Chapter 1: Introduction
The number of persons using the virtual world increases at a rate of 15 percent each month. The growth is projected to rise. The reason is that the growth parameter shows no indication of slowing down especially at this moment, when technological advancement has increasingly integrated into all society facets. The idea of playing in the virtual world is hard to imagine, because it was only a fiction back in the year of 1992 (Stephenson 1992). The Neal Stephenson’s novel named Snow Crash appeared a few years after, in which users of the computer based system were able to mingle in a crowded street and talk with virtual versions of one another (Stephenson 1992). That was the turning point, when such science-fiction began. At the moment, a significant section of world population has become integrated in the virtual world. Various investigations are being carried in order to understand how virtual world reality has been able to spread around the globe to different people in different countries. Virtual world is neither private nor public owned. It is the people interaction that makes it a world (Meadows 2008).
A research in virtual reality is mainly concerned with the modern game phenomenon. Despite such wide interest to the theme of virtual reality, the psychosomatic mechanisms of involvement in the game remains poorly investigated (Meadows 2009). Therefore, the purpose of this research is to analyze the influence of virtual reality games on the psyche and social emotions of the person, who participates in the role games. It will also outline the reason of social migration from the real world to the virtual reality. The paper will identify the social aspect and the future through the use of new technologies in the game environment, as well (Meadows 2008).
Hypothetically, active and continued participation of persons in the virtual reality games leads to changes in the perception of self-identification, because virtual reality results into the emergence of its new forms. The research will mainly explain the correlations between behavior in the virtual gaming world and real life. Virtual reality has varied definitions and interpretations. From a technical perspective, virtual reality is related to interaction that occurs with the computer technologies. From a philosophical perspective, it is normally described as a possible area, in which the subject interacts with others. Lastly, according to psychologists, virtual reality is usually understood as an artificial modification of reality and the way of person’s behavior with these modifications. Therefore, virtual reality is usually considered to be the interaction of these three perspectives (Meadows 2011).
The roots of virtual reality as a technological set serving the current and future needs of many companies and organizations have grown enormously, especially in the areas of training, designing, communication, simulation and modeling (Meadows 2011). By estimate, at the end of the 20th century, a virtual reality world had become the revolutionized technology for selection. Virtual reality is actually a promise for computer application revolution in the modern world, and it has been beneficial for research and development of many nations. The virtual reality technology is viewed by inventors as an innovation that assists in the development of creativity and design for human beings (Meadows 2011).
Many researches have progressed into what the virtual worlds can do. Virtual reality is commonly defined as an artificial computer-simulated reality, in which the people interact. It is characterized by three-dimensional graphic space. It has been widely applied in different environments such as education, experimental investigation and construction simulators’ design (Roberts 2010). Currently, its dominant area of application is in development of the simulator and electronic games. Through virtual reality, users are normally capable to find different ways of interaction with the real world. There is an emerging aspiration to integrate the virtual world with the real things, when the research on virtual reality expands to augmented realities. The reason is that the world around us is a vast source of information, which can be difficult to duplicate on a computer in details (Roberts 2010).
Psychological research in the virtual world with a primary focus on the application of the inventive platform has been conducted (Gackenbach 1998). The in-depth understanding of the virtual world is essential in the investigation of both the old-style Internet world paradigm and human behavior. Studies have shown that the virtual world and offline personalities of users are usually different. However, they have a significant relationship.
Other psychological investigation has identified the needs to explore the reasons for indulgence in the virtual world, as well as the emotional state of the virtual world users. It has been found that many virtual world users indulge in virtual games in order to escape the reality of their life (Gackenbach 1998). Others are in search for psychological and social comfort. Many users find a sense of freedom and self-acceptance through participation in the virtual world. The structural design of the virtual world permits the user to flourish in it, and he/she becomes addicted to the virtual life at the end. As a result, it becomes a challenge especially when dealing with other people and real lives emotionally (Gackenbach 1998).
The exploration of freedom is usually attributed to the anonymity that is provided by the virtual world. It provides an opportunity for an individual to escape the limits posed by social and family norms and expectations that are common in the real world (Roberts 2010). Avatar personality experiences are usually similar to the experiences brought by the use of alcohol and other drugs that help an individual escape from the world of reality. The Avatar does not only symbolize a basic instrument in the cyberspace, but it has become a bridge between the virtual and physical world for persons, a pathway through which people are able to express themselves among other social players. Avatar has fundamentally become a vehicle for altering ego that individuals apply in order to exist among other persons finding the same satisfaction (Roberts 2010).
