Virtual Worlds

franzoir

-the smooth, the suave, and the shrewd
Sempai
Yo,
I just watched this program about the impact of virtual worlds on the real world. For someone like me who studies social relations it was quite interesting. Firstly, what do you think about virtual worlds? When I was younger I use to play the Maplestory beta but had to quit because I got hooked. Obviously virtual worlds can have positive aspects since they give you a sense of freedom that cannot be acquired in the real world.

Virtual worlds can also be quite lucrative. For normal players or opportunistic companies, they have been able to exploit these worlds and make millions if not billions by farming the game currency and selling it for real life currency. However, if you were to spend 100s of real life currency on your account and get scammed, should their not be any provisions to ensure you get your account back just like in real life. This is actually a real problem, to the extent that Korea has a cyber police force to deal with it and many countries referring their police to be trained by Korea. Therefore is it right that most game companies/publishers have a policy of non interference? Should people be allowed so much freedom in these worlds that they can create a racial guild based on discrimination, groom or engaged in sexual acts with underage children, recruit members for their cult etc

The policy of non interference adopted by game companies has led these worlds to regulate themselves in a manner only fitting human nature. In most online games, the people with the most power or influence in the world are the higher levels. Ofcourse this is undemocratic and in the Korean game Lineage, a revolution instigated by the Harry Potter Alliance, happened where a mass amount of low levels decided to kill the higher levels in a bid to get back power. In Eve online, they have gone so far as to make leaders of major alliances form a parliament in which the real life player set the agenda for the game companies to act upon. This sounds all too familiar as these worlds mimic the process of democratization. But if these worlds are just a reflection of the real world, is there even any point in playing? China has created their own virtual reality game in order to increase state funds but isn’t there a danger with the state running their own virtual world? If both worlds are converging, couldn’t the games economy affect the real life economy and vice versa? Is it right that major corporation have penetrated these worlds? I.e eat a McDonalds burger to gain 100 game points

What about the emotional investment? Some players really do treat it as their “second life.” Doesn’t this mean you have virtual obligations and relationships to maintain like real life i.e you need to get home at 7pm to kill a dragon with your guild. Some people even find love through these worlds. If you are having to juggle two lives eventually one will have to take precedence over the other and what if the cyber world prevails? WHat does it mean for humanity. Doesn’t this mean the matrix vision of a apocalyptic where humans are living in a simulated world possible or even not too far away?

Ultimately it comes down to reality or virtual? Is the future really with the cyber world?

If any UK ppl want to see it pm me and I can send you a link.
 

Hiroyuki

-sama
Retired
a lot of these issues are addressed in the anime series .hack//SIGN, where the main character Tsukasa finds himself trapped in a MMORG. This highlights the questions as to whether the values from real life society should also apply to virtual worlds or whether they should be considered detached fantasy worlds where anything goes. On the one hand, the people you are interacting with are (probably!) real people, on the other hand there aren't the same physicaly conseqences of doing something like killing someone... unless you've lost your real-world form!

I thought .hack//SIGN explored these issues very well with users of The Workl divided as to whether they should care about Tsukasa’s plight or indeed the feelings of anyone they met online.
 

Gustav1976

-sama
Retired
another interesting concept about virtual worlds can be seen in the David Cronenberg film "Existenz" where a virtual world is created that is so realistic users often have trouble working out if they're still inside the game or not (especially when the game includes a virtual game that is also super-realistic inside it).
But I do agree the .Hack series was pretty good at bringing up ethics in a virtual world.
 

hkdmz

-chan
Kouhai
I know people who are literally addicted to World of Warcraft, Ragnarok Online, and Maple Story, and these people have a hard time discerning reality from fantasy. The fact that they can run around a limitless world and level up is a real turn-on for these guys and it's kinda sad that they neglect the needs of the real world and everyone in it.

It's also quite funny that you mention that cyber worlds are some gamers' "second life" because that's an actual game (or some social networking thing). That along with Playstation Home (and some Xbox derivative if I'm not mistaken; not sure if one exists) are just stand-ins and to people like us mean almost nothing. Why interact with others exclusively over the internet when they are readily accessible in person?

Until they are able to create programs that give the user pleasurable physical sensations then I just don't see a point in engaging in cyber worlds.

Maybe others' addictions can be attributed to their lack of self-esteem? The ability to create a character that is more powerful than they are and better looking is enticing in some way? I don't know just a thought...
 

khael

/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\ being M
Sempai
QUOTE In most online games, the people with the most power or influence in the world are the higher levels. Of course this is undemocratic and in the Korean game Lineage, a revolution instigated by the Harry Potter Alliance, happened where a mass amount of low levels decided to kill the higher levels in a bid to get back power.

Oh but on the contrary, this is very democratic and very capitalistic. These events mirror some events in history although they fail in comparison when it comes to significance.


