Thursday, July 05, 2012

RPG MANIA: Do I Want to Turn into my Virtual Self?

                    (From City of Heroes)                                                
With friends leaving the bar to make an appointment with a rogue by the name of Blackstabath in World of Warcraft, female directors well into their fifty’s are putting their projects aside to play Second Life, and the growing market of Role Playing Games are making its way into more and more homes. But how much is too much?
(From Second Life)
RPG’s such as E-Sims have become highly profitable businesses that fulfill the dreams of many gamers that can be able to make a living by playing video games. People have turned their hobby into a joint venture for riches. Together, they create palaces of virtual property to then sell to gamers who no longer have the time to work on their individual worlds but are more than willing to pay large amounts for the improvement of their virtual lives. The high value gamers put onto this virtual property serves to shorten the bridge between the real and virtual necessities one may hold. The fact that many rather pay for a leather couch to go into their neat little house inside the E-Sims world is frankly outside of the norm. But most importantly, it’s a reflection on a society where people can no longer afford many of their basic needs and those who can, find many of their life goals so unattainable that they rather fulfill their hearts desires with the type of happiness only an RPG can offer; and the furniture that in the world of Sims comes at a fraction of the cost.
A few years ago, I heard of a couple who were able to make rent, and utilities by selling E-Sims real estate. Today, gamers like Anshe Chung have turned their gaming passion into a multimillion-dollar industry. The “digital life mogul”, owns a China-based company that profits on the rental of virtual property in virtual worlds including but not limited to Second Life. ( She has over eighty employees under her wing and her success adds to the already strong RPG fan base.  So much so that professor of Economics, Edward CastronovaI predicts that if “virtual worlds do become a large part of the daily life of humans, their development may have an impact on the macro economies of Earth.” This would also cause further impact on constitutional issues due to the lack of clarity between virtual and real life property and who really owns either (
In addition, there are many games out there, not necessarily on consoles that profit of the same sensibilities. For instance, Sorority Life, a virtual place on Facebook where teenage girls who are not able join a sorority can “sort of” experience what it is to be part of such an organization.  As a member of a real world sorority, I can see how biased, unrealistic, and so little fulfilling Sorority Life is when compared to an actual Sorority. However, those who have not experienced real sisterhood as pertaining to an organization are not able to determine for themselves what they are missing, giving up, or misjudging. I played the game many times, until I realized that I should be out doing the virtual things I was doing within the game, if you can call it doing; because far from and adventure, sorority Life is more of a hard core exercise for your thumbs. All you do is click, click, click and the computer does the rest for you.
Why turn into my virtual self, my cute sorority life avatar? I was already a sorority girl. Well, for the same reason that a person would pay for virtual Real Estate on E-Sims…I couldn’t afford all the fancy clothes my avatar could earn by simply pressing a couple of keys over and over…and over. Some gamers simply feel insecure and want to look like they’re avatars. The trick as with everything, is to exercise restraint. Honestly, if you could make a living from playing video games wouldn’t you?

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