DMC Session 07: Virtual Worlds and Real Environments

Digital Media Culture / Digitaalinen mediakulttuuri (KDVCL01)

07: Torstai 15.01.2009 13:00 – 16:00

Virtual Worlds and Real Environments

"Even though Virtual Worlds are often seen as 3D Games, there are many different kinds: forums, blogs, wikis and chatrooms where communities are born. Places which have their own world, their own rules, topics, jokes, members, etc… Each person who belongs to these kinds of communities can find like-minded people to talk to, whether this be a passion, the wish to share information about or just to meet new people and experience new things. Some users develop a double personality depending on which world they are interacting with. Depending on whether that person is in the real or virtual world can impact on the way they think and act. It is not all about video games and communities, virtual world also plays a part in the social as it can allow people to speak or share knowledge with each other. Best examples are instant messaging and visio-conferences which allow people to create their own virtual world."

This sessions aims to illustrate, through online examples, articles and references the relationships set up between massively multi-player online game inhabitance, and real-world factors.


MMORPGs = massively multiplayer online role-playing games

Where the user playing a specific character is a main feature of the game.

Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft (2001)

Electronic Arts: The SIMS: Online (2003-)
How do you Play?:


MMORLGs = massively multiplayer online real-life/rogue-like games

Where the user can edit and alter their avatar at will, allowing them to play a more dynamic role, or multiple roles.


Sulake's Habbo (2000-)

Linden Lab's Second Life (2002-)

Sony's PlayStation@Home (2008-)


Many of later examples of different issues below refer specifically to Linden Lab's Second Life.

Summary history and other aspects of medium


Second Life

SL General Introduction

General Second Life Links

SL news:





Emergent Identity Behaviours

An Emergent Second Life

Virtual Homelessness

Real estate



Gender, Race and Identity Changes



Love Me Love My Avatar


Work / Labour

Double Happiness Jeans Factory (Artist-activist Project)


The Agency of Avatars


Artist Projects/Documentarists


Artistic-Activist Re:enactment

Salt Satyagraha Walk

Over the course of 26 days, a treadmill customized for cyberspace was used to reenact Gandhi's famous Salt March of 1930. The original 240-mile walk was made in protest of the British Salt Act of 1882; Joseph DeLappe's recreation of this seminal act of protest took place at Eyebeam, New York City and in Second Life, the Internet-based virtual world.

Media artist Joseph DeLappe walked the entire 240 miles of the original march on a converted treadmill - his steps on the treadmill controlled the forward movement of his online avatar, MGandhi Chakrabarti, enabling the live and virtual reenactment of the historic march. It took 26 days (with three rest days coinciding with the actual rest days from the original march) to complete this reenactment in RL and SL.


Art Gallery / Curation




Second Life Protest: Chimes of Freedom

IBM Virtual Strike in SECONDLIFE!

Double Happiness - Kill the Poor
Posted on December 31, 2008 - Filed Under Protest, Video, Second Life

"Filmed in Second Life, there seems to be some protest happening in the Double Happiness Jeans factory. Probably just some pathetic attempt to market bloody virtual jeans but hey who gives a shit it’s like nearly the New Year."

Watch it…

Joe DeLappe: dead in iraq, America's Army online protest/memorial


Relay Races with Agenda


NGOs /nonprofits

Virtual Social Change: Nonprofit Commons in Second Life


Environmental issues (Carbon Footprint)

Avatars consume as much electricity as Brazilians (12.2006)

""We're running at full power all the time, so we consume an enormous amount of electrical power in co-location facilities [where they house their 4,000 server computers] … We're running out of power for the square feet of rack space that we've got machines in. We can't for example use [blade] servers right now because they would simply require more electricity than you could get for the floor space they occupy."

"an avatar consumes a bit less energy than a real person, though they're in the same ballpark."

Read comments and consider.

"The roughly 1,000,000 avatars active now in Second Life - thank god - never are using peak power all at the same time. They all SHARE the energy consumption of the whole Linden Lab data center and a part of their PCs power consumption over the year. And on average they use less than 75kWh per year."


Financial Value in Virtual Worlds

“Why do people buy virtual goods?” by Vili Lehdonvirta

Functional attributes:

* Performance (e.g. speed, hitpoints)
* Functionality (e.g. teleporting)

Hedonic attributes:

* Visual appearance and sounds (aesthetic pleasure)
* Background fiction (what role does the item have in the story?)
* Provenance (e.g. did a famous user own this item in the past?)
* Customisability (the ability to personalise the item)

Social attributes:

* Cultural references (references to outside culture, e.g. Xmas decorations, national flags)
* Branding (virtual goods branded by real-world companies)
* Rarity

Virtual Memorial Sites

GoneTooSoon is a not-for-profit organisation which enables anyone to create a free online memorial, leave a lasting tribute or light a candle for a much loved relative or friend who has passed away.

By creating a memorial website, it will ensure that your much loved family and friends will be remembered forever, and allows anyone to write them an online tribute, send a virtual gift or light a candle. Your lasting tribute is completely free and will be a permanent online memorial to keep the memory of your lost loved one alive forever.


Artist/Media Archive/Archaeology


Gold Farming in WoW

Ni Hao (A Gold Farmers Story)

Chinese Gold Farmers Documentary

Secrets of Massively Multiplayer Farming

Inside World of Warcraft Gold Farm, Future of Work

Chinese Gold Farmers Preview

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