I’ve just returned from seeing Aleks Krotoski‘s talk at the FACT regarding social interactions within virtual worlds and their implications within the real world. It’s a fascinating topic and was thoroughly explored in a talk which carefully balanced itself between introduction for newbies and explanation for the more knowledgable.
I haven’t actually played within any of these virtual worlds. Never actually being a very good gamer, and with my dial-up connection I spend more of my time online reading and writing. I tend to have quite an addictive/compulsive personality though, so assuming I could get to grips with a game in a meaningful way, hours and days of my life would disappar.
It’s interesting to compare the gaming experience or use of the internet with mine, and how even within my limits I still have a sort of online social life and at times it can be as intense as that felt by those who ‘live’ within a games environment and possibly moreso because I don’t have the face of a character or avatar to hide behind and neither does anyone else. Generally (within a weblog for example) what you see in what you get. Generally.
This is one of those entertainment forms which is yet to reach the popular mainstream in the UK, but is massively popular in other parts of the world. In Korea, for example, which has the strongest broadband infrastructure in the world, people spend more time playing these games than they do watching television to the extent that broadcasters are hemoraging and there are rumours that when Rupert Murdock tries to enter the country’s media, it’ll be in the in form on an online world and not as a television channel.
The event was absolutely the sort of the thing the FACT centre does very well. The space, The Box, is perfect with its couches and screen (although how it works as a cinema is a discussion for another time). It was busy tonight as well, a sell out, but I’m sure if it had been in a larger venue that would have been packed also. But the intimate atmosphere was condusive to the ensuing discussion after the talk during which we found out the audience included lawyers, game designers and gamers, so it was a tragedy when the timeslot and the need I think to show a film brought everything to an abrupt end. We could have chatted on for hours.