Here are two different approaches that I liked from previous classes.
Here are two different approaches that I liked from previous classes.
The Synthetic Worlds article was very fascinating. The line, “a synthetic world that grows together with the outer world like two vines on a tree, each one imposing more and more development on the other year by year” absolutely blew my mind. And the more and more I think about it, the more it makes sense. In other post that I did, I compared the universe to the Internet. How fitting is it that humans eventually created the Internet; a complex, interconnected and unimaginably infinite amount of space where information and energy is processed, created and passed from one receiver to the next (sounds a bit like our universe, doesn’t it?). The universe is all we have ever known—to me it makes sense that humans would eventually create a virtual or synthetic version of it that is smaller and more comprehendible.
(Taken from: http://antifan-real.deviantart.com/art/Grand-Universe-17189369)
The author also mentions the “magic circle,” which I thought was another interesting point. The magic circle is the realm in which games take place. It is where the unimaginable becomes imaginable, with heroes and villains and quests and so forth. I think the reason the author brings this up is because it infers the points he is trying to make. Synthetic/virtual worlds do not necessarily need to be a bad thing for our society. A lot of people give video games and virtual worlds a lot of flack because they somewhat inhibit the growth and development of social abilities and interaction, and they encourage a somewhat sedentary lifestyle. However, they do encourage creativity, and invigorate and create sense of thrill and importance for the user.
(Taken from: http://www.techpolicydaily.com/internet/10-myths-realities-broadband-internet-usa/)
The world we live in is very limited in terms of what is possible and what is not possible. We cannot fly, we do not get respawns or do-overs, magic is not real, etc. In virtual worlds, though, they are. I think the point of the article is to play devil’s advocate and say: are virtual worlds such a bad thing? They allow us to do things that previously only existed in our imaginations and our dreams. Although they are not real, they do create real ties and real emotions. I have played video games that were so moving or so powerful, that they had a very substantial impact on my life. One of which was Bioshock Infinite. The message and storyline were so incredible that it changed my perspective on life a bit. Another game that I played (as a kid) was Final Fantasy X. The ending was so sad, and the game makes the player so attached to the characters that it breaks your heart if something bad happens to them. I think that just because virtual worlds are not real, doesn’t mean that they are bad. They have real impacts on real lives, and I think that is what is important, and that they can have impacts or effects on people’s lives just as much as something that is “real”. Here is a quote I really like from South Park that I think fits in well to the argument of this article: “Just because it is imaginary doesn’t mean it isn’t real” (ImaginationLand pt. 3).
I found Castronova’s article to be especially optimistic in terms of the potential synthetic worlds have. While he is correct in the idea that many people still do view video games and virtual world technology to be “silly”, it is very hard to deny the numbers regarding usage. There is absolutely something to be expanded on, but how these technologies will grow is still quite hard to predict. I found his point about having these worlds supplement real life actions instead of completely replacing them to be crucial to their success. Obviously these virtual worlds have showcased the level of immersion involved, and negative instances have definitely occurred, but I agree that it will come down to policy and user responsibility. There is no doubt that these worlds are incredible teaching and training tools, as the potential to screw up in the most serious of situations is gone. Surgeons, pilots, and military personnel have already begun to utilize this virtual technology; all that is left is to refine it.
While these instances have found success, I do agree that in order to expand these capabilities to a mass audience a certain order must be in place. Virtual worlds have already become home to many people who use the anonymity in order to be hurtful and such behavior would only slow down the medium’s momentum if it was beginning to be used for more serious purposes. For instance, as Castronova describes visiting his “Meemaw” via virtual reality, I’m sure he would not want a complete stranger’s avatar joining in unexpectedly. Yet just as discussed in the article, such order would have to be established and maintained by a larger entity which may also disturb those in support for zero restrictions on the Internet. This begins to make one question what online freedoms society will set aside in order to maximize the technology’s potential, if any. Will people be able to create and participate in vast, informative, and beneficial worlds without it being completely out of control? While the answer is unclear, the potential these technologies have and the controversy such growth might create is cause to take notice and actively consider.
Courses in the DCIM minor have changed my perspective on the overall effect of technology on society a great deal. The danger of “big data” and basic concepts presented by Andrejevic and Castranova are not entirely new. However, before these courses, their danger seemed to be at most a subtle hum in the background – which should certainly inspire some extra critical thinking about the choices we make in a mass-media world, but in the end, are not significantly dangerous. Now, with a better grasp on the implications of these power imbalances – and specifically, how carefully mass media tailors their marketing to foster a sense of interactivity and democracy – I am slightly more afraid.
This week’s readings reminded me of a guest lecture from an earlier semester about the idea of a digital panopticon. Pictured to the left, the panopticon is essentially a prison design by social theorist Jeremy Bentham from the 1700s. The appeal of the design is in how all prisoner cells are visible from a central guard tower. This means that the prisoners can see very little, and the guards can theoretically watch all of the prisoners, all the time.
