~by The SL Parade’s own Cosmo Kawabata~
So…there came a point in your life where you found out about Second Life and decided to try it. There was something about it, no, let me re phase that, there was something about Second Life and something about you that made this virtual game interesting, and made it something you had to try. When you think about it, there was something about it that brought you back again and again until this became your separate reality.
Perhaps it was the game aspect. In Second Life you can do anything…I mean ANYTHING! You can play fighting games…you can fly…YOU CAN FLY! Or you can just buy an airplane. And money is no object. Did you ever want a mansion? Well just buy one. Want an airplane? The Two Million Dollar one is nice but you can spend a little more and get the Five Million Dollar model. The same goes for boats. You can pick your friends, the clubs you go to, life a lifestyle of your dreams. Would you like to experience BDSM? Want to role play life in the Ghetto, street fighting or war? I mean, why not? What did you wish your second life to be? What makes you happy? Maybe it’s changing to the opposite sex or even changing your species. I’d bet one thing, you certainly aren’t living in a way that you abhor. How do I know this? Because you are still here.
There is another facet to SL that attracts us all too. In Second Life we form friendships and relationships that better our lives. These friendships are the glue that keeps us here if we stay long enough. It’s nice to find people from around the world that think like we do and share our same fantasies, like the same activities and same places and adventures. But some relationships grow stronger, others stay the same and some wan. Just like Real life. And if we are lucky we find a person that is just a little bit more special than the rest and our lives here become even more fulfilling.
But…how many times have relationships and friendships just fizzled. We all have met people here that just Think Differently…? Sometimes it’s just the way it is, we all think differently from each other and while vivre la difference, sometimes friendships just don’t get off the ground.
Let me add to the confusion. There is an overriding concept that affects us all, it affects everything from what activities in Second Life we find interesting to what we reveal to others in Second life. There is a spectrum that runs from “Second Life is just a game, and interesting game but nevertheless, just a game’ to “Second Life is much more than a game, it is a place that I live in and is an extension of my Real self.” I first heard of this concept back in 2006 and it still affects who tends to like me, who I tend to like, and affects which people I meet in Second life and the places that I frequent.
Earlier in the article I mentioned that you can do anything in Second life. Well as you know, some people only Role play in Second life. The game aspect of SL attracts them most….call them Immersionists. They see SL as a place to immerse themselves.
They come here and leave there real selves behind. People like this see SL as purely a game, like WOW or some other game only. They really find no problem in coming into a club with a big newbie dick or randomly shooting because, after all, it is a game. On the far end of this ‘worldview,’ people like this can come in and act completely at odds with their real selves and do not join SL and RL. You can see things on their profile like “I’m in SL to play only, so don’t ask me about my Real Life!” They may not share there RL name because it’s unnecessary to know that in the game. I will admit that when you are playing a game, this is a safe and reasonable view.
But there is another, opposing ‘worldview.’ Call people who think this way Augmentalists. People with this view cross the virtual boundary and share their real life. At the furthest extreme, avatars will share all of their real life, but in reality most don’t. Maybe some details, the number of children they have, their hopes and fears, and other personal RL things. You may not know the street they live on but you MEET THEM!
But being an Augmentalist can make SL either a mental gold mine or a mine field. If you don’t even think of it crossing into RL NEVER, EVER NEVER, if you see to it that your real and second lives are completely separate, and then insure that your firewall is completely secure, then yes, Second Life can be viewed as a gold mine. If you don’t take these precautions then, yes Second Life can easily become a virtual mine field. Personally, I always stray too close to the mine field, but I like it that way because deep within the safety of the firewall, Second Life is just a game—and a stupid time consuming game in my humble opinion.
I am an Augmentalist. Second Life is an extension of me. I find it hard to deal with people whose motivations I can’t discern and whose profiles say “I am here in SL only; who I am in RL is not important.” I find that a person’s real life experiences affect their motivations in Second life. Because of that, it seems to me that these two groups are intrinsically at odds. However, to be fair, there is a line connecting the two worldviews. Each of us finds a place that we are most comfortable with, and live our Second Life within the safety of our viewpoint. And each of us make exceptions to whatever view that we are most comfortable with. How do we do it? We base our decisions on our lifelong experience as human beings. Isn’t this what we do in our Real lives? Don’t we let some people into our lives and leave others out?
A blanket philosophy just doesn’t seem to work regardless of your worldview. Maybe it’s time to be more considerate of people with an opposing view of Second Life and try to use the same criteria for friendships that we use in the Real World.
For more information about Augmentalists, please refer to the follow article, “Augmentalists vs Immersionalists: Which One Are You?” located on the KZER Worldwide website.
You can also look at the slide show available on The Evolution of Virtual Worlds, located on slideshare.net.