Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Life of the Party

Greetings once again! I realize that anyone reading this won't realize it, but this post was submitted about... 2 minutes after the previous one... Don't ask me why, just enjoy another generic overview of something MMORPG-centric.

Anyhow, that's enough preamble, here's the words!

For a respectable demographic of society, walking up to a stranger and holding a conversation is at best awkward, and at worst a horrifying experience. This same situation, however, occurs on a constant basis in your average Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG), whether it's trading items or gathering fellow players to conquer a tough dungeon.

A shy gamer, someone who isolates themself in a corner during a yearly office party, might also be the same person forming a 40 man group in an MMORPG. The only difference is the face to face interaction with an actual person, as opposed to an anonymous meeting between avatars in a fantasy environment. All that's required for that person to achieve the same confidence at the party as they have in-game is to detach themself from their fear of embarrassment. This detachment is made easier in a game, where they don't interact using their actual self, but instead use a virtual personality. This disconnects them from the interaction, and makes it acceptable to blunder or fail in any given situation because they will think "this is not actually me" or "I can always start over". This detachment and freedom to reinvent yourself in-game allows someone to be more willing to take chances, to step outside of their usual practices in a social situation.

In order to bridge the gap between real life and in-game interactions, a shy gamer must be willing to detach themselves from their ego, their real life avatar, and be willing to look a little foolish, a little awkward in front of strangers. By taking the common practices that occur in an MMORPG, a shy player can break from their standard actions and become not only the life of their 5-man party, but also the life of their after work get-together.

- Nipah

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