FFXIV, SAO, virtual reality, online life and other thoughts

This is the place for Chillin', kicking back and relaxing. Talk about Final Fantasy. Don't make the Toppu Neko mad.

OK, so here is a warning to all, that this topic will contain spoilers for Sword Art Online Series 2 including the ending, so if you do not wish to be spoiled, please stop reading now. That said, I already read spoilers before seeing it, and it very much worked for me despite knowing what would happen.

OK, moving on, FFXIV is now our online home, and despite being out for a stupidly extended real life house move, Eorzea is my online home and will return as soon as I am able to do so. The point is, we inhabit Eorzea, a virtual world. Some of us previously inhabited the world of the White Knight, before moving to Eorzea together, and other inhabited still other places before joining us in Eorzea. We all share that aspect of living part of our life in a virtual environment.

Sword Art Online as you'll know expands on the idea of the MMORPG and virtual worlds by using a fictional technology that allows a fill 'dive' into a virtual world where you act freely and interact with the environment with all your senses. The technology is a device that feeds the sensations from the virtual world to your brain and reads how you respond, allowing you to think, respond, move and interact naturally within the virtual environment.

Virtual reality today is still patchy. It's not the environments themselves, there have been plenty of advances in 3D imaging and audio. However controlling our 'self' in a virtual space still falls back to traditional technology. However, the technoilogy is still developing, so who knows.... With headsets such as the Occulus rift and Project Morpheus on the near horizon, it will not be long before our vision and auditory senses are immersed in the virtual worlds we inhabit. As for movement and action controls, Sony actually has patents for controller technology that is still in early development that allows a gamer to control in game actions through thinking, not physical movement of a controller.

I recently read an article about a man who has been fitted with two 'bionic' arms. Yes, two fully functional artificial limbs including hands and he controls them by simply thinking about what he wants to do. There are sensors that are placed on his shoulders that allow the artificial limbs to pick up the nerve impulses that his brain sends to the limbs that are no longer there, and after some training of the system, and practice by the patient, he is able to use both arms simultaneously simply by thinking about doing what he wants to do - just like real arms and hands. So, the technology to allow control systems to pickup instruction from our nervous system exists and is developing. One day, perhaps a combination of visual and audio headset combined with a sensor array that senses nerve activity will allow the first steps into the fictional full dive of SAO.

Online life is a curious thing. I have been online since the early 90's, for the first decade or so, every thing was done in text. Discussion groups based on Internet newsgroups that predate forums such as this were virtual social environments and communities long before social media was a glint in the Internet's eye. Those communities were real, people who posted daily knew each other as friends, and even got in touch in real life. Hina and I even had one of our friends from our online discussion group at our real life wedding. We learned quite early that the virtual or online world was just as real as the 'real' world, the people in it were real people, real friends.

And this brings me back to the original reason I am writing this long essay, and I appreciate you sticking with me if you are still reading. Here come the spoilers for SAO, this is your last warning.

In the final episode of SAO season 2, Yuuki, a player in ALO who befriended Asuna, and who we have learned has a terminal condition, passes away. Yuuki has been part of a trial of a medical version of the amusphere technology, used to block pain and discomfort for patients with untreatable and possibly fatal conditions. Of course, that also allows those patients to effectively 'live' a virtual existence and escape the reality of their condition to some extent.

We learned in an earlier episode that Yuuki's guild was made up of other patients within the trial, and that they were disbanding because it was certain that some of their remaining members would not live much longer. So Asuna helps Yuuki and her guild achieve a 'world first' kill on a new Boss, immortalizing their names in ALO. Of course Kirito and the others quickly become friends with Yuuki as well. In the final episode, we find out that Yuuki is dying, it is her time. Asuna rushes to the hospital to see her, and then asks that the Dr. allow Yuuki to use the medical full dive technology once more. Yuuki and Asuna meet up in ALO, and it's clear, even in the virtual world, that Yuuki is dying. As she fades, the remaining members of Yuuki's guild join Asuna with Yuuki, to be with Yuuki at the end. Then Kirito, Yui and the others arrive, to join the vigil, and before long other players start arriving to pay their respects, and soon it seems as if the entire server population may be near by, all showing respect to Yuuki as she passes.

