Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Putting the "Real" in Hyperreal

In Emily Hall's "Planting Crops in the Hyperreal: Farmville and Simulated Work," she suggests that it is a possibility that people could "abandon the real in order to live solely in the simulation."

Although Hall's essay is applicable to other hyperrealities, she focuses on the game Farmville. Farmville is a game in which one creates an avatar and works as a farmer. The game heavily relies on one's relationships with other farmers--

So how do you find and form a relationship with another farmer? The game is linked to one's Facebook and therefore other people that are playing the game can become your "neighbors." In other words, you need "real friends" in order to gain neighbors in this simulation. These neighbors are important to the game, as the more neighbors that you have the better one's farm can become. These real life relationships are becoming a part of the hyperreal world, as much as they are the real world.

Furthermore, one's farm can be no more than adequate without purchasing items with "real" money. The game does not allow you to both maintain the farm and also decorate the farm. Decorating the farm, though, shows status or wealth. Hall says, "Anyone who willingly exchanges his actual money for cash that only has value in a simulation completely immerses himself within the hyperreal."

As I mentioned before, she suggests that it is possible that people could turn to the hyperreal world as the predominant world-- isn't it ironic then, that in order to maintain and decorate one's farm to make it even more "real" one has to rely on his or her "real" money and thus his or her "real job?"

At what point, does "living" in this simulation compromise the "real" world? Is it ridiculous to invest in such a simulation as Farmville? Are there benefits to experiencing a hyperreality? The game was created in an effort to allow people to experience a life outside of the real world, but has it gone to far? A Bulgarian government official was removed from office due to the large amount of time and effort he put into this hyperreal world of Farmville.

The hyperreal so heavily relies on the real world and yet the two worlds have become so blurred. Perhaps Baudrillaud was correct when he said, "simulation threatens the difference between the 'true' and the 'false,' the 'real' and the 'imaginary.'"

1 comment:

  1. What happens if someone becomes totally absorbed in an online world? I suppose death, right? If you don't eat or bathe or whatever? An interesting question to ask: does Baudrillard's theory basically rupture when it comes into contact with those basic levels of Maslow's hierarchy? Are there some physical parameters of the "real" that simulation just can't, well, simulate? Or maybe when you get fired from your job or die from malnutrition or lose your grip on the physical world...maybe then the simulation has completely replaced the original? Are these questions too grim to ponder?


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