"Publicly displaying the level of disconnection between avatar and player that is common in MMOs would be anathema in pretty much every SL roleplaying environment. (Imagine calling your avatar a "toon"!)"- Ordinal Malaprop, commenting on Why Call Second Life "Second Life" When Few People Use Second Life Long Enough to Really Have a "Second Life"? in New World Notes.
This notion, that Gamers, in their usual stance, are emotionally dissociated from their avatars, intrigues me. I have come across it, in varying degrees, several times. And it's fair to say that some of the people I am, or have been closest to, are hard gamers. In this discussion, I am thinking of "gamers" as MMO Players from other realms - WoW, for example - who have come to Second Life and established themselves. (I have also met many who came but didn't stick).
I have had at least two startling, intense discussions with friends who think of themselves as gamers and also dissociative - not a parallel they drew themselves, but one I noticed. It's interesting to me that I formed close relationships with both people. I'd like to assure both that they simply cannot be as disconnected as they inwardly fear, or that could not have happened.
I know myself as extremely empathetic: I have always and easily been able to perceive and feel compassion for the people I meet and the circumstances or mindset they act/react from. On occasion, I have felt crippled by this sense of understanding their point of view - in situations where I have needed to be hard-nosed and decisive, I have struggled to shut out the emotions of others, and, importantly, an innate understanding of how they acquired their stance.
I have also mentioned before, I am highly empathetic towards my avatar. What she sees, I experience. What I want, she attempts to provide. When she stands close to you, it's because she likes you :-)
I believe it is very possible to have a Second Life within Second Life and that this is, moreover, the desired outcome. I believe the confusion arises when people attempt to derive a first life from their second life. In my experience, those people are in SL on a mission, , and SL is simply a tool to achieve their goal. Those people are not - and I stress, this is in my experience only - as engaged with the medium. They are less likely to have more than intermediate skills, and more likely to express frustration and boredom. I also personally think they cause more harm, but sometimes it's just that they haven't the self-awareness to know what they came for.
|Hanging out with my peeps on Idle Rogue|
In my experience, the more successful users are those who either use SL as an adjunct to their first life - a creative and emotional outlet - and those who are able to engage with a small (not psychopathic) amount of dissociation.