It was a difficult scene because you become invested in the character Yuuki, and of course Asuna, so there is a real emotional load to the scene, and as more players join, it intensifies. Then, in the aftermath, we find out that the medical full dive technology is based on the work of Kayaba - the man who trapped Asuna, Kirito and the others in Aincrad in the beginning. At the real world funeral for Yuuki, Asuna is approached on another mourner, who turns out to be one of Yuuki's guild-mates. She tells Asuna, that her disease (ALL) is in remission and that another of the guild has also made a recovery. They embrace as friends connected by a shared loss. This bridges the gap between the virtual world loss of a friend and the real world loss of a friend, showing that they are one and the same thing.

The final scene shows Asuna (with Yui present through her observation globe) and Kirito discussing life in view of the recent events, and as they talk their friends from Aincrad, and of course Sinon from GGO, are setting up a pic-nic, leaving us with a group picture at the end of everyone, enjoying their time together, in the real world. I feel like this shows that for our group of heros in SAO, they were recovering from their time trapped in Aincrad, and rather than always using their virtual world to relax with each other, they were growing comfortable enough in reality to spend time with each other without the 'shield' of the virtual world.

This got me thinking, I saw this final scene as a way of showing that even though they had all been using the virtual world of ALO as their gathering place to hang out and be themselves, we were now seeing them all together in the real world. Not to mention that the thing that cemented the bonds between Asuna and Kirito - Yui - is also now able to interact with them in the real world, not just the virtual world. It seemed to me that it was a blurring of the lines between the virtual and real worlds. The entire story of Yuuki was about that blurring of reality and virtuality, with Yuuki escaping the shackles of reality to live, and yet touching the hearts of real people in the real world. In a way, it showed that in SAO, virtual and real are becoming one and the same.

From a people point of view, whether in the virtual or real world, people are people. We are not just faces pasted on avatars, we are people, that is the lesson here, whether in a game or in reality, we are people, and people matter. Yuuki's achievements and the sadness of her passing showed that her life mattered to many others both in the game, but in the real world.

When Hina and I were participating on the old text based newsgroups, we were mostly chatting with everyone there about a favorite TV show, but that accounted for perhaps half of the discussions, the other half was just friends talking to friends. We were a real community. During that time, there were two significant events that relate to all of this. the first was the loss of a friend, who had apparently died in the real world. We later found out that this supposed death was in fact a hoax, the person who 'died' had in fact simply killed their 'avatar' in the discussion group. Apparently they had been living a false identity, very little of what they had told us about them turned out to be true. And yet, they had been a valued member of the community who made great posts and discussion points. Before we found out it was a hoax, the apparent death affected everyone, many thoughtful and sad messages were posted, there was real grief. Even after we learned of the hoax, I think we all realized that whatever the reality of the person behind the name was, our friend who had been posting with that name was gone from our world.

The second event was when another of our long term friends in that group passed away. It was no hoax this time, the gentleman had indeed died, enough of the people in the group had met in reality, or spoken by phone and/or exchanged cards and gifts that there was no doubt about the death of our friend. Once again, the grief was real. This time, though, the brother of our friend contacted one of the members of the community in real life and passed on the Eulogy that was read for our departed friend. It was posted in full and our community mourned our lost friend as surely as if we had attended the funeral. Whether through coincidence or subconscious decision, I found that eulogy the other day, and having just watched the end of SAO, I was struck by the simple fact that this was a person I never met in reality, but who's real life death affected me personally, even a decade later it brought tears to me - just as the end of SAO season 2 had me in tears.

But there is also great hope as well. I realized that although it is fiction (SAO), and the author is trying to tell us something about the nature of people and how we interact whether virtual or real, this is something that some or all of us already know. People are people, whether in Eorzea or 'reality'. The friendships and relationships that form between individuals in a virtual world are every bit as real as those formed in reality. They are real, the emotions are real. On that note, I could write an essay about Yui; her role, emotional impact and the blurring of reality and virtual, but this is not the time or place...

The emotions are real, the people are real and the friendships are real. It's not just online though. For example, Haggar has met up with many of the folks who we play with. He's met Jamie and Meena, Hina, Cat and myself, and others. Without White Knight Chronicles, without Eorzea, those bonds of friendship would not exist.

