De Castelle’s (2012) chapter in the course text comes off as a soapbox rant. She covers a brief history of gamer-designed avatars and user interactions (as avatars) in virtual worlds. Her chapter discusses “troubling issues of agency and accountability in the design and use of these environments”. I think she is suggestion that as people redesign and reconfigure themselves as players or participants in virtual environment that have no policing or laws, they are in danger of losing or adversely altering their sense of global citizenship. And that this will translate to their “real” lives – the abandonment of civility and global empathy. She states: “the virtual transforms the real, materially, politically, not just semantically.” (p. 213)
I would counter that these virtual worlds allow people to escape their reality for a time. Similar to costume parties, Halloween and dressing up play from Kindergarten days. People have often found the escapism of being someone else, attractive for the respite it gives from every day worries.
De Castelle points out that being proficient in a game gives one credibility in discussing gamer research – which makes sense. Being a king or super-warrior in a game and then devising a country’s defense strategy because of that experience and designation, well THAT would be a problem!
The author poses the following question: “Where are the ethics of social and indeed educational technologies?” (p. 218). She claims that there is extensive silent complicity in online and virtual world technologies. And this, then, is why we have the need for explicit and specific teaching of digital citizenship. So that we can counter the impact of unaccounted-for and unaccountable design in these virtual worlds that threaten to overtake one’s good sense and judgement.
It seems to me that the affordances of the vastness of the virtual worlds have highlighted for us the dark corners of the real world and therefore, somewhat conversely, can be used to sweep them clean.