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Friday, October 28, 2011

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shockwave yareach

Absolutely!! SL is not really, has never been real, never WILL be real. Regardless of what you see, it's not real and thus real life laws don't need to be applied. Vampires having a tryst aren't committing necrophilia. Furries banging away in a sexbed aren't committing beastility. Etc, etc. If you can't tell the difference between an interactive videogame world where nothing can hurt anybody (except feelings perhaps) then one's real life is too messed up to be thinking about taking on a second life.

Anyone daft enough to confuse SL with reality desperately needs medical attention before they call the police and demand the arrest of Col. Mustard for murdering Prof. Plum in the drawing room with the candlestick -- it's no different than what you see in SL, on CSI, or in crime novels.

Adeon Writer

I think you missed the point, Shock. SL events can be very real, or it can be anything but. Nether is more right than the other, and the problem cones when the two meet and make assumptions.

Ren Reynolds

SL does not have an overriding Magic Circle, indeed one of the competing overarching narratives of SL is one of capitalism, another is fantasy but one that is often cast as being hyper-real. It’s because of this lack of overarching narrative that the Magic Circles that those that choose to use SL as a play space create among them selves can be of such variety and be in such conflict. In a game such as Modern Warfare it would be perverse to deny that it is a game and act as if it were not (though this of course is done in multiplayer FPS’s, often for political purposes). Similarly in MMO’s there are sometimes categorical clashes over purpose but these tend to be in exceptional cases such as funerals, other clashes are based on play style (though these may vary so widely the that casual observer my think the conflicts are more deep rooted than they in fact are).

In SL it is not similarly perverse to use it, say, as a mimetic tool for business. What’s more ludic uses of the space that are in direct opposition or conflict have no external basis on which to claim cultural or moral superiority other than those where people make direct appeals to supervening norms e.g. the case of age-play.

Senban Babii of courses expresses a normative stance of their one – one of moral relativism within the context of SL, it seems this is no more justified than the opposite view, though it may be less popular.

If I step further into the theory of play and meaning I’m still working on I’d start to go on about how individuals are constantly changing the bounds of their circles (or frames) through a process of negotiation, but I won’t.

Senban Babii

Wow, just a note to say I'm honoured that you picked up on something I'd written :)

Just to add one thing though.

"This is roughly true, but I think the sociology of SL is even more complex: In Second Life, there are multiple, overlapping magic circles, which often have conflicting rules."

Those overlapping magic circles you describe are really connected to what I was describing by the term "asymmetric moralities". I think we're both basically talking about the same object, just viewing it from slightly different angles so to speak.

Again though, thanks :)

Kaseido Quandry

Oh no, not the magic circle, that refuge of griefers and excuse for assholery.

I couldn't disagree more with shockwave, commenting above. SL is real in that all the people there are real, doing real things with real consequences - unless they're explicitly playing.

You don't need a "magic circle" to explain that there are different social rules in the office than the pub, or that you behave differently at a Southern Baptist church social than at Pride on Castro Street - you just need a basic set of social skills.

The magic circle explains a lot of the behavior in the article: gamers are used to their actions not being taken as having consequences (if I tackle you in football, it's part of the game: if I tackle you on the sidewalk it's a criminal offense - some people coming into SL have difficulty telling one from the other), and in SL, outside of actual games, behavior most certainly does.

Equating a multiplayer shooter with SL because they both use computer graphics is like equating a chess board and a corporate board of directors because they both have "board" in them.

All that you need to solve this problem is, when you enter a new community, bring the patience and respect to learn its customs, and don't make assumptions.

Leave the fairy forcefields to dead games theorists.

Isabeal Jupiter

Well, if you want to get sociological, what you're talking about sounds a lot like Sellin's Culture Conflict Theory. Different subcultures would like to see their norms become standard in the SL community as a whole, but there is no formal means to acquire power in SL, and the traditional mechanisms for enforcement are weak (creating laws, police enforcement). Instead, groups turn to drama as a means to exert social control via blogs, plurk, or within groups. Drama is simply an informal means of social control in which residents can engage in virtual lynch mobs, harassment, public shaming, and witch hunts.

Violations of some norms in SL and the corresponding social controls do have RL emotional and/or financial implications. So, there are some areas of overlap between that "magic circle" and the real world.

shockwave yareach

@Kaseido -- I never ever advocated griefing, or being an asshat. If you are going to speak for me, kindly do so correctly.

Second life is not real. As proof, I'll pay you 100$ for the first living, breathing, intelligent speaking dragon you bring out from SL to show me in reality. If you cannot, then guess what that dragon is, hmm? That goes for the guns, the bombs, the boats, the sex, the shootings, the wargames, the stolen cars...

