Report looking at the virtual world of Second Life, analysing personal experiences and relating it to social interaction and theories of identity

Essay by vivUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2008

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As the real world is said to be getting smaller in light of widespread technological advancement, virtual worlds are a burgeoning opposite increasing in size and number daily. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG's) are the home to these emergent virtual worlds. Launched in 2003, by Linden Research, Inc and now with an estimated total of 13,546,024 residents, (economic statistics SL May 1, 2008) Second Life (SL) is evidently one of the largest MMORPG in cyberworld. Not a gamer of any kind, not possessing any IT knowledge and not having any previous experience on SL or any other form of MMORPG, I was excited but slightly anxious about entering the SL world as a complete newbie.

Designing my avatar was quite an experience. I opted to be a female and selected the 'Nightclub' form of clothing, giving myself long, dark wavy hair, grey eyes, a short black skirt and a red short sleeved top.

While I was quite satisfied with my initial avatar, after I had entered the virtual world and gone through orientation (standard entry: Orientation Island/Help Island), I found myself spending a great deal of time altering my features and clothing, moving away from physical features and clothing which were quite similar to my own in real life. In fact, what began as amazement over the variety of options available to not just alter my avatar's clothing, but also all the facets of my avatar's physical features (from the lengths of her legs to the colour of her fingernails) gradually became frustration as I hungered for more experimentation. Eventually I purchased a number of skins and accessories from SL stores and I changed the appearance of my avatar every time I logged on. She went through nearly all the different shades of skin and hair colour...