ALT! Who goes there? – Part 5 – An essay by Extropia DaSilva

Now Extropia DaSilva has her own blog! This essay is republished with kind permission of Extie — Gwyn

Remember that moment in ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, when the bears are heading for home while Goldilocks is sleeping in baby bear’s bed? Small children find her behaviour rather strange, and an experiment involving a tube of sweets can help explain why. In this experiment, a child is offered a tube of sweets, only to find it actually contains something else. Plastic counters, perhaps. Next, the child is told that someone (who has not seen the tube before) is about to enter the room. The child is asked: What will the person expect to find in the tube of sweets? Small children say ‘plastic’, because they have not yet learned that other people’s knowledge of the world may be different to their own. This is also the reason why small children playing hide-and-seek sometimes stand in full view with their eyes closed. In their minds, they cannot see anything, so nobody else can see anything either! As for Goldilocks, the child knows that the three bears will soon enter the house, and they assume the little girl in the story must know this as well. So, why does she remain sound asleep, instead of running for her life?

GOLDILOCKS IS THE THREE BEARS.

In some ways, the child’s way of thinking is more accurate. This is because all characters in a story are usually the creation of one person (‘Goldilocks’ is actually an exception to this rule, because it was adapted from folktales and several authors added the elements that make up the story as we know it today). That being the case, each character in a story is an ‘alt’ of the author. Each one must therefore only be pretending not to know what the other characters are thinking or doing.

But, what is truly disturbing is the character of Goldilocks herself, and I am not referring to her disregard for other people’s private property. No, it is the fact that she is a little girl. We can be certain, though, that the person who created her was an adult. When you read the parts of that story that involves Goldilocks, her actions and what she is thinking, bare in mind that an adult had to imagine being that little girl. How else could a character be brought to life? This, then, is evidence of age play. Fortunately, the person who created Goldilocks was female, so at least we do not have to worry about reading a story to our kids that was penned by someone taunting us by pretending to be the someone of the opposite sex.

Ok, I know this is a ridiculous position to take. Nobody ever raised an issue over an author creating a character whose age and gender differed from their own. But, isn’t it odd how such concerns can be voiced over roleplay in virtual worlds? So, what is it about the creative medium of literature that makes Goldilocks a perfectly innocent creation, but an avatar designed to look like a little girl and roleplayed as one raises questions regarding what is/ is not acceptable?

DRAW ME A MAGIC CIRCLE.

It seems that when we read a story, the world and its inhabitants take precedence over the creative act