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Friday, May 24, 2024

Is it gay for a boy to play female characters in video games?

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In Short:

The news discusses the concept of identity and choice in digital spaces, particularly in the context of avatars and ethical decisions such as lab-grown meat. It explores how playing video games and choosing different personas can reveal deeper desires and the complexity of individual identity. It also delves into the modern skepticism towards AI and the challenges of discerning truth from fiction in an increasingly digital world.

Exploring Avatars and Identity

Dear Player,

It sounds like you have a lot of people in your life who think they know you better than you know yourself. I won’t pretend to have insight into your deepest self, but I can offer some ways of thinking about your choice:

  1. Fantasy and fiction offer an escape hatch from your usual point of view and let you explore perspectives different from your own. Choosing a droid as your avatar doesn’t mean you’re a robot deep down. Reading a novel that portrays the world through the eyes of a female narrator doesn’t mean you’re secretly a woman. The pioneers of the internet hoped that digital spaces would liberate us from our ordinary lives, allowing us to experiment with assumed identities behind the veil of anonymity. Video games still hold the promise of the masquerade ball, a place where you can pretend for a little while to be someone else.
  2. Play-acting and role-playing can sometimes reveal deeper longings, especially those the conscious mind has refused to entertain. If you feel an overwhelming sense of euphoria while playing a female character, then maybe there’s something deeper going on.
  3. Gender itself is often said to be a “script,” a kind of performance socially reinforced to make people conform to the standard binary. Choosing a female character might simply be an acknowledgment of parts of yourself that you’ve felt compelled to repress in ordinary life. The characters you choose might be an acknowledgment of your own plurality, an attempt to incarnate just one of the multitudes within you.

I’m a vegetarian, but I’d eat lab-grown meat. Does that make me a hypocrite? —Chicken Little

Seeing as you’re not grossed out by the idea of lab-grown meat, I assume your vegetarianism is ethically or religiously motivated. The fear of hypocrisy may not be entirely accurate in this case. Lab meat promises to be both humane and sustainable, relieving us of the duty to make sacrifices for a better world or a better self. You can have your happy cows and eat them, too.

The hypocrisy you fear may be more subtle and insidious. Would you eat lab-grown human flesh? If you’re solely concerned with the practical consequences of your actions, then you might not be betraying your values, but you could be betraying a certain idea of yourself.

Questioning Reality in the Age of AI

Now that AI can fake pretty much anything, I just assume everything I see or read on a screen is fake until proven real. Is that reasonable or cynical? —Doubting Thomas

Your skepticism is justified, Thomas. In a time where photos can lie and data analysis can be exploited, it’s easy to feel like our faith in consensus reality is on the decline.

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