What is a virtual world?
A virtual world is a synchronous online social space that is supported and facilitated by computers and a computer network [Bell, 2]. Virtual worlds are separated from virtual environments because virtual worlds are persistant online entities whereas virtual environments don’t necessarily remain if no user is logged on [Schroeder, 1]. Though this seems like a solid definition of a virtual world, I would wonder how the definition would hold up for the future. It seems to preclude the use of technology beyond our current scope. For instance, what if in the future we could directly link into each other’s minds and interact with others through a world generated and facilitated by our minds? Therefore I would rather amend the definition to state that a virtual world is a synchronous socially-networked space that is facilitated by a mitigating technology.
Messinger et. al. hypothesize that users create avatars that closely resemble the user but with favorable enhancements that do not normally stretch too far beyond the actual look of the user, users exhibit less inhibited behavior in online environments, and the more attractive and extroverted an avatar is then the more likely the user will be more introverted [Messinger, 6]. Through research by means of survey on Second Life, the hypotheses are vindicated and though the modal (mean) answers are what the researchers expected [Messinger, 9-14], it is still important to note that in many cases, the majority of those surveyed did not attempt to represent themselves in a negative manner. Looking at the 1000 Avatar project, I am unsure if the findings still hold true; I am curious to see the number of users surveyed that used a “furry” for their avatar or dressed themselves in a more refined manner than they could in real life, or even how many were using a different gendered avatar compared to the gender of the user.
Messinger et al. “On the Relationship between My Avatar and Myself,” Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, November 2008, Vol. 1. No. 2. Accessed from: http://journals.tdl.org/jvwr/article/view/352/263
The Advantage, or Lack thereof, of RP Servers in WoW
Why on Earth would anybody want to play on an RP server? There are some nice advantages to RPing like enhanced lore, stronger bond with players, and seeming to matter more in the environment when Printh The Mighty runs around with her epic armor and is required by the peasants to help them in their plight. Most players choose a non-RP server, like PvE or a PvP server, partially out of just not even knowing about it. RPing is a very old concept that has kind of flittered to the background of gaming. Another reason why players would choose to play on a non-RP server is because RPing typically requires more time and effort on the user than simply grinding in Azeroth; players are paying $15 a month to have fun and for some that does not include coming up with descriptive retellings of that they did and coming up with detailed backstories of what one’s history is.