Dear Constance Steinkuehler and Dmitri Williams,
I think it is evident that the social and civic life in America declined once the rise of television occurred, so one would assume that Internet-based media would likewise be the same. However I love how you exposed this paradox by supporting the positive aspects of MMOs by arguing that “the Internet's capacity for connecting people across time and space fosters the formation of social networks and personal communities and bridges class and racial gaps.” It definitely sheds a different light to how we assume that MMOs isolate us from social activity when in reality it is actually connecting us to the world. I would have never thought to compare MMOs to pubs, coffee shops, and other hangout settings, but the things we do in person at these places are the same as what virtual users do in MMOs.
There is such a hype about Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings because they present an alternative world found in science fiction or fantasy literature. People want to be immersed in this escapist world and possess powers that the typical human being cannot have. MMOs provide that direct interactiveness to this third place appeasing the desired “escapist fantasy” and providing “social realism.” Human beings are social creatures, and this third place provides an additional channel for people to socialize with besides in the workplace or at home. I feel like I wouldn't necessary compare MMOs to be a home away from home because although it can be a place for spiritual regeneration or provide a feeling of possession, ease, and warmth, it's still a vast world of uncertainty. It's interesting how third places are defined as neutral grounds where individuals can enter and leave as they see fit without having to ask permission or receive an invitation, but virtual users often have difficulty leaving because they get sucked into and addicted to MMOs.