The Turing Game : Exploring Identity in an Online Environment

Do men and women behave differently online? Can you tell how old someone is, or determine their race or national origin based on how they communicate on the internet? Issues of personal identity affect how we relate to others in everyday life, both online and offline. However, identity in this new medium is still poorly understood by internet users. An online environment, The Turing Game, helps internet users to explore these issues. 11,158 people used it over a one-year period. Players from 81 countries on all seven continents used the game to learn about issues of identity and diversity online through direct experience. We studied these interactions through logfile analysis, participant observation and qualitative interviewing. In this paper, we present an indepth discussion of a single evening in the environment. Our primary goal is to show how internet users learn about identity in this environment. Identity was once a concept reflected on primarily by scholars, but is increasingly a subject of fascination and concern for members of the general public. What concerns about identity do people bring to such a game? What are they curious about, and what do they find surprising? Is it possible to support a kind of philosophical play that promotes reflection by participants?


Joshua Berman , Amy S. Bruckman


Berman, Joshua and Amy Bruckman (2001). "The Turing Game: Exploring Identity in an Online Environment." Convergence, 7(3), 83-102.


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