Let me start off by saying that I only have an AS degree (Santa Rosa Junior College) and that part of my hobbies in my life has been the on/off study of psychology. I am a 49 year old woman who has always loved watching ‘folks’ and has spent far too much time puzzling over human behavior and what makes people tick.
Having said this– I’ve run into a game on Facebook. My husband begged me to play it. At first I refused. Mostly because I don’t see myself as a ‘pirate’ type. I did decide to play after I found out that my older kids were playing. I then saw it as a way to have some fun time “together” over a distance.
This game, of course is set in a two dimensional setting. It is a pirate game. There are basically no rules to the game. I am finding it very interesting that folks are making groups to help them advance their cause, and to secure their ‘sectors’ and even to provoke ‘sector wars’. There are clans of every sort: Family, Friends, buddies, etc. There is a real time chat there so folks can, if they wish, collaborate, or get to know others. This also allows folks to move these game based ‘relationships’ beyond the game and into real or potentially real ‘world’ via Facebook communication & friendships.
But, what I am finding is that there is some blurring between the ‘game’ and ‘real life’, probably by those who play way too much!
But, I also have other concerns, as the anonimity of the game allows people to ‘dehumanize’ people in other sectors and label them ‘bad’ folks nearly immediately. I might add, that I find myself not so innocent, as I quickly jumped into labeling players ‘friends’ or ‘foes’, and failed to take into consideration that they were real people with real playing preferences.
I found it interesting that when people did ‘friend’ each other on the Facebook level, thereby having personal information available that handles (play names) were thrown to the wind within the game in an effort to bring in just enough reality to get someone to conform to the desired behavior (i.e. “Peggy,” (vs. SFF_TigerEyes)“if you’d just shut your mouth then the bully wouldn’t bully you”).
Some clans of people, will designate themselves enforcers of behavior within their sector (The number one rule seems to be no ‘hitting’ inside the sector, but it’s ok to go outside the sector and “hit” other people there). I kind of see them as the Sector Dons; The GodFathers. Depending on their own character (their personal ‘real’ moral character) They may break their own rules, but others may not. If others do, not only are they attacked relentlessly (i.e. bullied) on the playground (bashing of base, and mining fleets attacked) but, also in chat they are personally attacked. And, it gets in the way of real life friendships, and potential friendships —because people use the ‘it’s just a game’ to justify the bullying, and to excuse the bullying. (At this point, I will wonder, only because I have NO clue if I’m right, but does this reek of addiction?? When it gets in the way of REAL relationships?)
Alliances are formed between groups, much like alliances between countries in the real world. Alliances allow the Godfathers to continue to dominate the game and enforce their rules (good or bad). These alliances also give them a sense of correctness because their peers are backing up whatever stand they are taking at the moment; right, wrong, or indifferent. As in the real world, an alliance can be good, evil, or anywhere in between.
I have told my two oldest daughters, that I don’t see this as a game anymore. I’m sure they think I’m totally nuts. (Also note, the people within the game stated that I’m nuts.) Instead, I see it as a kind of test tube. A small slice of human behavior contained in a virtual world where behavior seems to be run ala “Lord of the Flies” style.
I know that I’m only touching on the basics and not even all of that. I see behavior within the game as a mirror of the greater society, and I admit that I find the relationships fascinating. At this point, I play not to spend time with the kids, because my big mouth (I’m a very verbal girl, remember this is how women got the right to vote!), and other’s bullying has caused my husband and I to move to a different sector from my children. Instead I am there, reading the chat, and getting to know the folks so that I can understand what ever will happen in this new sector. Though, I’d venture to say that probably in the end, the same thing will happen here as in the last one, and the last one. Bullies have a tendency to take over. Or at least people that I see as ‘bullies.’ Please, keep in mind, that these people are in fact, folks that others will vouch are fine people in real life.
Part of what caught my attention to this ‘behavior study’ is that it brought up ‘old stuff’ for me. My ex husband beat me nearly every night in our early married years. Every night I ended up in tears, one night I ended up with a broken tooth! Everynight, I’d ask him he felt bigger because of what he did, because yes, I got angry. Everynight, he’d look at me like I was an idiot, and proclaim his innocence. “I’m just playing, what’s the matter with you?” Question: How many bruises did I recieve inside and out?? Answer: More than I’d ever want to count.
People in the pirate game are basically doing the same thing. There are people who actually prefeer to play in a peaceful manner and once they voice that, they become a target, and once they stand up for it, well, they are chided even in the chat! And yes, it’s a game, and one can quit. But, what if one’s family is there playing?? Then it becomes less a game, and more personal, something worth fighting for! Lesson learned: Keep big trap zipped!
This whole experience with this game, still ongoing, has taught me that when the “bullies” in the game got really personal, and people started defriending folks on the ‘real’ side, i.e. Facebook friendships outside of the game. [note: I became the ‘independant’ i.e. the one who had to be forced to conform; perhaps the ‘loose canon.’] this all just really reminded me of THE Prison Experiment (1971, Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., Sanford University).
It’s not the same thing, but, oh it is. And that is a sad statement for humans and the effect of gaming on human relationships in general for this has affected could-have-been beautiful potential friendships, and established family relationships.
For example, it was fasinating to watch someone who felt he’d be run out from the previous sector by bullies turn on a woman who felt bullied and was trying to play by her conscious. Not only did he side with the bullies, but he ‘attacked’ her as well, and defriended her on the Facebook side as well. I can tell you, the woman was, incredibly hurt by what felt like a betrayal, and by the loss of a potential ‘beautiful’ friend. She holds her friendships dear to her heart.
And yet, there are wonderful people playing there as well. People who play peacefully, and who are capable of treating their neighbor with courtesy and kindness. Civility does not fall through all the cracks, or through all the cracked ones.
The chemistry for me is just captivating, and yet too painful in real life to go back and try to talk to these people to understand their actions. Instead, I’d love to take a researcher’s seat– to stand back and watch what is going on, and stay in the backseat and watch as personal relationships grow and fall apart, because of rules in a ‘virtual world’ reign supreme even in real life relationships.
I’d like to thank CptnDeadeye, and Greenbay for their kindness. Thank you to CaptainDeath, DavidK, Pitbull, WPD_Barry, Scor, SirFerret, Paul_D, KillerD (for not hitting me back) and others for helping me to understand myself a little more. Some of us were particularly kind. Some of us were very unkind, and some of us were simply trying to stand up for what was right, even in a ‘virtual world.’
“Legitimi non carborundum”