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experiences with the Second Life project. I hold my hands up and ad- mit that I only entered the virtual world to participate in the role- plays. A temperamental Internet connection and masses of uni work kept me from going there more often.

As I’d decided that my avatar – Seren, was a separate entity from myself, I entered Second Life as her, not me. I felt empowered by just being able to make that choice and maintain it. Seren was empow- ered because the workshops were her escape from the family life that she resented so much. It’s interest- ing that I felt the empowerment Seren felt, and that I could dif- ferentiate my empowerment and hers, in a world where boundaries of people and avatars are extreme- ly blurred and fluid.

Being a part of the online work- shops did give me more confi- dence. With some practise and determination I’d probably be able to role-play in real life workshops rather than virtual ones- if I want- ed to. I agree that virtual role-plays could be the future, but I don’t think that we’re there yet. Some participants and observers of this project, very obviously didn’t take it seriously, and the only reason I could see why, was because it was virtual and not physical. And although it was easier to play a character online, than in the flesh, at the end of the sessions I didn’t know how other participants felt or what they gained, because it’s very difficult to express yourself through text after such an intimate workshop. I personally feel that if I was just an observer and not a participant I would have gotten

more out of similar workshops in the real rather than virtual world. What also troubled me was that for Second Life to work, you have to have a decent Internet connec- tion. This automatically excludes the majority of the population who barely have an Internet connec- tion, let alone a fast one. The other issue is technological competence. I wouldn’t say I have a very high competence, comparing me with other 21st century children who’ve grown up surrounded by technol- ogy. But I’m defiantly a lot more competent than some. So if I found the technological requirements of being involved in Second Life daunting, imagine how complete technophobes would feel?

I’d hoped that being a part of Second Life might enlighten me to things I was missing out on. After all, people couldn’t be getting sucked into this place for no rea- son, right? But sadly, I felt that all my prejudices were proven right. Through some research, I found that Second Life was mainly used for its ‘adult content’ island ‘Zin-

dra.’ People are letting their real lives slip through their fingers, be- cause they find virtual reality more satisfying, rather than facing up to real life challenges and situations.

All in all taking part in this project made me realise, that Second Life is not somewhere that I’d like to spend my time. It is different from a game on many levels, but at the same time its dangerous because it can feel like a game. Before you know it, you’ve spent the whole day creating your avatar, and you haven’t even gone shopping or interacted with other avatars. The workshops are a good idea, using Second Life for educational reasons and in positive ways is something that needs to happen more often. But it needs to be taken more seri- ously by the people involved and include a broader spectrum of the population, possibly by offering tutorials and training on how to use Second Life, and access to an Internet connection that allows the virtual world to be used at its full capacity.

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