Mr. Keng was listening to football commentary on the radio last night while tinkering with an old radio he’d picked up in an auction. This is an old style radio with the dial marked with now long forgotten radio stations on it, post war and possibly up to as far as the mid-60s would be my guess at its age (although I’m no expert). But apparently the names of the stations evoke a sense of romanticism for people of a certain age in Europe. Let me run down some of them to see if they trigger your memories or if you remember them: Luxembourg, Athlone, Hilversum, Paris, Light Programme, Third Programme, Home Service (the latter three would become BBC Radios 2, 3 & 4 respectively, and I thing Athlone became the Irish broadcaster RTE and Hilversum became NOS, Netherlands Radio).
It’s a rather long pre-amble into me telling you that BBC did one of its ‘stings’ for its own programmes, this morning’s BBC Radio 5 Breakfast programme, and my ears pricked up when I heard that one of the items being discussed was that virtual reality gaming makes you smarter and gives you a sense of wellbeing.
An extract from the discussion is here (although I’m not sure if that will be playable to internet addresses beyond the UK).
However, a psychologist says, in that extract, that “you have these other psychological phenomena which give you a sense of wellbeing, such as competence […] you get a sense of achievement, we know that’s a fundamental psychological need that people have, and that gives them a great sense of wellbeing and happiness”.
Is Second Life giving you that? Does the process of dancing with SL friends and indulging in idle tittle-tattle while listening to someone DJing give you a sense of wellbeing? I know there are times when doing that, in SL, is a far superior relaxation and ‘wellbeing’ process than watching some television programme.
Do you think that too many people are far too quick to write off SL as ‘that thing that was briefly popular’ (I know that, in relation to this very blog, I’ve read a comment on the internet that more or less reads ‘Is that still going? And it has a naturist community?’)
Yes. And yes. And in both instances, up to a point, thriving. Clearly not of Facebook/Twitter style popularity (although we’re comparing apples with pears) but thriving, improving and being a pleasurable experience to its players nonetheless.
Is the view that SL players are ‘sad loners’ misplaced? Might it be that people who, for whatever reason, live alone, have a sense of belonging provided by SL? Might it be that cybersex is a positive, valuable release valve rather than some sordid thing? It will be interesting to see, as SL develops, just how psychologists come to value it. Because it’s clear that we’re now moving away from that ‘video games made me a mass killer’ view into something different.