The American online magazine The Fanzine has an interesting new article on the controversial topic of addiction to online worlds. It’s entitled “Five Hundred Eighty-Six Days, Fourteen Hours, Forty-Six Minutes, Eleven Seconds”, the precise amount of time the writer, Michael Louie, spent playing Final Fantasy XI, and the ensuing narrative chronicles his own complex relationship with the game, as well as the larger context of this phenomenon. Of course, Second Life is “not a game”, as anyone involved will hasten to tell you, but it shares many obvious similarities with some of these other point-based environments. Perhaps most intriguing about Louie’s article is the spectrum of emotional engagement with the game he explores — from those driven by depression to bury themselves in the game, to a mother who uses it to stay close to her overseas daughter and son-in-law (stationed in Iraq). It’s clear that as virtual worlds continue to develop, so will the variety of positive and negative ways people find to interact with them… after all, why would it be any different from the real world?
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