BUT! Just because Second Life cannot harm anyone and doesn't need real world laws to prevent said harm, does NOT mean that SL doesn't have the same "magic circles" as described above. I shoot someone in a combat sim, and it's part of the game. I do it at a dance, and I'm being a jerk. Just like there are different rules of conduct in different places in reality, so too are there different rules of conduct in SL. You may have experienced griefers trying to explain away their bad behaviors with this theory. But it doesn't hold water in SL anymore than it does in RL. If you act like a jerk in SL, then you are a jerk in SL, whether you've caused real harm or not.

I view SL as a game. It's fun, entertaining, and the absolute worst things I could possibly do is either hurt someone's feelings, or deny others their own fun via griefing their activities. I detest griefers, and I no more like hurting others than I like being hurt, so I don't do them. I'm firmly in the escapist camps as nobody has ever been able to pull so much as one thing out of Second Life and set it on my desk to prove the "reality" of it. This doesn't make me an asshat or a griefer -- it makes me someone who came to SL to get away from oppressive moralists who like to micromanage everyone elses life and force their moral compasses down everyone's throats. SL can be many things all at the same time. It need not be one thing for one group alone and the rest can rot.

tito devinna

wanna watch the circles overlap go to a free sex area. sooner or later all the circles meet there and you can see in action how they interelate with each other. The norms and morals are always in constant conflict at those places. i have watched a person get mad because some one plays a ruff scene RP with them. They cant understand why anyone would think they would want to play a ruff scene game as they stand in a location called ruff sex alley.

Skylar Smythe

But discord tends to break out in communities that have come together through expression of their interests and paradigms.

Take for instance Second Life's romantically prolific literary community. Wow. Bed hopping, posturing, head counting (who got the most attendees). It is a competitive group of creatives whereas offline the "competitive creative" is something of an oxymoron. Offline writer groups I have found in Toronto are very supportive and collaborative; encouraging of each others successes.

Could it be more that all Second Life users are to an extense "Enterprise Users" that have an expectation to lead and trend or be influential with their opinions and morals?

A dear friend said that "Second Life is a frontier town". The ones that do stay are trying to build "something" and can end up behaving like frustrated creatives effecting no change (despite their delusion that they can impact change at all with their opinions).

Despite all efforts at propagating SLebrityisms most people arrive at the conclusion that any perception of "power" or "influence" in a game, virtual world or MMORPG is imagined.

I prefer to take a window seat and let the power mongers arm wrestle for control over something that they'll never control.

Fighting happens when people are frustrated, bored, disappointed or all of the above...

Skylar

Arcadia Codesmith

You know, I don't much care what people get up to, as long as they follow the very simple rules of SL and comply with real-world law as it applies to cyberspace (no harassment, no bullying, no stealing).

But if people can't abide by the Terms of Service/User Agreement of whatever virtual world they're in, if they insist on behaving like virtual psychopaths, sadists or kleptomaniacs just because they can, well... " then perhaps they should not step inside."

I've got little to no patience for the type of vermin that grief, and none for their apologists and defenders. Maybe in the future we could refrain from giving them a pulpit for their venom, however couched in pop psychology it may be.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Huizinga may be a "dead games theorist" but he's hardly a "pop psychologist." His well argued ideas still ring true, decades after he published Homo Ludens. He noted how for hundreds of years, the "play element" had just up and vanished from the cultures of work and education.

Guess what? It's back. Investment banks, using "investments" like derivatives, have essentially become high-status casinos.

College kids "game the system" in so many ways it's worth a book.

The Internet changed everything, from how we snark to merging the lines between home and work through technologies influenced by gaming.

Even much of the corporate gamesmanship that goes on beyond company firewalls could be construed as a sort of high-stakes play that makes or breaks careers. Griefers getting their lulz are playing. Some games are just mean, but for the right folks, they are great fun.

And what does the return of play in all its forms mean for the species?

Saffia Widdershins

@ Shockwave - "the absolute worst things I could possibly do is either hurt someone's feelings, or deny others their own fun via griefing their activities."

No. You (and I mean generic you, not you personally - although every one of us has the capability) can inflict financial damage on people. You can inflict very serious financial damage on people who are structuring a source of income here.

And "hurt someone's feelings" is a very mild way of describing the enormity of the pain that can be inflicted in relationships, whether online, or in a combination of on and offline.

James

Saffia .... anyone attempting to create a "real income" through Second Life is about as intelligent as an Amoeba.

Less than that if said income is meant to be their primary source.

bongo

The world series wasnt real last night. a british soccer game isnt real either. just a bunch of dudes running around chasing a ball to virtual rules... virtual money bet, virtual property thought owned.

