Virtual Worlds Essay

Submitted By winner870
Words: 1118
Pages: 5

The Anthropology of Virtual Worlds
4 October 2012
Virtual Worlds People have been trying to define the meaning of virtual worlds for years. The definition of a virtual world, as defined by the “Journal of Virtual Worlds”, is a “computer-based simulated environment where users interact with other users through graphic or textual representations of themselves utilizing textual chat, voice, video or other forms of communication.” I agree with this definition of virtual worlds because it sums up the basis of what we discussed in class as to what we believed a virtual world was. A virtual world is an environment where one can portray oneself as one pleases and communicate with others seamlessly freely. Some examples include but are not limited to Second Life, Video Games, and YouTube.
Second Life is a virtual world that allows people to interact with one another through avatars in an online community. Depending on how deep an attachment one has with a virtual world such as Second Life, one could become emerged into this “thing” and have it effect ones real life situations. This could consist of one’s health. Virtual behavior may affect one’s health both positively and negatively. Jesse Fox, a graduate student of Stanford, assigned a total of seventy-five avatars to seventy-five volunteers dividing them into three groups. In one group he made the volunteers watch ones virtual counterpart run on a treadmill for about five and a half minutes. In another group the volunteers saw oneself lounge around, and the last group watched avatars of the same sex and age run on treadmills only the avatars did not look like them. Fox found that the volunteers he had view the avatars that looked like them running on a treadmill had worked out an hour more in the following twenty-four hour period, than the other two groups. Of course the second was the group watching the avatars of the same age and sex but different avatars from oneself running on a treadmill. This is interesting because it shows how virtual worlds can affect what one does in real life. If something as simple as watching an avatar run on a computer screen can make one exercise more or less, then who is to say violence in virtual worlds cannot carry on into the real world?
Some video games can be very violent. Games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and The Call of Duty series are examples. Grand Theft Auto is a virtual world video game where one steals cars, kills pedestrians as well as police, fight gangs, and numerous of other violent acts. It is a virtual world because you can interact with others during online play. It is only a video game but it has led to real world crimes. In Bangkok, a teen student murdered a taxi driver just “to see if it was as easy as in the game.” The teen was believed to, and admitted to being an avid player of the video game. He stabbed a fifty-four year old driver ten times resulting in the death of the driver. Because of this, the video game was pulled from sale in Bangkok. Video games such as Call of Duty are also violent but in a different way. This video game series uses the military to combat warfare using a first person shooter feature. If the video game Grand Theft Auto can lead people to commit crimes in the real world, then would it not be also logical for one to join the armed forces because of the video game Call of Duty? Although instances of people joining the armed forces because of a virtual world are few, it still happens.
Some virtual worlds are so common that some people do not even know that they are participating in it. An example of which is YouTube. Upon questioning students about the use of YouTube as a virtual world, many did not understand ones participation in it. YouTube is a virtual world because you interact with others online through videos. Rather it be replying to the video in a written text comment, or a reply using a video comment, one is still interacting with another person…