Virtual Worlds for Non-Believers


During our talk in class about virtual worlds it became clear to me that some people frown upon virtual worlds because they just don’t get it. Why would a person want to live a life online and outside of the real world?

1. No geographic boundaries! Thats right folks… you yourself can sit next to your best friend who is abroad in Europe (via your computer screen) and chat it up. While this is great for social purposes (maybe you can make new friends from far away places), many businesses are also jumping on this gold train.  By allowing their employees to use virtual worlds, some companies are cutting out the gap created by geography. One company using virtual teams is Boeing. They also build virtual worlds for testing their new planes.

2. Building a community of interests. You can join one of these virtual worlds and actually find people that like to talk about the same stuff that you do. Really into baking muffins and can’t find anyone in your local community to share ideas with? Check out a virtual world! While it may not be a living interaction it is live. You can create a “Muffin Guild” ( a guild is group of people gathered for a particular interest) in a virtual world that will allow you to hang out with other people who love baking muffins. You can share muffin recipes and have a great time! This brings us to my next and most important point…

3. Knowledge sharing… very important and very lacking in our flesh world. We can only gather information from those around us. This makes us very small minded because we are not getting the whole picture. If we are able to communicate in a more global fashion we will be far more informed about what is actually going on with the rest of the world. It’s much more personal and easy to take to heart when you are hearing from the individuals involved in the news, rather than hearing from some guy who wrote a story in a newspaper. If more people were involved in virtual worlds then each individual person involved would be surrounded by more varied viewpoints. We would be able to be more informed about the real world around us by being a part of the virtual world.

Two more fun virtual world tid-bits:

Clicking here will take you to a fellow WordPress blogger’s blog. While the majority of the blog is about doing business in a virtual world (particularly Second Life), this particular post talks about why Todd got into virtual business. It shares some very interesting facts about people who are actually making big bucks with these virtual businesses.

Another cool site (provided by Jordi a long long time ago) tells a little of the history of virtual worlds and where they may be headed in the future (especially in education).

8 Responses

  1. Second Life: Land of the WEAK home of the BROKEN

    First of all, I have been there, have done that. Had clubs, owned land, made friends, money, and fell in love. Second life on the surface, especially for the newbie and Entrepreneur/artist is a fun and cool place to make some friends, and make some money. It is looked at as a supercharged chat room, a video game. But the nature of its name is where the insidiousness is. As much of a second life (SL) as it might be, in order to operate you still have to use your Real Life (RL) abilities. You do not follow a different thought and emotional pattern when in SL. You can only use what you know in RL. But kidding yourself is one of the appeals of SL. You eventually get lost in it.
    At first it is new and exciting. Like a new video game. Learning the functions that move your avatar around, visiting places and socializing with the natives. You are perfect, and you can fly. No sickness, no need for money (well not as much) and people don’t have bad breath and, as a “normal”, “intelligent” person, it is an interesting place to explore and learn. But it eventually becomes one of three things. 1. Boring, like a video game you have played over and over. 2. An environment to explore your creative ability to design and sell things. Or, 3 it consumes your psyche.
    The first two are what they are; the third is the meat and potatoes of SL. This is the one that is more consistent. Do you really think the folks at Linden Labs are spending their free time on SL.? No, they are spending the money they are making in RL (SL is a business so it is RL for them) on RL things.
    There comes a saturation point where you walk away or get sucked in. I will say this for the last time and it does not apply to you newbie’s, or the smart ones that are making money off the lonely. It is a place to hide from reality. It is a place where weak, lost souls go to escape from the depth and breadth of life. I will allow some latitude for you shut-ins. Some people have nothing else but the four walls of the room they are in. SL can provide a form of “human” entertainment that they otherwise would not be able to get. But, that just causes the shut-in to let go of their emotional self being even more. This is a hard pill to swallow, no one wants to take a good look at them selves and most do not. But the covert nature of SL allows you to cut loose. Sort of the absolute power corrupts absolutely theory. People that stay too long get lost in it. And yes, justifying all the way, that it is just a game. For the predator, and a predator is weak by nature, it is a place to be free of thought and persecution. To dominate the weak that makes SL their home. And, it is a place for the weak to not be judged, a place that they can feel and accept that who they are is ok, even if it is with the few. Some people can handle the trials and tribulations of life, some can’t and they end up in SL. You start to see a symbiotic circle of relationships in SL. For the people designing objects to sell, they may not interact totally and directly with the person/s and, their sales may come from across the board. The newbie that is playing the “game” to the obsessed, but, the obsessed is a long term customer. Theses business individuals usually get in, add new product, convert their lindens to dollars or pounds and get out.

    The tragedy is the weak and broken. Don’t roll your eyes, In the Real World we are always conned with flashy marketing to get us to buy something or believe something in order to be more acceptable. Magic creams or potions. Don’t kid yourself; Second Life is about making money. Making money off of what? Our loneliness and our lack of self worth in the real world. HELLO, McFly!! It is called Second Life.

    It might be simple, you build a club, people come and visit or create a group, and you solicit for members. People get together and boom, you feel wanted and needed. Building your dream home in the clouds and littering your lawn with cool things like jets and swimming pools. That can make you popular. Walking in a park with your perfect Avatar girlfriend/boyfriend, no RL issues so it is a perfect relationship. That leads to good puppet sex. Mmmm nice. All this is accomplished by tugging on your weakness, your emotional frailty. Either you are not getting it in RL or are too afraid to face the truth of how to exist in RL. You can’t handle the truth and if you are a long term SL puppet, you just can’t handle life, Real Life. Don’t get me wrong, we all like to escape from time to time.

