Friday, October 26, 2007

Synthetic worlds – real community, real money

Synthetic worlds – real community, real money
Edward Castronova and Mark Bell
Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun Is Changing Reality will be published shortly by Palgrave Macmillan.

"The membrane is allowing not only economic factors to seep through, but social and cultural ones as well. People all over the world are connecting in new ways through the technology moving from a calculation model to one of communication. Our children will grow up knowing people in Africa, Asia and Europe and see it as the norm. They will lose sight of geographical distance and explore cultures and people my grandfather had no chance of meeting. The new world offers limitless expanses of both digital and analog connection and understanding, and brings the world closer together. New social connections can overcome geography, culture, and sometimes even language. Most companies find a team of 25 unruly on a project, but in WoW guilds take part in raids every night creating a sense of group connection and goal achievement. The identities that form in these communities allow people to explore and play with their own identities. The world might not recognize your leadership skills, but you can learn and mature them in a virtual world and then apply them to the real world. All this can create a close, strong bond of friendship and community."

I think it's about time that the media began to also cite the usefulness of virtual worlds, besides the usual hype and sensationalism (thanks Mark!).

Another article in my own campus newspaper also cites the usefulness of the Second Life virtual world in education.

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