Friday, November 21, 2008


Though I am not versant with cooperative multiplayer gameplay online, I am aware that it is extremely popular. Call it the virtual option for competitive personalities who are not otherwise inclined to athletics. Folks get heated in these games, facing off against each other in virtual sports and shooter arenas, and often the language used reflects players' passion for victory. By hurling racial epithets, a player seeks to disorient others and thereby distract them from playing effectively.

Psychologists call this behavior “paradoxing,” and it’s a classic attempt to gain the upper hand, to become dominant. Competitively, writes Owen Good, this frustrates and angers and diverts player concentration out of the game. Cooperatively, this aggression trumps decision-making and leadership on the arena of play.

What's unique here is that online you cannot see your fellow players. Consequently, you can out-paradox someone and undermine their crude strategy by simply asking, "What if I told you I was a minority?" While you may or may not be someone sensitive to the epithets, this question causes the other player to stop and wonder and effectively fall victim to their own behavior.

Then again, you can always take advantage of another unique aspect of online play and simply hit "mute" on the other players and listen to your favorite mix of zen techno.

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