This week, we got to play video games for a grade! Kinda. The reading this week comes from a Princeton Anthropoligist by the name of Boelstorff, who did an extended study on Second Life, a virtual world found somewhere on the tubes of the Internets. He starts off justifying his research through Malinowski, who, it’s revealed, spent a lot of time in Australia interacting with local tribes, and felt that good research took prolonged contact with the subject. Honestly, it strikes me as much the same argument I used to my Mom to justify playing Mariokart on saturday mornings instead of mowing the lawn…I was practicing for when I could drive a real car.
That may be unfair though, as this research is really interesting to me, because seeing how people interact now on Facebook, and the social rules there fascinate me. For instance…when is poking taboo? Why? Why would they add it? How can I get that stupid thing turned off?
Anyway, the reading goes on to talk about how “the real world” isn’t a true or fair antonym for “the virtual world.” This part really stuck with me. I’m very much a “define things in black or white” kind of guy, it’s why I like marketing, because you can justify this process. “We have the BEST toaster! People love our toaster! It’s the cheapest! It makes toast!” Sure, there’s thousands of ways (probably) to measure the best toaster, the variables in heating, size of bread allowed, number of toasting stations, etc. But they’ve defined their toaster as the BEST, because it’s the cheapest (which IS a way to get that binary option), and it fits the category. Marketing, at least to me, is about figuring out what people care about, and making the product the best for those parameters, or, taking those parameters and changing them so that your product fits as the best.
Verizon and ATT are a strong example, both are saying that they are the best, because of number of cell towers, faster speeds, etc, even though they both sell the same thing: service for the same iPhone 5. Does anyone else do this? Or am I crazy here?
Anyway, my experience with SecondLife may not be fair and unbiased, as my videogame preferences tend to learn toward the “frat boy” games, games that are quick, easy, and can be played with others drunk. The Modern Warfare, Halo, Mariokart kind of games. I realize that this puts me low on the “gamer” hierarchy, but oh well.
The first thing I noticed was the animation of a rather attractive woman in a very small bikini. I may need to reevaluate my thoughts. I played as a white male, because it seemed familiar to me. After downloading all the software, and choosing the free account, I was able to access the 3d world. Walking around wasn’t too difficult, though it did take a while to render all the locations. OH! you can be a squirrel.
After playing around for a while, I’m certain this isn’t really the game for me. I never really got why people would go to virtual clubs, drink virtual things, etc., when they can do it in real life. I can’t kill zombies in real life, video games let me do that. But I can go to a bar and talk to a stranger or build a house and have a home.
I realize that there’s fantasy and escapism involved, and that I haven’t played this long enough to truly “get it.” But I’ve always been of the mindset that there’s really nothing in the “real” world you can’t get around or “escape.” It’s just the determination to change things.
But that might be a conversation to be had in the “real” world. Back to my very real, but virtual homework.