I recently read an article that made me think about the way that some gamers interact online and the apparent lack of responsibility some seem to think they have when it comes to common courtesy, respect and general decency.
Marina Abramovic (artist) under took a social experiment to see how the general public would react when left to their own devices.
I was appalled at the results. For this experiment she informed her viewers that she would stand motionless for 6 hours regardless of what was done to her.
Next to her she had 72 different objects laid out (ranging from soft and pleasant to the touch, to a loaded gun and a knife), she advised the onlookers that they could do with them as they pleased.
At the start, those that chose to interact with the artist were timid however it did not take long until this experiment began to display the true nature of some people.
The artist reported afterwards:
“The experience I learned was that if you leave decision to the public, you can be killed. I felt really violated: they cut my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the public. Everyone ran away, escaping an actual confrontation.”
The reason this particular experiment got me thinking about how it relates to online gamers is quite frequently and for no reason, I will be attacked verbally by people who I do not know, when in an online gaming environment. Some of these attacks can get quite out of control and become rather frightening.
When people are left to their own devices and know that they are in a situation where they do not have to respect the normal rules of human engagement some of the most awful things can occur, and this is demonstrated frequently in online gaming with the ‘pack mentality’ of groups of gamers that when placed together can become increasingly hostile, when generally one their own these individuals are placid and polite creatures.
‘Pack Mentality’ has been philosophized on and studied since the days of philosophers Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche and can be found in nearly every facet of our lives from the work place, to sporting events, and sadly even online gaming.
Marina Abramovic’s performance demonstrated the ability in humans to dehumanize a person who doesn’t fight back or is not able to do so due to the anonymity of their attackers.
If you are one of these people that takes advantage of your ‘freedom’ to act in such an appalling manner I urge you to have a strong think about what you have just read and why it is that you choose to act in this manner.