Some Kind of Monkey...: online ethics (part 1?)

Thoughtfulll essay

While surfing the net yesterday (keyboard firmly planted under my feet as wave after wave of ones and zeros washed over me) I came across a couple of articles written by Ian Shanahan about online gaming and the ethical questions it raises. They're pretty well written (better than anything I'm writing on this site); one's called "Bow, N****r" about what happens when racism enters the virtual gaming community, and another (which I think is a little more thoughtful) called "Posessing Barbie" about issues of age, gender, and intimacy in an online game. The links are there if you want to read the articles (which I recommend). He's got a lot more on his site that I haven't had time to read yet, though I think he's pretty literate for writing about videogames (which tends to be a rarity) so I'm sure I'll read some more in the future.

I've never played either of the games Shanahan mentions in his articles; I don't particularly want to. Yet I think the issues he raises are the natural outgrowth of existing in an increasingly virtual world. The short answer is obvious: "Racists are racists no matter what the forum" or "People manage online interactions the same way they do in real life." But I think that response is a little too easy; it doesn't really interrogate the issue very well. Because the distance (perceived or otherwise) of the virtual community allows people to interact online in ways they never would in real life....

Some Kind of Monkey...: online ethics (part 1?)


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