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Feb 08, 2007



Dissonance pickle indeed Nate-Dawg. Is SL the first non-game, the first barely-good-enough mirror to RL? If it is a game, then is RL just a game? While many evolutionary theorists do consider RL a game of survival, rules and architecture composed of physical laws and emerging life forms, many more do not subscribe to that belief. Should RL turn out to be the most serious game of them all, then that would certainly explain the lot of the aforementioned dissonance, permeating polarized stances.

As new technology diffuses, it must overcome a wall of memes, established modes of perception, a black hole’s mass of neuro-economic inertia. SL, the first of the metaverse platforms, is the newest interactive communication technology (ICT) on the block. Despite its crappy looks and other limitations, the baby metaverse has proven its worth to many humans and is diffusing rapidly, 100% consistent with technology adoption curves. What’s more, this metaverse thang is potentially the most powerful ICT to date, in all of human history, because it can encompass and coordinate all previous ICTs (audio, writing, text, video, holograms, body language, cave paintings, modern art, etc.) Harnessing these powers, and networked brains, it can facilitate the mirroring and quantification of our dynamic system like no technology before it. That self-reflective offering is core to the *subliminal?* SL message. The combined thought of SL, the metaverse, mirror worlds, brain mapping, etc, and the notion that such quantification may be attainable, palpable, realistic, is powerful as a drug. As SL offers a sneak-peek into the intoxicating Narnia of behavioral (social, economic, physical, philosophical) possibilities, many of our firmly entrenched notions of self and system are endangered.

IMHO, the fundamental idea of SL, and where it may be headed, opens the door to the Matrix, to Bostrom’s simulation argument, to multi-dimensional existence. As this pandora’s box of possibilities is uncovered, it is inevitable that many memeplexes shriek in horror at the prospect of reduced perspectival sovereignty. As the idea-set that SL represents spreads and messes with our underlying assumptions and overarching game strategy, that causes some serious brain freezes, especially the more seriously we take it all. Seriously. :)


Maybe it would be more appropriate to say "Its just a performance".

Second life worries me on a fundamental level. Partly due to my gamer hostility to RMTs , but specifically because the introduction of 'not fun' elements to what ought be a lovely utopia, for many gamers wrecks the whole fantasy and immersion of it all.

Sure the thing might not be made for *us*, but if pleasure is to be exorcised from the post corporeal (perhaps only to be replaced by lack, to get a bit crusty and freud on yas), then really whats the point? Its all miraculation and desiring production, but no *fucking*.

WOW gets it. Its pure form is as an entertainment venture. Because the pleasure is the game. Likewise with pretty much all the game metaverses.

But SL, whos goal seems to be progressively more being painted as "money-->SL-->more money!" with giant animated horse cocks thrown in for good measure.

Is *This* as good as it gets? The model for new metaverses is increasingly becoming a shut door for those who want to *game* the world, or to put it another way gain pleasure thru merit. Rather its becomeing a marketing toy for the corporates, as if the *grand* fuck up for VR, implicitly now addressed, was that the virtual real had forgotten the hyper real.

Perhaps the notion of performances would be a better question to look at. *WHO* is performing the speech acts. *HOW* are they done. to *WHOM* are they addressed, and *WHAT* mediates them? To game or not to game is a question I firmly believe paints dark clouds on the SL horison (perhaps one alas that will bear rain regardless).

But if we look at this outside that pardigm (how do you even spell that damn word) at the performances of subjectivities in a purely constructed intentional community, or even theatre, then we might be able to pose questions that have far more favorable answers to the non gamers of the VR world.

Is the murder of Hamlet an act of grand grief, or an immensely pleasurable performance? What about the penising of Ansche?


I think that there's a kind of hierarchy of abusiveness going on: each of us defining ourselves by what we're not... by what we see as "below" us.

