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Editorial: Virtual Vignettes Take One: What is the Draw to Virtual Worlds?

by Jamie Wright
Published April 24, 2012

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Editor’s Note: The Metaverse Tribune is pleased to welcome another new author to the fold — Jamie Wright.  We anticipate that her fresh take on topics related to a variety of grids will enlighten and inspire us all.

This article is the premiere in this series Virtual Vignettes.  A few weeks ago I circulated a questionnaire in a few Metaverse forums to find out what draws people to virtual worlds and what keep them coming back.

The answers, shared by consent from the generous folks who replied, are as varied as the people who use virtual worlds, and I found them to be both heartwarming and delightfully fascinating.

What first drew you to exploring virtual worlds?

Oddball Otoole from OSGrid/Second Life said:

“A silly icon on my husbands PC; I clicked it, logged in as Oddball Otoole, and stand there wondering what the …. I was looking at.”

I watched my husband flying around Second Life and rolled my eyes for a few months thinking it was just another MMORPG.  I was humbled when I actually created an account and logged into the world to discover it was so much more.

Fayandria’s Office on InWorldz

For Fayandria from InWorldz/Second Life, the draw was much more poignantly personal than simple curiosity:

“I was in my oncologist’s office and read an article about the first Relay For Life event in Second Life.  I relayed in RL and I instantly recognized that no matter what my cancer or the treatments did to my physical body I would always be able to relay in a virtual world.”

Both Second Life and InWorldz host Relay For Life, providing supporters, cancer patients and survivors a unique virtual space in which to rally for such a great cause.  If I’m missing any other grid that hosts this event, please comment or message me and I’ll add them into the mix.

Many virtual world denizens found the path directly from online gaming.  However, one person who responded to my questionnaire noted that the difference between those activities was part of the draw.

Sarge Misfit from InWorldz/OSGrid/Kitely said:

“I was unhappy with the limits of the corporate MMOs out there.  Whether it’s World of Warcraft, RuneScape, Sims, they are all limited in what you can do.  What’s over that mountain?  Why can’t I make my own things?  Why does my car have to be this make and model?”

Excelsior Station on Kitely

Creativity in building has been the unexpected bonus virtual worlds have inspired within me. This brings me to the next question in the questionnaire:

How has it affected your life and leisure time?

Roken from OSGrid replied:

It’s widened my perspective about people generally. Unlike social networks, you connect with people sometimes very briefly in VWs, and because there’s no separation based on gender, colour, creed etc., it teaches tolerance of others, because here we only encounter the personality.”

That’s the moral integrity I truly hope everyone brings to it. A few of those replying commented on the nature of how their recreation time relates to the hobby, and further, how the practice meets some of their social needs.

Han Held from OSgrid/Second Life said:

For the last three winters it is what has kept me from suffering (literal) cabin fever as bad as I could have. In the Alaskan winter you hit this odd psychological point where everything seems to turn monochromatic and SL/Opensim give me a variety of “places” to go that I lacked IRL which helps prevent me from going coo-coo.”

For me personally, it is a hobby that gives a visual context to inspire some fictional writing. It has also brought many wonderful friends into my life from all over the world and motivated me to really hone my skills with Photoshop so I can build and create.

Guitar Museum on OSGrid

That’s my prelude for moving along to the last question:

What keeps you coming back for more?

Eilidh McCullough from InWorldz/Second Life offered:

Friends, music, the chance to be creative, and, in particular, chance to do some real good as a participant in Relay For Life, fundraising for the American Cancer Society.”

Walter Balazic – Littlefield of OSGrid/Second Life added:

My family and friends here for one. Also, we love building and creating things for others. Nothing makes us happier than to see our builds or creations in use.”

As humans, we crave contact and are driven by curiosity. Virtual worlds break down the barriers of land, sea, time and space, and allow this all to flourish. I’d like to end with a very big thank you to all the contributors who took the time to answer my questionnaire. You reflected the patchwork of the Metaverse, and how each of us knitted together in our place within it co-create the ever changing mosaic.

 

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.hooker Bob Hooker

    I think we can not escape the truth that virtual worlds have very limited appeal, mostly to the sick, the very old, or people who are suffering other mental issues that limit their ability to engage in the real world. u00a0We have not seen VR move beyond these groups.

  • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/zzbottom ZZ Bottom

    Sane of mind and sane of spirit I joined and hope to prevail!nNobody owns the truth, Bob! u00a0

  • Jamie Wright

    Thank you for your comment Bob and you are entitled to your opinion. However I will respectfully disagree as that was far from what I was trying to share in my article. I think virtual worlds appeal to a wide variety of people. The reasons that stood out in my mind from the answers was creativity and community. I would never suggest that activity in virtual worlds implies a lack of activity in the real world. It’s a hobby and an extension of real life interests.

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