Editorial: Handling conflicts as an online persona

We’ve had some time to ponder the events that recently took place on Fan Fest 2012 and there are still alot to devulge in the publicly available material. Due to a series of events, the chairman of the CSM6 and reelect for CSM7 decided to step down from the role in an effort to make amends. This gives me a reason to dive into a new topic.

 

I’ve tried to mediate in several conflicts as a player, as a leader of a group, as a friend and now, daily on a completely different and personal level.

Something that surprises me everytime is how different people can be, and how different they percieve the world around them, resulting in a variety of interesting reactions. I’d like to think that I’ve grown more experienced now than I’ve been in the past. Its a natural development I guess.

At its core, a player (or an online persona) is a person, behind a screen. Without the person behind the screen, there can be no online persona. While that person may be roleplaying his persona, some are unable to detach their online persona from their own person and see any communication to their online persona as communication to the player. In an environment where negative experiences occur, ranging from the loss of ingame items all the way up to something I’d class as a direct attack on the person behind the online persona, how to handle these experiences can affect the person behind the screen.

Its my experience that roleplayers best able to handle these conflicts, as their response is usually those that are based on their in-game character – rather than their actual person. Only in the case of attacks aimed at the actual player will they respond differently, however – in most cases – and especially in EVE. This is very difficult to realisticly achieve, unless the person puts his name out there, like I’ve done. But then I know the risks involved and I’m used to handling these kind of “fans”.

Most players do not differ from being an online persona or a person when communicating with other characters in the game. Ask a corpmate if he’s been out for beers this month or had a wank and he’ll propably say yes. Similarly you’ll propably talk about holliday experiences, sex, love and all the other good stuff that the real world has to offer that isn’t possible in EVE. Does that mean theyre unable to handle conflicts? No.

It just means that they are easier to troll, and get a negative reaction out of.

I was at an amusement park today. At one of the stands, there was a man sitting on a ledge, provoking bystanders by spewing out condesending onliners. It was fun to watch the surrounding people get more and more riled up and approach the stand to buy some throwing balls so they could hit the little circle that triggered the ledge, and in turn – the man falling down. In the old days, he’d be falling into water but these days it was an inflatable pillow he landed on so there is less personal fullfillment from “getting even”.

Next to me, there was a group of 4 male teenagers and behind them, their girlfriends were watching them; Giggling.  No wonder. One of the guys was getting so infuriated that he refused to step away and admit defeat. His persona had been violated and he wanted revenge. Eventually he hit the right spot to make the guy fall down, but not before spewing several obsceneties at the guy.

For him, the dare was real and his personal inability to deflect forced him to respond negatively. The rest of us was properly entertained though, we’ve all been through our teens and this is just one of those things you learn later in life that aren’t important to respond to. Im sure the following sensation of “victory” meant alot to him, but in the situation he was unable to cope with the provokation and was effectively no longer in control of himself. Anger and stupidity in a joint operation had taken over.

When handling “defeat” in EVE, its important to reflect on the posiblity that the players you interact with are often affected by your communications with them. You both have a responsibility to communicate effectively though, its not all just one persons fault if something goes wrong. Communication is a two-way street. If you are usually finding yourself become frustrated from your interactions with other players, due to experiences that happened in the game, what you can do is try to identify your own position in the different stages of grief. Wiki has an excellent compilation of articles on the topic, the most usefull is propably the Kübler-Ross model.

  1. Denial (Its fine, I’ll get past this gatecamp no worries. lolRifters)
  2. Anger (WTF? How can I not warp? What lame internet wizardry is this!!)
  3. Bargaining (Please don’t kill me, I’ll give you ISK if you just leave me alone!)
  4. Depression (What is the point of hauling if you die all the time?? *cries*)
  5. Acceptance (I can’t avoid it, I may as well just HTFU and do better next time)

 

Thats the case of a normal negative game occurance for en EVE player, right?

At the other end of the spectrum we have character assasination. At this point, the defamation of the person has occurred, possibly with the use of red herrings. No ingame assets are at risk, or possibly all of them – including all existing characters as well as the future in the game for the player. Luckily, EVE can be a foregiving universe. But handing over an account to the great void can be a difficult choice to make.

The regular player simply does not bother that much about ingame relations to let it affect them. Others have had their personal details released to the public along with ingame names providing everyone with the inevitable link to -10.

 

How does this affect ingame relations you may ask yourself. At the end of the day, listening and paying attention to the level of frustration can be a simple tool to resolve conflicts between players. Some simply care about the problems they face more than others.

I seem to have run out of time for now, its possible that I’ll return to the topic, but for now I’ll leave you with a “fly safe” o7

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