Get the Picture yet?

Today, I had my first annoying and somewhat scary experience with Facebook.

Today, I had my first annoying and somewhat scary experience with Facebook. I’ve been playing the wildly popular Mafia Wars by Zynga on Facebook. The concept is to do various criminal jobs and rob and attack other people in the game so that you may accumulate items and advance to higher levels where you can do more of the same.

When you attack or rob someone, you can cause them to fight back, ask their mafia to attack you, or put you on a hit list where anyone can attack you for a reward. It’s all part of the fun of the game.

Someone in the game crossed over the boundary into my real life; at least my “real” Facebook life. The person sent me a menacing message on Facebook about my behavior in the game.

Get the Picture yet?
Get the Picture yet?

That’s a bit unnerving to receive in an email. Now, I have no idea who this person is in real life. He’s probably a heck of a swell guy, if you know him. But I don’t. For some reason, he took it upon himself to contact me directly because of what I had done to another player in the game, who happens to be his wife. And I don’t know her either.

I logged into Facebook and checked my Mafia Wars page. I see his avatar icon in my player updates box. He has trashed my game property, attacked my avatar into helplessness and sucker punched me. I’d say that he left his mark on my avatar in the game. He got me good.

Player Updates
Player Updates

This list of his updates goes on an on with attacks from his character against mine. Again, that is part of the game. I’ve been attacked like this before. His avatar is 4 times more powerful than mine, so there is little I can do to retaliate against his retaliation. “Oh well, move on,” would be my reaction.

But as I get to the beginning of the list of updates from his character, I see someone, probably his wife and their attack against me.

Punched in the face
Punched in the face

Ah, yes. This is what I found the last time I logged in. Seeing about 7 of these in a row, I attacked this player – couldn’t rob them, I tried, their defense was too powerful – and went on to play the game. As I look farther back in the log, this player did something similar and put me on a hit list the day before. I probably attacked then, too. I probably attacked them first because they came up in my list of people to attack. Now, because of these two interactions in the game – where we both retaliated against each other multiple times – I now had some guy making threats against me in my real Facebook account.

Hopefully we’ll all move on. Apparently, in their mind, it’s up to me to stop retaliating in the game. I have no interest in finding out what would happen if I attacked the first player again.

To me it’s a game. To you, it should be a game, too. But I can’t control that. Your sense of how to play is not necessarily the same as mine. You may not like me, and I really don’t want you to like me. I’m not interested in the people behind the avatars at all. It’s a time waster. A game. Whatever you think of the game, your sense of game etiquette should not cross the boundaries into real life.

Author: Eric Holsinger

Eric Holsinger is a software professional and photography enthusiast in Southern Maine.

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