I stumbled upon this blog post by a student gamer at USC on a professor’s take of online community ethics.
As a gamer, however, I find that is not always the case. If the game design rewards cooperation and being nice to one another as in WoW guilds, players will do it–not for altruistic reasons, but for self interest–and if the game does not reward those behaviors, like in Halo 2, where intimidation and threats may help you win, players won’t behave that way unless forced to by the threat of banning.
Gamers are always looking for something new and when they cannot find anything else new to learn, they lose interest. To keep things new they want to share ideas with others and gain new ideas from them. This interaction essentially creates the online community. But then this idea of self- interest comes into play. Gamers want to share more because they feel they will gain more from others returning the favor. The sole reason for contributing to the community becomes self- interest and what one can gain for himself. Also, players will play how the community is set up. If the community uses trickery to gain an advantage over an opponent, a gamer will partake in this activity. If the collaboration with others is involved, they will be invested in their partners to help each other succeed. The individual essentially adopt the ethics of the online community to succeed, and doesn’t take into account his or her own ethics. This is where I feel the line between reality and virtual reality is crossed in online gaming. If one has different ethical views in real life, for example, stealing is bad, but plays Grand Theft Auto and engages himself in the community, how can that community be ethical? I hope this is clear to others, but I feel online communities do not have a clear code of ethics, nor can they ever because of the context in which games are played. Therefore, can online communities really be communities at all because each person is in it for personal interest and nothing is really done for the greater good?