I have been playing a computer game a lot recently called Star Wars Galaxies. It is a MMORPG or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game for those who have not tried one yet. This is my first go at a game of this type and I have entered the game world with the idea that I am going to impose myself in the game world.
I'm not going to play a fantasy role and try to be something I am not, so to this end I have tried to make my Avatar look as much like me as I could; here is a picture of Lazzers Harkan stood outside his house in Delta City on Tatooine.
There's a weird thing that has come out of my experience of playing, it's kind of like a scene from the 1982 film Tron, only with a less dramatic entrance to the gaming world.In the film; a computer programmer was zapped by a laser digitizing device and transfered to a game world where he was forced to play to survive. I have been zapped by the concept of the Star Wars game and have been recreated in the machine. In the game I can dress, act, and think like anything I fancy, I could play a girl, a Wookie or any number of aliens, as a submissive, or as a blow hard, but i have chosen to play me.
A surprising thing to me is that patterns of behaviour I have in the real world are transfered to the game, and hence my play is not as free form as it could be. In the game I am stuck in repeated behaviour and it is boring but necessary. Like in real life I have to earn money to live and buy things. I have to experience things in the game to learn from them and move up the skill tree. So like in life I go to work, I get money, and I buy things with it that bring me pleasure. Also like in life, I am pretty much a soloist, I am self sufficient and do not need anybodies help, I do not revel in having to interact with people to perform actions i could do just as well myself.
One of the interesting outcomes of the game is that it teaches you to fear death, in the context of the game. So your actions revolve around not dying, even though it doesn't really matter or affect your Avatar. Like in life, you push things a little but run away if it looks like your life is about to expire. It's fine to be knocked down, just as in life, because you can recover and get back up, but death is somehow more final.
I'm thinking that I can learn how to be more free form in life via a reverse feedback effect: It works in the game so it should work in life! As I am playing with real people in the game rather than with Bots everyone will be imposing themselves on the game. The chances are if you are a pretender in real life, you will pick some bizarre alien in the game and play a role to suit, just like you do in your life. I however am me in the game and i'm planning on learning some things about the way I live in the real world.
I understand some psycologists are playing SWG as part of their work, they see the SWG world as a speeded up version of the real world where interactions happen a lot quicker than they ordinarily would. So they are studying very real human behaviour and will hopefully learn about us and relate game actions to the real world as I am.
As I progress in the game and learn more about myself i'll bring it back here to be posted.