1 Oct 2004 jonas   » (Master)

(Imported entry) Together with six coworkers from the department, I've been to Liseberg amusement park and then to dinner afterwards. This, to celebrate the end of this semester and the countdown toward vacation.

On my way home, I was thinking about an article that Mirjam Eladhari pointed to earlier. She's one of the teachers for the Game Analysis and Design course that I'm taking now.

The article tells the story of Karyn, a norwegian girl who logged on to Legend Mud a few years back and quickly built a rather successful guild, getting to know several others on the mud in the process and making quite a lot of friends.

After a year and a half, the guild was falling into disarray because Karyn had not logged on for quite some time. Emails from her friends went unanswered, and eventually someone found her web page with a newspaper clipping telling how she had died together with a friend whilst test-driving a car.

This hit the small community on the Legend Mud quite hard, and some even constructed a mausoleum for Karyn. A dear and beloved friend had passed away.

Several years later, a journalist began to look into the story of Karyn for an article she was writing. It turns out that the girl on the picture on Karyns web page had never heard of Legend Mud before, and was certainly not Karyn.

The newspaper clipping turned out to have been altered, and the girl in the crash nowhere near the age that Karyn would have been. She wasn't named Karyn, either, and preciously few people in Norway are called Karyn.

So it would seem that Karyn never existed. She was a fiction of someones imagination, brought to life on Legend Mud and in some ways carried over into real life. Are the feelings of those who were her friends any less real now?

Not so. The friends we make online are just as important to us as the friends we make in real life. The feelings are just the same, and the fact that something is in a virtual community doesn't make them any less real.

We do not carry our feelings into the virtual world, nor do we carry the feelings of the virtual world into the real world.

They are one and the same, and we are just as vulnerable in virtual space as in real space.

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