In the article “Expressing My Inner Gnome: Appearance and Behavior in Virtual Worlds” by Tony K. Lam and John Riedl a point is made that people will react and interact differently with one another in a virtual setting then they may in a physical setting. Stating that the relative size and attractiveness of their personal avatar online is related to their play style and how they may choose to treat others. They also discussed how even in a virtual setting it seemed that the avatars were true to their real world social norms. However, it never discussed the possible effects it could have on a person outside of the virtual world and how they may choose to react with others when they are not wearing their avatar’s virtual mask.
For many who play MMORPGs, their experience in the game constitutes something of a second existence. Overtime, a person who plays such games can become quite attached to the individual they are in the game space. Sometimes achievements made in the virtual world can be extremely rewarding for them. As they now see it as having personally accomplished some Herculean feat, that in their everyday life they may never have considered attempting or be capable of. In this respect it can lead to improvement in one’s self-esteem. As stated in the article those who had a certain avatar, be it larger, stronger, taller more attractive etc, people would express a greater deal of confidence in themselves. Thus effecting their social interactions in the virtual realm, usually in a positive manner. With some players, this attitude may begin to extend outside of the virtual and into the real world.
This may happen when the individual, who feels a strong connection between the person they are virtually and who they are in reality, begins to express themselves as they would in the setting of the game. They may now approach scenarios, that at one time may have made them uncomfortable, with more confidence because they know they have done things virtually that tested their strength and will, and they came out successful. I relate this sensation to the same sensation of confidence anyone one who plays a sport or engages in a performing art may feel. By participating in these activities it can help promote a better self esteem and sense of accomplishment. It can also help develop a person’s character. People who’s charter in a virtual world may react differently then they might typically react in real life, may feel compelled to make similar decisions in reality based on what they might do virtually.
So long as the individual who plays these games can maintain a healthy perspective on the difference between what is real and what is fantasy, then participating in these kind of role playing games may serve as a means of developing an individual’s social skills. As these games are designed to be played in a social manner. An adventure online in a virtual world can become an adventure of self discovery in the corporeal world.