The View From Here: Journalism goes virtual

When hearing the word “Journalism,” one may think of things like investigative reporting, reviews of our politicians, and other critical news. The thought of online video games, or role playing, and reporting on fictional events in these games probably would not come to mind. But that is exactly what’s happening in a new online role playing game called Second Life.

The game is an imaginary world created and run by its “residents,” or those sitting in front of computers for hours and hours. The “residents” can create and copyright products, perform services, and earn “in-world” money called Linden dollars, which can be converted to real U.S. dollars. People are able to live rich, fulfilling lives all without leaving their homes or offices.

Following the success of “in-world” businesses, news bureaus have now entered the game and opened virtual bureaus to report “real world” news to the “in-world residents,” as well as report “in-world” news to “real world residents.” This started just a few weeks ago when centuries-old press company, Reuters, opened the first virtual news bureau inside the game. Correspondent Adam Pasick has joined the game with the avatar, or character, Adam Reuters, a virtual reporter just like any other journalist, except one small difference: the character and the events he is reporting on are totally fictitious.

To me, this is an extremely frightening move for journalism. Journalism brings information to the people and news that affects their lives. I’m sure many Second Lifers find what happens in the game life-affecting, but that’s because they have no real life outside of the game. Their priorities are all mixed up. I have lost many friends to the addiction of online games, but I would be personally ashamed to loose an entire career choice to the succubus of online gaming. There is far more importance happening in the “real world.”