Monday, 11 July 2016

How do virtual worlds help build international bonds?

Inworldz sea sim view
Looking across the sea to my neighbour's sim
Most of you will know that the United Kingdom just voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, and this got me thinking about virtual worlds, and what part they have to play in building international relationships.

The total number of inhabitants of Inworldz and all other virtual lands combined is still quite a small figure compared to the global population, but on an individual level, the impact of interacting daily with residents from other countries is major.

When a natural disaster hits, or a misguided group attacks the citizens of a far away country it can be hard to feel involved, beyond a generalised human sympathy. When a friend is attacked, or under threat, emotions are much more keenly felt.

Inworldz Japan
Edo Nippon Inworldz

There is a real difference between meeting someone briefly, maybe on holiday or through business, and having years of regular interactions with someone, wherever they live. What happens to those people affects me and my life.

It was once said that the telephone would change the world. If we can pick up a phone and ring a person in a foreign land and ask them a direct question, then it wouldn't be possible for the rulers of that land to fool the rest of the world about what is happening there.

It isn't that simple though. Human beings do not naturally trust strangers, it takes time to build relationships. Virtual worlds give us the time, opportunity and the space to make real friends in places far away, and somehow, those places seem to get nearer every day.