Unachievable Achievements: The Problem with Living a Virtual Life

It is now possible to become a virtual ghost; an Internet user can write any comment without taking any responsibility.

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Invisibility and anonymity are becoming extremely sought after by users for various reasons. While some people are paranoid about being on the Internet, others are hiding behind anonymity in order to experiment with unfamiliar feelings.

In an article called “How to Anonymize Everything You Do Online” by Andy Greenburg, which I found through a tweet by Alexis Lane,  Greenburg writes about a new software that will essentially disconnect people from users. A seemingly normal person can go online and reinvente themselves without a trace. Anonymity on the Internet causes a fake sense of power; in a way, there is too much space for negative creativity  While being creative is normally applauded, in this situation, it is truly dangerous. People are creating new lives for themselves, and exploring themes that have been repressed due to fear of judgement.People are taking shots of Internet courage in order to let go of all inhibitions; users are becoming drunk off anonymity.

While anonymity is becoming more popular on the Internet, it has existed in video games for decades. Video game players have the controller, but in reality, they are the ones being controlled. Video games are designed for addiction, to frustrate the player just enough to motivate them. It is also designed to inflate egos and make the player feel as though they are invincible. Just like Internet users creating a new life for themselves, video game players are fictitiously decorating their lives.

In a Ted Talk called “Are Games Better Than Life“, David Perry talks about his addiction to video games. He comments that “alternate existence is [his] virtual reality” and that video games have ruined his “understanding of what is real and what is not”. Video games mean so much more to Perry, and many other video game players, because it creates room for achievement. When a player continuously unlocks levels or earns achievement points, they start to think that they can achieve in real life as well. Except, are players actually achieving achievement points? All the effort, skill, and encouragement are being used virtually, and should only count virtually.

The Internet and video games could be used for pleasure, but it is starting to become a truly dangerous place. The lines of reality are seriously becoming blurred; it does not help that program designers are lacing them with more anonymity and more action. Users are becoming addicted to something that does not exist. So, next time you play a game and your 6′ 5″ muscle God of a character unlocks a new achievement, know that the achievement turns off the second your console does.

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