Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reconstructing the Real-World via Virtual-Worlds

Dear Tom,

I was intrigued by your approach to this study. By not being concerned with the integration between virtual life and actual life, you were able to have an unbiased and focused study on the SecondLife culture.  I also felt that not going to the Linden Lab headquarters was a wise choice in regards to retrieving an accurate result from your research.  It had not previously occurred to me that what we create in virtual worlds are not just replications of real-world things, but are being remade and reconstructed.  In addition, as you say, “actual world sociality cannot explain virtual-world sociality.” By studies of homosexuals in Indonesia being interweaved in the SecondLife research, it reflects a parallel world in which cultural subtexts are defined through social interactions with others in the same associations. Observing from the point of view of an anthropologist rather than an ethnographer allows for studies emphasizing capability and habit rather than a culture in terms of rules, which has obvious limitations. SecondLife, while considered a game, is also a social structure in which rules need not apply.  During campaigns, rallies that occur within SecondLife, although derivative of real-life campaigns, hold separate entities in virtual rallies.  Through participant observation, one can also see a more accurate portrayal of life in the game – as the researcher becomes involved in events as they occur.    


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