Text-chat vs Voice in MMOGs: questioning identity

I’ve been riffing a bit about virtual presence lately; the identity construction it represents. I’ve recently created a Facebook account, re-engaged with my old Tribe account, and am mustering up the courage to join an online gaming environment. On top of that is the omnipresent responsibility to keep feeding this blog and thus expose at least part of my soft underbelly to critique. So concepts of self are prominent in my thoughts.  Time to go back to reading Sartre, de Beauvoir…

There’s another facet to online being, now, and that’s voice chat, which gives away more about an individual than text chat indicators.  Clive Thompson was playing in WoW and agreed to switch from text to voice chatting, and experienced a relational shift with his fellow gamer as a result.  Thompson reflects on the incursion of voice chats in MMOGs:
“Ultimately, this is about intimacy — how much of ourselves we’re willing to give away to strangers. Personally, I enjoy being able to construct identities carefully in text; that’s because I grew up with text as my main online mode. It’s possible that the impending generation of gamers will simply find voice chat more natural, in the same way that teenagers today happily blog about their personal lives and post pictures and videos of themselves. They regard personal revelation not as an incursion of privacy but a marker of authenticity.”

Hopefully, though, you’ve mastered your multiplexity of personas and can share some of your insight with me.

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1 Comment

  1. Hmmm…I would be inclined to agree that I am much more comfortable going online (certainly if I am online in a faux persona) and interacting via text. I think “intimacy” is a good word to describe this…there is no real reason that I would be more cautious with my real voice…but text is just a little bit more removed, I am a bit more comfortable, less exposed.


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