I'm thinking about a paper for a conference on ethics and games being set up by Harry Brown this October, and I'd like to kick out a concept (about which I know nothing, so it fits here) to see what your reaction is (if any): Maturity. I'm getting older and older, you see, and online shenanigans seem to be losing significance. Once thrilling, then annoying, now boring. What's happening?
Maybe it has nothing to do with age; maybe it's a stance with respect to goofing off that changes often according to circumstance, even if there is a general trend such that older people lose interest. What's your Sophomoric Stance? When Mia gave us all those neat examples about cheating, did you feel outrage, or titillation? Or maybe you just rolled your eyes and muttered, "Kids."
I feel this urge to challenge what seems to be a standard analysis of online transgression, in which transgression is either celebrated as significant revolution or vilified as significant crime. I'm not concerned about the revolution or crime part, but the significance.
What happens if we start treating rule-breaking in online environments as the acts of kids (of whatever age)? There's a big difference between handling kids and handling criminals. When kids are up to something, you just wave them off, put them in their place, and move on. The situation is definitely not loaded with ramifications. If you need to undertake common-sense moves to keep kids away from stuff they are likely to wreck, you don't agonize about it - it's better for you and for them to keep them out. I wonder if the "RP" moniker in MMOGs has less to do with RPing than with its role as a kid-filter. Do kids (again - kids of any age, "kids" = "people with a sophomoric stance that judges mooning as awesome") like to give their character stupid names that the RP filter catches? If so, that makes "RP server" into "adult server."
Do other authors use the term"maturity" when describing various pranks and persecutions and trollings in pseudonymous environments? Does maturity rise as one gets deeper and deeper into the social systems of persistent worlds? What happens when lots of online gamers are senior citizens? "When I was a kid, we only corpse-camped true idiots, but kids today, they just go off on anybody. It's a shame. Makes me wanna ragequit WoW, just like I did in 2006, 2009, 2013, 2021, and 2029...Oh, do ya remember the 2017 Night Elf model, wasn't she sweet..." [/face-plant into apple sauce]