Health and Technology

Is MMO Feeding Bullying?

Bullying. A word that many of us know in a physical or psychological way, and even if this humiliating practice has existed since man rules over man today is seen literally everywhere, even home. A few years ago appeared the MMO. How is it related to bullying?

MMO stands for Massive Multiplayer Online, a game concept that changed the world forever. High Broadband Internet speeds gave birth to a universe of possibilities to gamers and game developers. What do you see in Internet as the most successful business? Let me get that for you, besides adult entertainment, there are two fat fish in the pond: Online Games & Social Networks. Now imagine, what will happen when you get access to both? Even when social networks have their own gaming concept, there are games that demand much more social involvement from the user.

Games that create a whole universe of fantasy and fiction are the favorite now, these games make you feel in another place, where you can be anything you want to as it is private, and nobody can see your face or know your name. It sounds good. To be honest, playing these games actually can help develop social skills. But there is always a downside, isn’t it?

In some particular cases bullying stopped and people moved on, but not in others. Many players are victims of cruel torture in a psychological way. No, I am not exaggerating, to many players this kind of games feels even realer than life, the game becomes their life, and they feel through the game. This happens with players of all ages, but increases as the players age become younger, especially when they spend a lot of time playing. We are not addressing to whether they should take the game that seriously or not. The main subject here is how MMO can be related to bullying.

Many games are designed to encourage Player vs. Player action, so to lose a fight is common in a game like these. Unfortunately, there are no safeties in many situations as players are not observed by Game Master’s or Administrators all the time, this way they can be the target of verbal aggression and/or PK abuse. PK stands for Player Kill, a common term in this games, the abuse occurs when their character gets killed time after time by a stronger player. Dying in these games is often penalized to increase the game difficulty. Because of this when players are being killed time after time, they end up losing points, fame, equipment or whatever hard-work earned in-game valuables. The worst part is that they lose pride as a person. I have seen soaked in tears some players that I personally know as they cannot play what they like without living hell. To many players it feels just like that.

It is a game after all we know, but sports and many other activities are also real, and bullying also exists there. These closed MMO environments where nobody is looking, and nobody see your face, can encourage this kind of behavior. So yes, MMO is encouraging bullying; the players that learn how to intimidate inside the game they tend to do it later in real life with other persons. What is worse; they start to lose sight of the boundaries that tell you what just a joke is, and what cruelty is. Their reality becomes “intoxicated” or “contaminated” by the moral standards they show in-game.

Like I said, there are good things to be learned and exercised in these games, but in my opinion MMO encourages bullying only because bullying exists outside in the real world. Because fo this parents need to be aware of what their children play, even if they are in their teens they have to watch their behavior online, it is very possible that they show the same one with other persons outside the virtual world.

MMO games exist because people like them. If bullying keeps rising, then the joy to play these games, and also real world games can be lost. Bullying is something that needs to be corrected yes, but don’t forget that there are many places and circumstances where it exists, and now there is a new virtual universe with millions of users, where also real people are victim to this kind of humiliation.

Another issue also is how much time players spend inside these games, I will see to this subject on a later review.

Regards to everyone.

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