Social Sanctions In Video Games

scarletletter.jpg With all the chatter about the Fall 360 dashboard update that's going to incorporate more "social networking" aspects a la Facebook et al, Leigh Alexander has some interesting thoughts up on her Sexy Videogameland blog (taking off from some proposals made by N'Gai Croal in Newsweek) on potential schemes for "social sanctions" via gamertag. This is still being driven by the BioShock dilemma that doesn't give you many options (harvest or save the Little Sisters?), but I'm not at all convinced that investing in-game experiences "with actual, long-term, lingering consequences" is going to add some deep and rich experience to gaming. Alexander doesn't sound terribly convinced, either:

Part of the fun, sometimes, in doing atrocious things in games is that it's fiction. The fact that it's fiction does not make it any less impactful to me. Another part of the fun for me, in video games, is that you can experiment with the boundaries of a world, push them, and if you leave a permanent mark, you can reset, try again. I'd hate if the fear of being caught in my private, solitary mess-around actually restrained me from playing around in a game. So to answer N'Gai's question -- yes, it would change how I played games, but I don't think for the better.

Croal's original piece is worth taking a gander at and raises some interesting questions of where our outward gaming personas might be telling people in a few years... Still, I don't think we should be linking in-game "personas" with real life - and I don't even have any murdered Little Sisters lurking in my gaming closet.

Social Sanction And Game Choice? [Sexy Videogameland]


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