When I play games online I expect a certain level of discourse. Let's take counterstrike or Tiberium Wars as an example. Of the people you deal with they probably break down into these categories.
30% The rational human being who can hold a civil, interesting conversation.
50% A tolerable mix whose grasp of the English language tends to be a little suspect. Fairly benign.
20% The raving psychopath. These people yell and bark and scream at the slightest provocation. Letting loose a string of expletives like they were in a Quinten Terantino movie.
I have become rather numbed to it so dealing with this lot just seems like standard online fair. Probably sounds familiar to allot of you. That is until i tried the game URU live. In case you don't know this is a Massively Multiplayer game offered through Gametap which is based on the myst series of games. Anyway, the moment I entered the game i noticed a quite shocking difference. Everyone was civil. Not only were they friendly but would go out of there way to help you. Conversations I have had range from the philosophical underpinnings of our society to farting underwater. Everywhere you would explore there was always someone there to lend a hand or have an interesting conversation with. During the time that i have played it I have run into maybe 2-3 tools. Considering I have probably talked to about 60-80 different people these are quite astonishing statistics.
I didn't' notice these differences so much until i played this game. It was like stepping into a pool of warm water if all you have ever taken was cold baths.
Now there is the question of why. Well, firstly the game is (in typical myst fashion) one of the least confrontational games ever. You work cooperatively on puzzles rather than against each other. There is no us vs. them mentality. In my case i tend to get stuck easily so asking people for help just comes naturally.
It is also one of the most calming games ever. Almost on the verge of comatose. The music is ambient and relaxing and the environments are breathtaking.
This leads to an interesting revelation. It is that games can affect your demeanor. Weather it permeates into real life is a question up for debate but it certainly does online. Of course you have the bias that maybe naturally calm and helpful people are drawn to the game but i think something different is happening. It is unfortunate now that I have played it because every time I load up counterstrike now i want to cry.