The Main Page - A Review
Governance Structures Found in Several Different Text-Based Online Communities
Ethical and Social Problems that Arise in Online Communities
Identities and Social Interactions in MUDs
While certain muds are said to have a personality that is generally reflected by the personality of its members, the precise identity of each member is not known to the other members of the group, since the interaction occurs online. A person can choose to divulge as much or as little as he or she chooses, and can experiment with different genders and personalities online, some of them reflections of their true identity, and some of them deceptions.
Gender MasqueradeThe most common deception is gender masquerade, in which a player’s character is of a different gender than the player. Since the majority of players in muds and mmogs are male (LambdaMOO’s population is estimated at approximately seventy percent male, and in some muds, that percentage is even higher) , this kind of deception leads many to question whether a female character is actually a female in real life, or only a female-presenting male player (the opposite assumption, that male characters are played by female players, does not seem to come up). Some players simply assume that every character online, whether the avatar be male or female, is, in real life, a male, simply by virtue of the fact that the population is predominantly male.
Multiple Characters, One Person?Many players choose to use different characters to express different aspects of their own personalities. Some explore different characters and different muds in order to allow freedom to different aspects of their personalities. In one case cited in Kendall’s book, one male player (character name is Previous) had characters on the muds BlueSky and GammaMOO, and behaved quite differently, and had different ‘personalities’ depending on which character he was playing, and which mud he was logged into. Kendall writes “Previous clearly felt embarrassed at having interacted with me without knowing my other identity on BlueSky, probably because his behavior on GammaMOO differs considerably from his behavior on BlueSky. Previous’s arguably flirtatious approach to me would have stood out on BlueSky but did not on GammaMOO.” Many players use the online space to act out socially inappropriate behaviors, some as minor as the flirting described above, and some much more serious, including violent verbal and sexual harassment. Through different characters and different forums, people can take on vastly different personalities, the same, or different from their ‘true’ personality.
Curtis, Pavel. "Mudding: Social phenomena in text-based virtual realities." CPSR Directions and Implications of Advanced Technology Conference, June 1992. p 401.
Kendall, Lori. Hanging Out in the Virtual Pub: Masculinities and Relationships Online. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. p 125.