Yee takes on where Turkle left off. The internet, specifically the MMORPG, has become a space not only of dynamic personal interaction, but of significant social importance. It becomes a venue of pleasure and addiciction as much as it has become a venue of work and exchange.
The Avatar itself has taken the McLuhanesque form of the medium to an entire new dimension. No longer is the extension of the body limited to the physical world. It is now an abstracted member of a new, hpperreal, space. “These experiences empower individuals in a way that might be difficult to achieve in real life, because oftentimes our real lives and peer group force force personas upon us” (7).
A question arises from this: what exactly is being extended? I don’t think there is a specific answer to that. What we are seeing here is the virtuality of the human form. Media is not sufficiently explained as being as simple as the old man’s cane. It now must be considered as the relational element of a dynamic, flowing contiuum.
This extension of reality (not just selves or man) provides feedback for our system as well, in its mixed virtual/”real” form. Castronova demonstrates, for example, that the rules of economics are different within the Multi-User Domain. When the presumable opposed, balancing elements of cost and benefit becomes entities that are not mutually exclusive, the game outside of the MUD space must be re-examined. “The basket of produced goods is simply changing. A proper accounting would show, in fact, that the actual production of well-being per capita is rising.” (Castronova)
This idea needs to be placed directly on the desktops of the current throng of crying marxists like David Harvey. The treatment of virtualized space as “unreal” is an economic bullet in the foot. The old regime is seeing a depleted storehouse simply because they have refused to acknowledge the digital one that they stare into every single day.