Into the fourth

Maybe it's because of the history of computer gaming that people behave the way they do in SL. In the first generation of computer games, we competed with the machine. In the second generation, we played with other people by shooting each other down or slashing each other with a sword. And here we are, in the third generation, where we use each other.

I understand that it is easy to forget that we are not the only thinking and feeling souls in SL. Sometimes, it's as though we're interacting with machines. And, even if we do keep in mind that there are other souls in here, we behave as though they are exactly like us, that they think the same thoughts and feel the same emotions.

But they don't necessarily. In fact, we encounter more diversity in SL than we do in real life. In real life, most of us have learned to blend in with the communities we live and work in. To a degree, we share the same culture, the same language, the same customs, even the same beliefs and principles. And we rarely encounter people who have nothing in common with us, because we don't frequent the same places that they do. But, in SL, all of humanity's diversity is thrown into the same pot.

Yes, after we get tired of exploring all of SL, we finally settle on a number of places that we enjoy. Still, the likelihood of meeting people who are very different from us is much greater than the likelihood of meeting them in real life. And for that reason, we need more tolerance in SL than in real life.

And an integral part of that tolerance includes respect for the other person as a human being. We may not agree with their views. We may not approve of their actions. But they deserve some respect anyway. Respect for their humanness, respect for their free will.

I have, in fact, met very many good souls in SL. So, in spite of one or two bad experiences, I still have hope about SL and MMORPGs in general. Maybe we're coming into the fourth generation of gaming, where we really are creating an ideal virtual world, not just ideal in the visible and the auditory, but also ideal in its soulfulness.