Monday, April 9, 2012

Synthetic Worlds

Dear Linden Lab,
Congrats on Second Life.  I don’t really understand it, but it has taken people by storm! I do see the benefits for business however.  It sounds like the IBM meeting was very successful.  People were able to chat and learn as much as a regular conference but without the actual need to pay for a location or travel.  I love to travel, but this was definitely a huge cost saver.   They saved over a quarter million! Plus there was no waste of jet fuel or time.  Employees were also able to return to work after the meetings, which means they were also more productive.  There is something to be said for face-to-face interactions, but it sounds like people really benefited from being able to teleport to different discussions/meetings of their choice.
There of course are some disadvantages. People cannot build the same relationships when they aren’t meeting face-to-face.  There is a certain trust and understanding that comes with body language.  Castranova saw more than this to be an issue in his article.  He saw the negative side of these virtual worlds.  He thinks that people may get too addicted to this ‘fake’ world.  There are a few vulnerabilities he mentions. He believes people will exploit these fake worlds.  They are able to mimic real world locations and use it to their advantage.  One example he gives is planning where to set up a rocket launcher.  In a fake replica someone can do trial and error until they succeed.  He also thinks some people are too weak to separate themselves from the games.  He believes people will get sucked in or in worse case scenarios; the game makers will pull people in.  The final vulnerability he talks about is the lack of accountability.  If the maker of one off these synthetic worlds turns off the game, millions will lose their connections to other gamers.  It could all go away with out any warning. Overall, I myself don’t love living my real life in a synthetic world.  There are the right times for Skype and such, but I like face-to-face interactions. 

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