Thursday, May 30, 2013
Real world value systems in virtual worlds
Browsing through my newsfeeds I noticed several blogs talking about gender issues in virtual worlds. Again. For the thousandth time. I decided to just skip over those posts. I am all for gender equality in the real world, but I believe that real world value systems do not necessarily apply to virtual worlds.
For example, are you a racist in real life? I'd hope not! But in a typical MMORPG, like World of Warcraft (and it doesn't get any more typical than that), we are all supposed to be racists. Whether somebody in front of you is of your faction, the opposing faction, or considered "a monster", depends on the race/species of his avatar. We'd balk at the idea that we should judge somebody on his black skin in real life, but we are totally okay of judging somebody on his green skin in virtual worlds.
Are you a thief or robber in real life? Again the move to a virtual world changes our value system. In virtual worlds we kill people with the express purpose of looting their corpses. And how many RPGs did you play in which your character pocketed any item he could lay his hands on, even if those items clearly belonged to somebody?
So if we are playing racist killers and thieves in those virtual worlds, then why should those characters be politically correct when it comes to gender issues? I have trouble imagining Conan the Barbarian as being pro gender equality. Why are we perfectly willing to adjust our value systems to an imagined medieval fantasy world in some aspects, but not in others?