Virtual reality is a genuine technology for the reality world, because its impact on social behaviors is thoughtful just like the influence of any other technology. Virtual reality has led to a dissociative disorder, which is a condition that includes all the physiological impacts of virtual reality. It is usually characterized by a lack of realism in the physical world of individual or complete isolation from the world realities (Turkle 1996). The result of this condition normally includes corrupt social behavior and hallucinations based on the animations from the virtual world. In addition, the other virtual world user becomes enthralled into the virtual world to the extent that they turn to be unrealistic in nature. At chronic level, psychologists suggest that users tend to be a threat and anti-social elements in the real world. The current increase in violence among the youth has been attributed to the unreal mindsets that imparted to their mind by virtual reality games and videos.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Some sociologists believe that technological innovation is a single and most significant source of the social transformation. When people wanted to communicate with others in the past, they wrote letters, which took weeks to arrive at their intended destination. In the modern world, letters are no longer used as the main method of communication. A person only needs to use a cellphone to text or call or the instant messaging services on the computers in order to reach other people thousand of miles away (Jocz 2012). Even though it is easy to connect with a lot of people at a distance of many miles, sometimes we tend to be isolated from the real world. During this computer age, the meaning of identity has totally been changed. Once we are logged in the computer, we normally tend to be a different person.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a type of role-playing video games, which has an exceptionally large number of players. These players interact with each other in the virtual game environment. In MMORPG, an individual creates an avatar, which is an interactive and social method of communication for the person playing the game. Just like people, an avatar exists in different dimensions, and they view the world from different viewpoints. Avatars can never look like the user. Therefore, the users easily transform themselves into any person, whom they wish to be. In Avatar, Mark Stephen Meadows indicated that the majority of female avatars in the second life are males in the real world. Different from other MMORPG games, there are no princesses to protect or dragons to murder in the second life.
If there were a choice of taking place in the outside world, one would find the same banners in the virtual world. This aspect makes the Second life world to be seen as being more existent than in any other game. For some individuals, the virtual world is viewed as the one, which surpassed the real world of its users. The reason is that environment resembles the real world in the virtual reality. The only variation is that the user is usually given many choices of avatars. Another difference is that life in the second version is much sweeter than that in the real world. There is nothing more attractive than an opportunity to live life in a world that one can freely modifies according to preference, as well as being a person one want to be, especially when the world is less satisfied. Acknowledgement is a not an inattention part of demonstrative and emotional need. If it is hard to get, it is difficult for the individual to accept his/her identity and reality. As a result, many persons normally prefer their avatar persons to their real life.
The majority of people have negative experiences from talking to others, when they are engaged with their avatars in the virtual world, and it is normally impossible to have solid conversation with them. In most instances, people get lost from reality to the virtual world. In Life on the Screen, Sherry Turkle wrote in detail that the network life permitted to hide from others, even when people were tethered to each other. Sherry used several instances in order to demonstrate how the games such as the Second life separated people from the real world. For example, leaving in the virtual reality is not in contrary to the regulation, but it still breaks hearts (Turkle 1995). “Now I feel paranoid whenever he is on the computer. I can’t get it off my mind that he is cheating, and he probably is tabulating data for his thesis. I feel as if my trust and confidence had been violated. It must be clear that this sex thing has certainly hurt our marriage” (Turkle 1995).
This is a concern that was pinpointed in I, Avatar, Cyber Junkie and in all other books that about virtual reality games. However, Turkle is not only anxious about the issue of online user’s identity, but, in fact, she is more concerned about electronic interaction between people today (Turkle 1995). In her book Alone Together, the author extensively explored the problem. Instead of talking via phone, most people prefer to send text; instead of writing letters with expressions of emotions, they give preference to edit Tumblr blog. In her book, a law student, who is just 23 years old, protest when friends apologize online through social media sites. The student argues that an online apology is just excusing to the social media site. Turkle notes that these trends are not showing any sign of decline, because people are more and more inclined to modern technologies (Turkle 1995). Turkle also indicates that people always claim that they want to talk, but they are restricted by lack of time. Therefore, they urge their friends to send an email and wait for feedback later (Turkle 1995).
