Both games allow the players to assume new online identities and promote a certain “commitment to some vision of diversity”. WOW offers this diversity in a more fantastical way with various races and species, while Second Life restricts you to the human species. You can do things like customize your clothing (gear in WOW) choose careers/professions, fisherman, blacksmith. The games differ in their social aspects. In WOW you join other players to build a stronger party in order to conquer dungeons and defeat bosses. The incentive to socialize was to find players that would improve your party and help accomplish goals in the game. In Second Life, I found it hard to find an incentive to socialize. I guess the allure of the game is that since you’re in a virtual world, a player is less shy, less timid, and feels more comfortable to interact with others than they might in the real world.
One thing I find particularly interesting about the games is the impact they have on people’s real lives. As I stated earlier, my friend became so consumed in WOW that he stopped caring about his real world responsibilities and ended up failing classes and having to drop out of school for a semester, all over a video game. He told me that people will actually spend ridiculous amounts of time on the game to harvest fake money and items, in order to sell them for actual money in the real world. In Second Life, you can buy the virtual world money, called Lindens, using real world money. I guess it shouldn’t strike me as weird though, people are essentially using their money for entertainment in the form of an online virtual world. Dibbell writes of one case of an online affecting someone in the real world. In LambdaMOO, an object oriented MUD, a user, Mr. Bungle, wrote a script to create a voodoo doll which allowed for him to essentially control what other users do. Naturally, he used his powers for evil, sodomizing a woman in the MUD world, traumatizing her in real life. While Mr. Bungle used the ability to create his own objects for evil, and in a rather unproductive way supporting the argument that games in general are unproductive, Pearce argues that games can be made productive. Pearce mentions a “hybrid entertainment form in which players …produce their own entertainment media.” Second Life offers this affordance to its community. They allow people to write code to create objects and sell them in the virtual world. One Second Life enthusiast actually created her own clothing company within the world, bought land and sold her product to others in the community, all the while making a substantial amount of money in the real world.
I’ve seen games affect people’s emotions; getting angry and frustrated at a game they had difficulty mastering. I’ve seen games affect people’s responsibilities to the real world: my friend neglecting his responsibilities to his school courses. I’ve also seen the effect the gaming world can have on people’s wallets: watching numerous friends spend money they don’t have on games they don’t necessarily need. The digital gaming world has evolved immensely since its birth, and is only continuing to grow.
Curtis P. Mudding: Social Phenomena in Text-Based Virtual Realities.Dibbell, Julian. (1993/1998). A Rape in Cyberspace.
Farmer, R. & Morningstar, C. (1990/1991). The Lesson of LucasArts Habitat.Fullerton, T., Morie, J. & Pearce, C. (2007). A Game of Ones Own: Towards a New Gendered Poetics of Game Space. In Proceedings, Digital Arts & Culture 2007, Perth, Australia. 1-11.
Mnookin, J. (1996) Virtual(ly) Law: The Emergence of Law in LambdaMOO. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication: Volume 2, Number 1: Part 1 of a Special Issue, June 1996.
Pearce, C. (2006). "Productive Play: Game Culture from the Bottom Up." Games & Culture. Volume 1, Issue 1. 1-8.Taylor, T.L. (2003). Intentional Bodies: Virtual Environments and the Designers Who Shape Them. International Journal of Engineering Education Vol. 19, No. 1. 25-34.