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South Park vs Boston Legal

Is It I? (Terranova)

In my feeds this week was this piece by Greg L at the virtual worlds mega-blog Terranova. Here's an extract:

At a conference recently, I heard someone say that she had several avatars in several virtual worlds, including World of Warcraft and Second Life.  I was surprised, though, that she uniformly referred to her avatars in the third person.  She said things like: "It isn't a good fighter - it was exploring and it got killed by wolves."  This surprised me.  Though it is perfect logical to see your avatar as a separate thing, I still would have expected her to say "I was exploring and I got killed by wolves."  Does the usage of the third person here sound strange to you too? 

My comment (among the hundreds...):

For me personally, I use the third person to refer to videogame characters in games that give me multiple characters, such as turn-based strategy games which give me a team to deploy. In this situation, it is difficult to use "I" as you would have to pick one character to identify with. The immersion centres upon your management of the team, not on your identification with a single avatar. Perhaps players with multiple characters in multiple games would have the same perspective?

When I think back to my play of online virtual worlds, I struggle to remember how I referred to my avatar. But I imagine I said "I became a religious official and presided over several marriages after I retired from the Romulan Embassy" rather than "She retired from the Romulan Embassy". I really can't be sure though.

You can comment on Greg's post over at Terranova by clicking here. If you have any commentary solely concerned with my response, you can use the comments here as a sidebar since Terranova is so jam packed. But if you want to share your perspective on this issue, you should probably do it at Greg's original post so he can see what you think.

This is part of my new attempt to foster more dialogue with other blogs in my cluster, although since this is Terranova, I don't see it happening in this particular case.


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Hey Chris --

I asked the question mostly due to my own reaction to that conference presentation -- I wasn't sure why it felt wrong. The responses so far have been interesting. It seems pretty clear that there are different approaches, including some "experienced" folks, mostly role-players, who do use the 3P to refer to characters in situations where I would find it odd.

I think the comment about the car is probably the best fit for my personal approach -- the tool becomes fused with the tool user. Role-play and, as you point out, the use of multiple tools creates a need to shift out of the tool-user collapse.

I really enjoy your blog, btw.

Greg: thanks for stopping by! I had no idea when I left this 'sidebar' open that it would be you making use of it. :)

This question of the tool and the tool-user is an interesting one, as I am beginning to really appreciate the extent to which we can't separate our tools (both physical and otherwise) from ourselves...

I really enjoy Terranova, but the sheer volume of comments there is daunting to me. It feels as if only the person who issues a post has any hope of entering something close to a conversation, and everyone else is reduced to "audience" or just "dropping in".

Best wishes!

True enough -- though we've just recently been taking to task for 1) not posting enough and 2) not fostering sufficient discussion in the comments. It's hard to make something that everyone will like...

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