QUOTE I know people who are literally addicted to World of Warcraft, Ragnarok Online, and Maple Story, and these people have a hard time discerning reality from fantasy. The fact that they can run around a limitless world and level up is a real turn-on for these guys and it's kinda sad that they neglect the needs of the real world and everyone in it.

Have you ever heard of the concept of weltschmerz? It's not all the time escapism, sometimes it's bordering on rejection of society itself. Self esteem and confidence are reasons as well but again, not all the time. You wouldn't be able to understand unless you've actually experienced it. Leveling up in a game or finishing a quest is seen by some of these people as a form of achievement and thus, makes them feel rewarded or satisfied.


QUOTE Until they are able to create programs that give the user pleasurable physical sensations then I just don't see a point in engaging in cyber worlds.

We already have several in our brains. One of the most basic ones is called, "imagination".

Now from what i observe, some virtual worlds are simply like wormholes in space. It's not an alternate world or anything but rather, like a wormhole, it's just a more efficient means of communication. This goes for social networking sites and the likes. But for games, it's quite a different thing. In a sense, in mmo's, societies and communities are created, and these communities are very real. Such, virtual worlds cannot be called a different world or a world separate from reality since behind those avatars are real people interacting. And since the people in those communities are real people with values derived from real life, it's adds up that ethics and values in real life are being applied in games. Although [by experience] i've seen people arguing that "it's just a game" and not real life, which also has a point. In the end, it's up to the players themselves to decide.
 

monsta666

-the bee's knees
Staff member
Fansub TV Team
QUOTE (khael @ Aug 12 2009, 06:52 AM)
Oh but on the contrary, this is very democratic and very capitalistic. These events mirror some events in history although they fail in comparison when it comes to significance.
I am not sure about the democratic part as I have insufficient experience of MMORPG's to from a valid opinion but the comment about MMORPG's being capitalistic is very true. In fact many MMORPG games have problems of inflation i.e. over a period of time the in-game currency (often gold) depreciates in value. As a result, prices for goods such as magical items increase. If left unchecked these price increases can be prohibitive for newcomers to the game. As a result many MMORPG's often employ some sort of gold sink to remove money from the system which will prevent or at least stem the rate of inflation.

Inflation is not the only economic issue seen in MMORPGs. Due to the value of items placed by some gamers certain items may actually have a price in real currency. This gives rise to the fact that money in an online game may actually have an exchange rate to real currencies. Such practices are often discouraged by the game producers/developers but this only leads to the gamers doing this covertly leading to the formation of a black market. Not only that but there are cases of higher level characters asking for "protection money" similar to racketeering rings employed by organised crime syndicates. So MMORPGs definitely share characteristics to capitalist countries. As for democracy thing, I do not believe there is any actual election process (correct me if I'm wrong) which determines who sets policy for the game. At least the election process does not take place in a public setting. So in that sense, it is NOT democratic. Effectively gamers have no say on the rules of the game and can have their goods changed or even removed with little prior notice.


QUOTE (khael)Have you ever heard of the concept of weltschmerz? It's not all the time escapism, sometimes it's bordering on rejection of society itself. Self esteem and confidence are reasons as well but again, not all the time. You wouldn't be able to understand unless you've actually experienced it. Leveling up in a game or finishing a quest is seen by some of these people as a form of achievement and thus, makes them feel rewarded or satisfied.
While levelling up or completing a quest does bring about a certain degree of satisfaction I do not think this can be used to justify computer addiction because that is what it is. If anyone engages in an activity to the extent that it adversely effects their health (say there social well or physical health) then it could be classed as an addiction. Any activity that stimulates a positive feeling or response has the potential to be addictive particularly to people with addictive personalities. The real debate comes in what is classed as computer addiction. The amount considered addictive will vary from person to person or the general attitude of society. For example 4 hours of computer activity a day may have been considered excessive 10 years ago but less so today. Much in the same way that the perception of an overweight person today is different than it was 10 years ago (everything is relative to the average person of the day).
 

hkdmz

-chan
Kouhai
QUOTE (khael @ Aug 12 2009, 01:52 AM) Have you ever heard of the concept of weltschmerz? It's not all the time escapism, sometimes it's bordering on rejection of society itself. Self esteem and confidence are reasons as well but again, not all the time. You wouldn't be able to understand unless you've actually experienced it. Leveling up in a game or finishing a quest is seen by some of these people as a form of achievement and thus, makes them feel rewarded or satisfied.
But whenever my friend is engaged in these games and then is "rewarded" for his efforts with a new piece of armor, a new trinket or what have you, he doesn't have time to enjoy the spoils. A week later he will no longer be well geared and will have to trudge around for another piece to satiate his hunger for power. It's like eating the carrot you've been chasing after for so long only to have another presented to you. They just seem like lower pleasures that have no meaning in the long run. Sure the person can escape from their depression or their weltschmerz but how long must they play in these cyber worlds and what good will it do if all they achieve are simple, illusory pleasures?
 

