Second Life (and social virtual worlds with the complexity of Second Life) make everything so much complicated because, well, not only it’s not a game, but there are no rules but the ones you define for yourself. The usual references to escapism are made about how one party (namely, the entertainment industry) defines an environment where escapism is possible, and the rest of the individuals just accept that environment as a valid one for their escapism. SL allows self-escapism, perhaps not unlike what an artist experiences when creating their own piece of art (or performing on a stage), and where the only “reality” is the one they create. A similar experience is described by computer programmers when developing software applications. It’s thus different from, say, watching a football game and forgetting all about your true self; it’s more like being so engaged in designing the rules of how football should be played that you forget everything else.

Studies about what happens to our mind when we’re logged in to SL are as yet scarce and not conclusive; we have mostly a lot of anedoctal evidence to present, but no statistical, scientifically formulated results. What seems apparent is that escapism in Second Life comes mostly from re-inventing your own self while immersed in a virtual world and this is definitely not universally widespread. It is also just one aspect of immersionism — immersion can occur without bringing any “urge” or “desire” to “re-invent yourself”. As we’ll see, the “urge” might not be there, but it nevertheless happens.

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