Friday, November 24, 2006

Virtual Reality

My son tells me that I'd enjoy Second Life, a virtual reality game, a lot more if I had a fancier computer. A member of my congregation tells me that I'd enjoy it more if I was willing to collect and spend the small allowance that any user can have just for the giving up of one's credit card numbers. There's also the possibility of spending one's REAL money in second life, a proposition to which I'm opposed.

I 'd pretty much signed off of second life, much as I loved my animated paper doll who looked just like I fancy I look. But the, wonder of wonders, the UU Church of Second Life met for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I was fully engaged in my first life that day and didn't know about the meeting until after it happened.

How's this for a post-modern blurring of the reality/fantasy distinction? Last Summer, in another one of these multi-player world games, but one where fighting gangs are more the normal activity (sex and shopping seem to be the normal activity of Second Life), one of the key players died. In real life. Her Virtual Reality friends were bereaved in reality, however, and decided to have an "in game" memorial service. (Some day, my minister friends, you might be asked to officiate at such a thing...will you be ready?) Since this popular player had friends in several gangs, a neutral territory was selected for the gathering and all players had to leave their weapons at the entrance. Then they were proceeding to have a real virtual memorial service, with the various (virtual) characters extolling the (actual) deceased's character guessed it, one gang attacked and slaughtered the assembled (weaponless) crowd.

This (actually) happened last Summer, and some players have devoted their (virtual) energy ever since to exterminating the offending gang for continuing to play a game when an important piece of real life was going on. (This story courtesy of my son, who always knows what will pique my interest.)

Someday I'll get up early and try Second Life on his computer.


Steamhead said...

Actually, you don't have to give SL a credit card number. If you have a PayPal account, you just link the SL account to that. PayPal has your account information, but they've proven to be secure and fairly easy to work with. That's what I did.

The key to SL, I think, is to decide what your goal in life in going to be. Be productive? Be an entrepreneur? Hook up with someone? Play discovery games? Or, even, find a religious community. I was home with a cold today, so I checked into SL and discovered a Christian service had just ended. Some people get serious about this stuff!

Berrysmom said...

I'm stunned by that story. It makes me wonder about the people spending so much emotional energy (passion, really) in another reality. But then, is it another reality? The player really died, and clearly the other players felt they had a relationship with her. That's real, isn't it? Talk about blurring the boundaries... That one is really boggling!