Tell that to the mobs that follow each. and the ones with hospital bills due the following day. They'll kick your asses..but youll be fine,since they too arent real.

Saffia Widdershins

James - my point remains. You can hurt more than feelings. You can inflict financial damage. You can inflict serious financial damage. And whether you believe people are foolish to invest their money in a virtual platform really doesn't have any bearing on that fact.

James

One would not be able to "inflict" such damage if suh people were not fools Saffia - That is MY point.

I got your (rather weak) "point" the first time.

Shug Maitland

Because Second Life is (or has become?) a virtual fantasy world we all have to make allowances for the other person's fantasy.
Before someone jumps in my case; some people's fantasy is living in a suburban home, for some it is Gor, or unlimited sex. Within SL none is especially wrong or right. Be very gentle with other people's fantasies, they may be judging you too.

Saffia Widdershins

If people were not, as you term them, "fools", then the grid would be without much of the creativity we see, where people support their creative endeavours by one form of commerce or another. The model need not be direct sale to the the denizens of the grid; an alternative model is attracting commissions from work that is produced here - either work within the grid (building for other companies or institutions) or externally - often in the form of art or music. That is not a "rather weak" point; it underlies the viability of the grid.

So is YOUR point that everyone who invests in the grid, hoping to gain some financial benefit, a fool? And that we could do without the creativity those people produce?

Rowan Derryth

I'm amazed how many people here have it all figured out, particularly Shockwave who has managed to determine a definitive definition of 'real', and James who is experienced enough to call all SL business owners 'fools'.

I think many of the other good comments here point to a simple fact: Avatars are the cyphers of PEOPLE, whether they are roleplaying, making creative content, looking for an escape from a miserable marriage, or simply socialising and having fun. These 'alternative morality' systems only work as far as the 'real' people behind the avatars are willing to accept them. Avatars are doing the same things their creative, social, lying, cheating, violent, and pacifist users are in the physical world, only perhaps wearing a dragon outfit.

Victor1st Mornington

I'm applauding here...i really am.

Hamlet has now dragged whats left of this blog down to the lowest common denominator. NWN has crashed through the gutter and it now wallowing around in the sewer, where whats left of Hamlets credibility ended up a long time ago.

NWN has turned into a poor imitation of a gutter press blog, siding or otherwise showcasing fringe bloggers and wording blog posts in a way to polarize its readership. NWN now reflects the bitterness of it's owner.

Scarp Godenot

I need to respond here to this pervasive idea the Second Life is a 'game'.

Whereas it CONTAINS games and many other interactive possibilities, it, in itself is NOT a game.

It is a PLATFORM. It is a PLACE, or an accumulation of Tens of thousands of places. It is a communication and information exchange vehicle with multiple means of doing so.

And it is REAL. It is as real as a telephone conversation. (btw, the invention of the telephone resulted in this same claim of unreality, complete with its luddites who refused to adopt it)

Is interacting in any communication medium not real?

Believe it or not, thousands of people have been in SL WITHOUT having virtual sex or even witnessing it, ever. More thousands have never interacted with a roleplay group at all, let alone played a 'game' in SL. There isn't one single second life activity that you can name that isn't almost completely unknown to thousands of daily participating SL residents. And I use resident in the sense of one's consciousness residing there

Is the Internet 'not real'? Is all abstract communication 'not real'? Are the responses to this blog 'not real? Of course not.

And I might add that It is apparent that in this very thread of communication, people have become emotionally involved in the ideas presented. THAT IS REAL

As far as making money goes, 500 million US Dollars exchanged hands in 2010 in the form of virtual goods. (not land or tier). Tell me how that money isn't real.

Second Life isn't one thing. It isn't a Thousand Things. It is millions of things. It is communication with the entire range of experience its users bring to it.

It is NOT 'just a game'.

Rowan Derryth

Spot on, Scarp.

James

Saffia, you would do well to never put words at my fingertips which I have not explicitly put there myself.

Your entire response hinges on creativity being tied to some sort of financial imperative. In reality, creativity is tied to no such thing.

The sooner you realize and accept this, the sooner your responses will have a single shred of relevance.

Scarp .... Your views are half correct. Parts of Second Life indeed contain a very real element to them. This does not make Second Life itself "real".

The money which was used to purchase virtual "goods" was real. The "goods" themselves are not. Nor can you take them with you should Linden Lab ever fold.

Remember that the next time you shell out that $500 to purchase vapor ware.

Hamlet Au

Good points. Also, people spend money playing games all the time (poker, betting pools, etc.) that doesn't make the games themselves any more fundamentally real without the money.

