Thursday, October 1, 2009

Anonymously Confidential

Even though this blog post starts in Eve Online, it's also applicable to Second Life, Twinity and other environments. It's about the relative safety of being anonymous online.

I'm one of those Eve Online pilots who's trying to participate in corporate and alliance chat. Talking to corp mates and alliance friends adds a valuable social dimension to the game, and unless I'm busy with the mission or task at hand, I'm available for a bit of idle chat.

But it doesn't always have to be just a bit of chat. At times, I have ended up in quite personal and sometimes emotional conversations, usually about people experiencing all kinds of difficulty at home. Alcoholism, parental abuse, broken families, a bitter divorce, legal struggles with (usually) ex wives refusing a father to see his kids, financial issues - it's all there. And it's surprisingly close to the surface; sometimes it takes just one or two questions before someone pours their heart out. I've been, at times, taken aback by the painful stories, by the hurt that's hiding behind the screen names!

In an environment like Eve Online, it's not that difficult to hide your real life identity. This relative anonimity, coupled with a feeling of trust amongst corporation mates, will from time to time lead to this kind of confidential conversations. And though the circumstances may differ, I've also had encounters like these in Second Life.

I have said it before: these human interactions adds a value to MMO style games which I appreciate a lot. It would be a cold affair without it!

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