Monday, October 26, 2009

The Fourth Wall

In today's age of television and movies, you've probably heard the phrase "breaking through the fourth wall." I believe the concept to be quite applicable in the MMO realm as well. However, it takes on a somewhat different context.

You see, in the gaming realm, most of us go by pseudonyms as opposed to our real names. Yes, I'm talking about our avatar names. The catch here is that sometimes, in the course of our online lives, it may become necessary to contact online friends through another medium.

Now, for some of us, our online friends may also be RL friends... no big deal. For most of us, this is not the case. Though we may have spoken with these individuals at length in a voice chat (vent) or merely in text chat (IMs, gchat), we've mostly gone by our online pseudonym. Thus, when the need to contact someone outside of your normal venue arises, you may find yourself in somewhat of a quandary.

Take, for example, this case. A fellow officer by the name of Optimis had a bit of a mishap whereby he couldn't log into his account. Therefore, he got my number (we have a forum section with Officer contact information) and left me a message explaining his predicament.

I'd like to take a moment and explain something about myself. I am NOT a phone person. Some people are phone people and that is not me. Phones may be an enjoyable method of communication, but they're not for me. I... I.. dislike phones I guess is the main point that I'm trying to get across here.

I dislike phones so much, in fact, that I will do almost anything to entice Fuu to make the call to order pizza. Or Chinese. Or the tech people in India. Or my mother. Okay, maybe not so much my mother, but sometimes. And I know I'm not alone in this strange phobia (Jess, I'm looking at you).

In any case, you may now see the conundrum in which I now found myself. I had to return a call of someone I primarily knew online... using a PHONE. I couldn't type this person to join me in vent. I couldn't chat with them in any way. I had to call. (You may say to yourself, well you coulda texted or something... that's besides the point, don't interrupt my story.)

In my pre-call trepidation, I'm envisioning how this call is going to go:

Me: *dials number* *phone rings*
Family Member of Optimis: "Hello?"
Me: "Yes, excuse me but is Optimis there?"
FMoO: "Who?"
Me: "Optimis, the hunter. Pet's name is Prime. Likes to shoot things with arrows?"
FMoO: "I'm afraid you have the wrong number."
Me: "No, no. He called me. I have the message and caller ID right here. I know he resides here."
FMoO: *Calls Cops*

Luckily for me, it went more like this:
Me: *dials number* *phone rings*
Optimis: "Hey Ful, it's Opti."
Me: *sigh of relief* "Hey Opti, what's up? Got your message."
*Conversation carries on safely from there*

Now, one might think it would be beneficial to find out Opti's real name:
Old Woman: "You could have just called me Dennis."
Arthur: "Well I didn't know you were called Dennis."
Old Woman: "Well you didn't bother to find out now did you."

Opti's real name is NOT Dennis, FWIW.

The point isn't that, had I not been preoccupied with my phoniphobia, I might have found numerous avenues of information to make myself not sound like a complete dolt. The point IS that when real life intersects with virtual life, sometimes awkward situations ensue. What I'm wondering is, have any of you experienced virtual awkwardisms? I'd bet it's more common than we think in this crazy business of online gaming.

At least his name wasn't like, Gangbang the Dwarf with the Gorilla pet named Imhereforthe. Phones, who need's em, amirite?


  1. Yeah phones are scary. That's why when Scott knows I'm asleep and needs me to wake up, he just calls the house over and over, like an alarm clock, knowing that I'm not going to pick it up, even if I am awake. He just waits until one of our online friends texts him to let him know I've shown up wherever I'm supposed to be. Which is exactly what happened last night.

    My cell phone has been sitting in my bag, dead, for the past 6 months. I don't want to know who has called me in the past 6 months. Scott actually just ordered me a spiffy new phone last night, in the hopes that it will encourage me to, yknow, answer it.

    Why do I always run out of medication? Because a refill requires a phone call.


    It's funny you posted about this today, because I actually mentioned your story in a comment over at!

  2. I've had a similar situation happen but thankfully I work on the phones for a living. It was still awkward..

    Our tank wasn't on for one of our raids and I had his ph# so I gave him a call, asking for his avatars name, "Drim".

    Thankfully his entire family plays WoW and knew exactly who I was asking for.

  3. Haha I haven't really had to deal with phoning someone armed with only an online name since my BBS days. But I was younger then and very attached to the phone (not so much now, well only for texting and tweeting, not calling).

    What I do find weird is how much I'll associate someone's game name with them that their real name sounds weird to me.

    Closest recently was when we were working with a guildie to get BlizzCon tix. We exchanged numbers via guild forum pm's. He called and was like "Hey it's John." I was like "who is John?" Then he gave his character name and I was like "oooh".

    And yes, I had to enter his toon name along with his real name into my phone so I'd remember for sure who it was. >.>

  4. I beleive being preoccupied with your phoniphobia when you are on a call is ok at least you made the call isn`t it now the problem is will you keep trying to make such calls or you will just let it go on as usual

  5. As any good officer knows, when duty calls... one must answer :-).

  6. HA HA HA!

    You have an Odd troll trying to give you therapy :D

    I hope his fees are low. None of this 100 Dollars an hour crap that they try to pull.

    "here take these pills & call me tomorrow"... if you wake up * snicker*

  7. I don't know if its a phone phobia, in as much as it is a loathing to use it.
    I work in tech support, and am on the phone all day long to various individuals...some nice...some not so nice...not really important, but the last thing I want to do is get on the phone and talk to anyone away from work. You could even call me a luddite as I don't even own a cell phone.
    I've even moved this over to vent. I'm more than happy to just sit there and listen, but don't even have the mic hooked up to talk. I have no interest in carrying on a conversation over vent. Its made it to an injoke in our guild.

  8. Haha, I have the same issue with phones, I'm terrified of phone calls, I don't know why, I never used to be.

    Yes, we had a guild meetup back in TBC. With such lovely memories of a rather big guy called 'Totsi', a tiny guy called 'Twelve', a 15 year old called .. 'Decap', then the louder 2 of the group 'Enslaver' and 'Randyotter'. Ah, and our GM was called 'Sunblaze', good times.

  9. lol... Randyotter.

    *sympathetic head shake*