This is me. Back in 2001. Well, it was my avatar in the online game Anarchy Online. This is a Sci-Fi based game with people from all over the playing, eh, interacting. Not as popular now as back then. (Game developed by Norwegian company Funcom)
To better understand gaming and game industry I back then volounteered as game reviewer for a couple of web-sites. I received a few games every week, played and wrote. And for some game - like Anarchy Online - I received a free game account. And being part of an online game was a very interesting experience. Not so much for the technical details or gameplay - but for the social interactions with all sorts of people. Some playing in-game roles - some just reflecting themselves into the game.
I was a role player. My solder was brave and loyal. And not focusing on being the strongest - but the kindest. Playing a female role was a great advantage back then. Even though I suspect that all people knew I was "man" - they still acted as if I was a girl. Well, I was a girl -ingame - but the boundaries netween real and in-game are very fast blurred.
I married a brute enforcer that took care of me. And I even had a sweet little sister. It was all a huge experiment. Fun, rewarding and great for learning how to meet different people. Most people were kind - and some were the opposite. Since I decided to be the kindest I never had any enemies. I befriended even the most awkward and rude.
Well, it was all fun and play.
Until September 11 , 2001. It was amazing how that event not only changed the world. But also the interaction in-game. The discussions were intense. Lots of people afraid and looking for support and comfort ingame.
Every chat-channel in-game were filled with the lively discussions about "why, what, how, whats next why, WHY?"
Having the ingame chat we were all brought together. People from New York reported ingame, sharing with people from Russia, Norway and anywhere. We spent a lot of time trying to support each other. But also working together in the game. The tool - the game - brought us together, made the world smaller and less scary.
What we saw in-game back then was probably pretty much what we today would see in Facebook, Twitter and similar if happened today.
Hopefully these tools are bringing us closer together today. Day by day. Tweet by tweet. Bringing common understanding. And understanding and acknowledging each other perspectives.
The tools should not support us after the disaster. The tools should help us prevent it.
I am hopeful.