The Effects of Internet Role Playing Games on Society

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Advances in technology on the internet are making it a continually more ‘real’ experience for its users. To what extent are the places, relationships, communities and identities represented on the internet real. The increasing speed and efficiency with which humans can communicate within the online world has had an enormous effect on our culture. Furthermore the increasing reality in which Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing games (MMORPGs) represent human life online is affecting the way that humans interact with one another. The more advanced these games become the more emotionally, socially and economically involved in them people become. The relationships which develop between cyberspace users are creating an intricate web of communities online. Although it is apparent that these communities form in different ways and exhibit different qualities than real life communities it is evident that they still operate in a similar fashion to them. Online your identity does not have to be about what or who you are; instead it is what you make it. This ability to fabricate your identity is one of the main issues regarding identity online. Although the identities that people develop on online gaming sites are often not a representation of their ‘real self’ this doesn’t mean there is not an element of reality to their online character. As events occur and relationships are formed places within cyberspace develop their own meaning, similar to that which would occur in a real life space. Secondlife describes its world as ‘an expansive online society, which is lived in and built by its participants.’ By being ‘built by its participants’ Secondlife has produced a meaning for what would usually be simply an online space. Despite... ... middle of paper ... ... increasingly becoming part of a real experience which offers them a sense of place within community and meaning in their lives. Cyberspace allows users to express who they really are without a worry, players can express ideas and act in ways they wouldn’t dare in real life because anytime they want they can just turn off the computer and return to real life or even get a fresh start by creating a new account. Michael Lewis of “The Age” described the internet as “an identity free for all.” This expression is completely true according to my own personal experience, many of the people I know who play online games change how they act because in virtual worlds people aren’t seen for what they are but who they are. In this sense online gaming produces more honest players because people do and say what they are truly thinking without having to fear the repercussions.
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