Thus, the hardcore PvPing pirate laughs at the victim's reaction to being ganked in a 0.4 system in Eve, telling them that "it's only a game, carebear". The grinder in Vanguard or Lineage might look down on the Wowtard, while the WoW player on a PvP player rolls his eyes at the one on the RP server who is trying to make friends with the NPC guards of the opposite faction.

And so on, down the hierarchy, until you get to the hardcore socialisers: the entertainers in the cantina or those who tell us that they genuinely consider themselves as having a "second life". "I", we suppose, "am normal by comparison to these people. I see that it's just a game."

And the joy of a game like SL is that the PvPer who sees the furries and Goreans and fat, middle-aged men pretending to be underage schoolgirls with each other can actually poke them and make them squeal in high-pitched outrage. Repeatedly. The virtual world lets those who define themselves as better than another because they "know" that it's a game actually import their game (and/or coding) skills and demonstrate the fact within the provided ruleset.

[TTP: <7 posts]


Yes, Urizenus (Peter) is exactly right. In part, I think this "it's only a game" stuff comes from a Puritanical or Calvinist religious past, where card-playing and smoking and drinking were considered "of the devil". That's part of it. But it is definitely also about trying to organize and manage time online, and to make sharper distinctions than really exist in order to cope.

People now spend more time online than they do off, even sleeping. All that time online is kind of scary, as it means they are becoming physically unhealthy, if not mentally unhealthy. They might have to sit 7 or 8 hours in an office almost always online doing stuff, and even if offline composing in Word, still compulsively checking email or surfing or Googling to find facts and ideas.

They they come home and shop and surf and balance their bank statements (actually, I mean, look at the already-balanced-for-them statements) and play games of all types or email or chat or look at porn or whatever. So it's very pervasive, online, all the time -- but there is "online for which I am paid" and "online for which I am not paid".

Today, I sent a recommendation to one of my RL networks, where people were trying to figure out how to get a group on various continents together for a strategy meeting, and how to cover the costs. I said that they could hold a conference in Second Life. And these people shot back a cynical repartee, laden with sarcasm, to the effect that people they didn't like could go have the virtual conference, they, being real people doing real things in the real world would have the real conference, thank you very much. Welcome to the FUD of the people who pride themselves on claiming everybody else has always suffered from FUD -- a particularly deep form of FUD against which people who themselves suffer from FUD of the original, more basic kind can't suggest solutions.

I keep trying to figure it. Here are these tekkies extraordinaire, they pride themselves on being hugely techno cutting edge, who always show up at every international conference loaded with the bleeding-edge life-logging journalistic technology du jour, and yet they scorn Second Life. Partly, these are gurus of Web 1.0 who are surly about Web 2.0 because they suspect it won't need their services as much as fixers and trouble-shooters -- there is the deep Luddite sense at work -- Luddites being not people who broke machines for the sake of breaking machines because they were stupid, but people very skilled at hand looms who broke machines because their livlihoods were threatened.

But there's also this really nasty, utilitarian edge that creeps in to those ranting about games from the left, so to speak (as distinct from the right, who rant against them from for Bible-thumping motives). To counter it much beyond making a suggestion is to have to adapt this proselytizing, evangelic mode that is really unsettling all itself.

While many would not like to harken back to those flame-ridden previous two threads about the 'emergent culture' of griefers, let me suggest that it is ALL about this very fact -- fear of the virtual and the transient that is deeply ingrained in modern life and for which only a half century or centure of adaptation has not proved sufficient, by a long shot.

The more hip readers would like to position something like W-Hat as "progressive" or "interesting" or "culturally avant-garde" or "neo" or "meta".

It's nothing of the kind. In fact, like many revolutionary, extremist movements, in reality it is profoundly conservative. If you pare away all the rhetoric strewn all over games and message boards by these people, you find a very prosaic message: Don't take these games seriously, God damn you, or you will burn in hell-fire we will create for you! In fact, their drive to get people *not to take games seriously* and who rant "The Internet is serious business" as a parody at you every other minute, are merely extremist off-shoots of the "only a game" movement, if you think about it.

