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When I actually read how Second Life is classified with other MMORPGs, I thought to myself that that couldn’t be possible. However, the reading gave examples about how “users in SL also construct avatars, characters that function as in-game proxies… has an in-game economy that allows users to buy and sell various items and goods” (p. 145). The reading suggested how “users in SL are encouraged to manipulate the environment” (p. 145). They are able to manipulate the environment because they can use educational and commercial applications to interact with other people. Since they are able to manipulate the environment, the author mentioned how there was a shrine to “shemales” which “celebrated the sexual viability of transsexuals” (p. 146). Sherry Turkle made a great point about how users who have “switched genders in online social environments, and how this gender switching allowed these users to assert new identities, and develop more empathy for the opposite gender” (p. 146). I remember a student from one of my classes mentioned how he enjoyed playing as a female character because other male characters would flourish him (female character) with a bunch of things that had monetary value. However, there was a girl in that class who mentioned she has horrible experiences playing as a girl because other players made her feel left out and thought she wasn’t capable enough to play the game.

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“They found that some women switched genders in order to escape sexual harassment online” (p.147). This quote reminded me of a TED Talk that I watched about how a woman, Anita Sarkeesian, made a Kickstarter about Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, and she was flooded with harassment because these male gamers referred abuse as a game. These male gamers made a game about how much they can beat Anita Sarkeesian up, and those with the best punches wins. Sarkessian stated, “Women are silenced, marginalized, and excluded from full participation.” This is why some people don’t choose to be women as avatars because they know how they would be treated. We have homophobia, sexism, and racism that exist in our society. “There is a good deal of online sexual and gender play that objectifies women and marginalizes queer identities” (p. 145). Some may think that virtual worlds or online societies can be a form of an escape from the cruelty they face in the real world; however, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

 

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZAxwsg9J9Q

http://www.21stcentech.com

 

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