Avatar Antics

I was in a meeting tonight in Secondlife with my colleagues on the other side of the Earth,¬† when we had a strange, weapon-bearing but ultimately harmless avatar turn up. He eventually got bored (we had voice, he didn’t) so he left and we continued our meeting which otherwise – went well.

Funny, we were wondering what might have happened in real life if that type of person turned up to a kinda private meeting in a public place. In the back of your mind, you realise other people *might* turn up and interrupt¬† in such an arena – but you don’t tend to anticipate a vampire dropping by mid-sentence.

This topic came up in presentation today also, around behaviour of avatars in SL. I realise this is probably discussed a lot amongst sociologists observing SL participants, but I wonder what Secondlife would be like if nobody had a “secret identity”? At work, we have a way of (generally) knowing the real identity of our colleagues and people pretty much behave :) On social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn most people use their real identity (or at least near enough). People can be whoever they like on blogs and forums and can cause some grief through their anonymous handles. I have talked before briefly about the Virtual Munchausen syndrome where people create fictitious disorders or illnesses (I even saw a virtual suicide once on a forum) and it amazes me that some people just get their kicks out of causing grief. A bit like the prank calls we made as kids (imagine Bart Simpson getting his hands on Homer’s avatar! heh heh)

What do you think SL would be like if people had no chance to hide? What if Jane Doe was Jane Doe? Would the rules of engagement be the same? Or would we see a completely different (and even kinder) virtual world altogether?