Why do people fear the virtual, or rise to paroxysms of hatred about someone being immersed in the virtual? Well, for one, because it's virtual. But than in itself wouldn't be so bad, when so much of life in the modern office, with its endless rounds of absolutely idiotic, mind-numbing "forecasting, planning, strategizing, assessing, reporting" activities that bear no relationship to reality.

But that's not all. There's a decidedly influential minority of people who really are made uncomfortable by "investing their consciousness in a toy", in the avatar, as I've explained, recalling Will Wright's comments about the Sims. This is like the percentage of people who don't like or can't be hypnotized, or on whom even drugs like LSD don't seem to have any effect. They are wired that way. So perhaps it is biological, as well as psychological and culural.


Endie said:

[TTP: <7 posts]

Post four:

Prokofy Neva says:

Dammit, I knew I should have bet the spread lower than 7. Mind you, Prok, you're quite rational through that post, even though I disagree. But the third-last paragraph, where you reveal that the W-Hats are devils, hell-bent on imminentizing the eschaton, is gold.


Um. LSD sends me loopy prok. Full blown wingbat reaction. Theres a reason I've given the stuff a WIDE berth since my undergrad days. But I still believe that without bodys there aint no being.

I've always liked this passage from Vivian Sobchak's refutation of Jean Baudrillards reading of Ballards "Crash"

(refering to her own physical injurys)
Crash is rigorously about the human body abstracted, objectified, and literalized as techno-body—and Ballard's vision sees this techno-body as driving us, quite literally, to a dead end. Baudrillard, however, refuses Ballard's condemnation, preferring his own immersed, supposedly value-free and objective "fascination" with scars, orifices, desireless and violent sexuality. He tells us that the "moral gaze—the critical judgmentalism that is still a part of the old world's functionality" has no relevance to the world of Crash, or to the postmodern, science-fictional world we live daily in all its "unpolished splendor of ordinariness and violence." The man is really dangerous. Indeed, as I sit here with a throbbing, vivid "inscription" on my left distal thigh, I might wish Baudrillard a car crash or two. He needs a little pain (maybe a lot) to bring him to his senses, to remind him that he has a body, his body, and that the "moral gaze" begins there—with the lived sense and imagined feeling of the human body not merely as a material object among others, but as a material subject that bleeds and suffers and hurts for others because it can bleed and suffer and hurt for oneself. If we don't keep this subjective kind of bodily sense in mind as we negotiate our technoculture, then we, like Vaughan, like Baudrillard, will objectify ourselves to death.


I've not considered VWs to be "just a game" since the first month I started playing one (on Prodigy) . . . for me they have always been a part of life. They're as much a social outlet for "us" as they are an entertainment medium.

Consider the "bowling leagues" so popular in parts of America. Bowling is "just a game" yet it is also a manner in which humans connect with each other. I used to play Battletech in Tesla pods (a simulation pod networked to others where you competed and cooperated with others, they were expensive, rare (20 locations worldwide or so), and a good example of how a game becomes a social experience. The goal was to kill others alone or with your team. The bonds formed were strong, and in many cases transferred over into the emergent MMOs at the time. (A number of people who played in the pods were on Solusek Ro when EQ came out.)

I think it is convenient to divorce oneself from the fact that VWs are more than just a game. I believe that it allows people to make excuses for poor behavior and to act out in ways which are utterly inappropriate in ALL human societies. The "it's only a game" provides people with enough justification to behave poorly, but is hollow and not reflective of reality.

VWs offer communication with other humans. They impact people with feelings and thoughts of their own, and are thus divorced from being "just a game" much as professional sports (baseball or American football for example) are not solely about the game. It is not "just a game" you've lost when Curt Schilling gives up that one bad pitch in a game against the Yankees. It has emotional and social impact, and Boston mourns.

