Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Virtual Cultures

Dear Mr. Boellstorff,

In your third chapter: method, you discussed your experiments you conducted involving Second Life and virtual worlds in their own terms.  With the recent development and quick expansion of online worlds like these, it almost seems necessary to do research to learn more about them.  I really enjoyed that you chose to do your entire research while within the online world of Second Life.  How people are in the real world almost doesn’t relate to their avatars in virtual worlds at all.  People create characters in virtual worlds because they obviously have the desire to do or be something different than their normal life offers.  As you talked about, whether a woman in the online world is being controlled by a woman or by multiple users in real life is irrelevant.  The other people in the game have no clue about other users’ actual identities so I thought it was very smart that you started your work this way.  Your ethnographic approach to this experiment was necessary in this situation because of what you were hoping to discover.  Too many people before you tried to relate what they found to be true in the virtual world to also be true about the user in real life.  You said, “perspectives doubting the possibility of studying virtual worlds in their own terms miss how as virtual worlds grow in size, ethnographic research in them becomes more partial and situated, much like ethnographic research in the actual world.”  The virtual worlds people participate in are much more than just meeting places and extensions of their normal lives, but a completely different world with it’s own culture.

Chris Imperiale     

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