Rambling Thoughts – Identity and Voice in Online Presence

A recurring theme for me in the last couple of months has been identity. Both how I view myself and how I present myself to the outside world. As a general rule, I tend to avoid speaking about the former. Mostly because I consider myself the foremost authority on myself and figure anyone offering suggestions is on thin ice. Not always, I realize sometimes it can be difficult to see myself accurately, but I do try.

The second, however, is an interesting topic in its own right. I can remember many times, across forums, chat programs, and online games, many now defunct, where I presented myself with a specific persona. Not just a specific name, but a distinct identity. Thorough enough to cause some degree of identity confusion in myself once or twice. That’s probably a bit on the extreme end though. What’s on my mind is something more subtle.

Let’s take this blog for example. There are certain aspects of life that I typically avoid talking about. Certain tones and voices that I aim to use. In a way, when writing a post I fall into a certain sort of persona that is unique to the blog, and possibly the activity of blogging itself.

When I visit certain social media platforms and forums I have noticed something similar. Some of them have a unique voice, some don’t, and some are recent enough that I can kinda tell how and when it developed. In one or two cases I can actually identify several different voices that depend on mood and context.

Ironically, outside of a couple of instances, I don’t tend to do this while gaming. I may use the name associated with one of the personas occasionally, but I don’t tend to play role, as it were. I don’t tend think of different characters as having a specific or unique voices, though I’m sure there is a general one that they have in common. Likewise I have always struggled with this to some extent within tabletop gaming as well. At a glance there seems to be something about the activity of gaming in general that puts me within a specific mindset with a specific voice.

That’s just an off the cuff assessment, though. How to use or test that idea is a bit tricky. For all the words and thoughts I share here, I don’t tend to play games in an overly social manner. More of a detached efficiency. I’ll have to think about that.

It may simply be the non-social nature of my gaming habits. If I’m not taking the time to talk or interact with people, there is no opportunity to develop a voice. If I’m doing all my group content with friends and family that I already know, then those interactions already have an established voice to fall into.

The few games that did have a voice or persona were, unsurprisingly, heavily social. I also have no idea where I was going with this idea. It’s an interesting line of thought I need to archive for another time.

Y’all take care. Hope you found this interesting.

2 thoughts on “Rambling Thoughts – Identity and Voice in Online Presence

  1. I have characters with specific voices that developed over time. I didn’t set out to give them those voices. They aren’t roleplayed in the traditional sense.

    The thing is, Mrs Bhagpuss and I often communicate via in-game chat when we’re playing the same game (always GW2 these days), sometimes about the game and what our characters are doing in it but also often about real life and things we need to do, like the shopping or making lunch. When we do this we talk in the voices of of our characters, whether or not the context is in or out of character. And to double down on that, when we switch characters mid-conversation, the dialog picks up in the voice of the new character, if they have a specific way of speaking.

    All of this happens pretty much automatically but when, on occasion, I forget which character I’m on and speak in the wrong voice, as soon as I notice i apologize and start using the right one. None of this is calculated or thought-through – it just is the way it is.

    Back in the day when we were in guilds and did group content regularly (this would last have been in EQII, probably, but before that in EQ, DAOC, Rift, and several more) we would, by and large, follow the same pattern whoever we were grouped with, although I probably did it more than Mrs B. When we played Vanguard, my Raki had such a strong accent (he had a number of visual text tics like using “V” for “W”) I found myself speaking like it in other games on other characters.

    These days, playing mostly solo, this kind of thing happens in my head. But it still happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That reminds me of some old muds that auto-applied racial text modifications. I actually kinda miss that, but I suppose that makes me more lazy than anything else.

      It’s an interesting thought though. I don’t really play with anyone that consistently any more. My social group is pretty much disbanded at this point and my wife takes no interest in such things. It’s cool that you do that though. I’ll have to keep thinking about this.

      Like

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