    In some places it is much darker, like I said before, predators hunting the weak. The Gorean Master and the slaves that he takes control of. This one is unusual, in that the Master has total control over the slave. The “slave” giving not only total control of their Avatar, and who can communicate to them, but also, control as to when they will or will not talk to what they can wear. Believe me this does carry over to real life. Imagine the fun of kneeling next to your Avatar Master and saying nothing. Second life being nothing more then a place to be told what to do, serving fake food and ale. You want to call it guided, or taught? Hey, what ever floats your boat? I know just a video game, right? This setup just allows the predator to get in that persons head and develop a false sense of security. Tell that to your husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend. Why you are glued to the PC instead of enjoying life, REAL LIFE. And, couples also get on there too, as couples, this is a nutty one. Worked hard all week, beautiful weekend, and, you both are on a computer, every free moment, building and designing that special home, having that child you never could have. (Yes, people do play the part of the child.) I find it unhealthy when instead of developing a better real life and real relationship in RL. You take that precious time and waste it. Yes, ok… You are free to do what you want. But there are plenty of damaged people on SL. And your fantasy could be causing them to loose sense of reality, along with your lost sense of reality. Their marriages, get funky, destroyed, their children get neglected. And you get a ridiculous God complex that makes you anti social in the Real World, which just plummets yourself deeper in to SL. Cha Ching! Sweet business you got Linden People.
    You have the 50+ couple that spends every “free” moment in SL being the King and Queen. Oh, and so good to their obedient subjects. At their beckons call, at their total command. Or, the sexual perverts. Ok, my opinion….. That can now live out the fantasy of doing it with a farm animal. Or, kneeling down and being the public toilet. Sex is rampant in SL. The anonymous nature of your avatar is something too. You really do not know if the man is a woman or the woman is a man, plenty of men that are living out their desire to be a Transsexual, or a woman. Plenty of women that want to love another woman, so she hides in the body of a man. I guess what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Hey, no one is getting hurt, no aids. Nicey nice. The soul is willing but the flesh is weak. So, the wall that SL provides, allows for an easier transition to experiment. Sad part is as your getting deeper and deeper; you are getting more lost in fantasy then reality and they start to blend. Actually, you probably were lost between the two to begin with. Now you go out into the real world. Take a break; meet one of your SL friends. Break the rule, cross that line; remember SL and RL are supposed to be two different places. People meet up, some get married, the rare few. But mostly it is a letdown, disappointment, and harm to others. It is a dirty little secret. Who wants to tell people that you got into that trouble because you decided to meet your “make believe” friend?
    Lips stay sealed, people get hurt. And in the end, the only place they feel right, the only place that people understand is right back on Second Life. CHA CHING!

  2. Chaz, I am sorry that you had a poor experience with SL, but as a student of sociology I think that it is important to look at the entire population of Second Life users and virtual world users in general. It is clear from articles that I have read that not everyone has this bad experience. Some people really enjoy getting to socialize and share their thoughts and be a part of these less bounded worlds. I understand that some people may get carried away, but I do doubt that that trait is the same for everyone.

  3. I just published my post last night and included a quote from the Wall Street Journal from a wife whose husband married a virtual woman on Second Life… all I have to say is… you make it what you want to make it. Of course it is supposed to look all nice and tempting and get you hooked, but we should be rational in how we use such technologies.

  4. Zuffola…..

    It is not that I had a bad experience. Actually it has been an interesting one. Also being a student of Sociology and being around the block a few times. My opinion comes from the experiences of others as well. It is always good till it becomes bad. It is having the insight to look ahead and see the stop light. But that comes with experience and wisdom.
    Also if you looked over the whole article, I did state it can be fun. #1 and #2. But we drink to get a buzz not because we like the taste of alcohol.

    Nadir… Yes we should be rational in how we use such technologies. Shame it takes society so long to do that.

  5. What types of people do you think “don’t get it”? When I first heard about the internet I thought who would want to have a virtual relationship, and that I’d rather be holding a reputable book then a article from god knows where online. Do you think that the type of people who don’t get it are from an older generation of people or have never been forced to try using the internet?

  6. Kelli, I am not just talking about the internet. Some average, everyday people (even some people in our class) do not see the appeal of virtual worlds. I was writing this post as an attempt to point out some things that may be a more positive side to having an avatar in a virtual world. It’s not older generations either… I was shocked to see a group of older men standing in line for the Wrath of the Lich King WoW expansion, and I am sure that there are older users on more social type VWs. A questions for you… what is the difference between a virtual relationship and a long distance relationship where the only time you see or hear from the person is over the phone?

    Nadir, I definitely agree about being rational. To go along with Ross’s article, some people really to get addicted to VWs (especially the gaming type like WoW). It is important that, like all things, we learn to use them in moderation.

    Chaz, you may have said it was fun, but you spent much more time bashing. If you did not have a bad experience, what has compelled you to write such alarming comments on two different blog posts in the same blog?

  7. Hypothesis:

    It takes society so long to act rationally because

    a) people are not rational
    b) society is not rational

  8. Zuffola….

    Plenty of us talk about fire prevention, or keeping our children safe. Does not mean we have had our houses burned down or our child has been compromised. It was a “thesis” , a heads up to things to come and what is REALLY going on. SL as other VR environments. Allow us to cut loose. It is an interesting place to see how absolute power does corrupt absolutely. And since you cant physically hurt an Avatar. Then it is seen as not a problem. We are always eager to help people that are bleeding. But as you know, the psychological damage a person might have can be greater and carry deeper scar. This is basically new, not many people know about it. Thankfully most are too busy with their real lives, for now. And, it is a wake up call. I did not bash SL. I gave an observation, from an extensive study. I am not bashing the automobile industry if I tell you walking into traffic might get you killed.

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