Online Gaming and Personality Shifts…

I play a couple of on-line games, Mafia Wars, Sorority Life, and Castle Age, through my Facebook account. And during the time that I’ve played them, I noticed some interesting social behavior and mores that conflict or contradict the “regular world.”

For example, in the “regular world” males are more aggressive and more likely to be in-your-face confrontational. Sheer force and ignorance of polite mores are not strange, uncommon behaviors usually associated with males. And females, tend to be the more devious gender in terms of passive aggressive and calculating behaviors. It (at least in my experience) tends to be the women who monitor and uphold the social mores that are expected of everyone within that society.

On the other hand, life in the on-line gaming community is the opposite. In the on-line games that I play, you have certain stats that regenerate in a give time period, some faster than others, and some even faster if that game has different types of players set up. Basically, every forty-sixty minutes, you receive income from property or jobs that you have. Every five minutes or so, you can regenerate energy points, that are used to complete jobs/tasks; stamina points, which allows you to attack another player; and health points, which you can lose during fights or when you are attacked by another player.

Zynga, the creators of Mafia Wars, defines abuse as one player attacking another player more than twenty times in a row or constantly, almost on a daily basis, attacking another player. If a player attacks you frequently than that or if you notice that they regularly attack you multiple times in a row, than you can put a bounty on them and the player that kills them gets the money, to somewhat remind/police other players about the rules.

Generally, it tends to be that male gamers will attack another player one to four times and that’s it. And if you put a bounty on them for what you feel is abusive gameplay, they accept it as a reprimand of sorts and move on. However with female players, it’s a bit different, it’s not uncommon at all for female players to attack another player over ten times and become upset with the attacked player places a bounty on them. Usually responding with a bounty of their own, and sometimes, messaging the originally attacked player asking why a bounty was even placed in the first place, not seeing their behavior as abusive or aggressive. Now this is a broad overview of my experience but from playing all three games, the behavior and analysis seems to remain the same and true.

The main point of this blog entry is that I find it interesting that through a media vehicle that for the most part the players stay anonymous, there is a role reversal amongst players, most notably in aggression and manners. (As a matter of fact, I’m writing this blog entry, I was attacked six times in one minute by a female player in Mafia Wars and two times in a minute by a male player.) That this air of anonymity seems to provide an opportunity to be the opposite of how you normally are or maybe be the person that you truly are.

I think that this would be a very interesting sociology study about how representative on-line gaming is in regards to a person’s personality and moral ethics. Probably someone has already done this study and I’m just extremely late in thinking about this, so if you know of any studies or papers, please let me know, I really want to read it.

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One response to “Online Gaming and Personality Shifts…

  1. I mentioned something about this game in a previous blog entry of mine, too.

    This game hardly means anything, but, for some reason, I keep playing. I do notice that some people really *love* attacking people over and over again, but then again, I think I do it too… not for aggressive reasons, but because the person is the only one on the list with a smaller mafia than me. 😉 Then again… I don’t usually press the “fight” button. I’m more of a “jobs” kind of player. Hehe.

    Even though what happens in the game is rather inconsequential to me, it’s rather addicting to play. I like my gangster name. =] Maybe that’s why.

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