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Fig.1. From Prof. Susan Greenfield’s 2012 presentation on consciousness
My belligerent stance on the impact of computers to the brain – not much in my view, we’re too complex, our brains too massive (94 billion neurons) has been tipped on its head courtesy of a short interview on good old BBC’s Woman’s Hour last Thursday. The interviewee was Susan Greenfield (Professor & Baroness).
She invited listeners to get in touch if they wanted the facts on ‘mind change’ – as big as ‘climate change’ in her view, that as the brain is affected by everything that hours spent in front of a 2 dimensional world (sound and vision) our minds, especially younger, plastic brains, will form connections that make these people different.
I particularly liked the thought that all the time a child spends in front of a screen is time NOT spent ‘climbing trees, interacting face to face and having hugs’. I may be adrift at the moment but have a reading list for the summer.
Shell-shock – there’s evidence of the impact of circumstances on the brain. But playing on your computer for too long? Too much free will to cause ‘damage’?
I have an avatar.
My son took me through the set-up, vital for any software, have an informed and experienced teacher.
I wasn’t allowed to make one quick choice, I had to look at the options. He had views as well as information concerning all the characters. My wife joins in and we plum for a female as the way she poses and sticks out hefty butt when she shuffles about made us laugh. I think I am a night elf. Unable to give her a real name (all taken) I got for Val d’Isere … Which gets transmuted into Valdesire. This is a lady with attitude; I guess I see myself as a Lara Croft type 🙂
Aided by my son he insists we skip the intros.
Intermittently he reaches over and gives me a belt, boots and a sword. And were off. I know I am painfully slow for him but after while I can position myself in front of a hovering, dragon slug thing which seems about as easy to kill as standing on a snail. I gain pouts, collect stuff and go up a few levels.
I assume my son is off to the bathroom when he goes of, actually he has signed on a second computer and with delight says the person I am standing next to, my twin but wearing clothes is him and his (her) name is ‘Notvaldesire’.
‘Let’s have a dual,’ he says and knowing what he is like I get my sword out and put in a strike only to have some god-like voice/ figure berate us.
On returning from the shops I ask if anything had happened as my wife had taken over ‘Our Val.’
We had to sell all you clothes, he said, to buy a spell that didn’t work.’
Thinking about role play as I wondered through Lewes I saw groups of language students in the same blue-tops and football fans gathering before going off to a match.
This is the town where a substantial part of the town dress up for November 5th, indeed I am in Commercial Square and dress up as a Confederate Soldier each year. We joined as newcomers to the town 11 years ago; as a social network it is extraordinarily effective.
- Best of Val d’isere (besttripever.wordpress.com)
We role-play as children to make sense of the world, we take on multiple personas to some degree in real-life as well.
I am particularly taken by the way people with a disability can walk in a virtual world (Peachey 2010) or indeed how any of us can fly and do much more in these environments (die and repeatedly come back to life of course.)
At no cost my dentist, or rather our family dentist, made a set of dentures for me out of dentine that fitted over my teeth. This allowed me to sing. I foolishly sharpened the fangs and promptly punctured my lower lip. I learnt by the way that unless I could have dislocated my jaw biting someone’s neck is impossible. Vampires should bite the wrist or leg, but then all, or at least the obvious sexual innuendos are lost.
Was I living out a fantasy when I played Dracula in my teens?
I kept acting into my twenties until I decided that my mental state couldn’t handle the selection process (rejection) and my experience in front of camera and on stage left me bored senseless (I had minor roles).
Do actors, as in role-play, have to overcome or compensate for who they are?
Peachy raises all the points in a commonsense and everyday way. I can imagine or should research where stepping into the role of an avatar has life-saving qualities, for example is not learning to fly a commercial jet-airliner in a simulator not a form of virtual role-play? I believe firemen are trained in virtual set-ups too and believe the nuclear power industry do so too.
The trouble with doing this in a learning context is the huge development costs. i.e. It has to be better to use a ready made platform. I then ask though, what is wrong with using our imaginations, that improvising and role-play doesn’t require the disguises?
Peachey, A. (2010) ‘Living in immaterial worlds: who are we when we learn and teach in virtual worlds?’ in Sheehy, K., Ferguson, R. and Clough, G. (eds) Virtual Worlds: Controversies at the Frontier of Education (Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World), New York, NY, Nova Science.
- The Various Applications of Virtual Worlds (2ndselves.wordpress.com)
- The Complete World (2ndselves.wordpress.com)
- How can Second Life build your writing skills? (dsworld215.wordpress.com)
- CFP: Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds conference, 21-22 May, 2013 (fransmayra.fi)
- Virtual Worlds: Portals to Our Self-Discovery? (njsmyth.wordpress.com)