Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University

Second Life

            Second Life is a massive multi-player universe and it is set up in a three dimensional virtual world and there are forty five million registered users. After downloading the server you are able to create an avatar and start your virtual life. You have to explore and figure everything out on your own. I guess this could be similar to Harvest Moon, but it differs in one huge way, you can interact to other people surrounding you. You can ask them for help, hangout with them, go back to their house, go out to the bar, anything.
            Of course, Second Life stays alive because you have to pay for additional things including, land, a house, various outfits, food, cars, and anything you can think of. Being in a virtual world, there is absolutely no reason to eat, yet people still buy food. You can always take your neighbor a pie, and although they will also not eat it, it’s more about the gesture.
I used a friend’s account and tried out Second Life for myself. She had already made an avatar so I didn’t get the full experience of setting up my virtual life. However, as I started walking through the game and transporting to different worlds I found it to be fascinating. I totally understand how people could want to create the life they’ve always wanted to live. On this site it is possible to meet people that won’t talk to you if they know you’re new to this type of lifestyle. On a side note, you can also pay to be invisible, which by the way, it’s incredibly awkward when a person that you can’t see starts talking to you, not to mention following you. Needless to say, I transported to another world.
            I went to a club where I only saw a few people. I went up to what appeared to be a young man named Chad. As soon as I was face to face he transformed into a female with fairy wings. Chad chatted with me long enough to convince to go transport with him to his private island with a beautiful house and tiki hut. I told Chad that I was new to Second Life, and thankfully he was interested in helping me with this project. He told me Chad was created December 27th of 2008. For almost eight years Chad has spent roughly five hours of every day keeping his virtual life his reality. I asked him if he was able to estimate how much money he’s spent on the game over the past seven years. It might have been a personal subject, or he might not have thought about it, because all he said was ‘a lot’.
            With Second Life and games similar to this, people will spend money. People will go bankrupt over keeping their virtual lives exactly what they want. I’ve heard of people selling their actual houses so they can pay for their virtual houses. I find this absolutely unbelievable, but it happens. This is what takes my question even further, how is it possible to wrap yourself so fully into a game or a virtual reality that you have lost grips of everything tangible?
            I was looking at the blog site for Second Life, and I found a couple of virtual lives for virtual people, none of which were very long. Perhaps the creators lost interest, or maybe their actual lives started to interfere with their virtual lives, I’ll never know. Maybe those are the people similar to me, they’re into it, but aren’t able to keep up.
            When I started playing Harvest Moon, I was in love. Nothing captured my attention quite the same way. And yes, I’ve played video games since then, and maybe it’s not that they don’t keep my attention long enough, but perhaps I can’t allow myself to escape. Even though a virtual life could be better than my own, the actual is what is real, and how can I expect that to get any better if I keep trying to escape?
            But what about people like my brother? I learned in another class that the average gamer is thirty years old, and thirty eight percent of gamers game alone. But where do all of these gamers find time? How can they fully engage in a game, and why do they try to escape? To be honest, I would expect it from someone going through a midlife crisis, but everyone should be thriving at the age of thirty, right? Maybe they need a form of control, and with gaming they are capable of achieving that. 

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