"It is as real as a telephone conversation."

Unlike a telephone conversation, you create an alter ego, almost always with a fanciful name, and almost always with a fanciful appearance (if just a stylized one), and then always pretend that the 3D graphics and audio around you are imbued with the reality that they're really only simulating. That very process is a game in Huizinga's sense; the entering into of a magic circle where everyday real world rules don't exactly apply.

bongo

like a 900 phone sex line... only you simulate ejaculation..right? but no one ejaculates in the real world anymore..right? only in magic circles.

Rowan Derryth

Hamlet, you can do that with a telephone conversation too. BT and AT&T call it customer service. ;-) Seriously though, you should be more forward-thinking, and perhaps not so rigid in your definitions. Telecoms are heading down that road, and I'm sure they don't see it as a 'game'.

James must also not live in a 'real' world where things like advertising and graphic design (or even industrial design) doesn't exist, because those enterprises are places where creativity is absolutely tied to financial gain.

And the notion of the 'starving artist' being the only legitimate artist is very very passé. Andy Warhol kicked that off, and Damien Hirst has secured it. Like their work or not, they kicked the middle man (auction house) to the curb.

Hamlet Au

"Telecoms are heading down that road, and I'm sure they don't see it as a 'game'."

What road? Communication between 3D avatars in a 3D virtual space?

Coral Gausman

I was going to post something long, but in the end it's a waste.

If you can't see the difference between your random first person shooter game (with missions, objectives, achievements etc) and SL, then I don't think I'll be able to explain it either.

SL being a blank slate, it would behoove anyone to at least follow the golden rule (both variants: those who have the gold make the rules, and don't to unto others...).

Or put in a different way: your freedom to swing your fist ends at the edge of my chin. So no, you don't get to impose your magic circle onto me, most certainly not on my land.

James: calling people who derive real income from SL fools only makes you look like one :)

Scarp Godenot

In response to Hamlet:

I suggest that the 'visuals' of a telephone conversation are entirely abstract in that one can imagine whatever one wants. They convey no extra definitive information.

Whereas, the visuals of the virtual world offer distinct objective clues to the personality of the person in that particular interaction. Be that humor, irony, play, or just how they would like others to perceive them without invoking stereotypical prejudices. This is EXTRA information in the communication.

Many serious thinkers on this subject assert that not just these, but all human interactions are a roleplay of some sort. We present differently to each person or group with whom we interact.

The easy access to changeability of visual cues in a virtual world setting makes the roleplay more easily understood and is therefore a benefit to communication.

In short, the addition of information by users of the virtual world does NOT detract from the communication involved in the platform, it can in fact make it possible to be more complex, should one desire that.

Interacting differently with others in any context, virtual or not, can also be described as a 'game' in the very broad sense you suggest above.

This idea that abstract human interaction, (whether it be in the form of a game or not), is 'unreal', seems to me to just be a parsing of the language.

I can see that both the words 'unreal' and 'game' in this context might seek to imply 'unimportant' or 'juvenile' or 'trivial' or some other dismissive concept. Is that what is really being stated? If so, come right out and say it.

Otherwise, basically stating that pixelized representations are not physical objects, is a 'straw man' argument. We obviously all know this point, and it is irrelevant to what is going on with regards to interaction between people using their computer screens as an interface. That is the 'real' we are talking about here.

Interactions in virtual worlds CAN be (and of course many times ARE) trivial, juvenile or unimportant. But such things are neither necessary nor sufficient to DEFINE what a virtual world interactive platform IS. The interactions are real enough in a psychological sense even if many of them are trivial.

Hamlet Au

"I can see that both the words 'unreal' and 'game' in this context might seek to imply 'unimportant' or 'juvenile' or 'trivial' or some other dismissive concept. Is that what is really being stated?"

Not at all -- games serve an essential human need to express ourselves and process the real world in a safe context. They're as important as literature, the visual arts, narrative cinema, etc. (which are also "unreal".) But maybe that's a topic for another post. :)

Saffia Widdershins

I think Scarp raises an interesting point about visual cues.

The evolution of metalanguages within online environments is fascinating - whether it's emoticons to establish the context of a joke, or the adaption of group-identifying dialects. But virtual worlds have the potential to add whole new layers to this - suddenly, some of the nonverbal cues that have been stripped from a text-based conversation 'seem' to have been given back to us. But that may be illusory - as opposed to the near infinite range of human expression, we will be limited to whatever the AO we are wearing or the poseball we have jumped on dictates. So we evolve new metalanguages to deal with this.