But that's the beauty of the human condition. The ability to be moved and to feel. People have dehumanized others by writing them off as "less important" throughout human history. We have slavery, genocide, castes, bigotry and more. Excuses are excuses, and I really believe that only by realizing that any time real humans are involved issues become emotional and are lent value by proxy.

So no, no VW is simply a game. Not even WoW.




But apart from that, all games are just games. They don't matter except when you start bringing baggage in with you. With team sports that baggage is usually tribalism (itself an outdated and ignorant reaction). With VWs it's social connections and with Second Life it's money and sexual deviance, not necessarily in that order. Even then it's only the baggage that matters, not the game.

Western culture claims to value the insight that the Emperor is naked. These things are games and only games. As for conferences, when there is a VW in which i can feel your handshake and my image and everything about me is me as i am and not as i ideally wish i could be - when what you see, feel and smell is the truth - then i may be prepared to accept that this form of conferencing is an acceptable substitute for actually pressing the flesh.

And this really is about truth - you are your body. Your mind is shaped by it and cannot be otherwise. We are designed to read body language, touch and smell and this are essential parts of how i know you and you know me. Without those, what we have is a fake, an abstract, a game. Only a game.

You are not an anthropomorphic tiger with a detachable sex organ. You have no choice about how tall you are or what you really smell like.

It is only a game. A world where nobody sweats or farts is not real.



Mental illness and computers are a frightening combination.


Mental illness is frightening in any context.

Fortunately the majority of humans are mentally healthy, if perhaps a bit angsty.


I might even actually go as far mathew, and say that sometimes we are at our most brilliant when we are being a bit mad. Under normal circumstances adult males who want to play astronauts are considered a bit, well, odd. Of course put the spaceship on a computer and its just nerdy!

Not quite ready to lop off my ear in the pursuit of fine art however.


You raise an interesting point cael , then kinda splatter it with the 'deviance' thing. I know its kinda fun for goons to poke a bit of mirth at 'furries' and whatnot, but lets face it , we are all a bit "deviant" at the core. Deviance is just (imho) the overloading of meaning that happens at the boundries of category. Furries are "deviant" because they bust open the species 'divide', if only in fantasy. But keep in mind also, elder Furry himself "Doodles" is one of the most well loved members of the SA community. Its the tough skin that counts. I just like people that can take a bit of humor, and as a Jew, trust me , the difference of opinions between the humored and the humourless feels huge in my community.

Anyway.. Where was I?

Yeah. You do hit a nail there about bagage thats brought in to the virtual, but I'd argue the biggest bagage of all thats brought in is the body. And thats not particularly negotiable. People *love* to fuck. Wet crazed, slippery goofy sex. And people *love* to fuck in different ways. People also want to feel beautiful. People want to be powerful. People want to fill a hole in the life that perhaps the lonely nights burning up tungsten lightbulbs under the CRT glow doesnt fill. Its these things in absence that make the possibility of VR so interesting. Its *all about* bagage. And bagage is all about techniques of being.

Folks, in my view, are self built beings, and Im not advocating tabula rasa here, but subjectivitys built socially thru language , desire, and power. We build ourselves out of the ideas that surround ourselves, and oftentimes, thats not entirely satisfying. Cant get a shag. Bit on the 'lonely side? Well thats how you'll construct yourself. Lots of absence there. Holes to fill up.

And thats where the *promise* of VR is so enticing. We *can* break free of the discursive mould, be buff, tan, with perfect social manners, and able to 'pick up' and be the studs we've always wanted to be.

Problem is, it just doesnt pan out like that. For a start, these discourses are made corporeal by the things the signifiers signify. When I percieve myself as 'guy slowly going grey, and hasnt had a good shag in a couple of years', well , its also because the physical body IS going grey, and really hasnt had a good satisfying bonk in a couple of years.

And virtual reality CANT provide that, because VR operates purely on a plane of symbolic interaction, and at the end of the day, the language of beauty is still submerged partly in the real. I can bring my bagage into SL, but I cant bring my new goods *out*.

