Through the Looking Glass
Revealing Aspects of the Self
Of course, it isn't the case that MMOs can solve everyone's personal stumbling-blocks. Indeed, many players noted that their MMO experiences helped reveal negative parts of themselves that they didn't really know about. Since awareness is necessary before change, I guess we could think of these as precursors to personal growth. For example, some players noted that they never realized how competitive they are.
Playing WoW has definitely made me recognize how sensitive I am to competition. I've always known I had a competitive streak, but after obsessing (even while lying in bed) over how to out-DPS the other warlock, or bitching for hours about someone insulting my playing ability in a battleground, that definitely made me realize that I am extremely prone to identifying my personal success, and my value as a person, with my achievements in a specific setting. [WoW, F, 25]
Others noticed how much they cared about other people's approval and their need for validation.
I learned from playing MMOs that I am very concerned about what people think of my performance. I worry sometimes in game about whether or not I am doing a good job, and if people think I am lacking in my class duties. I am 37 years old, but the game brings out these teenage thoughts in me of, 'I hope they like me' and, 'I hope I'm doing things correctly.' You know, I worry about proving myself. This is something I have felt more acutely in-game, but it has helped me to understand some of my behaviors and anxieties in RL. [EQ, F, 37]
I am always annoyed at the co-workers who are show-offs and like to talk about whatever bizarre thing they did with a network at home; these are, to me, nothing more than the fishing stories of the workplace. It was something of a surprise to me, then, to learn when helping a newbie guildmate complete some quests that I really enjoy that same sort of showboating in WoW. I love nothing more than to walk all over a ridiculously low-level quest while someone new to the game watches. I did not realize my ego was that important to me. [WoW, M, 32]
And finally, for others, the game revealed a dark side of themselves that worried them.
IRL, I pride myself on being ethical and honest. Imagine my surprise when I found myself ninja looting in Westfall! A group was fighting a bunch of Defias and I stepped in and looted an unguarded quest item; I was soloing, had been trying to complete the quest for some time, and knew I couldn't do it by myself, so acted impulsively. I realized later that due to the mechanics of the game, this probably wouldn't have prevented them from getting it also, but I was pretty disgusted with myself, and saw a side to my own character that was not so nice. [WoW, F, 53]
I found myself becoming so vindictive that it scares me. I find that I have an ugly monster in me. I definitely don't like this. I now play once again on the PvE server, partly to play with no worries of being ganked and partly to rein in the monster and be myself. [WoW, M, 34]
Tags: boundary play (17) , leadership (14) , learning social skills (5) , online identity (3) , personal growth (3) , transfer offline (9)
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