To connect this prison design to our readings about virtual worlds’ frightening new implications, replace some variables in the design. The institution is not a prison, but the internet; the center tower does not hold guards, but instead represents Google; and we, the users, are prisoners. This image is a frighteningly accurate depiction of virtual worlds’ “ramifications and consequences”. Users, as Andrejevic noted, “have less knowledge about and control over how [information about them] is being used” than ever before – they are prisoners, unable to see many other prisoners, much less the guards who monitor them perpetually. Meanwhile in our example, Google is in a uniquely perfect position to collect endless amounts of data from those who surround them, unable to hide a thing – “producers have more information than ever before”. Analyzing the internet through the model of a prison is decidedly dystopian – but if deception by producers continues to develop at its recent speed, the dystopia may be very real.
“Jabra even wants to provide a guide so that other female avatars can make themselves more sexually attractive” (R.A. Brookey and K.L. Cannon, 2011, p. 151).
The above sentence is so much of what I have a problem with when it comes to the objectification of women. It’s bad enough that it happens in real life, but horribly misogynistic world views make their way into the online realm, honestly, please leave! Then there’s women who internalize these feelings of needing to doll themselves up solely for the pleasure of mean, it’s sad and unfortunate that this is the criteria society teaches both women and men by which to measure females’ worth.
I have no problem with a woman who wants to make herself look presentable; by all means, that’s a great thing to do. But with the statement like that quoted above, for the sake of being “sexually attractive”—NO there’s more to being a woman, there’s more to being a human than your sexual attractiveness.
This is why it bothers me so much to see the stores in Second Life selling promiscuous clothing for women. More than it making me uncomfortable, it makes me sad. Is there any environment in which women don’t get reduced to objects to be played around with?
I found it shocking to read that a Playboy-esque magazine exists in Second Life; but maybe I’m just new here. Maybe it shouldn’t be a shock at all. Maybe it would be more shocking if something like that didn’t exist. After all Second Life is both a fantasy world conjured up from imagination as well as a reflection of much of the real world. If such magazines, thought processes, and objectification exist in real life, maybe it only follows that it would exist in a world where users can remain anonymous, hidden, and enjoy whatever they want to enjoy without being judged by family, friends, and other people they’re forced to have relationships with in life.
Despite all those maybes, I still wish there were more people who’d see my kind as intellectual beings instead of mere toys both in the online and offline worlds.
The online world, while it may be relatively new within the past 10 years, is a growing force in society. We should all embrace it, or the very the least learn to live with it. I think the key to why it’s been so successful and popular in society because of its potential of collaboration and community. As we learned throughout the semester, the internet is one big tree full of many different branches or communities that you can be a part of. You can be a part of so many communities such as the gaming community or the cancer support group community. I never really took the time to realize how big or even how much I take for granted the collaboration being online brings.
Are people hooked on being online? Of course, we learned about how people in China have to play WoW to even make a living. We learned about how people spend more time online on Second Life than in actual reality. We have to realize however that online isn’t an addiction, it has simply become a lifestyle, a culture. We do the things we enjoy the most. As said before, being online is still relatively new, it’s not supposed to be perfect.
“This technology can be deployed for all kinds of purposes, some of them wonderful, others pointless but innocent, other frightening…Now that we have this technology, we have the ability to build societies under any physical conditions we wish.” I believe Castronova hit the nail on the head in terms of being online. Many people go online for frivolous activities, but others go on to live how they want to live. That is reflected by the huge popularity of Second Life. People go one because it’s something they can control.
You can do so many things online. Whether it be to learn, make money, or just make friends, it gives you the opportunity you may not have in reality.
The online world has evolved greatly with much freedom for users to express themselves in however way they would like. My Capstone project is about SoundCloud, which is a social network devoted to allow artists and DJs to share their sounds with their fans. This then allows for a shared experience amongst the online community. The Internet is very collaborative and online communities are started from the bottom up, which is something very important and unique as well. Before enrolling in this class I was very naïve when it came to online gaming because growing up I was not exposed to such games. After reading the Casanova article. Synthetic Worlds, I finally understood why we should care. Casanova discusses, “Thus my argument is not that you should care about the fact that there are ogres and elves running around in cyberspace, but that you should care about the fact that there are ogres and elves, millions of them, running around in cyberspace” (p. 251). Castranova goes into depth about an alternate society and how people would then be able to ‘test’ things out such as different policies, relationships, and other technologies in this alternate world. In virtual worlds, users are able to design what their appearance is and act in different ways than they would in real life. Many users are very devoted to cyberspace that they have created their own society and culture different from the one we are used to. I believe there needs to be a balance between the virtual world and the physical world, or else it is possible our society can break.
As we move towards the last few weeks of class I have learned so many new things about the virtual world. I’m shocked at how vast virtual life is and how much impact it gives to people. We review the good and bad things that virtual world offer us. I am at par with this issue. I guess there must be a little bit of both for both. There are a lot of good things that the virtual world can give us like networking, instant money, convenience and many more. However, being too absorbed with virtual world can make you less sociable, you tend to neglect your real life responsibilities and consume all your energy and time in the virtual world.