And that, in my view is where the schizophrenia hits. I'd argue that subjectivity *wants* to be impressed into the unknowable real. It doesnt *want* to just recede into the beautiful light of solipsism.

Thing is, I still want a good hard slippery bonk, the flesh against the flesh, and ultimately VR doesnt put out. And thats where things get haywire.

At least in gameing worlds, Im not out for a shag, just to put an axe between the bad guys eyes. Fortuantely I have no desire to do that for real.


Oy, you jews. Take it froma gypsy married to an Israeli, not everything is about racial groups. See previous comment re tribalism.

Come on, let's be honest. The cognitivie gap that we all talk about is this: We know - we KNOW - that VRs aren't real and they're only a game. Hurting my feelings is not hurting me. And griefers are not criminals - they're just those people who only see the game and not the sociological bullshit that goes along with it.


Fair point cael. Also re the jew thing. I was meaning to say that some folks have a self depreciating humor ;) and some dont. Im damn glad I do.

As for the rest. I guess I'm agreeing with you but in fancier words. Sorta.


Also cael, I might of confused you for a goon. Maybe your not. woooops. :)


No, i'm on Prokofy's other hit-list. I'm a developer or to use the insulting version "tekkie", which i despise because it sounds so much like "trekkie".

Presumably, she's a follower of Spinoza's philosophy.


@Nate: Peter’s quote is a good one. Some people are desperate to keep a clear line between computer rendered objects, and physically rendered ones. One is “virtual”, and the other “real”. They are finding increasingly hard to do, as they spend their days manipulating “virtual” Word docs. And getting paid for it. Yet they profess surprise that someone would pay “real” money for a virtual object that is just bits and bytes. I guess that is why lawyers that I know relentlessly print out great mounds of paper. Then they are billing for something “real”, not just bits and bytes.

@Cael: I was wondering why you were so aggressively attached to VWs being just mindless entertainment. I can’t imagine being that fiercely embodied. Have you never watched at movie and been changed by it?

“Its only a game” most often translates as “its only mindless entertainment with no consequence”. Sometimes the emphasis is on the “no consequence”. Sadly, this is most often used by people trying to cause real negative consequences. The classic griefer defense. “Mindless entertainment” is pretty obvious, its what much of our culture is about. But I do believe MMOGs can also support “mindful play”. The kind of play that takes you somewhere new, internally as well as externally. For myself, I don’t need to be seriously embodied for that to work.

In evolutionary terms, I do believe play originated as “serious business”. A safer training ground for later real challenges. Subverting it for pure entertainment is not too different from using the pleasure of sex for pure entertainment rather than reproduction, its “serious” purpose. Sometimes I go to virtual worlds for a “vacation”, which I see as travel from which I return refreshed but essentially unchanged. But VWs are at their best when they provide the possibility of “adventure”, which I see as travel that at times might be stressful, but from which you return in someway expanded by the experience. Again, unlike Cael, I don’t feel a need to be fully embodied to register that growth.


In all seriousness I still think our VWs are "serious business" and they do give us a chance to train ourselves for the other "serious business" of life. This is one reason I don't see them as games. Of course, I do really, I just define games differently than a lot of other people do. Games are serious business. :)

But really, no VW is merely meaningless, mindless entertainment. I don't even know if you can call pong meaningless and mindless. It trains coordination which can arguably save your life if you are involved in a high speed accident.



Hellinar: I never said they were mindless. But in the same way that the Harry Potter books are only books, they're only games. That doesn't diminish them at all, it merely refuses to invest them with massive world-altering significance which (i apologize here to anyone who believes otherwise) they don't have.

Neither does the Web, whatever number you care to slap over it and neither does the Internet.


