Lambdamoo: Imagination and Anonymity

The first time I ever logged into Lambdamoo, I had the same expectation I had with any other video games: If it wasn’t Madden then it was not relevant. It was to my surprise that I actually found it to be enjoyable. You see, what sets Lambdamoo apart from most typical video or online games is that it is entirely text based. There are no images, no sounds, and no pre-determined arrangement of objectives that need to be completed. Lambdamoo works so that you are not given a set scene, but rather you get full creative control to envision the game in any way that you choose.

The game was pretty difficult at the start. It took me some time to figure out how to properly type in the commands, and figuring out how to exit the closet was an even trickier task. After about 20 minutes of frustration, I finally got out and started to feel my mind drift. The screen may have told me what was going on, but it was my imagination that truly painted the picture of what was going on in my head. The experience was truly different from the typical online or video game because there were no set guidelines or restraints. This is, while being frustrating at times, really helped to enhance the experience. The Anonymity of the game also expanded on the gaming experience.

Lambdamoo is allows you to communicate with others anonymously with no objective. In the modern age of gaming, through outlets such as Xbox Live or World Of War Craft, people are given the ability to play and communicate with friends or random people to complete a given task. Now, with Lambdamoo, there is no set task. People are just present and any interaction can be whatever we make them out to be. This can be both helpful and harmful.

The problem with Anonymity is that some people use this as a way to express a more crude and offensive side to their personality. According to Solove’s article The Virtues of Anonymity, we see how “people can be free to express unpopular ideas and be critical of people in power without risking retaliation or opprobrium.” This can lead to offensive things being said, which creates a harmful environment.

Now, Solove’s article also states that , “The loss of anonymity might make many people more civil, but it might also chill a lot of valuable expression.” While it is true that anonymity may cause problems, it also allows for this creative expression that we see in Lambdamoo, were two complete strangers being able to interact in any way they choose. The fact of the matter is that, as Solove states, we must find a balance between too much anonymity and not enough anonymity.

Questions:

Does Lambdamoo provide us with enough Anonymity to be civil? Does it give to much anonymity, thus creating a harmful environment?

Do games such as Lambdamoo, that have a high level of Anonymity, provide users with a “better” gaming experience? Does it make the gaming experience “worse”? If so, why do you believe this to be true?

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