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Love in a Digital World

ImageCan love bloom in a virtual space? And is the concept weird?

We have all heard the stories of couples who met on dating sites, who supposedly fell in love at first email. There was a time when this was a novel idea and sometimes even made the nightly news. But now this is an every day occurrence and most singles (and even some couples) are registered and active members. All seeking love or just connection in the far corners of the globe.

People meet in the strangest of fashions, in the strangest of places. It is human nature that any gathering of people will result in an attraction of some; be it a club, a pub, a concert, or a holiday abroad. It doesn’t matter where or how, throw enough people together and nature does the rest.

With this in mind, is it so odd that, taking the online example further, people can fall in love with an avatar? A chosen visual representation of the self?

World of Warcraft is an online multiplayer game with millions of players, and one where players choose an avatar, choose their facial features, and dress in virtual clothes. They embark on adventures within this online world and meet hundreds of people a day. It can only be expected that some of them will eventually hit it off, as not only are they conversing and co-operating to complete goals, but would have similar interests and world views as evidence by simply playing the game to begin with.

Imagine if you will — alone deep inside an abandoned mine, dark and unfriendly, wrought with hostile creatures, you are seeking that long lost scroll that will provide the missing piece of the puzzle, that last clue to where the legendary bejewelled crown of a once proud king may rest. You become lost, you are injured from too many close battles. All looks grim until, what’s that? A shining light ahead. It drifts toward you, swaying form side to side as if being carried. Is it friend or foe? Salvation or damnation? Hark! It is human, and it is by coincidence that battle hardened warrior you casually waved to on the way in, who was checking his spoils from his own adventure in the mine and looked to be heading to town. Perhaps he did and returned. You can easily lose track of time in the deep places of the earth.

He approaches, offers food and healing, and a friendly voice in the dark. And as you sit together bathed in the glow of a cozy fire, you find that you both enjoy looking for long lost treasures and, gee, wasn’t that last episode of Game of Thrones really something…

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