Lost in Other Worlds

Are we in a virtual world when we read a book, or watch a gripping movie, and get carried away by their story? We can find ourselves mesmerized by the magical spell of descriptive words and clever scenes, our imaginations captured as we willingly immerse ourselves in these other worlds.

Derek Deluca\'s Chaos within his installation \'Other Worlds\'

Derek Deluca’s ‘Chaos’ from his installation ‘Other Worlds’. NPIRL’s ‘Garden of Delights’. and Flea’s avatar Leader of the Vairy Swarm.

A computerized virtual world could be described as the place where story books and film sets meet. There are different types of virtual worlds; structured gaming worlds like World of Warcraft (WOW), and the more free-form social worlds like Second Life™. I am guessing (as I have never played) that WOW is like an unfolding story, a quest that you follow. Second Life is rather more like an episode of ‘Lost’ where people invent themselves and their stories as they go along because nobody knows the plot.

Derek Deluca\'s \'Heaven on Fire\' and Flea\'s Viper swarm avatar

Derek Deluca’s ‘Heaven on Fire’ (‘Other Worlds’) NPIRL’s ‘Garden of Delights’ and Flea’s Vairy avatar.

The difference here (in the virtual world) is that you (represented by your avatar) are the central character (the star) of the story. The other difference is that the ‘virtual world’ is not described in words, it is visually presented and so bears more similarity to a movie. Yet a virtual world is not a passively watched film scene! Far from it! 3D software wraps the virtual world all around us, hugging us close within its bubble of invention. We can look in every direction, including behind us, and above, and below, and see the virtual space extending towards infinity. OK, a little poetic license here, but it can look like infinity!

Derek Deluca\'s \'Hell on Ice\'

Derek Deluca’s ‘Hell on Ice’ (‘Other Worlds’) NPIRL ‘Garden of Delights’.

To see more of Flea Bussy’s avatars visit Grendel’s Children in Second Life™

3 thoughts on “Lost in Other Worlds

  1. Surely we are lost in SL, because it is, in many respects, *real*. We don’t know what will happen in general, but it obeys rules in the short term so we understand it. The actions we do have an effect seen by others. We affect each other by our constructions and communications. We can make things which give others new powers, or which frustrate the actions of others. We can conduct business and love.

    Compare the “reality” of SL to the world “inhabited” by those suffering from paranoid-schizophrenia, they are notionally in the world, but some aspects of the connection between the world and their understanding is out of kilter, so that their actions do not further their own ends (even end we might consider unrealistic).

    Within SL we are surprised, but then understand our surprises. We are forced to negotiate. There is real conflict. We can really develop aspects of a life – building up the social life of a club, making artistic creations, building friendships and love affairs. Our reputations (as an av) does matter to us. Once we have friends and a repuation we value leaving that behind has a real and off-putting cost.

    Of, course in some respects it is not real. There is no entropy, no decay. We don’t have to battle to maintain what we have made (except crucially socially), much of the mundanity of life is not there. Basic needs are already met – we don’t have to eat, earn money – much of the bases of conflict are not there. Thus many of the things that underly conflict in RL are not here.

    Are these later thins important in the end to a good social life to a viable social reality? I guess we will now find out!


  2. There are a lot of similarities between SL and WOW, and trust me, you can also feel lost in WOW!

    In WOW you do not have a single quest, you have many that you can choose to do or not, you could even ignore them but your gameplay would greatly suffer in that case…

    The interaction between players is deep, even if it is mainly focused on the targets you want to reach in the game, but this way there is no confusion possible between real life and your virtual one!

    The main drawback of both universes is only addiction and time you spend there and not with your family and friends; it’s like any drug (cigarette, wine, sex…) you have to use with moderation;)


  3. A thought I have after reading your posts San and Mannonelf is that there are different types of being ‘lost’ or perhaps simply different degrees of intensity to it? There is the pleasant sensation of becoming ‘lost’ in a book i.e. when we willingly suspend ourselves in an imagined world. Then there are less pleasant forms of being lost; addiction is the frightening sensation of loss of control; and the suffering of severe mental illness is both painful and frightening to contemplate.

    You both highlight one of the ways computerized virtual worlds are markedly different to the virtual worlds of books and films. Computerized virtual worlds present us with choices and we become part of the fabric of the virtual environment. We make decisions that will have consequences in our virtual world. With books, movies and TV we are kept ‘outside’ as passive observers watching the story progress. In the virtual world we are central to the unfolding story. Here the experience is, as San is saying, more like real life, and we cannot skip pages to read the end of the chapter, or hit ‘fast forward’ to find out what happens! We have to wait and find out in due course!

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