A Second Life

If you could live anywhere, where would it be? If you could be anyone, male or female, robot, or animal, what would you choose? If you could fly, would you? If you could live in a whole alternate world, have a second life, would you take advantage of the opportunity?

If you have never heard of it the best comparison would be to The Sims or World of Warcraft. Or, if you have never played those games maybe you have see the movie Tron: Legacy – a movie about a boy who goes looking for his missing father in a virtual world. Second Life allows people to create avatars and live in a virtual world. While playing I was able to choose what I wanted to look like in my virtual world. I could change my clothes, or morph myself into an animal. I could walk, run, and even fly. I went to the Bahamas and did some sightseeing, along with a few other places around the world. I was even able to talk to other avatars. I was a bit startled with a chat popped up and the other avatars were trying to talk to me. What is the proper etiquette for talking to another avatar? Do I talk like I am the “real” Michelle, or do I talk as if I am a completely different person. It was also interesting because I will probably never know the person behind the computer.

Anthropologists, more specifically digital ethnographers, study digital cultures and how the digital technology affects culture. It reveals that relationships are changing because of this, and that relationships differ online than in person. Are these changing relationships a good thing or bad thing? Well, it depends on the way you look at it, or who you ask.

How far can you take things in a virtual world until that world becomes yours? If you are married in the “real-world” can you have a girlfriend in your virtual world? Or is that cheating? That is just one example of the potential ethical issues that can arise from virtual worlds. NBC News wrote about a virtual world affair that affected a person’s life outside the computer. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Questions:

1. Have you ever played a game where you lived in a virtual world? What was your experience like?

2. If you read the article I posted from NBC News, what are your thoughts on this controversial situation?

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6 thoughts on “A Second Life

  1. My extent of playing virtual games was the SIMS when I was in elementary school. I have never been much of a gamer and would not consider it something that I have very much knowledge of. I had not idea that you could build relationship and have actual interactions with the avatars in Second Life until I read the article that you posted. Personally, because I am not a gamer, I find it pathetic that someone would let a video game take over their real life to the extent that people in the article did. However, like anything else people become addicted to, it is becomes something that they cannot control.
    I never would have thought that Second Life and similar games would that that strong of an effect over someones life based on my experience with it, but I guess it can.

    • The Sims has changed from your elementary and middle school days. They have an online version and you can interact with other players. Although, I don’t believe the interaction is as much as it is in Second Life. I think people play these games for different reasons – maybe looking for a new fun game to play or maybe they are searching for companionship. If people can meet and date through online dating websites or social media, why not a virtual world? But for someone who is married, is their companionship cheating? That depends on how you look at it and who you ask.

  2. Never played a virtual world game until this Second Life assignment…but must say I have long expected players (who also have a real world committed relationship) might have some of the problems that the NBC story mentioned — for all the reasons it mentioned. Online intimacy particularly for a working adult means less energy or time for real world intimacy and relationships can suffer.

    • People do tend to disclose more online than they do in person. This disclosure could make it easier to feel a deeper connection with someone even if you have never met them (whether the connection is real or fake is a different story).

  3. I HAD to read that article after you talked about it in class last night. I never realized how caught up people could get in virtual worlds. It kind of reminded me of this story http://www.news-medical.net/news/20130607/Using-Facebook-too-much-can-lead-to-cheating-breakup-and-divorce.aspx
    which says that using Facebook excessively can make people more likely to break up. I think the simple truth is that technology connects us and people are attracted to those connections, even when they probably shouldn’t be.

  4. Its not surprising SL has led to relationship break ups and divorces. Any type of activity that interferes and causes issues in your real life is a problem. When visits to the virtual world move beyond entertainment or stress relief and start to encroach on real life relationships and responsibilities it may be a sign its time to give it up.

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