With different virtual worlds popping up everyday it seems, they have become popular topics of discussion as to what exactly is drawing people into them. For some, these virtual worlds offer an escape by being able to create separate identities and make the impossible, possible. In Second Life for example, you are given the ability to fly to any destination you wish, a feat that is unattainable in real life. I personally created my character to not be a physical representation of me, but rather a representation of my interests, so I walk around as my favorite animal, a fox. However, there are still qualities of the real world in the game to have it thrive, like economics. I really admire your approach to studying Second Life by really engaging yourself into the game, learning from residents in this world, and handling two separate lives. In addition, I liked that you fully respected those in Second Life and did not try to unearth if women were really men, vice-versa.
I think these virtual worlds really appeal to people because they are essentially virtual sandboxes. Everything can be interacted with and the creativity has no bounds. I think this was evident in your example of Laura, Kimmy, and Betty Anne’s case. The “birthing” in a digital world gives people a fresh slate. The decisions they make from that point on are most likely to achieve a vision of who they want to be. If they fail, they simply just delete their character and start from scratch.