Creating Community through a Virtual World

Many people seek out community, and many do not. There are reasons that some people avoid community, and prefer to be on their own, individually. There is room for that in a virtual world setting – one can come in and completely do their own thing, however in this post I would like to look at those who seek community and why virtual worlds, and InWorldz specifically, is a great place to have your community.

Some people in the real world (although of course we are all REAL, regardless what form we are in) avoid groups of people, or the public. Leanna talked not long ago about being an introvert and how InWorldz can meet needs of those who are most comfortable doing it solitary. Some people are even very agoraphobic – I myself suffered from this for about a decade in my young adult years. Some people have disabilities that make getting together with a community difficult, and some are located far from the sorts of groups they would like to interact with.

In a virtual world, one need not worry about ‘what to wear’, everything fits right. The body and avatar are simply a canvas for the sort of personality one wants to share with others. In a virtual world, distance and transportation is not an issue and if one is uncomfy around strangers, they can simply log out or teleport away. It allows for people who have various levels of limitations to not only join common interest groups and meet others, but allows for  experiences that they may not get a chance to have  otherwise.

There are other grids where this can take place of course. Second life is a huge grid with many communities and opportunities but might be overwhelming for many (plus the prices for a permanent ‘home’ or other things can be a challenge for those on fixed incomes). Open Sim has many small grids, that are free, or close to free, but might be too small to have a large variety of interests to chose from, also some groups don’t migrate to Open Sim grids because some of the smaller grids have a tendency to close down without a lot of warning , or they simply don’t feel there are enough people there to warrant bringing their group over. This is where InWorldz shines. InWorldz has a much smaller population than Second Life, however it still has a larger over all population than most of the other grids.

Although quality is important, size does matter to an extent. A grid the size of InWorldz has a large merchant base, so if you want a good building for your virtual school, or desks, or various scripts, or themed clothing or media items etc, it is all there.  There are enough people in InWorldz to make for a variety of people, and interests and ideas from all over the world.

What kinds of communities do well in a virtual world like InWorldz? Well, you name it! Leanna and I have a group called Pagan Ways. It is (you guessed it) a Pagan community group that puts on various events and encourages other Pagans and their groups to share their own events or finds as well. It is not a teaching group, simply because there are as many Pagan Paths as there are people , and  too many ways of doing things to have a uniformed ‘how to’.However, a teaching group would do well here also.

 

Mabon - a Harvest Celebration at Safe Paths Sanctuary

Mabon – a Harvest Celebration at Safe Paths Sanctuary

Imagine an organization that wants to be able to connect with students from across the globe and be set up in a virtual space with buildings, equipment and more. Students (adults) make an account as an avatar, come sit down and can hear a teacher speak while seeing slide show presentations or watching media together and discussing.

Religious organizations can have their church or group, and have land for a garden for meditation or a labyrinth for their avatars to walk. They can set up offices and meet with avatars to do virtual pastoral care for those who perhaps have no access to or are not comfortable with, the church closest to them.

There are even adult centres, where people get together to discuss various topics that surround various sexual lifestyles and interests or adult fantasy groups that live out their own virtual fun in their own safe space. (all activities conform to InWorldz Terms of Service – no worries 😉 )

In InWorldz a group can get a 2×2 – which is a square of 4 regions, and 48000 prims (each item placed in a region has a specific ‘prim count’ which is sort of an indicator for how much virtual ‘weight’ it puts on servers etc) for $85.00 US/month. To have similar in Second life would be at least almost $800.00 US/month, plus set up fees. Imagine if your real life group wants a virtual presence, you split costs with a few people in your organization and can be paying less than a cup of coffee a day each to have your own large land mass that you can customize to the needs of your community by either creating your own things or obtaining them from a wide variety of quality merchants. Optionally, a mainland region for 60/month or private isle for 75/month can be purchased.

Not only Churches, Adult Communities, Organizations and Educational Centres  can benefit from this, but RolePlay communities can have a blast creating a Fantasy world of wizards and elves, Urban lands with bikers and law enforcement officers, lands themed on movies and many other things.

Being part of a community can be very therapeutic. When I was suffering from  postpartum depression after my final child was born, feeling isolated due to an out of town move, unattractive, stuck mostly at home and exhausted was part of my daily mental state. Obviously I don’t recommend a virtual world over actual professional help, but for me, the ability to take some time when baby slept to log in to a world, and be a fairy, and to laugh and interact with people, without having to worry if I’d had a chance to shower that day or could find matching socks or SHOES for that matter was really nice. The interaction and experiences with my new ‘virtual friends’ were enough to help me out of the  slump and push me through, helping with self esteem and almost forgotten social skills so that I was able to once again get back to my ‘normal’ self.

Now, I am on the other side, someone who has helped to create a community, along with my friend Leanna that can serve those who don’t have the opportunity in their ‘real life’ to take part in the sorts of events we put on. And at the same time I belong to a few amazing  RolePlay communities, entertainment communities and more.

I can almost imagine those who are reading this, seeing my words , saying to themselves “people so involved in a virtual world, they probably lose all interest in real life!” Well, I of course have read about people who get so caught up in virtual worlds or video games that they cross boundaries and let their real lives flounder. Although that may be the case for a small number of people, it is not the normal outcome. Not at all.  I am sure many others are like me and simply see the virtual platform as a way of engaging with real people and further spreading their own interests and skills into the virtual sphere in order to share things they enjoy with others from all over. For me, it does not take away from my real life, it merely compliments it, and ultimately that is the aim of any pastime one takes part in.

Some people really crave community, and the virtual world platform is the perfect way to make that happen.

Thanks  for reading!

*Moon* 🌙

 

 

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