Somewhere in the past few years, perhaps with the success of the Nintendo Wii, a paradigm shifted in how the general public viewed online game enthusiasts.
No longer are they the love handled basement dwellers of Dungeons and Dragon lore.
No, the pendulum now decrees that gamers are a heterogeneous group of men and women, married and single, productive members of society and deadbeats. Pixels and Policy looks at how perceptions of gamers are changing.
Evolving Perceptions, Changing Interactions
The real-world relationships once-reclusive gamers fought so hard to create are all in danger of collapsing, a British scientist declared yesterday, all because of Second Life. Baroness Susan Greenfield of the Royal Institution, a British research body, worried openly that online games like Second Life are actively weakening our real-world interpersonal skills and relationships while simultaneously saying her ideas weren't terribly thought through.
"People who dismiss it as a game will be in for a rude awakening," she said. "This will have a huge impact on society.
"Offering people the chance to have a permanent soap opera going on,
in which they can participate, will be even more pervasive than reality
TV such as Big Brother.
"This is the ultimate in that you can be involved, you can interact, but still you are hiding behind an avatar."
While I agree with Baroness Greenfield's view that Second Life is rapidly becoming "more than a game," I don't think "more than a game" necessarily equates with "consumer of souls." That's more what Soul Calibur 4 does. Of course, all is forgiven until The Telegraph goes into classic techno-ignorance panic mode.
Recent advances in technology have had a trend of alienating people.
Years ago a recluse would have to go out the house to get mail (for
bills), shop for food, pick up porn, et cetera.
Now all of that can be
delivered right to your computer screen (or front door). People who
already have problems with social interaction (or have a tough time
distinguishing fantasy from reality) have very little reason to come
out of their shells.
This view shows a shocking lack of mental adaptability. The author equates a decline in real-world contact as a result of Second Life to be symptomatic of the user becoming a "recluse."
This is simple-minded. A recluse removes herself from all contact with others; in this case, the user is simply substituting equally real virtual relationships for physical relationships.
Would the author call one of the thousands of homebound disabled Second Life users "recluses" because they interact solely in the virtual world?
Would the author begrudge those who have found legitimate social acceptance and relief in the virtual world?
Those who consider users who prefer to socialize in the virtual world as "recluses" fail to understand that virtual worlds are not removing users from social interaction, but changing the venue of their social interaction.
We'll be looking into this issue more as the week progresses.