Anonymity Breeding Malicious Behavior?

It is through personal experience with role-playing games that I have concluded that you can find out a lot about someone from their first character build. In a table top game that is as open as Dungeons and Dragons, first timers will make their character more like themselves than they know. I’ve seen people go as far as to project their eating disorders onto their characters. It made me wonder the effectiveness of using imaginary or virtual world building as a means to study psychological profile and social interaction.

Virtual scenarios are already a subject of study. Events that have occurred in massively multiplayer online role-playing games have piqued interest into the behavior of avatars. Does the phenomenon of “griefers” exemplify a character of human behavior or do players take on a whole new persona in this constructed environment? Griefers are players that dwell outside of gaming ethics. They’ll purposely fire on friendly players and NPCs. Presumably they receive satisfaction by frustrating other players. It’s daunting to believe that this form of anonymity reveals this unknown aspect of our personalities. At the same time it’s difficult to not acknowledge this widespread behavior as inherent in a good portion of the population. Another citeable instance would be the website 4chan. Its relationship goes beyond cyberspace and begins to affect reality around us. Users were once able to track down a teenager who was posting pictures of him torturing his cat.

For as much negativity that shows up on the internet, there seems to be a good portion positive action as well. I believe that it is through this virtual medium that we will begin to truly peel back the effects of our social personalities and view the core. Placing ourselves in a society completely different than we’ve ever known could prove to be the key to knowing ourselves.

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