Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Rape in Cyberspace response

First of all it is really interesting that Dibbell decided to try and explain the sexual crimes of a certain Mr. Bungle in the halls of Lambdamoo. A digital creation made by a real person. I wonder if that real person would do the same in real life or only in second life.  I can't believe that some people like Mr. Bungle dress in such horrible ways (as a sadistic clown). I play virtual games and I always want to be something pretty or powerful and beautiful looking. I think that someone who is motivated to build a character like this must have a lot of internal issues that second life frees. 
  It's fascinating to learn that the sadistic clown was just a student from New York university because it makes him seem a lot less evil. It could have just been a joke, yet the issue is that the other players in the MUD can't actually see who is taking control of their characters, and so might interpret the clown's actions very differently from their intended purpose. For example the woman in Seattle was psychologically hurt from her experience with the clown. This makes me think that rape may not need to be physical to be damaging. 
People must really emotionally and physically connect to their characters somehow if they are getting turned on by "tinysex." It also surprises me that death in a way is possible in this virtual world, (being toaded).
The organization of the players against Mr. Bungle is so interesting. The fact that they wanted to create a society with rules illustrates that people's behavior could be studied in a program like this, if it was actually built in a way more parallel to real life. 
It is interesting that none of the players would follow through with punishment in real life. I guess because the crime was committed in the virtual world it would not make sense to most people who were not participants in that virtual world. 
I found it really interesting that the society of MOO created a way for the players to take suite against each other and in a way shape their own virtual society. These players are not only participating in their virtual world but also contributing to it. 
It was crazy that Mr. Bungle was really a room full of college students egging each other on. I think the fact that so many different people can create characters is important because each person probably has a different amount of emotional investment in the game. For example the college students representing Mr. Bungle had very little emotional attachment to MOO and so like a psychopath in real life could unemotionally hurt people. 

Multi User Dungeons and Alternate Identities:
The proposal of communication addition is an interesting one. I think it is entirely possible that people would be able to get addicted to this new form of communication. People get addicted to talking on the phone, or they spend hours instant messaging so why can't they get addicted to a virtual form of communication. It is interesting that people can adapt to quickly to the "communication gymnastics" as Rheingold calls them. 
The addition from Curtis about the boy who ended up missing out on time with his parents, and his unawareness of their concern illustrates the dangers of getting lost in a virtual reality game. I think it is really important to understand that you could come up for air one day from your virtual world and find that all your real friends are gone. 
I totally agree with the idea that many choose to participate in virtual worlds because in their real life they are controlled by others. They can master their lives in the virtual world and therefore it is a safe haven. I think this may also illustrate why so many college students participate, because in college you are always working for a teacher, or class, you are controlled by your parents and the university. It is not a very freeing place to be. 
I think that children would learn better in general if they were allowed to explore and learn for themselves rather than forcing them to learn and memorize a subject or a topic. Rheingold illustrates that people who play games learn codes and how the world works very quickly, yet in a classroom if a student is not engaged or interested it may take years to teach them simple math or reading. I think that using virtual worlds could be and interesting addition to edcuation. 
I never even thought about the repercussions of MUDs on computers and networks. I can see now that it might be a big problem in universities and such.
I don't understand how people can get offended by people who pretend to be someone who they are not in a virtual world because virtual worlds are based on pretending to be someone you are not. 
The use of peeking in an office sounds very practical. It would save a lot of time from having to actually physically get up and go see if a person is available to talk about documents etc... This type of virtual communication sounds really cool. 
I think this article is fascinating because it illustrates both the good and the bad sides of virtual communication. I think that virtual communication can be more convenient and fun, yet one must be careful not to neglect the real world for the virtual one because in the end the world on your computer is not real and will not be able to fully fulfill you. I think that is why it can be so addicting because it almost gives you the satisfaction but still leaves you wanting more. I played world of war craft and in it I was never satisfied. I also agree with the arguement in this paper that the fact that people must fulfill their communication needs in a virtual world may reflect what is lacking in the real world. 

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