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Carlos Miranda Levy

NEVER HELP: engage, enable, empower and connect, Relief 2.0 / Markets of Hope

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What can we do and what do we do about bullying?

Recently, while playing Red Dead Redemption I noticed another player, LatinLupe752, running in a straight line towards Chuparosa, a dusty settlement in the middle of nowhere.

Obviously a noobie. If you run in a straight line in an open field, you will be shot, in real life and in video games too.

I took my gun and killed him. Bam! 10 seconds later he, or she, respawned and started to run in a straight line again. I shot him again. Bam! He respawned once more; I switched weapons to a shotgun and shot him again, and again, and again. Soon I was "most wanted player" and there was a bounty on my head. I was killed by other players who came for the bounty.

I respawned and looked around for LatinLupe752, and saw him in the distance leaving the area, probably just wanted to play in peace and decided to go somewhere else in the game. I got on my horse, climbed up a hill, took aim with my carcano rifle and shot him in the head from afar. He respawned again and I shot his horse and then I shot him. They never came back.

Why would I, an active collaborating member of Stanford University Peace Innovation Lab, become a bully so vicious to this individual? Why couldn't I just let him play?

I did it because:

- There was a reward for me in doing it: Everytime I killed LatinLupe752 I would receive experience points and increase my reputation. A clean head shot earned me additional points.

- Yes, I was killed twice by other players who came to collect the bounty on my head, but that did not reduce my experience points or my reputation, so I didn´t mind the inconvenience of respawning a few seconds later and continue my behavior going after more points with LatinLupe752's face in them.

More important, it had nothing to do with LatinLupe752, I did not think he or she was weak, weird or different. It wasn't about intolerance and it wasn't personal.

I did it because there was something for me to gain and because the penalties involved were not enough to deter me from it.

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  • Jul 13 2012: Carlos,

    I am very curious, what emotions did you have while you were doing this? What thoughts were going through your mind? I ask because I've been in similiar situations and initially have acted in a similiar way. What would go through my mind is "wow, this guy is an idiot. If he's just going to stand there, I am going for the killing spree." During those times I would describe my feelings as bemusement.

    At some point though, I usually "feel bad" for the person and just stop gunning them down. I say "feel bad" in quotes because the feeling never really reaches my heart. I don't actually have real empathy, just more or less feeling he/she's had enough. However, if the person addresses me or just leaves suddenly in what seems to be relation to my harrasment, I am overcome with guilt. All of the sudden I start wondering about the person's situation. My mind runs wild: "What if this person was like me, finally got 20 minutes to play video games cause the kids went to bed early. Then the second they start playing they are harrassed and I just ruined his night."

    There is an exception I can see for myself where I wouldn't feel bad. That is if I were playing with an elite group and it was made obvious that noobs should not join. In that case, I would feel "they get what the deserve." Might there have been some of that in play as you saw the noob was just that oblivious?
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      Jul 13 2012: The disturbing element for me is to be conscious of the abominable behavior and yet continue with it because I benefit from it.

      Recently, though, in a similar situation where I was stronger than another player and had been taking advantage of it, the user took his time to respawn and I somehow I got distracted with something else and the newbie actually approached me without attacking me and faced me, like letting me know, "dude, I'm not your enemy and I'm not after you" and some unspoken understanding took place where I did not hunt him/her anymore.

      Weird moment, as I was wondering how we were communicating without talking, typing, just facing each other, exposing ourselves and not attacking, and silently came to some agreement, just like the same agreement I have with my dog companions, stray dogs I befriend, and every now and them other animals out there.

      Maybe there is more to communication than the act of communicating...
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        Jul 15 2012: What a facinating experience, Carlos, thanks for sharing it! Maybe it is actually life real life and most people are not actually your enemy - they are just trying to get to the end of the game.

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