People (often in Western societies) are brought up to believe that games are places of no consequence, inherently (this seems to be Cael's view), but this is an idealized picture, one that cannot stand as a part of what games, demonstrably, empirically, are in practice. Any thing human beings do together can come to have something at stake, whether it's money, status, competence, credentials, social connections, or whatever. That's just the way people are. Persistent game environments make it all the more likely that these stakes will accumulate, but they can attach to any game context. To hold to a "It's just a game" line is a denial of that empirical truth. It is a political representation, not a fact.


I think a lot of you are--very intelligently and eloquently--overstating the point.

It really boils down to the simple truth that every group of people looks down, implicitly or explicitly, on every other group of people.

I, for example, think professional sports are a complete waste of time and think nothing of teasing sports fans. They are equally "just a game" but people take them incredibly seriously and are prepared to pay vast amounts of money simply to watch OTHER PEOPLE play them. Serious business indeed!

Equally, since games are my vocation (and I'm quite fond of them), I take them very seriously. But other programmers certainly look down on me and think, that's not a real job, it's just playing around. Conversely I look at them and think, god, how BORING, why would ANYONE spend their time doing that?

I don't think either of us is 100% correct or incorrect. Virtual worlds are very important to some of us, yet completely irrelevant to others. Just like sports, programming, the internet, working at Starbucks, religion, celebrity, whatever.

Some people are inconsiderate and rude, others need to have a bit more of a sense of humour about themselves. That's a problem all of humanity still has to figure out.


Right. All humans are griefers. :)

Right. All humans are griefers. :)
Ha! Yes!

But real life doesn't permit you anonymity the same way virtual worlds do, so there are worse consequences for being a troublemaker. If I run around calling all sports fans closet homosexuals, I will rapidly gain myself a black eye or worse. Not so in (most? all?) virtual worlds.

Real life also doesn't permit you to create infinite numbers of floating penises to bombard people with. Or at least, it's a lot more difficult. Thank heavens.


Yes, anonymnity breeds idiocy.

The old adage being paraphased as:

normal person + internet = raving fucktard

But is there a manner by which VWs can educate people as to the impact their malicious actions have on others? Can a VW tap into the epathic centers of a user and trigger a kind of guilt or unease when they cross certain lines?


I wish I could answer that question. Given that we have plenty of trouble with crime and suffering in the real world, which we ALL live in, it would have to be a VW much unlike real life.

And would educating really help? The very fact that VWs are, in the eyes of the griefers, NOT REAL, mean that anything that would make us feel guilty just make causing trouble that much more delicious. I like to cause giant traffic accidents in GTA, for example, because I know nobody is getting hurt. The more people running around on fire screaming the more hilarious it is.

If anything we need to take a leaf from Wikipedia's book: make griefing a waste of time for the griefer. It is just as easy to revert vandalism as it is to vandalise in the first place. Would be interested to know how one could translate that to VWs.



It's the age'o question about whether there is purpose to life.

There's isn't a major consensus to RL and there's unlikely to be a major consensus to VL.

For more than 10 years the major VWs were game worlds. So, I presumed that this perspective will dominate for a while.



At the point where we started, as a species, substituting words for things, this argument ended, Cael. So, I'm sorry to put it so bluntly, but you're wrong as hell and 10-15,000 years late to the party. In short, the "fact" that the emperor has no clothes only matters because nudity itself is a game, a word, a cultural/tribal priority and has meaning within a highly definitional context. Your physical "self" is no more nude or clothed than the people in your particular "game" care to define it as such.

The alternate ending to the story -- the one I, as a marketer, student of history and cynic prefer -- is that the kid points at the Emporer and yells, "He has no clothes!" At which point all the courtiers, hangers-on and sycophants shout, "My god! The Emporer is brilliant! Nudity is the fashion statement of the decade! Naked is Dressed 2.0!" And they all strip and enjoy a good time. Meanwhile, a guard finds the kid and quietly cold-cocks the little bastard. Because, of course, the Emperor's definitions of value, game, culture, nude, clothed, etc. are way more important than some little peasant dick-wad riding on his peasant dick-wad dad's shoulders. We all knew the Emporer was a twit before he went out nude. But he's a twit with an army, a castle, a bank full o' gold, etc. As such, he gets to define things -- real things -- much more so than Tiny Tim. And definitions -- words, comparisons, borders, values, weights, measures, breaths of air -- matter. A lot.

