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For some folks, Second Life falls into the category of computer game. They log in to play with other people they may or may not care about. Yet, they may sometimes refer to those “entities” they interact with as friends. Such meaningful expression should be strong enough to convince anyone of the existence of a real person behind each player character in a virtual environment, because no one that I know of or have heard of call a true-NPC mate. Doing that may imply some kind of madness, me thinks.

There are almost no NPCs in Second Life. We refer to them more commonly as bots. Sometimes they greet you, sure, and may even offer you something, but that’s about it. Beyond that, they are incapable of doing anything else or acting or thinking by themselves. The rest you see moving around are real avatars, collections of pixels that transport the essence –whatever that may be– of real life persons exploring this digital world. Each avatar may be an illusion, but the rational and emotional aspects it carries are valid and worth the respect presented to those in the outside/real world. They are an extension of real life people, with real life feelings, with real life needs.

Even for some individuals, gifted with wondrous abilities to create things through wires, Second Life is a medium through which they complement their real lives, not just sentimentally, but economically as well.

But for some, this is just a game, with no existence whatsoever outside their computer monitors, lacking the human dimension glimpses of which I tried to briefly point out above. Or they just ignore them. As such, they think they are free to do as they please, shielded by the fallacious power to transgress the regulations of real life society and hence of Second Life as an extension of it. Copyright infringement is, probably, the most common example of that constant breach. The following links will show the readers the most recent events concerning the violation of not just legal matters, not just ethical issues, not just moral grounds.

Controversies like this one are not only “dramaz” that should be forgotten after shutting down the computer at the end of the day. They are real events that should be scrutinized with the seriousness that any real life situation demands. It is not merely about copyright infringement; that is the less important ramification of it all. It is about responsibility, about judgment, about the implications of our actions and how they affect people regardless of medium.


  1. PI Illios says:

    Great post. There is always someone behind an interactive avatar> Even thou there is technology involved there is real communication between real people. Values, rights and honesty are important regarding the medium.

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