I wrote a “think piece” about Young’s article Games without frontiers: On the moral and psychological implications of violating taboos within multi-player virtual spaces. This is such an interesting article because one, I had no clue adult MMORPGs existed and two, I had no clue adult MMORPGs existed. MMORPGs stands for massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Read my critique.
My coworker’s concern about my interest in this topic made me chuckle, especially when he stated, “Andrea, stay away. It gets Furry bad.” These games fascinate me. It’s not the game mechanics or aesthetics of the game that attract me, it’s understanding why people are playing these games. At one point, do the gamers vision actually get blurred between virtual and real worlds?
In these fantasy worlds, a very large number of players create their own avatars to help shape their identities and physical characteristics. The jaw-dropping piece, these gamers murder, eat humans, have sexual relations with animals, and rape. Young defines taboo as a deep disgust and revulsion to a violation of social norm. One of my classmates asked, “What is a “norm” and who defines it?” Society defines a norm. Therefore, I believe a norm is anything that society defines. Young could have and should have done a better job of defining a “social norm” in his article. In real life, society typically does not accept rape, murder, bestiality, or necrophilia. You would think this be true in the virtual world as well. It would only make sense for these violating “taboos” to follow through in the real world…but it’s not.
Gamers argue that it’s just a game, a fantasy world where you can express yourself. Many can argue that there should be real-life consequences for gamers and their actions in the virtual world, like imprisonment. I’d have to agree with the gamers and argue that this is just a game. By playing in this fantasy world, does this define a gamer’s “true self”? This is a strong hell-no! If I play in this virtual adult world and eat a human, I would not identify myself as Hannibal Lector and eat human meat in the real world.
This is why Young proposes future research in the parity of both the virtual and online worlds. He argues that players who truly identify with their avatar and play for long periods of time have a strong sense of parity between both worlds.
Thinking about the future of MMORPGs, a classmate wondered what would happen if adult MMORPGs turned virtual reality? Nothing. I think this would be another enhanced experience for gamers. I would be extremely curious to see if gamers, who play for a long period of time, lose complete sense of the real world in this virtual reality world. I shall research and see!