Who is that masked man you met last night in the chat room? You might never know for sure, but a game developed by a Georgia Institute of Technology student could help you make a better guess. It explores a question as old as Internet chat itself: Exactly how much of your personality can you show--or shield--online?
The free, 20-minute game attempts to test whether the right questions will expose poseurs. Players assume an identity, say, male, female, black, white, French, etc. Other players' questions help distinguish the fakers from those acting out their real profiles. Sample question: "What's the first thing you notice about a man?" The real woman answers: "The shoes. Men treat their feet like they treat their girlfriends." The impostor? "His pants. You can see his butt and his wallet!"
At the end of the game, the other players vote on who's who. And then--at least in theory--everyone tells the truth. Game developer Joshua Berman says some people can easily mask their personalities, while others can't fake it at all. Want to see for yourself? Check out www.cc.gatech.edu/elc/turing.