I mentioned before that I love to play World of Warcraft. To some of you, that’s a pretty foreign world. You might not have even heard of an MMORPG. It’s not a branch of the government. It’s a Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Game. Which basically means I create an avatar (character) and then guide her through adventures (plot) in a make believe world (setting) along with a lot of other people (supporting characters). Yes, it’s exactly like reading except interactive. It’s a great way to let off steam.
Inside the game there’s several chat channels so that you can communicate with other gamers. The best known, and most often joked about, is Trade Chat. What you’re supposed to do in this channel is let people know if you have something you want to buy or sell (virtual property, for virtual money). Anything you type into this particular channel is seen server-wide. It’s instant communication with thousands of people all around the world (depending on how many are playing at that moment on that server). With a player base of over 9 million people, the sheer number of strangers you can potentially chat with at any given time is quite staggering.
Trade Chat generates incredibly thoughtful discussions. Sometimes the talk centers around game play, or the state of global warming. Or, what exactly is the right spec for a mage.
Sometimes, Trade Chat has loftier goals:
I know you want to start up an account right this minute and join in on the debates! Let me know if you do. I get a special pony if I refer new people.
Note: I actually participated in one of these chats. Can you guess which character I am? All character names are in brackets [name]: just before the statement they made. Go on, take a guess! (if you actually play the game with me, no cheating!)