In My Second Life I Am Cool

May 16, 2008 07:00 AM
by Josh Katz
Virtual reality may not be innocuous. As the computer world of Second Life has shown, the line between reality and fantasy can get nebulous.

30-Second Summary

Second Life is a virtual world based on real life, where anyone can be fit, tall, short, or even a “cloud of particles,” writes the Los Angeles Times.

The world even has its own economy where goods and services are exchanged for a virtual currency known as the linden—named after game creator Linden Lab.

But studies show the personality of a person’s Second Life character, known as an avatar, may bleed into that player’s life. If someone has a more attractive avatar, not only might that person act more extroverted when playing online, but that extroversion may carry over to real life.

In one study, individuals acted more confidently and aggressively if they had just played with a tall avatar, even if they were not tall in reality.

Kristina Dell
of Time magazine writes, “I’m considering giving my avatar a cottage by the sea and a job doing charitable work. Maybe some of the positive vibes will rub off into my real life.

Corporations are also joining in on the fun, for advertising and human resources purposes. Intel and IBM, for instance, have created Second Life communities where employees can mingle and even attend company meetings. “If an avatar falls asleep on screen, that's a good sign the staffer isn't paying attention,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Spanish health officials have been dispensing advice about drug use and STDs to teenagers through Second Life. A virtual nurse and a virtual patient could shield the teenagers from in-person embarrassment, British newspaper The Guardian reports.

Headline Link: ‘How Second Life Affects Real Life’

Background: Second Life enters the working world

Related Topics: When virtual gets real

Reference: Second Life and Linden Lab


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