You've all seen the posts, heard the comments.
"Oh, he's just a nerd who loves pixels."
"Stupid pixel hugger!"
"It's just pixels, who cares if you got scammed/died/hacked."
First, I'd like to deal with the "pixel hugger" variety of insults.
When, pray tell, do people pull out this insult? It's usually when someone "safe eats" or teleports or uses prayer during a player vs player encounter. So, basically, it boils down to the age-old "die so I can have your items" line of reasoning. This one is more hypocritical than the "prayer noob" insult, though. The person yelling "pixel hugger" obviously wants to hug your pixels right away from you.
The second type of comment is the one that is really grinds my gears, and is the focus of this article. "It's only pixels" is often heard whenever someone loses items from some unforeseen, negative event such as account stealing, lag out deaths, or item scams. I also have seen it used as a justification for rude and uncaring behaviour in the game, though it's usually couched as "it's only a game, not real life". What does this "only pixels/game" comment imply? First, it implies that whatever happens to me in-game does not, and should not, affect my life. If it does affect my life, the argument goes, then there is something wrong with me.
I dispute this notion. As I said long ago, a heart of flesh beats behind my character's pixelated chest. My feelings and emotions aren't left at the door when I play RuneScape. I do not turn into a sprite when I log in to play. Anything that happens to my character happens to me in the real world. No one calls you a nerd or loser for being excited because of a good drop or player vs player win or level achievement, right? So why is it that we can have positive emotions due to in-game activities, but not negative emotions? I don't know about you, but having one set automatically opens us up for the other. Sure, we shouldn't get bogged down in either positive or negative emotions - but that's also true about letting go of the frustration when someone cuts you off on the highway. Obviously, when someone hangs himself due to getting his account stolen - which did happen, if I recall – then there's an issue. But being momentarily upset by a negative event doesn't mean you're too involved in the game and have no life.
As an aside, I must say that I detest the term "pixels". It's obviously derogatory, and said with a bit of a sneer. It's also a RuneScape buzzword, and I really hate buzzwords.
Now, I haven't seen this next one as much recently, but there have been people here at TIF who claimed that they could act however they wanted in game, and that this did not reflect on who they really are outside the game. I could not disagree more strongly. It's easy to think that the anonymity that RuneScape affords allows us to role play and escape from our boring lives. This, in fact, is true. I can be a strong fighter or sneaky thief or master crafter in-game. I can even be a player killer! However, there is a huge difference between role playing a player killer and scamming or cheating another player. Player killing has purposely been made part of the game – an optional part of the game, at that. However, stealing an item from someone is not part of the game. It is, in fact, just the same as stealing something physical from me. Personally, I'd be much more upset if someone stole my party hat from me than if someone stole $20 from my wallet. Why? Because that party hat would take hundreds, maybe thousands of hours to replace, whereas the $20 could be made up in a few hours at work. Time is money, so the saying goes, so in-game items do have real value. Of course, in the end, your billion gold bank is meaningless, but so are most of the things that people treasure in life.
I propose to you that how you act behind your pixel anonymity reflects who you actually are very strongly. As humans, we tend to have lower inhibitions when we can't be identified. RuneScape has the potential to be the ultimate anonymous interaction. You have the ability to act any way you please and never have anyone in your "real" life know any better. As such, I find that RuneScape can really bare your soul - the essence of who you are. So if you lie, cheat, and steal in RuneScape but act like a wonderful caring person outside the game, then you're just fooling yourself. I've seen this idea communicated about faith, love, and trust, but the quote is original to me:
"How you act when no one is looking is the clearest indicator of the strength or depravity of your true character. "
I want to point out that this doesn't just apply to things that are against the rules in-game. Being rude to other players counts just as much against you, if not more. You're liable to be punished for scamming, but you can be a jerk all you want and never have to pay for it. Things that aren't against the rules can still be wrong, just as in the real world. Some have pointed out that my line of reasoning implies that thieving from NPCs is wrong. Though it's a "gotcha" on the surface, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. First of all, this counter is what is known in logic as a reductio ad absurdum, which means taking a line of reasoning so far past the stated result that it's ludicrous. Thieving from an NPC does not cause any harm to any other player. It is, in effect, just like alching – the money comes from that magical place where it exists in potentia. As before with player killing, thieving from NPCs is part of the true role-playing experience.
In closing, remember that all of the other players aren't NPCs (thanks Raichase), but are people just like you. They don't exist to make your game better, and you shouldn't treat them like mindless NPCs.
- Be kind to your fellow players.
- If someone is training in "your" spot, don't butt in on them unless there's no other choice. If you can hop or share, please do. If not, at least don't be obnoxious about it. Some things like cannons at Dags or rock crabs are going to be impossible to do without ticking some people off.
- If someone randomly dies, give them a shot at getting their things back. If they give you an attitude or demand their things back, then feel free to keep the booty. Just make an attempt.
- If someone is rude to you, brush it off and don't be rude back. Just because one guy pees in the pool doesn't mean you should do it too. If you do, it only fouls the water even more. This is part of the reason our community is so negative.
There are real faces behind the people you're playing with in RuneScape. They have emotions, too, and the hurt you give them has real life consequences. Also, how you act in RuneScape is a very real reflection of who you truly are deep inside - not the face you present to the world, but the one behind all the masks. Keep in mind that you have the potential to make someone feel great, as well as make them feel poorly, whatever level you are. Don't abuse that, as many others have. Take the responsibility seriously, and make RuneScape a better place. You might even strengthen your character at the same time. Yes, being kind to little pixel people in a silly Java game might even make you a better person. In fact, I would argue that how you treat other people is the one of the few things that matters, both in-game and in real life.
Who'd have thought some things in RuneScape really do matter? Life's funny like that.
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