khael

/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\ being M
Sempai
QUOTE
While levelling up or completing a quest does bring about a certain degree of satisfaction I do not think this can be used to justify computer addiction because that is what it is. If anyone engages in an activity to the extent that it adversely effects their health (say there social well or physical health) then it could be classed as an addiction. Any activity that stimulates a positive feeling or response has the potential to be addictive particularly to people with addictive personalities. The real debate comes in what is classed as computer addiction. The amount considered addictive will vary from person to person or the general attitude of society. For example 4 hours of computer activity a day may have been considered excessive 10 years ago but less so today. Much in the same way that the perception of an overweight person today is different than it was 10 years ago (everything is relative to the average person of the day).

I didn't necessarily state it to justify addiction. Look at it at this in their perspective. Why should i care about the people around me as long as i am satisfied? Of course this would be quite a problem for a family man, but for bachelors/ettes who live alone, i don't see a problem as long as they are happy. Besides, who am i to dictate how other people should live?

And yes, the real debate is what can be classified objectively as addiction.


QUOTE A week later he will no longer be well geared and will have to trudge around for another piece to satiate his hunger for power. It's like eating the carrot you've been chasing after for so long only to have another presented to you.

I think you forgot that this is true even in real life. Human nature, insatiable desires.


QUOTE They just seem like lower pleasures that have no meaning in the long run. Sure the person can escape from their depression or their weltschmerz but how long must they play in these cyber worlds and what good will it do if all they achieve are simple, illusory pleasures?

I'll ask you a blunt question then as a counter. What's the benefit of being happy? Of pleasure?
 

Gustav1976

-sama
Retired
regarding addiction I would like to point out that I am addicted to oxygen, I know this because I go through extremely severe withdrawal symptoms if I am deprived of it
tongue.gif

Seriously though, I think the danger of being addicted to something virtual is fairly limited until we reach the point where we can simulate full sensory sensations.ie. not just sight and sound but touch,smell and taste also
rolleyes.gif
 

khael

/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\ being M
Sempai
We're actually nearing that point. Recently, some Japanese students/researchers [IIRC] have created a wheelchair that can be directed and controlled by thinking. Yep, they wired the electronic wheelchair to some EEG looking thing, the one with the suction cups plugged onto your scalp.
 

nomae

-san
Sempai
QUOTE (Gustav1976 @ Oct 11 2009, 06:37 AM)regarding addiction I would like to point out that I am addicted to oxygen, I know this because I go through extremely severe withdrawal symptoms if I am deprived of it
Seriously though, I think the danger of being addicted to something virtual is fairly limited until we reach the point where we can simulate full sensory sensations.ie. not just sight and sound but touch,smell and taste also

No way! You're addicted to oxygen too? We should start a O2A club.

About addiction though. I agree with you that a physical addition to virtual things is not currently possible; however, I would argue that a psychological addition can still occur.

I will use smoking as an example to gauge addiction by. After several weeks without smoking, the physical dependancy on nicotine will have passed, and there are no permanent changes in the brain related to this physical addiciton that lead to a relapse, such as those found with the use of LSD, cocaine, and other "hard drugs". Even so, there is still a psychological addiction to smoking cigarettes. Many people develop the habit of smoking during of after certain activities, and thus it becomes psychologically ingrained. Other people smoke to ease stress, and since the cigarettes have the effect of lowering stress levels, at least temporarily, they psychologically associate smoking with that reduced stress. There are other examples of psychological dependancy on smoking... but the important thing is that they are not related in any way to the physical dependancy on nicotine.

The same can be said of virtual things. If playing in a virtual environment supplies psychological rewards, such as acclaim by ones peers, the satisfaction of obtaining virtual items, or a sense of power over ones fate, then a psychological addiction can develop just as with any physical addictive substance.
 

Gustav1976

-sama
Retired
I understand what you mean nomae but the with most people even if they become psychologically addicted to a virtual environment the body's own stimulus to do thing like eat and such will eventually overide.
The human body is designed to protect itself so unless direct stimulus occurs that will fool the physcial body sufficently the body will eventually overide psychological conditioning.
 

A Red 1961 Gibson EB-0

New Member
Kouhai
Mathematics is a language which describes reality.
biggrin.gif
Humans have yet to learn this language fully, but we are getting much better.
laugh.gif
Computers have allowed us a glimpse of how perfectly descriptive math could be. It seems though that our brainz aren't quite as precise.
tongue.gif
Eventually though, the virtual could become an additional plane of reality, like a 'shell' or 'layer.' As we came down from the trees and out of our animal dreams.
laugh.gif
 
Playasia - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more
Top