This article offered a lot insight into the community of SL, which I am very unfamiliar with. It helped me get an understanding of the mindset of people who participate in virtual worlds. Rheingold addressed was my own question which was, "Don't these people have lives?" His response to this question was actually very insightful. While I viewed the life of a MUDer as reclusive and lonesome, he described it as actively seeking society and the companionship of others.
While I definitely see his point in this regard, I also was a little perturbed by the thought of people on their computers "actively seeking others" for 8 hours a day, 72 hours a week. To this concern, Rheingold acknowledged the obsessive tendencies of some to become consumed in their virtual fantasy world. Some players can get cuaght up in their online relations with people across continents, and begin to disregard their own real-world lives.
I learned that the largest category of MUDers are people my age, undergraduates in college. This fact seems logical since we probably have the most down time, and are willing to waste it on our laptops. It's pretty sad that our demographic tends to utilize MUDing for sexual play more than anything else. I was a bit surprised by this information since there is so much uncertainty of true identity in a virtual world. I feel as though most people would keep their guard up in terms of intimacy online, especially since there have been so many cases of the dangers of internet encounters that lead to abductions or assault. You never really know who's out there, even if you think you are talking to a friend.
Rape in Cyberspace
I found this reading to be very enthralling from the beginning because it was so eerie and creepy. Even after going over a it a few times, I don't think I fully understand the events that transpired during this voodoo doll raping, but it is clear that people were at least emotionally hurt by the encounter.
It was interesting to see how the community who deliberated on the rape was stuck in a rut because they did not know how to impose some sort of just punishment in their virtual world. While much of the components of their world had shades of realism, they had to recognize that they were after all, playing in a fantasy land.
I thought that terming Mr. Bungle a "sociopath" was almost funny since what he said seemed logical. He simply wasn't taking the virtual world as seriously as the rest of the members. He claimed he was acting purely out of fantasy and that the sequence of events had no bearing on his real life existence. Now, it is arguable that a person acting in a such a way in a fantasy is somewhat reflective of their underlying twistedness, but how is he empowered to the degree that he can "rape" someone in a fantasy world?