Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Virtual Party & A Social Faux-Pas

Last Saturday I organized my mother's 76th surprise birthday party. After it was over, my kids and I attended another soiree, a virtual pool party hosted by Gumby on our GamingEdus Minecraft server. I've attended versions of virtual parties before - one year, I rang in the New Year in 4 different time zones while celebrating via a combination of Skype and Yahoo IM with my friends I met from the Twilight Lexicon. This was a little different. It's Minecraft - lots of things are different. Gumby_Blockhead showed us his absolutely gorgeous new pool in the survival area and we took a tour, swam, and goofed around together. Then, the party goers traveled to the nether to visit Phisagrim's Magma Cafe.

Phisa checks out Gumby_Blockhead's pool

Have you ever become a little overexcited and done something kinda silly and socially awkward at a party? Well, this happened to poor Phisagrim. He was so delighted to have all these people in his restaurant that he went a bit overboard. He flew over the guests' heads and dumped oodles and oodles of potions on top of them. Some of the players had never been in creative mode prior to this encounter, so it was unsettling and confusing for them. Participants handled it in various ways. Some joked. Some asked for it to stop via chat. Others left the location.

The Magma Cafe visitors during the potion assault

Now, in the grand scheme of things, this is not the worst thing to do at a party. My now-deceased uncle once attended a party in his youth and got so drunk that he poured a bottle of alcohol over a soon-to-be ordained priest, "baptizing" him with a rather racist declaration. However, when Phisagrim realized what he had done, he was mortified. He said he was a horrible person and was totally aghast at his actions. Terragrim and Liragrim talked to him and persuaded him to go back online and say sorry through chat. Only two players were left online by this time, but Yo graciously accepted Phisagrim's apology and Gumby promised to pass the word along to his family members. Phisa then wrote an email to our system admin, Praxismaxis, to send regrets to other players.

Afterwards, I wondered if we should have just let him hide his head in shame for a bit, done nothing, and pretended it never happened. I mean, when players pull stupid stunts while in-game, rarely do they make a point of giving a "mea culpa" to the group.  Were we enforcing a social norm that doesn't exist in game? I prefer to think that confessing when you've done something wrong is a noble and brave thing to do, even if there's "no harm, no foul". We don't want to be jerks (even unintentional jerks) online or IRL.

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