virtual 3D activists

Sure there are activists using virtual tools to promote their social agendas (e.g., the use of Flash animation to address climate change). Also environmentalists and environmental scientists have constructed virtual worlds to promote ecological awareness about endangered habitats. These are instances of engaging the virtual world on behalf of the physical world.

There also is the the intrusion of the physical world into the virtual world. But are there any virtual activists advocating on behalf of their own virtual environments? For this I turned to Second Life, that giant of 3D virtual worlds.

An article on activism in Second Life Magazine examined the emergence of virtual 3D activism.

Hank Ramos, balloonist and resident since November of 2003 holds a one-man protest to decry the state of the Linden Balloon that no longer provides tours for new residents. A new campaign headquarters opens for U.S. Presidential Candidate John Kerry, and soon lawn-signs exhorting Kerry 2004 are spotted throughout Second Life. The first of a series of in-world town hall meetings convenes, held by Second Life luminary Khamon Fate, to discuss the future expansion of Linden Continent.

A more recent instance of online activism in a virtual world is Stand-up against poverty, which is a Second Life concert of the band Sugarcult and is co-sponsored by the United Nations (!).

The closest I could find to protection of the virtual environment was a report that version 4 of SimCity would build asphalt roads by default. Reportedly this has outraged (physical world) environmentalists, although I don’t believe the Sims themselves could agitate against the automatic road construction. So a warning to you inhabitants of Second Life and World of Warcraft, your habitats may be degrading and your cities may be choking with air pollution. Save your planets before your precious nature is lost and your endangered species become extinct! 😉

But seriously…Simon at better humans worries that satisfying users’ urges with powerful technology offered by virtual worlds could dramatically reduce people’s incentive to change the real world. So I suppose that virtual 3D activism could inhibit an individual’s desire to transfer the skills gained from online advocacy to meat-environments. However, Zamboni in Second Life Magazine disagrees:

when asked if she thinks Second Life activism will have any affect on real world behavior, replied “it will allow for some Real Life discussion in Second Life — something that I haven’t found before. I would hope that this does serve to educate, and if it is indeed possible to change minds in Second Life, I will try!”

Your opinion?

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