And so, we come to the end of my week long series of posts considering how well we’d cope with things we take for granted in sl in a real world context. Perhaps surprisingly – and this is only my own opinion – the answer seems to be ‘not very well’.
That must leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of those of us who swear by the mantra: ‘rl and sl are both the same’ – they patently are not! Each has its place in our lives and each has its peculiarities, nuances and ultimately an exclusivity that effectively denies us the interchangeability that we’ve persuaded ourselves could happily exist. It appears that there are indeed some aspects of sl that belong strictly in sl – outside the confines of the virtual world, they become difficult – if not impossible – to manage or control.
Our two worlds are similar, but not the same – and one question remains for us… is one world lacking, without the other.
Certainly i’d find plenty of staunch supporters for the argument that sl enhances the real world for its adherents. It frees us from the drudgery of the daily grind; it unlocks our creativity and allows our imaginations to roam; it provides us with an arena for social and shared activities; it can even release us from the constraints of age and infirmity! If the Lab were to turn off the servers tomorrow, most of us would say that our lives were the lesser for it.
Those are all fairly reasonable and sustainable points in favour of sl and the benefits it brings, but how about we invert the question and ponder for a moment whether rl makes the virtual world a better place?
Imagine that by some strange fluke – a lightning strike on a server farm, or some such nonsense – or maybe by design, we were to suddenly find ourselves switching positions with our avatars. What, from our new and unique perspective, would we think of the real world, and what – if anything – would it benefit us?
Initially that seems a scenario that’s impossible to contemplate, yet i’d venture to suggest that the real world does indeed provide a great deal that enhances our virtual lives. If nothing else, it is the ultimate source of inspiration, patterns and blueprints for the world we inhabit in pixel form – imagination is certainly a worthy tool, but it is the common objects and entrapments of the real world that form the basis for most of our online endeavours. Everything from the scenery around us to the most mundane of everyday objects, buildings, vehicles, furniture and clothing has been incorporated in one way or another into its virtual equivalent, and without it, what a strange and alien place sl would be.
What about the music that fills our sims, our clubs and our inworld leisure time? Not a single note of it has been produced within sl: it is all part of the wealth of the real world, ported and streamed into its virtual Doppelgänger because, for some reason, we prefer to hear it that way.
Let’s not forget the people! There are few of us who would deny that sl – despite its obvious and abundant charms – would be far less enchanting if it wasn’t for the people behind the avatars. Put me in a game where the other characters are computer simulations, and it won’t be long before i get bored, switch off, and do something more rewarding instead – but our virtual world is a vibrant, living and exuberant experience precisely because those around us are real, living, vibrant and exuberant people – and it is they who make everything worthwhile. SL could be the most amazing, beautiful and remarkable piece of technological wizardry every created, but it is the real people, taking time out from their real worlds that make it special.
SL needs the real world to give it that essential life and vitality that it would otherwise lack. We may think the real thing is going to wrack and ruin, and we may think that sl is the best thing since sliced bread, but don’t ask me to choose between the two – i want both!
But I know all this means is
Whiling on the hours
The Circle – Ocean Colour Scene