Second life is, well, a quite unique phenomenon, and we can spend hours and hours talking about the theories in which the phenomenon encompasses. However, most relevant theories are often post-modern, meaning the concept of those ideas can be abstract and even figurative and hence, today I intend to start off with a story first.
All characters are protected by nom de plume.
2002, a couple named Peter and Sarah was married, and 5 years later the couple has produced 2 children, one boy and one girl. Although the family was not particularly rich, the family was deemed to be normal and average.
3 years ago, Sarah started playing an online game called “perfect world”, an online domain allowing players not only allowing players to fight monsters and level up, but also interfacing with other players in manners of social and business set out.
There are shops, trades, dating even marriage in the game.
The perfect world itself almost parallels the real world.
3 months later since Sarah started playing the game, she met a guy called john, and soon she was married to him for the purpose of completing a quest allowing only online coupled characters.
John told her over and again before the marriage that he has a girlfriend in real life that he loves.
Since the marriage, they communicated constantly and continuously, from online messages to offline messages to text messages to phone call, and even up to a stage whereas they exchange gifts to each other, despite the fact that they lived in different state.
Sarah progressively got sunk into the game, and 8 months later, she divorced her husband and left her 2 children, and started pursuing John.
John was than harassed by Sarah days and nights, and eventually, the harassment was so unbearable that John not only deleted his character in perfect world but also her number, also blocked her from any means of telecommunication.
Failed to communicate with John, Sarah travelled interstate to look for him. John was scared, and reported to the police.
Sarah was arrested and was sent to rehabilitation.
Interesting story? Perhaps entertaining? Can you even imagine someone you know doing it?
However, the sad truth is, it is an ACTUAL case study happened in Hong Kong (of cause, the official record was written more properly :P).
And this, is an example of how second life not only entertain our “first life”, but also interferes it.
The function of second life (or any online avatar gaming platform) is no longer seen as a source of entertainment or a simple pass time, but rather, the seriousness people often take in perfect world (or any avator-themed games) destroy the traditional and the fundamentals of our social perception in reality.
Surely, in such virtual world, Jenkins’ idea of collective intelligence definitely took place in the realm of perfect world, however, the positivity of it is hardly there for the general citizens, and only the entrepreneurs profit from every minutes of the their gaming addition.
For instance, Chinese online gaming market alone, in 2005 reached $580 millions, and the revenue it has today can only left to the imagination.
Here’s a research done on the average hours of second life players spend on second life.
So, people often question my disgust of world of online gaming, and this is the exact reason why.
$580 million can provide food, shelter and education for 138,952 needed children in Africa for a year.
or provide aids treatment in Africa for more than 1,657,142 carriers annually.
or build 19 hopsitals in Africa
or build 29,000 school in Africa.
And yet, annually we spend our money recklessly due to our addiction to a virtual reality, indulging ourselves in the imitation of something we can never be, wasting our time, money and potentially our real life relationship for such pointless simulation and stupidity when we can use both the time and the money for much better causes.
The case study we visited earlier perhaps had already outlined the destructiveness of such gaming, however, I will restate it right here right now;
“Second life is killing off our “first” life.”
And I am not making groundless claim,
as I will now ask you to recall a time when your relationship with someone involves not the mediation of a virtual mean,
and then, you’ll know my proposition is true,
as you will fail to recall one unless you search your memory at least 10 years ago.