City of Arabel
In my essay entitled "City of Arabel: Adventures in Hyperreality" I discuss the relationship between virtual persistent worlds and hyperreality as it is described by Jean Baudrillard. To effectively do this I explain some of the basics of video game theory including the role of the Dungeon Master in a persistent virtual world RPG, the definition and relevance of a player's in-game avatar, and the components and role which immersion play in connecting video game theory and the theories of Baudrillard, Hume and Descartes. I discuss how the world in which the avatars exist in terms of Descartes' theories on realities, and immersion's roles in Baudrillard's simulation theories plus the implications of a virtual world simulation.
I also describe the social rules by which the City of Arabel server runs and the roles of both the player and Dungeon Master in terms of Althusser's State Apparatuses and how these function to improve immersion and further the pleasurable experience of hyperreality. I explore the manner in which the server is designed to encourage instances of hyperreality and how its design rewards behaviors which further draw the player into the virtual world. I interview a veteran player briefly to discuss his long-term commitment to the game and the effects which demonstrate the presence of hyperreality and the extreme nature of simulations in virtual persistent worlds which gives the research its importance.
In the following video, uploaded on October 20th 2011, an instance of the Dungeon Master with the avatar name "Abby" who I worked with regularly acting as a Repressive State Apparatus can be seen as a player breaks the rules by engaging in an attack on a player in the presence of NPCs without a Dungeon Master present to ensure the NPCs react appropriately, as well as generally acting out of character and damaging the server's immersion which in turn damages the ability of nearby players to enjoy a hyperreal experience which is the goal of the simulation. While the clip is not incredibly interesting it does demonstrate many of the abilities the Dungeon Master, as a State Apparatus, uses to ensure the success of hyperreality including pulling avatars out of the role-playing areas for private warnings, killing a player's avatar and even banning a player which disconnects the player completely from the simulation permanently.
The Real Invades Our Simulation