Bob Moore at PARC has figured out that it is the conversational attributes of MMO communication that remind us that these virtual worlds are unreal on the PlayOn blog. He’s made a list of “10 features of avatar interaction systems that reduce interactional realism, plus 10 tips for increasing it”. The whole issue makes me feel kinda awkward. I suppose treating MMOs as chat rooms has always kinda appealed to me. Nr. 7 on his list is “Gesticulate freely: real-time motion capture using a camer enables players to use their bodies to gesticulate freely”. I don’t know, maybe I’m being too close minded and not understanding the thrills of experiencing more ‘real’ interactions in MMOs. It is however, a very interesting list and I like the way it pin-points the unreality of interaction (or lack of interactional realism) in MMOs. And I suppose it’s true when he points out that we can’t study social behavior in MMOs until such points are at least discussed.
Aleks at The Guardian also points out “is it right for academics to study the participants in virtual worlds as if they (we) were rats in a cage?”. This is something that I’ve been wondering about myself. I’m having a hard time writing about the conversations I’ve had and observations I’ve made in TSO. I feel like I’m betraying a trust and I really don’t feel comfortable with it. Which I think is pertinent. We should stop and think about our morals here.