“But it’s the interplay of the ‘real’ with the virtual that is the richest source for the possibilities of change. If we purely think of virtual worlds as separate, we’re ignoring the fact that they are NOT walled gardens. They may have walls – platforms like World of Warcraft erect as many barriers between the game environment and external realities and economies as possible. But there are always chinks in those walls – either cracks or with entire chunks missing. Commerce will always find a way to cross over where there’s money to be made. Intellectual property will always find a way to be disseminated as widely as it needs to be, no matter how much copy protection we try to employ. But more important still, the selves that people bring to virtual spaces are not turned off when they log off.”
Dusan Writer, quoted above, provides a compelling look at the issues involved in MMORPG living.
Dusan presents the concept that these worlds traverse each other. Boundaries can have varying levels of porousness. For example, his presentation of the concept of “balance” that surfaces in any discussion of RL/MMORPG co-existence highlights the concept of a certain quantum existence.
An attendee at last year’s Second Life Community Convention described the online environments as analogous to cities. People travel from one to another visiting and contributing to cultures evolving in each.
It is fundamentally the people visiting these worlds and their human characteristics, desires, needs, etc. that provide for the crossing and cross-pollinations of the other worlds spawned of collective human imagination. Some set up residence in one environment and never leave. Others drift through these ever-multiplying worlds.
Altogether, it may be something of a colonization of an alternate world. Having run out of land frontiers and outer space seemingly distant, despite the occasional shuttle flights and rumored commercialization of space travel, the growing abstract lands we create ourselves, in the meantime, seem a pleasant place to populate.
Abstractia (Metaplace?), the emerging and evolving collective of MMORPGs and social networking sites, offers a different type of colonization, however, than that provided by the traditional hardshipped boating voyage.
This new land offers a certain quantum existence. As opposed to moving physically to a new land where one is automatically disconnected from the previous land, here we can co-exist in several including that of RL.
In quantum mechanics, small objects, such as electrons, are described in probability clouds. There are certain areas within which a particular electron is likely to exist. Another way of formulating the concept is that the electron exists simultaneously in all of the locations of the cloud in varying percentages.
Now, some people have begun to assume a similar existence. We establish a presence in various MMORPGs and social networking sites simultaneously. Though our physical bodies may never be there, and though we may be logged on or off with differing frequencies, we do establish ourselves in these worlds with a certain periodic nodal existence.