What can I do In Virtual Worlds (VWs)?
Second Life (SL) is a three dimensional virtual world. It’s a place where users assume an identity and take up virtual residence.
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In SL residents are able to buy property, attend classes, go bowling, start businesses, hang out, have sex, or even go to a live music performance at a virtual synagogue.
People are even able to get to a church service in Second Life, through lifechurch.tv. The big question here is would you attend church virtually?
Human beings are social animals, and we’ve never had a medium to be truly social in. One that lets us come together in social groups with like-minded people who share our ideas.
It’s relatively easy to come face to face with a stranger and start a conversation in virtual worlds – without being thought of as weird.
VWs are social mediums that can accomplish all of this. Some people have become so absorbed in their VW that they stop living their own real world lives.
A recent Stanford study showed that, 40% of men and 53% of women who play online games said their virtual friends were equal or better than their real friends.
Paying money to buy virtual products in an online world might seem odd. One of the major worries is the risk of security flaws that might expose critical information allowing others to take your money.
While Second Life money can be converted into USD, money stolen in VW can have real world implications. Is it seen as a crime to steal inside a virtual world or not?
Love’s also a bit complicated in VWs. Especially if you’re partnered in real life and then take on a virtual partner too.
While you may not be involved in a physical relationship with that virtual someone else, if you’re getting your needs of love virtually – will that count as cheating to your RL partner?
Some people have managed to become rich in real life based on the VW.
School teacher Ailin Graef, Second Life’s Anshe Chung, is a virtual a real estate developer, fashion mogul, and a banker.
In 2006 Ailin (Ansche) became Second Life’s first millionaire. Her $250 million Lindens then translated into $1 million dollars in real world cash.
If she keeps on going, and all signs are there that she is, she may very well become SL ‘s very first billionaire too.
One of the greatest advantages of virtual life is its usefulness to people with disabilities who cannot easily get out into the real world.
Access to virtual worlds can be very important to some who suffer from psychological issues that mean they find social engagement difficult. Someone with agoraphobia can still have a social life inside Second Life, even though they daren’t leave their own home in real life.
Some hospitals have been using VW technology to allow bed-ridden patients to get around without leaving their beds.
Virtual Worlds play a vital part in healthcare and rehabilitation assistance.
So What’s the Future?
Virtual Worlds are here to stay. They may evolve and grow more complex, but now they’re here, they’re here to stay.
There are many benefits to virtual worlds. Too numerous to count. If you can think of one we’ve missed, please add it as a comment.