And, Hamlet, in a world where the financial markets are avid studiers of game theory, I don't think that games are necessarily processing the world in a 'safe context'.

(Perhaps I should add an ironic smiley to that last statement!)

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

@Coral and James: James mistakes doing something foolish, perhaps based on desperation in a difficult economy, with being a "fool."

When it comes to RL wealth from SL many are called, few chosen.

To make a little hobby income from SL is a reasonable hope. To spend countless hours in-world, hoping that SL will pay for the mortgage may be a foolish hope, even a dangerously foolish hope, but hope often is.

Carol

Hey, now my sight is failing in this twilight
Da da da da da da da da da
Now my death is more than just a sad song
Da da da da da da da da da
And I swear
Woo hoo
Yes I swear
Woo hoo

I still don't remember how this happened
I still don't get the wherefores and the whys
I look for sense but I get next to nothing
Hey boy welcome to reality

Ha ha ha ha
Woo hoo

I've been right and I've been wrong
Now I'm back where I started from
Never looked over reality's shoulder

James

No Ignatious - I mistake nothing.

To pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into Second Life is to be a fool. Should Linden Lab fold, you will lose that money with no means to regain it.

Rowan? You truly are incompetent .... creativity is not tied to financial gain. If it were, ALL creative endeavors would be undertaken for the express purpose of feeding greed.

Does a child draw to make a buck?

Stick to that fantasy world .... It is far easier then accepting what simply IS.

Coral ... That "real income" exists only so long as Linden Lab exists and only as long as Linden Lab wishes to allow you to make that income.

Fools often delude themselves into believing such fantasies concerning their hobbies - Tell me, do you have a backup plan should Linden Lab fold and Second Life vanish?

If your answer is no - you are a fool.

Hamlet Au

James, that kind of language isn't necessary, you're making a good point. I do think investing in SL content was/is a fairly good bet if you could find a monetized niche, though it's also true SL entrepreneurs should start thinking about how to take their works out of SL to other platforms, to expand their market and protect their investments.

Imnotgoing Sideways

Still, my 'alter ego' is an extension of my self of which I deeply identify with. Taking on this stylized version of my self has gifted me with the ability to socialize in a means comfortable to me which I've never been able to achieve before. (^_^)

I don't think SL is a game, but I have friends that do. To each their own. I have a lot of money invested and I protect my investment properly. This way, I face no loss. My entertainment dollar goes as far as I like. (^_^)y

sirhc desantis

Hamlet have no fear, been making sure all my stuff is portable for a while now:) As for pouring hundreds of thou in...well when I win the lotto I just might.
Right now, some of my stuff I do for fun and some I do to get paid for it...wait, thats real life and oh my in world too. Fancy that.
But even so - yes I hereby publicly declare my self a fool and a happy one too.
To get back to the original point, I think its best summed up by being willing to show some flexibility. These 'circles' or whatever that revolve around things that sre not to my taste I avoid - as I assume others avoid mine. Pretty easy really.
hugs

shockwave yareach

"It is as real as a telephone conversation."

It's as real as any telephone conversation between a vampire and a demon sitting upside down in a space station can be.

Yes, there are real people behind the avatars. There are real people acting the roles of characters in your favorite movies too. But that doesn't make "Star Wars" real, now does it?

shockwave yareach

"It is as real as a telephone conversation."

Well, as real as any conversation between a Vampire and a Demon sitting on a space station can be...

Yes, there are real people behind the avatars. There are also real people acting the characters you see in your favorite movies. But does that make Star Wars real? No, it does not. Nor does it make SL real either.

Mike

I see some people, namely a certain habitual SL griefer, prefers to attack the blog and its owner rather than discuss things like a rational, adult human being. Thus is Arcadia Codesmith's point proven.

My own take on SL and the various subcultures that use it is that they are what people make of them. Yes, the environment is virtual. No, the things people do — from having cyber-sex to killing zombies, and from roleplaying aliens to recreating things for fan groups — possess no more substance to them than the air we all breathe. But the people behind the avatars are VERY real, and the things we say and do with and to each other as we socialize in Second Life (and out of it) are real.

The person who attacked this blog is a known griefer who engages in personal attacks on off line blogs because try as he might, SL's terms of use forbid him from going too far in SL to get at enemies of his own making. The lies and insults he writes are real, as are the feelings he wounds and the conflicts he stirs among others to divide people from one another.

Fortunately, since he does not live near most of us, we can just block the idiot and be done with him. Unlike reality, SL has a mute button and we can and should use it to ignore the rantings and ravings of petty thugs. One must always bear in mind that we don't have to put up with those who try to ruin SL for others. There is a Mute button.

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