Another article on the Eros case that actually explains the product at issue as something other than a “virtual sex bed” which is how the earlier news stories were describing it (wrongly):
Lawsuit May Bring Reality To Virtual Community
TAMPA – Can what happens between made-up characters in virtual reality have real-world, legal consequences?
I wonder … is this what we will look back to as the start of a cultural change, to drop the “online” or “virtual” from things? Online dating is dating. Virtual life is real life. I know these things. You know these things. Yet even I have to use the qualifiers so people who don’t yet know that just because something involves computers, or computers and imagination, doesn’t make it unreal or somehow not part of your “actual” life. I try not to use “real” and “virtual” in the column — usually I’ll pick “offline” and “online” when I have to distinguish.
But online interaction — chat rooms, 3-D worlds, dating, role-playing games, banking, movie times, weather — is no more “outside” of your life than, well, going outside. You can play with identity and persona all you want, and the internet facilitates many great tools for doing just that, but it’s still you. It’s parts of you that you might not share on a regular basis if at all, in any other context, but it’s still you. Which I think is a great strength. I mean, if you thought it was someone else, or not connected to the rest of your self or your life, what kind of self-discovery is that?
If online activities weren’t real, the RIAA would be long and gloriously dead by now. The people targeted by RIAA lawsuits have not been able to get out of it by saying “it wasn’t me, it was my character, Pizza Crazeo.”
If online activities weren’t real, people would not fall in love over the tubes.
If online activities weren’t real, I’d have a higher number in the Available Balance column of my checking account, and fewer Zappos boxes around the house.
The flurry to report on this case as “ZOMG! It’s ‘virtual’ but also ‘real’!” is much ado about nothing new — but for once I’m welcoming it. I think this could be a pivotal moment in reshaping how our culture thinks about the whole internet (it’s the uploads, stupid!) thang. The only way to push that reshaping along is to make a big fuss, and be like omg wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.