Ok, so this is not the Amazon I was referring to. But you've gotta admit... pretty spectacular, isn't it?
Anyway, the Amazon that I was referring to is the handy-dandy Amazon.com, where I hunt around every Christmas for good books to buy as presents. A few days ago, one of my professors, Gideon Burton, suggest that I look at the book Communities of Play: Emergent Cultures in Multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds by Celia Pearce, a game designer. This book has a chapter on identity, which relates nicely to my studies on how multiple online identities can be unified in a way to form a more whole, singular sense of self. Virtually flipping through this book on Amazon, I did learn some things about identity. Probably one of the most important things I learned is that games, throughout history, have been multiplayer, and therefore tied to group identity. Think about it. Mahjong, mancala, senet.... these games involve more than one person. So do new online games today. So the issue of group identities and the formation of alternate identities is really not a new issue. Interesting!
I looked at some of the books that people usually buy along with Communities of Play. By looking at the tags and using Amazon's rather convenient search feature, I could tell that most of these books, while discussing the interesting cultures of online games, which I really don't know very much about, didn't deal so much with identity.
But then I found Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture by T. L. Taylor. The beginning of this book describes the author's attendance of an EverQuest convention held in Boston. Taylor states that
"This event, a "Fan Faire," presents some unique experiences in blurring the boundaries between game and nongame space, off- and online lives, avatars and "real" identities and bodies. The longer I have spent with EQ the more I have come to believe that this boundary work is at the heart of massively multiplayer games, and indeed internet life in general."
Taylor watches a man who usually hands out virtual flowers on the game give out roses in real life. She notes that people usually only go by their online names: even couples refer to each other by their game names. But, people do talk about their offline jobs and lives.
I do think that these observances are very pertinent for what I'm studying. Is a muliplicity of identity demonstrated here? Yup. Most definitely. But, although people utilize their alternate game identities to their advantage, they do mesh their offline selves with what they create. Does this give them a more sure sense of self? I think so. These people show a desire to bring together their different identities by attending a conference of this nature. The act of going to the conference demonstrates, in my view, a confidence in an aggregate offline and online identity, an identity that is formed by both worlds.