Virtual word in Avatar
Both I, Avatar and Alone Together discuss the relationships in the second life. Alone Together exemplifies that the real world is negatively affected by the avatars (Turkle 2011). The book explains in what way powerful businesses produce the games so fast and what happens to users, when they cross the impediment of entry into the virtual world. In Synthetic Worlds by Castronova, three significant events are mentioned. The first is when the user characterizes avatar’s attributes as the personal characteristics (Castronova 2005). The second occurs, when the user makes emotional investment in an episode of the virtual reality. The third happens, when the user realizes that the labor in the virtual reality could essentially be valued just like the labor in the physical world (Castronova 2005). In his book, Meadow explores the examples from the Entropia universes, which were the first virtual world banking licenses that were auctioned for a total of $404,000 to a real world banks’ consortium (Meadows 2011).
In I, Avatar, the issue of the game impact on science is discussed. The book also expounds in what way the evolutionary trends in second life contributed to a significant amount of psychological and sociological investigations. On the other hand, Turkle shows no interest in psychological and sociological research in the book Alone Together. Turkle mainly focuses on the way people put a lot of attention to the machines and care more for the things in the virtual world than for the persons around them. According to Turtle, this situation makes people neglect their family and friends.
Cyber Junkie presents a complete opposition to the Cyber Worlds. The author applies an extensive scientific and social investigation complemented by the personal stories of cyber world users in order to develop a step-by-step recovery guide for players of virtual games. Among all these volumes, it is the only book that treats virtual video and games as pure evils (Roberts 2010). Though both the Life on the Screen and Alone Together also cover the negative point of view on the computer culture, Turkle is more concerned with the response of people. Therefore, it will be essentially better, if the readers understand the most valuable thing in these books.
Chapter 3: Methodology
A lot of different forms of massive multiplayer online role-playing game abridged as MMORPG are practiced by many teenagers in both high and middle school. In such a case, the own experience can be used for this research, as well. The books about cyber world and virtual technology with psychological explanations are also beneficial to the study. They will provide detailed and deep cause of present day addiction to virtual technology. They will note the effects from a psychological point of view. Through this research, information about multiple personalities lived in a cyber world will be get, and the reasons of more expectations from technology and less from each other will be analyzed.
It should be mention in what way the games and designs involve “brainwashes” of people and make them stay in the virtual world. Crucially, the reasons for the phenomenon of the strange social migration to the cyber world will be examined together with the way second life actually becomes a first being for the player. The manner this migration affects the real world will be investigated. Finally, the overall work of MMORPG avatar system will be presented. The research of the core question is linked with the books and internet sources such as statistics and game introductions. Thus, the main question is whether people live another life playing online games in virtual reality. Some of the Freud’s interpretations, particularly his answers on dreams, will be of immense help. They give a relationship between the cyber world and dreams. A little from history and the future of massive multiplayer online role-playing game will be summarized.
Chapter 4: Results
Profits and Revenues from Video Games
MMORPG is played all over the world. In the year 2005, the revenue from the game exceeded half a billion dollars. In the western countries, the revenue raised to one billion U.S dollars in the year 2006. In the year 2008, western consumer spending on the game grew by 1.4 billion U.S. dollars. The most subscribed form of the virtual world is the World of War Craft (Mahar 2009). This popular MMORPG has more than ten million subscribers according to the survey done in the year 2012. In 2011, Star Wars: The Old Republic was released. It became the first MMORPG, which gained popularity in a short period of time. It had registered one million users within the first three days of its unveiling
Currently, the video gaming industry generates billions of dollars every year. In the United States of America, the gaming industry had a total sale of 74.1 million units in 1996. It generated 2.6 billion dollars. In the next fifteen years, the industry had a total sale of 245.6 million units that turned into 16.6 billion dollars. The collected total revenue was 24.75 billion dollars. In the recent data released by NPD Group in 2011, U.S video game software sales reached 8.8 billion dollars after the sale of 229.8 million units. The demand of computer game also raised (White 2008).
