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. 

Advertisements