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Über dieses Buch

This book takes readers into stories of love, loss, grief and mourning and reveals the emotional attachments and digital kinships of the virtual 3D social world of Second Life. At fourteen years old, Second Life can no longer be perceived as the young, cutting-edge environment it once was, and yet it endures as a place of belonging, fun, role-play and social experimentation. In this volume, the authors argue that far from facing an impending death, Second Life has undergone a transition to maturity and holds a new type of significance. As people increasingly explore and co-create a sense of self and ways of belonging through avatars and computer screens, the question of where and how people live and die becomes increasingly more important to understand. This book shows how a virtual world can change lives and create forms of memory, nostalgia and mourning for both real and avatar based lives.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
This chapter begins by highlighting the uneasy relationship between computers and death through a discussion of science fiction and popular culture franchises such as Black Mirror. Gibson and Carden then introduce the virtual world Second Life and the key concepts of “digital flesh” and “mature virtual worlds.” They introduce the concept of avatars and demonstrate the significance of the avatar to a study of Second Life. This introductory chapter concludes with an overview of the themes of the book.
Margaret Gibson, Clarissa Carden

Chapter 2. Blended Families

Abstract
In this chapter Gibson and Carden explore the creative and often spontaneous family constructions that can emerge within Second Life. These families can take various forms. They include romantic partnerships, “blended” families consisting of both members who are related outside of Second Life and members who are adopted in-world, and “constructed” families which are entirely formed in Second Life. The core finding of this chapter is that these family configurations are real and significant to their members.
Margaret Gibson, Clarissa Carden

Chapter 3. Grievable Lives

Abstract
In the context of the complex forms of kinship existing within a mature social world like Second Life, this chapter argues that the lives lived within Second Life are themselves meaningful and grievable, even as separate from the embodied life required for their operation. Although a second life is dependent on the physical existence and consciousness behind the computer screen, a second life is not reducible to an extension of a “real life.” Avatars within Second Life form relationships, develop hobbies, and engage in the everyday minutiae of living. This, we argue, makes possible the existence of virtual lives that are real, fulfilling, and grievable on their own terms.
Margaret Gibson, Clarissa Carden

Chapter 4. Commemorative Culture

Abstract
As this chapter will show, the commemorative culture in Second Life materialises the grievability of second lives as semi-autonomous as well as the grievability of more blended lives. In this chapter we consider the culture around commemorating and remembering important people and events. We describe the phenomenon of Second Life cemeteries in which people and animals, both existing within and outside of the virtual world, are memorialised. This chapter engages in the politics of grievability through Second Life’s extensive and diverse commemorative culture. This chapter will explore the material practices around who or what is grievable through monuments, memorial sites, special days of remembrance, and cemeteries.
Margaret Gibson, Clarissa Carden

Chapter 5. Sentimental Objects

Abstract
This chapter explores the more personalised and domestic objects that are related to memories of lost and deceased friends, lovers, and experiences. We discuss those objects to which Second Life residents have a sentimental attachment. We discuss the way in which objects can serve as reminders of loved ones who have either died or moved on. We also discuss the way in which Second Life residents consciously replicate and reproduce meaningful objects they encounter outside of Second Life such as items relating to home, clothing, and even pets. Finally, we consider the fate of objects whose owners have “died”—either virtually, through ceasing to enter the virtual world, or through the physical death of the person behind the avatar.
Margaret Gibson, Clarissa Carden

Chapter 6. Nostalgia

Abstract
In this chapter we engage with notions of nostalgia and returning to the past as they emerge in Second Life. The first section of this chapter deals with nostalgia for home. This is based on interviews with women who have recreated spaces of family memory to share with their mothers. We link this discussion about nostalgia for real-life histories in the digital, with an analysis of manifestations of nostalgia for Second Life’s own history within the virtual world. Finally, we conclude the chapter by discussing the notion of time travel as it is manifested within Second Life. The chapter concludes with a case study of 1920s Berlin, a simulation which attempts to replicate the appearance and feel of Berlin in the 1920s.
Margaret Gibson, Clarissa Carden

Chapter 7. Conclusion

Abstract
We discuss what it means to be a mature, not dead or dying virtual world. We also contextualise our findings in relation to media reports of Second Life’s seemingly imminent death. Second Life is a haunted virtual world with various forms of spectrality around lost and deceased lives, the persistence of memory, and the persistence of grievability, but it is also a world that regenerates itself. There are always new projects on the horizon. This book recognises that it can be difficult to determine whether something will continue to exist or whether it will indeed die.
Margaret Gibson, Clarissa Carden

Backmatter

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