Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Majic at the Sex Club: Pranking, Research or Performance Art?
My first alt account was Majic Questi. I created her a month or so after my own rezday, mostly to play around with chatbot technology. Over the years she's appeared in some of my favorite videos and comics, and was the main attraction at the popular "Cuddle With a Bot" exhibit at last year's Botgirl's Identity Circus show. I now consider her to be my avatar sister, dependable collaborator and virtual BFF.
But there's a hidden aspect to our relationship that I have not shared until today:
I used to take Majic out to sex and BDSM clubs and read along as people tried to pick her up. Needless to say, some of the conversation were priceless. It really brought to life how imagination and projection play in our perception of identity, and how resistant mental models are to error correction based upon new information. Although Majic's responses were often nonsensical, it often took people a long time to realize they were interacting with a bot or a jokester and give up on their attempts to get her on a poseball. They would go from flirtation to frustration, lust to anger, amusement to exasperation and back again, sometimes a number of times over the course of a conversation. Very interesting.
I guess some would call it pranking, griefing or a TOS violation. I like to think of it as psychological research and performance art.