When I read through the first few paragraphs of the article Virtual Worlds by Castronova, and had been introduced to all of the stats in regards to their economy, demographics, currency, etc., I was sure that it had to be a joke that “Norrath” was actually a virtual location. They go on to theorize, “virtual worlds may be the next step in the evolution of internet (and possibly human) culture. I get it – we are living in the digital age. Information is so overabundant online. It is almost an archaic thought to imagine someone going to the library for a book, or to look something up. But the gap between virtual information and virtual lifestyles/cultures is a bizarre concept to accept. So much of traditionally rich ethnic culture would be lost. What I mean is that people from all over the world will join virtual worlds and conform to a universal virtual culture and lose sight of what the reality of their culture actually is. For instance, the virtual culture includes slang and abbreviations that would replace realistic cultural languages. The nature of how pervasive and realistic that virtual world’s is described in this article yields how invested people are in proactively participating and conforming to its culture. Another crazy theory they bring up is the reference to the profitable business potential that exists in morphing “Earth retailers” onto virtual grounds for virtual communities to access. They reference JC Penny in particular. Will they create size-scales for avatars? Will there still be designer clothing that costs a fortune? – when graphics aren’t even good enough to see the product clearly to recognize little details that set apart expensive merchandise brands.
This brings me to my next point, anonymity and truthfulness. In many of the articles that we have read in the past, it has been shown that people do indeed alter their avatars to become more sociably accepted in their presentation. How could we allow a world to exist when all business profit might stem from people using false identities? People would be shopping and spending money on their “fantasy” avatars. In addition, we have read articles that have articulated the risk that virtual worlds face with hackers. How could people, businesses, and even further, economies risk their security like that? We have seen how Earth retailer Target has fallen into a huge credit card scandal just a few months ago, which affected Target stores all over the US. We are even at a higher risk online, where we will store all of our financial information. That would be a gold mine for online hackers.
In regards to professional and businesses that run virtually, and would save companies a significant amount of money, convenience and accessibility, there would be also be a significant amount of glitches. Conventions and work conferences would mean that servers would have to host a lot of people in a small area. That means lagging, poor connectivity, etc. It would be more frustrating to sit behind a computer screen than it would be educational. Plus, there would be more at-home distraction and the experience would be hindered. The communication and efficiency that face-to-face business meetings are thorough, their presentations are live, thus eliminating such glitches that are caused online.