Dear T. l. Taylor,
Reading the chapter in your book really opened my eyed to just how much society is changing around us all. Fundamentally in the past virtual context and physical contexts remained completely separate. The actions that took place in the virtual contexts that existed were unlike those that occur in real life. The participants could be placed into their own categories and often were when looking at media from the era. As time progressed though the individuals seem to be more and more integrated with society as you mentioned. While the culture may still be foreign to some, as seen when you described the the strange look from select bystanders in the hotel, others may come to expect this kind of activity. I think that this is becoming more and more true today as the number of these types of functions are increasing.
More interesting though is the fact that the virtual worlds themselves seem to be coming closer and closer to merging with actual life. The similarities present between real and virtual continue to grow consistently as time passes. You mention this in various parts throughout your chapter. I personally do agree with these statements as I have seen the qualities that you mention in the games I play myself. There is a social structure within the game in terms of leaders, followers, and the different classes to which they belong. The dynamics of this go much deeper with each of the characters within each structures levels possessing their own unique traits and attributes. This is surely present in real life as well which I believe further strengthen your argument. Further support of this merger is the fact that qualities and actions of the actual world are being recreated in the virtual and vice versa. This helps to distort the boundary that provided what used to be a definitive separation of the two worlds. This is evident in the ways that the characters look in the virtual world or game. Many of the characters take on human like qualities in terms of appearance. The figures resemble that of males and females respectively. While there are other factors such as dress that may make them unique to the virtual world, the underlying shape is still present. On a similar note, those same attributes that make the virtual characters unique seem to be slowly making their way into reality as well. While a simple and possibly not significant example, you mention that the executives form SOE dressed up as some of the in game characters. While this may not be necessary they chose to do so anyway. I believe there is an underlying message here that portrays the fact that the in game environment is making its way into reality. While subtle, it is slowly occurring in my opinion.
Additionally, you mentioned that you participated in a “LiveQuest” at the function, with the layout almost identical to one that would occur in game. Here it can be seen that the online activities have materialized themselves in reality further supporting the fact that the actions and qualities that once were only present in game, have now influenced reality in more ways than one. Actions that define characters in game are also being reproduced in real life, possible as a way to mimic the in game environment. Thus, further mirroring the two worlds. It is fascinating to see how the two worlds will collide in the future. I agree that it will essentially bring about a new world where a single character entity can occur in both places where there is no difference in how others see each other due to their actions or appearance. It would become a world where virtual and reality are almost combined into a single entity. This idea is truly fascinating and I admire how you displayed the diminishing boundaries throughout your chapter.