Wednesday, July 27, 2011

one step removed

"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.


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