We should care about online worlds simply for the fact that they exist. It is important to focus on the good that can come from them, while also being aware of the negative aspects that exist. Whenever I tell my friends about Second Life, the reaction is always the same: they relate it to The Sims. I always have to explain that in The Sims, you create and control all of the characters that you come in contact with, while Second Life is very different. Second Life is a community of real people running around in avatar form doing whatever they want to do in virtually whatever location they want within the platform. Confronting someone on the street in Second Life is the same as if you were to confront a stranger on the street in NYC. You never know what you are going to get. These are real interactions, and while you may feel physically safe behind your computer screen, you can be effected mentally by participating in this world in a plethora of ways. This can range from being harassed by other users, “griefed” by “griefers”, or the possibility of getting addicted or consumed in it. People who do not partake in this gaming lifestyle do not understand the reality and depth of it and it is hard for them to understand how these people who spend countless hours in online worlds often neglect their relationships and responsibilities in real life.
As we read in the reading by Andrejevic, interactivity can be used to both attract consumers and for market-testing. Online worlds have many dimensions that can be used in myriad ways. A couple of weeks ago, our reading informed us about the ways that IBM is using Second Life to save money on conferences and meetings while encouraging networking within the company. Online worlds have the potential to embrace networking and collaboration in a business sense through free software. Aside from using online worlds for large corporations, people who do not feel that they belong or want to interact in society for one reason or the other can find their niche within online worlds. The fact that a person can actually make a living without interacting with humans face to face is mind blowing. With the use of online software, anyone can become a producer or consumer and the possibilities for this are endless.