Dear Steinkuehler and Williams,
Your article “Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as ‘Third Places’” gave a very interesting view on multiplayer online games. Most people including myself would simply take games for what they appear to be, a game. However, you prove that they can be much more to people. Parents always want their kids to get outside to play because they see video games as a waste of time that offers nothing actual life does. The MMOs that are available to us today offer us so much more including a type of social engagement. Instead of seeing these games and worlds as a complex fantasy, they’re actually much more relevant to people’s daily lives than those on the outside perceive it to be. Until I started using Second Life, I could never understand some of these things but you really are right. You said, “By providing spaces for social interaction and relationships beyond the workplace (or school) and home, such virtual environments have the potential to function as new (albeit digitally mediated) third places similar to pubs, coffee shops, and other hangouts.” Kids aren’t simply participating with these online games to complete pointless objectives, but instead are actually gaining social experiences. Like Facebook and other social networking sites, MMOs allow the users to use their avatars to interact with both their environment and others around them. In the past, most video games meant fictional characters in fake worlds. The MMOs today mean real interaction, real social networking in a world that’s as real as the people who use it, want it to be.