Although SAO focuses on using the 'full dive' medical devices for patients with terminal disease or untreatable pain, there is a far wider application of this concept of using virtual worlds. Many people I know who play online games suffer from disabilities ranging from physical disability to social anxieties that are powerful enough to prevent them from interacting on anything but a limited level in the real world, Some simply lack the social awareness, and fine online easier because people have to really type what they mean, and there is no body language or expression to read; even for those with impairment such as being unable to walk, or being deaf, the virtual world offers an avenue for reaching people that is not there in the real world.

I have said for a long time that the virtual worlds offer a social outlet to many people who for whatever reason have a limited social life in reality. Similar to the use of 'full dive' technology in SAO, our real life virtual world allows us to bypass aspects of our lives that are not ideal, and live more fully, and engage with others in a way we cannot otherwise do.

We are already bridging reality and virtual, our friendships are real, and when we get to meet each other in the real world, those friendships are strengthened further, but exist because of the connection made in the virtual world.

I think that the real lesson and moral of SAO, and of the virtual/online lives that we each lead, is that the virtual is only an extension of the real. The people we meet are real people who deserve the same consideration and respect as people we meet in daily life. the friends we find in the virtual as every bit as real and valuable as those we find in the 'real' world. The death of my friend Steve, as well as the apparent 'death' of my friend Rob demonstrate just how deeply friendship and real life/virtual events can affect me. I don't think I am unique in this.

In closing, I just want to thank everyone here for being a friend. You are all real people to me, I value and appreciate all of you. Whether I call you by your character's name, or your real name, you are still the same person. There are several people here who I have had many crossed words with, and I regret that we were not able to find a better way of communicating. But just like a 'real' family, there are family members we like more than others, and sometimes family members who have arguments and don't talk much. But at the end of the day, family is family.

Finally, let me just say to my family here - all of you - I really love you guys.
:catluv:
Escape reality, live the fantasy! - Louisoix Leveilleur
Image
User avatar
KOSMOS
Neko Master
Neko Master
 
Posts: 1443
Joined: February 20th, 2013, 11:24 pm
Location: A small corner of sanity in an insane world
FFXIV Avatar: Kosmos Meishou
FFXIV Class/Race: Miqo'te Gladiator/Conjurer
FFXIV Free Company: Nekomimis FTW!
FFXIV Linkshell: Nekomimis FTW!
WKC Avatar: KOSMOS



I can only say that this was well said. I agree that just because it is a virtual world doesn't mean it isn't real and the things that happen in it are fake. They are all real and did happen. The events that took place for everyone did exist. That is why I love SAO. I really wish they could develop something like the Full Dive system soon for games. If I could control my avatar in FF14 like they do in Log Horizon for instance I would say that there would be nothing more that they need to put in. It would be set for me. But I am straying from what I am saying. The connections we make will always exist. Even if the connection is bad or good they will always be there. That is the reason that I love the Persona games. The bonds that we all create in our life help better ourselves and expand our horizons. You can only get so far on your own but with the help of others you can learn so much more and grow. There is always a meaning to the encounters we make with people. They aren't just nothing. That is why this Guild is a close family to me. It can keep growing allowing me to meet many other people so I can grow too while I help them grow as well. You are all amazing and I am glad to be a part of this family. Love you all :catluv:
"True Justice For All" -The highlander code in Etrian Odyssey

I want everyone to be happy and if someone is to jeopardize that then I will do everything I can to fix it.
User avatar
TorchicEX
Neko Guardian
Neko Guardian
 
Posts: 176
Joined: March 6th, 2013, 6:20 pm
Location: Canada
FFXIV Avatar: Micaiah Evelyn
FFXIV Class/Race: Au Ra, Raen, Astrologian
FFXIV Free Company: NekomimisFTW
FFXIV Linkshell: NekomimisFTW
WKC Avatar: TorchicEX



Eorzea is indeed home, after having our previous world torn from us.
Everyone here is indeed a family, no question about that.

I wouldn't wish it any other way.
:cathug: :catluv:
Iron Courage. need I say more?
User avatar
Sapphire
Neko
Neko
 
Posts: 311
Joined: April 22nd, 2013, 2:53 am
Location: A World where i finally belong.
FFXIV Avatar: Sapphire Harushii
FFXIV Class/Race: Miqo'te Jack-of-all-trades in training
FFXIV Free Company: NekomimisFTW!
WKC Avatar: Sapphire



Didn't read word for word but think I caught on the main points.

