Dear Mr. Sanchez
I find your piece on the “Social History of Virtual Worlds” to be very interesting and insightful. We currently use Second Life for the virtual component of our class, and thinking back, this is not the first major breakthrough in creating and doing while participating in an online world. Second Life is just where technology has evolved to now. I used to be a big fan of the Sims (which required a CD rom for the computer- how times have changed!), and in early versions of the game, users could create avatars, build their houses and do simple tasks. The Sims was limited to one player (not users who could instantly “see” and communication with each other from the other side of the world).
The game certainly didn’t have the same characteristics that virtual worlds of today have. You write that according to Betsy Book, virtual worlds have five characteristics; “shared space used by many players at the same time,” a visual depiction of space, immediate interaction in “real time,” ability to “alter” their world, and the fact that the worlds created are persistent even while a user may not physically be logged in. The Sims didn’t have any of these characteristics. I feel that some may have played the Sims as a leisure activity, or form of entertainment. Now, with the advances that Second Life and other programs have brought about, the immediacy that people crave and have become so accustomed to and reliant on, has only made them lazier and further inhibited their in-person social skills. Now, with Second Life, people can change their outfits, “teleport” to different places, perform actions, and even have full on interaction with other users who are most likely not in the same physical place as them. Online world are quickly becoming mainstream, they’re no longer just a form of entertainment, but now, are becoming a substitute for everyday “regular” interaction.
Thanks for reading!