19 June 2007

Privacy & Authenticity

I don't play video games much (at all) anymore... partly because I'm 34 and my definition of recreation has changed since I was 20, partly because I'm a dad & husband and would rather spend time with the beautiful ladies in my life than with a computer, and partly because any spare moments (i.e. at 5am) are spent doing productive things like writing books. Also, I can't justify spending the money on these game consoles (although I have to admit, I think the Wii looks crazy cool and part of me really, really wants one).

But even though I'm not a player, I do try to keep up with what's happening in the world of gaming, particularly as it applies to other areas I'm actively interested in. For example, I think the MMORPG World of Warcraft (WoW) is fascinating, at least partly because it reminds me of the metaverse from Snowcrash (yes, SecondLife resembles the metaverse more closely - but that's not the point.

Anyway, I came across an interesting article by Clive Thompson in Wired this morning, about the social dynamics of WoW. Specifically, the use of voice chat among players. The article talked about the challenges of following a leader who has the voice of an 11-year-old boy... and about the fact that text chat allows a certain degree of privacy.

Some (older) players tend to prefer text chat, while others (younger players) are skeptical of those who don't use their voices. Like anonymous bloggers, the text chat users are often trying to maintain privacy while still participating. The younger generation tends to view that approach with suspicion. As Mr. Thompson wrote:

"They regard personal revelation not as an incursion of privacy but a marker of authenticity."

I tend to agree - and as this younger generation grows up, I think we'll see privacy becoming less and less important. What will matter most is authenticity and honesty. What matters is being yourself.


Mark said...

Privacy is apparently not very important to many young people. Have you seen MySpace lately?

Michelle said...

Mark hit that one right on.

Yeah, WoW was not allowed to enter our house based on the addiction factor we've seen with it, but I do think it's interesting how some will gravitate to games like that for conversation when they could just as easily have a conversation without ll the background noise. Darn if I can't remember which author/book claimed that it was a gender difference, that many men need recreation and games as a backdrop to engage in conversation.

Michelle said...

But back to your point, authenticity and honesty are becoming more important and I definitely welcome that change. But I think privacy should still be allowed and certainly respected.

Then again . . . don't you hate when you see an anonymous comment on a blog, without even a first name or nickname or anything?

Anonymous said...

Like this?

Ben Voetberg said...

As an avid (which means addicted) WoW player I have seen this quite often, I have raided, which almost requires Vent (slang for Ventrilo) or TS (TeamSpeak a less used program). My wife is also an avid player and yes she doesn't like to talk in vent because its gets the "OMG its a girl" when she says stuff. Vent is used so often at one time I had 20+ different vent servers of guilds/people I had partied/raided with. I have trimmed it down to the 4 I actually use on a regular basis.

If anyone has any questions about this voice stuff let me know

Dan said...

Hey, thanks for the comment, Ben! Glad to hear from an actual WoW player!

Ben "wowtastic" Voetberg said...

My bad, didn't realize that it doesn't post a web page

Have you seen MySpace lately?

my myspace is, www.myspace.com/b02j10v21,
and what is this privacy you speak of :)

ben said...

Yeah, WoW was not allowed to enter our house based on the addiction factor we've seen with it

(yes I know the [quote] thing doesn't work, especially if I spell it wrong :), but the forum troll in me can't resist adding them)

WoW can be addicting but they actually have parental controls build in so that you can limit play time :)