A total of 15.8 units were sold at a price of 450 million dollars. NPD Group also reported that the purchase of digital add-on content, full videos, mobile applications, subscription and social network games also considerably increased. According to Brandon Curial, the president and CEO of game development, old games are not stopped playing, and there are young kids that ask for new games each day (Zigurs 2001). Further, he says that even parents are playing these online games. This means that the market is expected to grow in the future.
In spite of the old beliefs that only boys play video games, it was established that females play video games, as well. According to a survey by Entertainment Software Association, 42 percent of people, who play these video games, are women (Bainbridge 2010).
The competition in the global market for new and better video games incites companies to develop quality games with better graphics that will provide customers with engrossing storylines (Castronova 2007).
Chapter 5: Discussion
Definition of MMORPG
MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game) is a video game, where a considerable number of players intermingle with one another in the virtual game world. The virtual world is a computer based imitation environment envisioned for its users in order to interact and inhabit via avatars. In these games, people as players undertake the role of the character in the game. The player takes control of the character’s actions in the game (Skurzynski 1997). In MMORPG, one makes an avatar as his/her image in the game. Avatars come in altered dimensions, and they observe the world from diverse perspectives as people do. Avatar can look not like the user. Thus, users can change themselves into anyone (Skurzynski 1997).
In Avatar, Mark Stephen Meadows showed that many feminine avatars could be men, in fact. Unlike other MMORPG, there are no dragons to slaughter, and no princess to save in this computer game.
History of MMORPG
It can be said that Rob Trubshaw’s virtual world MUD 1 was the first fruitful virtual world. He wrote the game in his final year of computer science degree at the EssexUniversity. Later, a decision was made that required the game to be rewritten into two separate parts. The decision was made after the difficulty of game sustenance had been realized. The game had to be separated into multi user dungeon language and the game engine (Westwood 1997). This should pave the way for regular updates of the game without strong impact on users and vice versa.
In the year 1980, the maintenance and development of the game was assigned to Richard Bartle. As a result, the popularity of it increased in the United States. This was followed by intense competition among many individuals and companies (Westwood 1997).
This game entered the online or internet market due to the increased competition in the U.S. In the beginning, a method of payment was requested to do per minute. The demand for the game increased, and price wars among the companies began to emerge. Afterwards, a mode of settlement was changed to per hour. Though it was not worth while, and companies began to enforce payments from their customers on a monthly basis. It considerably reduces payment for users and made the virtual games more accessible to them than earlier. In present-day business, these games are known as MMORPG, because many players are connected and able to experience virtual reality (Westwood 1997).
Freud’s Interpretation Theory
Sigmund Freud is considered to be a pioneer in the psychoanalytical interpretation of dreams. Freud holds probable that a dream is primarily an act that guards sleep through disconnecting one’s mind from reality and putting out all external inducements. Freud claims that the human mind protects the sleeping person from being distressed by external inducements such as pain and noise at night (Freud 1950). The mind also protects the sleeping person from the internal stimuli such as fears, emotions, desires and dissatisfaction. The Freud’s focus was mainly concerned with the internal inducements. Freud upheld that all negative sentiments, unconscious desires and forbidden thoughts must be censored or disguised for a person in order to sleep quietly. Otherwise, the sleeping person may become disturbed by these internal stimuli: hence, they eventually wake up. Therefore, the understanding of dreams helps penetrate into the dreamer’s subconscious (Freud 1950).
In relation to virtual reality, the understanding of the subconscious mind can significantly help realize the underlying psychological satisfaction and experiences of the user (Gackenbach 1999). The reason is that the experiences of the cyber world are essentially similar to a dream. In both the dream and cyber world, the individual is usually capable to perform the things that cannot be performed in the real world (Gackenbach 1999).
According to Freud, the dream is composed of two main parts: the manifest and latent content. The manifest content supposes that people can keep in mind dreams as soon as they wake up (Freud & Crick 1999). It involves everything that a person can consciously describe to another individual trying to remember the dream. Sigmund Freud proposes the manifest content has no meaning, because it is merely a concealed representation of the accurate thought underlying the dream. On the other hand, Freud thinks that the latent content has the true interpretation of dream, the unconscious desires and the forbidden thoughts. However, the difference between the latent and manifest contents is possible in rare cases (Freud & Crick 1999).