When I was a teenager I spend most of my free time on the internet playing online games. I remember the first thing I’d do after coming back from school was to on my laptop or desktop and play MMORPG games. I was obsessed with it and I’d even skip meals just because I didn’t want to leave the game. I’d spend hours and hours locked in my room to play games. It was ridiculous, but at least my case wasn’t as bad as most of the people I read in the articles provided through out this course. Gradually the obsession wore out, but that only happened when I don’t get access to the internet anymore, or I couldn’t get high speed internet access at home. I still go to Cyber Cafes every now and then but I stopped because I couldn’t afford to spend all my allowance just to play games.
As I grow older I realize how dangerous the virtual world is. It takes hold of your attention to the point that you won’t even care about other things. You would neglect a lot of responsibilities as a human. You would much rather have a relationship with your computer screen and your online friends over your family and friends. You would much rather devote your time online than n reality. That’s pretty screwed up. I guess if you’re capable of dividing your time wisely, it would not be a problem. But certain people fail to do so, and it gives an impact to their life. Especially children. They will lack verbal and communication skills and this will affect their performance in class or at workplace in the future. They will not know the proper way to write because they are so used to the terms and spelling used online.
Of course, there are also benefits from spending time in virtual world. It can act as an escape from your hectic life or if you want to just create another persona as your alter ego. You can make money from home, just by doing things you love such as making tutorial videos or becoming gold farmers in WoW. You get to expand your network and know other people from all over the world. Everything is easier online now. But it is also easier to destroy your lifestyle if too much time is spent online.
Since I am relatively new to the virtual world, there is so much to it that I have yet to consider. For instance, I took for granted the fact that in second life millions of players can log in and play the game at once, never considering that there was a time when online gaming was limited to bringing only small amounts of people together. Technology has come a long, long way and Castronova discusses this in his article. He also poses the question, with the expansion of online gaming and virtual worlds, are we harming or helping ourselves? Aside from Castronova’s predications of an erosion of ethics and abandonment of societal constructs, I believe we are already treading in muddy waters.
From spending time in Second Life, I witnessed first hand how much time people can spend in these virtual worlds along with the way in which they interact with one another. Everything one does online is at will, there are no consequences in virtual worlds but the consequences in real life are hefty. I completely agree with Castronova that whats important right now is that we all pay attention and are aware of the changes that are occurring due to this obsession with online gaming. He explains why we should care and quite honestly, I never thought of it in that context. “This technology can be deployed for all kinds of purposes, some of them wonderful, others pointless but innocent, others frightening. We absolutely have to take stock of whatever implications we can see and then consider what to do” (Castronova, 251). This is an excellent approach that should be embraced worldwide.We must fist understand what is happening and then apply in in real time.
I have yet to have my life personally affected by online gaming however I have heard stories as well as witnessed a few relationships dissolve. It is a matter of becoming active and informed. The predictions made in this article are not ones of the distant future but ones that will occur within our lifetime. Now is the time to put the pieces of the puzzle together and make some necessary changes in the way we act online and off.
“Synthetic Worlds,” by Edward Castranova is a perfect article for me to read in particular, because it helps me answer a question for my capstone research. I am studying virtual games, and why they blow up. What makes these games out there, so popular, and so profitable? Why are people caring so much to spend their time and money? And how can I take these theories and implement them in a game I want to create for a greater cause than just entertainment. Castranova stresses the amount of money some of these virtual games are making due to the idea of RMT. People pay actual dollars for extra bonuses in the game they are playing. For example, my boyfriend is extremely obsessed with this game on his phone called “Simpsons, Tapped Out” the objective of this game is to build a community that was once destroyed. In order to make your community fully built you need to keep earning points, and of course a quicker option is to just purchase points to keep building. Now, the question is, why does my boyfriend care so much to keep building this community? What makes it so fun? Why does he wake up at 6 a.m just play it? Drives me nuts! Like Castranova stated in his article, players like interacting with one another, and also virtual games give an opportunity for people to teach and train others. For example, in Second Life, people were using this application to have professional meetings, and also for creating new communities with another vision of society. There are more options for being creative, and being able to express your imaginative fantasy world in a virtual world. Back to the simpsons game example, what sparks his interest in picking the game up is that it gives him the freedom to build his community, but what keeps him playing and keeps his interest is the game is based on time. If you collect points in a certain time period then that helps the player get more buildings, and accessories for his community. Another example that I found relatable to the addictive gamer, is my Doctor that I work for started obsessing over Candy Crush, and I told her “let me know when you start paying for extras?” Her response was “I will never spend money on a phone game!” Im sure you all know where I am going with this. Next time I walked into work she had paid for extras. The reason for this is because people love to solve puzzles and get to the next level. The incentive to keep caring to play is because one already spends so much time getting to where they are, they almost have to spend the dollar to continue. The amount of real money trade a game gets is where one can rate the success of the game.