The moment we embraced metaphor in the slightest, and assigned relative meaning to language, art, music, culture, etc... This argument was over. You might as well say, "It's just religion," or "It's just literature," or "It's just romantic love," or "It's just nationalism." The second you abandon the pure realism of "meat is meat" and "hump is hump," you lose.

Now... You are free to argue all day that a game or VW or sport or book or religion or culture has less importance when applied to a specific measure. If you want to say that VWs are less effective at transmitting data than text... Ok. That's a point we can discuss. But I'm frankly surprised we're even entertaining this particular discussion at TN.

Only a game? A novel is only a story that some jack-ass made up out of his head. A religion is only a code of behavior based, usually, on (ahem) mythological foundations. Love is only the social structurs set up to preserve the economy of family. Football is only a crypto-fascist metaphor for nuclear war. Only, only, only. Bah. Rock/paper/scissors to your "only." Everything I can't eat or fuck is "only."

Man does not live by bread alone. All else, though not bread, is life. If games and VWs are "just," then all else you value, even the ability to read these words, is "just. And so, if you read these words... you lose this argument.

To anyone not reading these words -- anyone outside right now, humping other monkeys, throwing poo and experimenting with which berries will maintain you vs. which will give you loose bowel movements or kill you -- I yield the floor.


Lol, well I was about to post the exact same sentiment Andy just did, granted in very different terms...


@Jen: Post away... in different terms. That was part of my point, eh? Mene mene tekel upharsin...


game is part of life...hence virtual reality game is part of life.

Mutilplayer games, a weekly tennis match, a chess match in a park, involve some social action , some more than others.

Different games necessitate different levels of institutions to support them. Coaching my childrens soccer teams, puts ideas of education, ritual, community building together with the game it self.

Second life is more a pub, a park, a agoro, where people can gather in real time and iteract. I think it is a place.

Whether life goes on in a place, has more to do with the specific interaction, the levels of coperation, levels of resposnsibility, familiarity etc.

A casual institution like a park chess match or playing next up 8-ball is going to have different levels of social ties and interaction than creating a school chess team, carpooling, training togehter, dining with players sibilings and parents etc.

I think a good morg can be a place where many games can be played...and or where other types of social interaction take place.

I know, playing the Mud Avalon, that people met online in game from different places in the world and have married and pursued lifes togehter real life. That same game, i believe, with its reliance on third party interfaces and favoring those who write code, probally led to programmers swapping resumees getting each other work etc.

Extensive use of MsN takes place in Avalon and Im sure takes place in other morg games.

I think Iron Realms entertainment was a initiative started by Avalon players who graduated and had to start earning a real world income... starting fake worldS?

Is the school PTA a real world? Is bowling league real world? Is a playing darts with the same bar flies each night real world?

There is no Boolean yes or no anser. We're talking vectors of different aspects of good and real, of value and weight.

Eating oatmeal everynight for dinner isn't might be living but cooking a different recipe with your own hands and minds is more alive.

Games are part of life, but a life of only sudoko or even higher level chess wouldn't be much without the wrapping around it...

Playing chess anonomously without chess against a human would only be moderately more "real life" than doing the same vs a computer. More chat and more "friendship" where the parties leared more about each others personal affairs would make the interaction more than just the game itself. A club, where the same parties all started to know more about each other and many shared activities beyond the game they shared, would make the game playing more still.. their chess club , whether online or off would be more than a game. The annonimity of the online clubs, create the space more simliar to a bar, where alcholics share a false bonhomie which is skin deep when the shit hits the fan unless they've been sharing a regular connection outside of the darts and beer themselves.

