Video Gaming (EL 250)

3 Jan 2006

A Rape in Cyberspace

Julian Dibbell's essay on how an online society in a text-based MUD ("Multiple User Dungeon") reacted to a disruptive influence.

As with all assigned readings, I'm asking you to post a brief "agenda item" that includes a quotation (or transcript, or a screenshot if you can manage one) and a brief statement of what you think is worth talking about. Then, I'm asking you to post responses to 2-4 peer "agenda items" on this topic, and then after you have done so, return to your own blog, and post a reflective entry that demonstrates how your reading of peer blog entries has affected your understanding of the assigned text.

For additional context, here's an article that compares text-based gaming worlds with 3-D graphical worlds: "Keyboard is Mightier than Sword"

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I commented on this essay on my blog.

Posted by: Leslie Rodriguez at January 2, 2006 08:50 PM

"No hideous clowns or trickster spirits appear in the RL version of the incident, no voodoo dolls or wizard guns, indeed no rape at all as any RL court of law has yet defined it."

This type of online game is extremely sick and twisted. I guess you could call it the Sims but on an Acid trip. My question is, how are these games not illegal? I understand freedom of speech but how is it that websites like these and I know that they really exist can be made without breaking any laws. Another question is what if something were to happen and the law was to be involved, how would that work?

Posted by: Kayla Lukacs at January 3, 2006 09:23 AM

Kayla raises an interesting point. It is, of course, possible to write sick and illegal words with pencil and paper, too. So I wouldn't say it's the *game* that's sick -- the players in Dibbell's story were horrified and disgusted by what this one troublesome individual was doing.

What laws do you think were being broken in this case?

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 3, 2006 09:37 AM

"Some asshole blasting violent, graphic language at you? Don't whine to the authorities about it -- hit the @gag command and said asshole's statements will be blocked from your screen (and only yours). It's simple, it's effective, and it censors no one..."

This raises an interesting issue and a good agenda item. How do you deal with such violations? These "technolibertians" have an interesting solution: block offensive statements from your computer while making the offender look like a total ass to the entire world.

Hmmm... I hate to be cynical, but I don't think a sadomasochist will take any offense to that. Even more, I can only see them finding another target or another way to get their kicks.

Posted by: Evan at January 3, 2006 12:03 PM

Valid Evan. Technology is moving faster than we can make sense of it. Or maybe it has not been out long enough, but if people are going to want to live in cyberspace it might need to be watched. These sites are not the same as books. And crying out "freedom of Speech" then cursing in public at a girl in RL might get you a tough face to face talk with a cop, or even a civil demand notice to not come 50 feet of the woman. As the article was saying; this is more than letters and words.

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 3, 2006 12:28 PM

Good point, Puff. Over on your blog, I asked a question with a similar theme.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 3, 2006 01:03 PM
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