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Games As the Great Unifier 104

OGX writes "In this racially divided world, who or what can step up and bridge the gap among people? Oddly enough, the answer comes from pop videogame technology. The anonymity of online gaming has made personal characteristics secondary to a game skill set. Michelle Dalrymple explores how online gaming vaults the issue of race in this editorial at OGX." From the article: "The computer/video console acts as a filter, extracting out any issues of race and placing emphasis on how quickly one can respond by selecting the correct button. Let's take a look at how this plays out in the online gaming world. As with any MMOG - character selection is core to the game play, and while one may have a skin color choice, usually appearance is tied to some imaginary 'race,' an arbitrary figure generator pulled from fantasy and folklore. It gives the idea of race a whole new meaning. What do fellow gamers care what race you the player really are, as long as your elf ranger or human mage can complete the task?"
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Games As the Great Unifier

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  • by Tweekster ( 949766 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:02PM (#16155775)
    need to be bigger than they are...they want to be this movement that somehow changes the world. Hint, it just isnt gonna happen. Gaming is not some noble endeavor that is unlike anything else that has ever happened. it is pure enjoyment, leave it at that

  • I don't think so. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by steveo777 ( 183629 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:04PM (#16155790) Homepage Journal
    I've got a long ignore list in WoW of players who have accoused me of being many different things (dirty Jew, gay, and much much worse) because I would not give them money or politely requested that they keep their conversations in a party environment. I'm sure eventually these players will or have already been booted.

    I've played a few MMORPGs in my time but, generally, my experience is that there are three player types. The offensive, who's lack of identifiability makes them think they can do what they want.
    The passive, who keep to themselves or their guild. They tend to accept people who accept them. The vast majority of people lie in this group.
    The aggresive. They are active. Tend to help people whenever they can. And they really do find ways to be involved.

    The real reason people seem to 'get along' so well? There isn't even a fraction of lifes 'drama' running around in the virtual world. The worst thing that can happen to you within the confines of an MMORPG is that you miss out on some kind of loot, or you're late for/miss an event. If you can get worked up over that then you really must learn to chill out.

  • by timster ( 32400 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:18PM (#16155917)
    Diversity is way overstated. In America, if you go into an immigrant family's apartment, you're likely to see a PS2, a Dell computer, etc. Some people go to bars and drink with the good ol' boys, and some people go to coffee shops to blog, but there's not any crucial difference in what people want to do and buy.

    The most crucial differences I have seen is what people in these groups are afraid of. Conservative Christians are afraid of Muslim terrorists and declining morality; young liberals worry about global warming; moderates worry about polarization; the underemployed worry about immigrants. I think it's important to understand that while the groups may find each others' fears unreasonable, all of these fears came about as a result of real concern that these problems would destroy the America that everyone basically wants.

    It's hard for politics to be united since everyone wants government to solve problems, so it's natural to argue about our fears, but I think it's short-sighted to believe that this political split is indicative of a really fundamental split. We still have plenty in common, at least until the rising geek girl population leads to speciation, but that's another topic.

    As for the statement that people are less and less willing to sacrifice for our country, I don't believe that's true. I do think that the political leaders on both sides have done a poor job of asking for sacrifices that the population is willing to make.
  • Re:Still far to go (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Thansal ( 999464 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:28PM (#16156022)
    If this was really the case, why do I see so many racial slurs being thrown around in an average game of Counterstrike, not to mention the nearly ubiquitous use of "gay" as a pejorative.

    Simple realy.

    It rarely actualy has any relation to sexual orientation anymore, especialy online and in other casual situations.

    "Don't be so gay", "that was gay", etc etc, are rarely even attached to something that is stereotypicly a homosexual action. After all, I don't realy think gays are well known for spawn camping, using an AWP, or anytihng else related to most video games. Heck, many of the people that use the word as a deragatory have no problems with homosexuals.

    The same goes for the ussage of most racial/ethnic slurs. They no longer mean anything more than "a bad person", much like your everyday swearing no longer has any real meaning behind it (yes, the words actualy have deffenitions, but they are not ussed).

    Now, I am not saying that the use of these wrods is in any way right (I ussed to admin a server that had a zero tollerance policy, and I gladely banned many an asshat for ussing just these words). I am just pointing out that these words nolonger mean what you think they mean.
  • by Apocalypse111 ( 597674 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:30PM (#16156040) Journal
    No, you didn't specifically say that this was an American phenomenon, but your vernacular heavily implied it, specifically the "our great country" and "sacrifice for our country" bits (esp. without prior reference to your country of origin - seems a little pompous to me, but whatever). However, why shouldn't you be concerned about the global implications of a percieved problem? You're also living on this planet, I assume?

    I made my reference to information abundance after reading your "increasingly becoming so diverse that we have nothing in common" bit. We don't become more diverse by just sitting at home in a pool of intellectual stagnation, we become more diverse by learning, which requires new information, new opinions, new points of view. Anonimity does not cause diversity. Anonimity protects you from any number of attacks on your person. It allows you to share and retrieve information without risk. It also allows you to be an asshat without fear of reprisals. True, anonimity allows you to detach yourself from ties to a region, but that's only if you chose not to share those interest about yourself - a personal decision. The tie to locality may be lost, but it is being lost in favor of a tie to ideals or shared interests or goals, which to me is more important and significant than being tied to, say, "Podunk, Mississippi".

    Further, I didn't blame Bush by name for anything. Bush isn't the only leader. If you're a member of a community, then you have leaders on the local, regional, state, and national levels - and not just the President at the national level. We also have Congress and the Supreme Court. I see failures and lack of leadership ability at all levels of government.

    And for the record, I'm not one of your "liberals", my values tend to allign more with the Democratic Libertarian party. Trying to dismiss me by labeling me is the height of ignorance and arrogance. I'm not some party-line spewing drone, I'm an individual with my own ideas and opinions about things.
  • by Denial93 ( 773403 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:32PM (#16156043)
    Nations are becoming less and less important as the information age gets going.
    Similarily, extended families became less and less important with the industrial era.
    Before that, the hometown/village.
    Before that, the clan.
    Each been the central social group everyone identified themselves by, each had seemed a natural constant in the lives of people and still each was replaced by the next. Currently, nation states are being replaced by continent-size cultural zones; most obviously so in Europe and South America.

    You can call this unfortunate, like you can call any natural process unfortunate. Or you can realize that identifying yourself as a citizen of your country is a cultural habit, not a necessity, so the value you are losing was virtual in the first place. Other social reference groups (say your family, or your race, or mankind) may be used interchangably. And some choices give you more options than others.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?