A good morg, can find room for game and for social networking.

A good mmorg, can be stable enough that after the novelety of the build of a character wears off, (or has been enjoyed fully ) that the players can compete while visiting in the way people can enjoy playing checkers or backgammanon together. (wow pvp perhaps?)

A good morg might have ways for longer pvp campaigns, that were more turn based allowing asychronous play of a hour per side or something .. that rewarded optimization, surprise, yet not 12 hour resource grinding.

A perssitence of real time baggamon games with people you came to know, combined with occasional narratives...switching games and losing your avatar and needing to make new friends weekens the abiltiy for late night game playing to turn into job and personal support systems that good receration instutions can favor. A Koi fish club, or a Harley Davidson weekend cruise group allows for more social support that a new mmmorg a year has to date.(with expceptions of some muds as i mentioned)


@ Endie "immanatizing the eschaton"? rofl! perfect! Robert Anton Wilson is having yet another grin from on high.

@ Thomas
Quite right, I think... And if there's reality here, so to speak, in VWs, then part of what makes SL "edgy" is that nod towards accepting that as part of the game (as it were). And part of what makes WoW generally more comfortable is that the experience is presented in terms that do not so directly call into question our existing cultural identities. The fantasy makes many people much better able to enjoy the reality, as it were.


/Agreed, Ron. The cultural act of maintaining (or transgressing) that boundary (by developers, by players) should be something that we're more interested in, as analysts. As long as we hold to a view that the distinction is intrinsic to games, we'll never ask some pretty interesting questions.


OMG, pwnd again! WHO STOLE my CLOUDSONG???? This is NOT for real is it??? :P


Prokofy said: There's a decidedly influential minority of people who really are made uncomfortable by "investing their consciousness in a toy",

I wonder if this is what's behind the recent move I've seen on the part of some people to abandon the term "avatar" in favor or the word "toon". I always favored the former, which seems fairly broad and lacking in implied value judgements, wherease "toon" seems to imply "cartoony, simplistic, only a game, not real, aimed at kids, unsophisticated and not capable of being high art", etc. Is renaming the avatars "toons" a way of, conciously or subconciously, saying "I don't buy into the potential for this stuff to be serious"?

dmx said: Thing is, I still want a good hard slippery bonk, the flesh against the flesh, and ultimately VR doesnt put out. And thats where things get haywire.

Two things I want to say about that. First, given the alternatives of "no bonk whatsoever", a "reality-based wet hard slippery bonk", and a "pretend bonk in a virtual world"... The fact that the pretend bonk isn't the real thing doesn't equate it, in my mind, to "no better than nothing at all and therefore qualitatively equal to the first alternative (nothing at all)". Rather I would place it, generally, somewhere in between options 1 and 2 in quality, which is significant I think. Though I've known a few people who point out that in addition to the numerous, obvious disadvantages it has over "the real thing", it has some noteworthy advantages as well, and sometimes they prefer it for those. On the other hand, it's worth mentioning that there seems to be a large dichotomy between those who feel online sex is very enjoyable for them, and many others who can't conceive of why it would be any fun for anyone, and it just doesn't do anything for them (if they've even tried it). Is that from a limit in the imagination? Or a lack of acculturation to the idea that this might be something worth doing? Or is it simply that people's tastes vary so much that a lot of people just never could enjoy it under any circumstances? Personally I would think if one can see any value to reading erotic fiction, this should have at least as much merit - plus the fact that it's being custom created in real time by another person. Even better if you feel some genuine attachment, affection, or love towards that person. But of course, there are people who have no interest in reading erotic fiction.

Second - I have to say that in my experience, virtual worlds can and DO "put out", in the form of providing the best place to meet people with whom you'll later get together for an actual slippery sweaty encounter somewhere that's decidedly non-virtual. But as with everything else, your actual experience will value, for every different value of "you" substituted into the mix.


Great news


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