1 Ashley Starcevich Advertising 400 G Paper Proposal New advancements in technology constantly changes the world in which we life

. Before telephones one could only communicate with those in their immediate region. Before the advancement of computers, ideas such as online chatting, emailing and online shopping were never heard of. However through advancements such as these, society has grown into a whole new world. One such technological invention that has changed how we interact is the internet based game Second Life. Second Life allows the user to create his or her own identity through a personalized avatar. The user is then able to engage in this Second Life community where he or she is able to interact with the society as if it is real. It is through this interaction of avatars as well as the interaction between avatar and community that Second Life follows the restrictions of everyday life and ultimately virtually recreates reality. As stated above the problem statements that I will be addressing is the idea of Second Life recreating reality. In contrast to the popular video game “The Sims”, Second Life actually allows its users to mirror what they see happening in society. A majority of my textual support will be coming from the Lister et at book entitled New Media: A Critical Introduction. The first issue I will be addressing is the idea of time versus space in regards to Second Life. Second Life is unique in that it is one of the few games that the players are actually playing in real time. For example in the Sims, the user can fast forward or slow down the time depending on his or her preference. In Second Life, the user cannot. They are subjected to playing in terms of actual seconds, minutes and hours and have no control over how fast or how slow t he game is played. Most games that

2 allow their users the option of controlling time are criticized because the ratio of time versus space is extremely unequal. By Second Life using this time control on their users, the user is interacting in a very real virtual reality. The second idea I will address is the idea of recreating the self through cyberspace. This will be the largest portion of my paper because it is to me the most interesting and controversial. Many argue that virtual communities are void of any real restrictions often found in real society. However I am going to argue that Second Life does in fact have just as many, if not more restrictions. By enabling the user to pick and choose what he or she looks like, Second Life is ultimately giving them the chance to over exaggerate what he or she sees as sociably acceptable. Some of my most interesting textual support will come from Caroline Bassett’s study of MUDs ranging from pages 257-261 in the Lister et at text book. For example found on page 258, Bassett states “while some people use this opportunity to become transgender, the majority of people use the stereotyped construction of male/female. They are usually presented as being white, attractive and young”. Users, picking out their race mainly as white, are setting up sociological boundaries in terms of race. Ethnicities such as African American, Asian and Mexican are not seen as the norm in this virtual society and are ultimately seen as different or the minority in this society. Because of this users are reinstating the idea that The issue of hyper-femininity and hyper-masculinity is also brought up in this section. I will use this section to elaborate on Bassett’s argument saying that individuals building his or her avatar often use high masculine or feminine features to over exaggerate the desired gender of the user. Two examples of this is found on page 258 of the Lister et at book. The first example describes the avatar as “one luscious babe, with a

3 flowing mane of brilliant red hair, with crystal emerald eyes, and the most enchanting smile on earth” (Bassett 1997). This description is one of a hyper-feminine character who uses her sexuality to demonstrate who she is. The second example illustrates the male version of this hyper-gendered avatar. This example states “Cyberferret is a ferret….with several cybernetic implants. One leg is bionic, and his entire skeletal system is made of titanium. He is looking for something to KILL” (Bassett 1997). This example, although is not in a human figure, is highlighting the masculine idea of aggression and violence. By users making their avatars in this form, they are actually recreating the gendered stereotypes found in society. The idea of a virtual identity will also be covered in this section. Many times websites allow their users to create a sense of who they are whether it be through a webpage or a blog. Some examples of this are through popular websites such as MySpace, Facebook and Match.com. Second Life goes one step further in allowing the user to create a virtual identity. The user is able to pick and choose exactly what their facial features look like, how dark their skin is and what clothes they are going to wear. In addition to adjusting everything about their avatar until it is just right, they get to create a personality. However this personality is different than what options popular games such as The Sims gives. Second Life actually enables the user to put his or her personality into the computer and portray who they really are through this avatar. This brings up the question what really is a virtual identity and has Second Life overcome the boundaries between virtual personality and true personality. The third and final issue I will be addressing in my paper is the idea of Second Life in terms of the human/machine relationship. Here I will show how Second Life

4 contributes to the human/machine relationship from as deterministic point as well as a humanistic point. In the technological deterministic perspective one sees technology as the extension of personal interests. Technology almost becomes an extension of any form of human functions. True life is one such thing that illustrates that. The user is completely able to extend their everyday uses into virtuality by interacting with other people, moving, eating, etc. The line between the machine and the human becomes almost completely nonexistent allowing the user to move in and out of this virtual world with little or no boundaries. The humanist idea differs from that of the determinist perspective. Humanists see technology as playing a role in society. Second life also plays a major part in that. Second life has become a phenomenon in society. It has become so large that major companies are going to start opening virtual shops in it. By games such as the Sims becoming so popular, the door opened for the virtual world in society. Second life has also changed how people interact with one another. This altering of relationships through this virtual world continues the evolution of how people communicate with one another. The literature that I will review comes from two sources. The first is from the class textbook, New Media: A Critical Introduction. As I stated above I will be using a lot of my information from 257-261, mainly focusing on how gender and race is introduced into a virtual community that should otherwise be completely void of such ideas. I will also be using the book to explain references regarding to the human/machine relationship. There I will use the book to define what the difference is between Humanistic approach and the Deterministic approach and how Second Life fits into both of those whether it be an extension of human capabilities or how Second Life influences human interaction. The second source of literature that I will use is called “Its Not a Game”. This article is found

5 in Fortune magazine written by David Kirkpatrick. This article talks about how communications has actually changed because of Second Life. People actually in the business industry conduct meetings through Second Life. Kirkpatrick also talks about how Second Life is set up. Second Life is composed of 150 square miles and people are able to buy property. Not only is Second Life true to real time but it is also true to real space. People also have real jobs due to Second Life. Companies are establishing shops in Second Life. People are hired full time to virtually manage these shops. Kirkpatrick ends the essay saying that the Second Life phenomenon could ultimately end in a second Internet craze, but to the extent of the first one when the Internet was first introduced. Although this is a brief synopsis, much of these ideas will be in full in the actual paper. I will use that opportunity to answer questions such as why Second Life become so popular, how it is affecting businesses in regards to advertising and what the future is for Second Life. The ability to interact with one another as well as the ability to create a virtual identity online gives users freedom to access any environment they desire all while holding onto the things that makes a society. Only time will tell what Second Life will truly evolve into.

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