Thursday, May 10, 2012
Transworld Promiscuity and the Death of Virtual World Immersion
I posted this sketch exactly four years ago, just a couple months after extending my Second Life identity beyond its walled garden. I was that Immersionist character at the top of the virtual world, celebrating our victorious extension into social networks, blogs and multi-media sharing. It seemed like there were no limits for our growing family of Emergent avatars, living rich and creative lives within and between worlds.
Four years later, most of the very active avatar-identified people I knew at the time have either left Second Life or have dramatically reduced their level of participation. Even for those who've stayed, the magic sense of wonder is just a glimmer of what it had been in our prime. How did we fall from grace? Did we move into an inevitable "honeymoon's over" stage where we take for granted (or even disdain) the very life with which we were once besotted? I think that's certainly one factor. But ironically, I also believe that our emergence into transworld identity also played a part.
Our virtual lives began immersed in the walled garden of Second Life. As we moved outside, the 3D virtual world transformed from being the life-giving environment in which we lived, to just another vehicle in which we travel. We have moved from immersion with the virtual world to immersion within our transworld identity. For better and for worse.