I'll always say FF is just a game, and really it is. It's no different from most other games... there are various objectives programmed in, and your goal is to achieve those objectives. What's different here is it's not a strictly PvE game like most others. I don't understand it, but many people just don't fully realize there's a real person behind most of those characters you pass by in the world (yeah I went there and excluded bots :p ), sitting behind a screen or TV just like everybody else. There's also this disposition to turns things competitive instead of cooperative as designed. There's also a high correlation between player negativity and difficulty of content. I think both previous statements would go away (mostly anyway) if everybody realized this is just a game that's designed to be cooperative, and everybody realized there's real people behind the characters in their party.

There are some aspects of the game which are designed to create contention and resentment (looking right at you coil), but most things do go better when done with a partial or complete team of others with the same objectives. Even better, get together on something like the ps4 chat system or teamspeak while trying for some objective, and things seem to just fly by when doing something "grindy" in nature... and if that doesn't help people realize there's someone real behind each character, nothing will :p

Another thing on this topic, just a general statement... before bitching someone out take a moment to realize there may be some real-life issue behind game-related performance. You're likely to have issues on some days, the same may very well be happening with others. I'll take myself as an example here... me being a tank at say 8:30pm on a Tuesday will be very different from say 1pm on a Saturday, for multiple reasons.

Last bit of rambling ... I think a lot of people don't get the whole "just be yourself" concept while being online. As Kos mentioned I've met several fellow FF players in person, and meeting up was easy, didn't feel weird to me, and good times all around. Simple reason... we're all "just be yourself" people so at least for me, I felt like I knew the others rather well and now instead of pecking keys on a keyboard, we're yapping in person. I really encourage everybody to meet the folks you play along with when travels and schedules permit.
Haggar
Neko Steward
Neko Steward
 
Posts: 798
Joined: March 4th, 2013, 10:23 am
Location: Maryland
FFXIV Avatar: Haggar Drinksalott
FFXIV Free Company: Nekomimis FTW!
WKC Avatar: Haggar/Bertha



I've had opportunity to meet many people from other online community but i haven't. Not sure why though. FF and WKC has brought me a long way to get to know some people. I always keep in mind that behind every character is a living and breathing person. It's not just a game anymore. The characters reflect on who we are. Still, it's odd for me i guess to talk. Most of the time when i get on i have a hard time jumping into conversation due to two reason: 1. It feels like when i originally joined the neko's on FF it felt late or hard for me to try and bond with others and 2. I've gotten so used to being quiet that i just sometimes don't bother much anymore to try and communicate with everybody. Everybody is always having fun and having great conversations with each other and here is me, unable to join in or not sure if i reply it would make things strange at times. Maybe i'm thinking to much into it, but seeing everybody so close is a pretty amazing thing though. Sadly i'm just not part of it. Hence is why i never really bother to ask for help even though everybody is willing to in a heart beat. It's amazing that some of us have never seen each other, but yet we as humans are compelled to help each other. Whether that is in game or even with real life problems is something that we are willing to put aside time and help those we considered friends.
User avatar
Chee
Neko Guardian
Neko Guardian
 
Posts: 57
Joined: March 4th, 2013, 11:46 pm
Location: Minnesota
FFXIV Avatar: Chee Hawj
FFXIV Class/Race: Elezen Paladin
FFXIV Free Company: Nekomimis
FFXIV Linkshell: Nekomimis
WKC Avatar: Chee



Chee wrote:... Sadly i'm just not part of it. Hence is why i never really bother to ask for help even though everybody is willing to in a heart beat. It's amazing that some of us have never seen each other, but yet we as humans are compelled to help each other. Whether that is in game or even with real life problems is something that we are willing to put aside time and help those we considered friends.


Chee,

You are as much a part of it as any of us, really you are. the spoiler free, TLDR; version of my post boils down to;

Stuff about online games and virtual worlds. Players are people, people are real people in-game and in reality. We should always remember that every player is a real person because you never know what may happen. The line between virtual and real is blurred, the bonds we form with others are real no matter where they form. Never forget that the players are people because you do not know what could happen tomorrow. We're all one big family, and no matter what family is family. I love you guys, one and all.

