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Why Should You Write Fake Names Online?

One of the biggest discussions at the moment surrounds the ethics of online role playing. In case you’re wondering, role playing is a type of game where you take on the role of a character and interact with other players. In most cases, these are completely fabricated personalities, but in a lot of cases the goal is to act according to the morals and values of real people. It’s a common question in surveys, with 45% of respondents saying they would never write something like this, 24% saying they sometimes do it and only 25% saying they always do it.

What is behind this discrepancy? Why would a person write a name other than their own?

In an effort to explore this further, we decided to conduct a case study on several hundred respondents from across the UK. We wanted to understand the demographics, the types of games people play and whether there were any significant differences between those who do and don’t write fake names online.

Who Plays Online Role Playing Games?

Our analysis showed that 55% of respondents play online role playing games, with boys more likely to do so than girls (60% vs. 50%). Additionally, the games seem to attract a slightly older audience, with 59% in the 18 to 24 age group stating they play the games, compared to 54% of 25 to 34-year-olds and 48% of those aged 35+. This could indicate that as technology evolves, so does the way people interact with it.

It’s also clear that people who play these types of games vary in the extent to which they engage with other players. While 27% of respondents said they interact with people they meet online ‘sometimes’, 45% said they do so ‘often’. This could indicate that the games have helped to foster an online community, with 44% of respondents saying they have met people they would never have spoken to in real life through the game. Interestingly, 13% said they have made lifelong friends through the game, which goes to show the extent to which these titles can encourage social interaction.

Do People Who Play These Games Write Fake Blogs Or Twitter Accounts?

It was actually quite surprising to discover that 50% of people who play online role playing games also write blogs or run Twitter accounts as part of their hobby. It seems that the games, which can run for several weeks or months, provide a safe space for these individuals to explore their talents for writing. It is perhaps not surprising that 25% of the respondents said they did so for ‘extra cash’, with the majority of these respondents saying they received £10 for every blog they wrote and £5 for every tweet. This could indicate that blogging and tweeting are accepted forms of payment within the games’ community.

Those who don’t play the games cited vanity as the main reason. In an effort to deceive others, 24% of respondents stated they would write something other than their real name, with only 11% saying they would write their real name. Additionally, 12% of the respondents said they would make up a family member’s name, while 8% would write the name of a fictional character. This could show that people are wary of being found out through keywords or internet searches, which could lead to problems if the game is considered ‘professional’.

Why Is Vanity The Main Driver?

We wondered whether there might be a correlation between the reasons given for wanting to write under a fake name and the profile of the person doing the writing. For example, might those who play games for extra cash also blog for money?

The answer is slightly complicated. While those who play the games for money might also blog for money, it is not entirely accurate to say that blogging and playing the games are linked. Instead, it seems that blogging and gaming are somewhat ‘peripheral’ interests, with respondents stating that they either do one or the other but not necessarily both.

To explore this further, we examined the extent to which respondents engaged with both gaming and blogging. Our analysis showed that while 29% of the respondents said they engaged with gaming, only 16% said they engaged with blogging. However, 65% of the respondents said they didn’t engage with either one of those things. What this shows is that while gaming might be considered a ‘hobby’ by some, for others it is a way of life, with 53% of the respondents saying they would continue to play the games even if they made a large amount of money from blogging. This might also explain why 50% of those who engage with gaming also write blogs – it’s a way of life for them and something they enjoy doing. Gaming isn’t the only hobby that comes with perks, with 22% of the respondents saying they play piano for enjoyment and 14% listing reading as a hobby. This might indicate that those who engage with these things say so because they see it as a worthwhile and/or enjoyable hobby, rather than something they do for money.

Do Gaming And Blogging Provide An Income Stream?

It seems that blogging and gaming provide an income stream for 24% of the respondents, with 18% estimating that they earn £10 to £50 per week from the activities and 6% earning over £50 per week. This could indicate that for those who enjoy doing these things, they might consider them a ‘hobby’ or a way of making a little extra money on the side. At the same time, many are drawn to the activities because they see them as a hobby and therefore don’t consider them to be a ‘real’ job.

While it’s great to have a hobby, for those who see blogging and gaming as a way of life, it might be difficult to consider them a ‘hobby’. Many people get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life and neglect their hobbies, with only 20% of the respondents currently engaged in gaming or blogging saying they do so regularly (versus 28% of those not currently engaged in the activities). This could indicate that for those who play these games and/or blog, the activities are a way of life that they cannot neglect due to financial concerns. While this might be the case for those whose primary source of income is not blogging and gaming, it’s still a way of life for many who see it as a secondary source of income.

Blogging And Gaming Have Positive Impact

While those who play the games and/or blog for financial reasons might see those activities as a way of making a quick buck, for others it is a way of life that they enjoy and therefore value. We wanted to explore this further, so we asked the respondents if they had any concerns regarding their writing. Inevitably, we got some responses that mentioned challenges faced by ‘unknown’ or ‘new’ bloggers, as well as difficulties in getting a blog post ‘earmarked’ for publication (versus getting it posted at the same time as other articles).

Interestingly, the analysis also showed that while 40% of the respondents said they didn’t experience any difficulties in getting their blog post published, 28% said it was difficult – but not impossible – to get a post ‘priority’ ed over others and only 15% said it was impossible. It seems that while the games might have ‘created’ an online community, it is possible for individuals to flourish online despite not being involved in the games (or blogging).

This brings us back to the original question: why should you write fake names online? It seems that those who play the games and/or blog say so because they see it as a worthwhile and/or enjoyable activity – for some, it is a way of life that they cannot neglect due to financial concerns. At the same time, it is possible for those not involved in the games to flourish online, which indicates that while the games might have facilitated an online community for the respondents, it is not all sunshine and rainbows.