Experts Say Virtual Game 'Second Life' is More Than Just Sex

by Rajashri on  June 30, 2009 at 10:19 AM Lifestyle News
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 Experts Say Virtual Game 'Second Life' is More Than Just  Sex
Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University Health Network's Centre for Innovation in Complex Care (CICC) have revealed that virtual reality game 'Second Life' is not just about sex and pornography, it also educates its users about a wide range of health related problems.

'Second Life' is free for users with basic accounts, and reported over 16 million registered users worldwide in 2008 and players of the game create online alter egos who live full lives, including having jobs, relationships and children.

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But, despite instances of pornography and "cheating" spouses, the web-based platform is also used to educate people about illness, train physicians, nurses and medical students with virtual simulations, enable disease-specific support and discussion groups, fundraise real-life dollars for medical research, and to conduct research.

The researchers found that health-related activities in the virtual world have significant implications in the real world.

"Virtual worlds and the social networks that populate the Internet offer a new domain for healthcare. Although it is early in the development, there is a great opportunity to use these platforms for education, research and even disease surveillance," said Dante Morra, Medical Director of the CICC.

Jennifer Keelan, the Principal Investigator on the project, suggested that a major feature for users is the "relative anonymity where patients can seek out information and share health experiences in a safe environment.

She added: "There is also a great potential for patients to practice being patients by virtually experiencing a mammogram or navigating a hospital's virtual ward-they can gain insight into medical procedures and processes to become more informed."

"There is a great opportunity here to understand the design features of social media that make it so appealing and accessible to people. Once we understand what pulls people to Web 2.0, we can design and apply more effective communication strategies both within and beyond the Internet," said Leslie Beard, the designer on the team.

The findings have been published in the open access publication Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR).

Source: ANI

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The American Cancer Society (ACS) has an excellent base in Second Life, where people suffering from cancer and carers of cancer patients meet regularly to exchange experiences and seek or give support. I gave a talk there on the rare form of cancer, pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP) with which I was diagnosed in 2006 - and from which I am currently enjoying 100% remission.

Groovy Winkler in Second Life

As someone who has coordinated a classical music series in Second Life for two years, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the title of this article.

Second Life is more than a game (in fact since it has no winners, losers or object, it doesn't qualify as a game by anyone's definition). Would you write, "Books are more than just sex" because some books are pornography? Or, "Internet is more than just sex" because there are some porn sites, or, "Movies are more than just sex? You get my idea.

Within the virtual world of Second Life at any one time there are about 70,000 avatars doing about everything people do in meat space: learning at the many university campuses, attending cultural events, dancing & socializing, creating their own buildings and art, and yes sometimes playing games or cyber-sexing, just like the rest of human existence.

My project, the Music Island concert series presents professional classical artists, music students, composers and music faculty from around the globe sharing their musical ideas, usually from their home studios, with a new audience.

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