At the end of the day Chee, you matter to me. I've never met you face to face, but we have talked in game, on Facebook and such. You are just as real as the people I see day to day. You're a member of the Neko family, whether you Meow! loudly or Nya! quietly. If you need help, ask a fellow Neko, or just join in the conversations when the mood strikes.

I haven't been able to play anything like as much as want to in recent months. I miss everyone, but I will return and I am truly looking forward to it.
Escape reality, live the fantasy! - Louisoix Leveilleur
Image
User avatar
KOSMOS
Neko Master
Neko Master
 
Posts: 1443
Joined: February 20th, 2013, 11:24 pm
Location: A small corner of sanity in an insane world
FFXIV Avatar: Kosmos Meishou
FFXIV Class/Race: Miqo'te Gladiator/Conjurer
FFXIV Free Company: Nekomimis FTW!
FFXIV Linkshell: Nekomimis FTW!
WKC Avatar: KOSMOS



Haggar wrote:Didn't read word for word but think I caught on the main points.

Indeed, agreed....

Haggar wrote:I don't understand it, but many people just don't fully realize there's a real person behind most of those characters... ...if everybody realized this is just a game that's designed to be cooperative, and everybody realized there's real people behind the characters in their party.

I agree wholeheartedly that many things would be better if people could realize this.
Haggar wrote:get together on something like the ps4 chat system or teamspeak ... and if that doesn't help people realize there's someone real behind each character, nothing will...

...but...but how will Kos maintain her mystique with my male voice booming out instead of her delicate miq'ote tones?
:evil:
Haggar wrote:...before bitching someone out take a moment to realize there may be some real-life issue behind game-related performance.

So very, very true - as the saying goes - "life happens". Not to mention, when I switch from Tank to healer, or Healer to DPS it takes me a while to adjust, and DPS is my least familiar role, so I tend to be rusty on my rotations. This can affect performance no matter how hard I try, or how well I know the content.
Haggar wrote:Last bit of rambling ... I think a lot of people don't get the whole "just be yourself" concept while being online. As Kos mentioned I've met several fellow FF players in person, and meeting up was easy, didn't feel weird to me, and good times all around. Simple reason... we're all "just be yourself" people so at least for me, I felt like I knew the others rather well and now instead of pecking keys on a keyboard, we're yapping in person. I really encourage everybody to meet the folks you play along with when travels and schedules permit.

Totally agreed. If Hina's back permitted we would be able to travel, and meet up with some of you, but that's not been possible. However, meeting Haggar in person was wonderful, not weird, and as he said, we felt like we already knew each other, and I think that is because we are used to being ourselves online. Meeting people puts a real face and name on that character you see in-game.
Escape reality, live the fantasy! - Louisoix Leveilleur
Image
User avatar
KOSMOS
Neko Master
Neko Master
 
Posts: 1443
Joined: February 20th, 2013, 11:24 pm
Location: A small corner of sanity in an insane world
FFXIV Avatar: Kosmos Meishou
FFXIV Class/Race: Miqo'te Gladiator/Conjurer
FFXIV Free Company: Nekomimis FTW!
FFXIV Linkshell: Nekomimis FTW!
WKC Avatar: KOSMOS



It does indeed feel like a big family. That's why when i left once long ago it was hard to not think of the nekos. In the end i traced back to my roots, even if i don't participate like i should.
User avatar
Chee
Neko Guardian
Neko Guardian
 
Posts: 57
Joined: March 4th, 2013, 11:46 pm
Location: Minnesota
FFXIV Avatar: Chee Hawj
FFXIV Class/Race: Elezen Paladin
FFXIV Free Company: Nekomimis
FFXIV Linkshell: Nekomimis
WKC Avatar: Chee



I'm definitely one of those who has a major social phobia, if only because of prior experiences and pessimism in myself. I'm not going to go into heavy details about myself, but there are (personal) reasons why I haven't been on as much as of late. You guys are family to me, that much won't change. I wouldn't be able to handle other groups, a majority of the ones I have been a part of before I've always felt like an outsider looking in.
Image
User avatar
Kitsune
Adventurer
Adventurer
 
Posts: 56
Joined: July 21st, 2014, 1:07 am
Location: The surprisingly roomy cardboard box out back.
FFXIV Avatar: Milona Highwind
FFXIV Class/Race: Kitsune(Mi'qote)
WKC Avatar: Miran



Return to General FFXIV Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 1 guest


cron