Something else that I found interesting in "A Rape in Cyberspace" is the altered perception of the body. In contemporary scientific western thought, the body is a distinct, finite entity. The experience of the rape victims in lambdaMOO counters this. The victims claim to have experienced the act and repercussions of rape in ways that reflect those of physical rapes. Both types of victims are left feeling violated, powerless, and scared that subsequent attacks might occur. Dibbell argues that sex is not experienced most by the body, but the mind. The emotions and physiological response can be felt without physical interaction. Dibbell suggests that rape is "a crime against the mind", thus virtual rape should be taken just as seriously as physical rape.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The Reality Spectrum and Body Perceptions: VR Rape
Outside of the constructs of real life, interpretations within virtual realities are more varied. There appears to be a spectrum of perception of what VR is, with one end being reality and the other being a game. The NYU students who created Mr. Bungle were just having fun playing what they viewed as a game. On reality end of the spectrum, the "rape" victims experienced a very real emotional and physiological response to rape. Without clearly defined boundaries, MUD players can unknowingly cause real trauma. Confusion over boundaries is exacerbated by other non-normative elements that are present; e.g. making your avatar take the form of a dolphin. Since fantasy and playfulness are integral aspects of MUDs, many players assume that other social norms in these environments also differ from RL. The question is, what lines should be drawn in MUDs, and who should draw them?