In the above article found on yahoo video games, a woman in Japan was arrested for hacking. Nevermind the fact that she’s also the same woman who hacked in order to virtually murder her virtual husband in a virtual world website to which she virtually lived. Sound confusing? Yes, virtual reality is much more complex than when it once defined simply video games. Read the article. This is really disturbing.
The idea of having virtual worlds in which people create a virtual identity and live a hypothetical life just seems unhealthy to me even if one didn’t use it to commit murder. Shouldn’t we live in the real world instead of escaping? This makes television and video-games look like child-play. Also—stories like this show that virtual reality potentially plays with the thin borderline of immorality. Are crimes and vices and lifestyles lived in the virtual world that are considered immoral in the real world any less immoral? It is the heart that matters, right? I think I remember Jesus sharing that. I imagine people can really become emotionally attached to their other life in this hypothetical land and I’m scared to think of what other lifestyles people are living as their avatars….indulging in vices that could be harmful to themselves and others and disrupting and skewing their perspective and perception of the world in the real world by fueling and feeding some possibly really bad behavior and desires (like cheating on their spouses, for example).
I strongly feel that these websites shouldn’t exist. I suppose some could argue that people could “get out” their inner desires on these sites so that they don’t do it in the real world, but part of me thinks that there is still no difference and perhaps could drive someone to begin doing some pretty bad things in the real world once tasting it in the virtual world didn’t satisfy them enough anymore. Some could argue that by getting out these desires in the virtual world, they won’t hurt people in the real world—but this article shows that it still can hurt people. The man who divorced this woman virtually—angered her so much, it drove her to virtual murder. She was hurt. This isn’t a video game people. There are real people behind these avatar’s.
A couple of months ago after learning about these virtual worlds from another source, I visited a couple of virtual world websites myself to see what it is exactly that people can do–I was scared about what I might find. It is crazy, but people can do pretty much anything: buy, sell, go to clubs, have sex, get married, divorce, have kids, have dream jobs, exercise…you name it. People can literally escape this world and live another life in their virtual world. A professor I was talking to a couple of months ago told me he checked out these websites too because a significant number of college kids on his campus were into them and he was disturbed to see one man on the site had been actively logged in for 3 months! He also shared with me about one website (one in which I later checked out myself to verify his observation) where the administrators actually had to change a rule on the site that no one with an avatar that looked like a child could go to the sex rooms because of a significant amount of other avatars who were interested in sexual relations with these child-like people. Atleast the websites are not condoning virtual child molestation! But still, that shows that people would endulge in it, if they were allowed. I bet if websites like Maple Story and Second Life gave the option to murder without having to hack into others accounts, people would be doing it.
In the end, what defines morality? Would moral people do immoral things if they could get away with it?