Saturday, April 7, 2007

Bonus Mission #2: My Second Life, My Livelihood

The concept of leading a double-life has always intrigued people, even as early as in the seventies. Movies such as James Bond catered to the fancies of the audience, who envied the life of the spy because they perceived such a life as interesting and full of excitement. Superman was another example of a journalist who had the hidden identity of being a super hero that saved the world from countless perils. By day you were a normal man on the street, but by night, you were someone totally different.

When Second Life came about in 2003, it gave people this very opportunity to lead double-lives. You could be whoever you wanted to be, as long as it was within the restrictions of the program. It wasn't merely a game for people around the world. It was a second life, an alternative reality. People had similar experiences to the real world in this virtual community. There was interpersonal relationship in the form of social outings and dates. There was a running economy in the form of commercial transactions between people and businesses in the physical world. There were many communities for people to feel a sense of belonging to - all of which mimics the physical world to a very large extent.

Many attribute the virtual world phenomenon, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft to be a form of escapism for people, hence the popularity. Nick Yee (2007) states that escapism is "using the online environment to avoid thinking about real life problems." While this may be true for some people, there are others who depend on virtual worlds for their bread and butter. It is their job, their livelihood, without which they would not be able to support themselves in the physical world.

The World if Warcraft gold farmers, who are especially rampant in China, are one such example. Jin (2007) in a video on YouTube, describes the life of Chinese gold farmers who depend on World of Warcraft for a living. They farm gold in the "game" and sell their earnings to others who are interested, for real money. To them, gold farming in the World of Warcraft is a job, a livelihood. As victims of circumstances in a competitive world where jobs are extremely hard to find, and where certificates and qualifications determine your likelihood to find a job, the World of Warcraft is an alternative that only requires one's skill at playing the game to earn a living.

Virtual worlds are indeed becoming a reality for many. As technology advances over the years, change is inevitable. Some people choose to embrace it and participate in virtual worlds for example. Others, choose to remain grounded in the reality that they've always experienced since they were born. But what exactly is reality nowadays? The lines are thin, and boundaries pushed to their limits. Playing an online character can be very much as real as living in the physical world. Friendships can be built, a living can be earned, and one can basically experience most of the pleasures and hardships of the physical world. It can indeed be our second life.


Jin, G. (2007). Chinese Gold Farmers in MMORPGs. Video retrieved April 7, 2007 from

Yee, N. (2007) Motivations of Play in Online Games. Journal of CyberPsychology and Behavior, Vol. 9, pp. 772-775, 4p.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi! i am a girl from HK
who watched the video of you on youtube. u'r really cool and good at playing guitar! keep on!
can u give me or post the tabs or notes of 'who am i' i really want it...though i am weak in playing guitar.plz! thank you very much!
God bless you!=)
fiona yan