or to punish you for it. Imagine if there was a police of the internet who fined you if you sexually harassed people! I just think it's interesting to see how incentives work. The internet behaves just like it should since it is anonymous!

I do think that the things people do online and in games are part of their personality that perhaps they are not allowed to use in real life because of these incentives.

I certainly swear like a sailor when I'm playing Mario Kart and I'm pretty tame in real life!
Pretty much this. Anonymity negates the need for social standards.
 

theexhippy

New member
Jan 4, 2010
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It's the same impulse that drives people to be bullies. Dr Mark asks if it's right for kids to be exposed to this but I suspect that most (but by no means all) of the worst offenders are youngsters. I played WoW a lot a couple of years ago and to my shame I often found myself playing to the wee hours of the morning. However I noticed that the frequency of anti-social behaviour dropped off noticeably after 11pm. I am not sure if it was because of the much smaller number of gamers or if the people who felt the need to be idiots were in bed but I actually found myself starting to play later and later to get a bit of peace and quiet and game with more sensible players.

Being a jerk is about power, whether it's "happy slapping", slagging people off on Facebook, writing rude emails to journalists (see the latest Extra Punctuation) or typing endless tirades of abuse in capital letters in WoW. The anonymity of the Internet just makes it easier for those who otherwise feel powerless to finally grab a little bit of glory (if only in their own mind) or make a move on a woman when they're too scared to in real life.

If it makes anyone feel any better they're probably being bullied mercilessly at school; they deserve our pity rather than our ire. Not that it stops them being annoying little jerks of course...
 

Tharticus

New member
Dec 10, 2008
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Since most gamers happen to play on the internet, anonymity is perhaps the reason why most gamers I've encountered are bad. Some I've encountered are nice but only find those a dime a dozen.

Check out Xbox live and even see certain cretins cuss way too much.

If it happens to have multiplayer, IE 4 split screen game, we would be angry losing to one another thus ragequit.
 

Kapol

Watch the spinning tails...
May 2, 2010
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This was an interesting read. While I don't play MMOs as I don't like interacting with people, I see this sort of thing in shooters all the time (the worst being Halo 3 when it first came out). I think there are more teenagers/pre-teens then a lot of people seem to think there are playing these games. They have the desire to show how 'mature' they are by swearing, as they think that's an adult thing to do, and even saying racist/sexist things, as they think that will make people take them more seriously. The boiling point in any game is when they lose though. If they get killed, they say it's because the person who killed them was cheating and call them something. If their team loses, they'll say it was everyone elses fault even though they had the worst score.

There are plenty of adults who abuse these things too, but for the more popular titles, I honestly think it's younger people who normally go over the edge. I'm fairly young myself of course, but even though I get angry quite a bit, I always try to be polite. It leads back to the golden rule of being treated as you'd treat others. But many don't seem to understand the lines between friendly banter, like was mentioned in the article, and offensive behavior.

I'd say the way to fix it is having a complaint system AND ACTUALLY USING IT. MMOs are normally worse on this because they lose that monthly fee if they ban a person. The same can be said about Xbox live, and PS3s can allow you to make accounts to just keep going. I think that they should stop worrying about losing single customers and start focusing on punishing people who get multiple complaints.

Impliment it sort of like this: If someone gets 5-10+ complaints for anything too bad (racism, sexism, extreme swearing (as, let's face it, a lot of us swear when we get killed, we just don't go overboard), and so on), then they're banned for a week to a month. They can appeal to the company, and the company can send emails to each person who complained using their email addresses to varify if the person was really acting out of line (giving examples, showing replays of the match, etc.). If the half the people don't respond or admit they were wrong, then undo the ban. If the player continues doing it after the ban is lifted, ban the account, and any other accounts registered to that counsole, unless the other accounts can prove they are actually other people who haven't recieved complaints.

That's just my opinion at least. It may seem harsh and it can be abused, but it's better then letting these people ruin gaming for some.
 

More Fun To Compute

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Nov 18, 2008
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I was bit annoyed by John Funk using a Penny Arcade comic strip as evidence that anonymity makes people act aggressively in games when the real id in WoW issue came up so I'm happy to see this article.

I find it interesting that people might behave that way because they feel relaxed in the environment and that is how they behave informally with their friends. I was in a guild in an MMO for a while that had more than it's fair share of 20+ year old and female gamers and there was no smack talk, sexism or racism as you might expect. There was a mix of snarky gossip and friendly chat as you might expect from this different type of people who were not being formal. Even though they were playing the same game about killing and achieving they didn't communicate in the same aggressive way.

Some people having more problems communicating than others it puts a different spin on things to me. Everyone sees it as one of the best thing about MMOs that they let people with severe disabilities function in an environment where they can be just as able as everyone else. It doesn't seem right to say that people with some psychological problems should be made to face the same challenges they face in real life in games when they don't have to. Especially when their problems might not even be be that disruptive to other players.
 

Guyovick

New member
Nov 5, 2009
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Dr. Mark, hopefully you are aware of Jamie Madigan and his blog www.psychologyofgames.com. If not, allow me to be the first to point you in his direction. One of his posts addresses the same issue, although from a research instead of a clinical standpoint.
http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/06/05/deindividuation-character-creator-stab-them-in-the-face/