The question we were asked to explore in the past week though was whether these digital alter egos transfer to the real world. According to Suzanne de Castell (2014), those transfers do indeed happen. In fact, de Castell believes the virtual world not only bleeds into the real world, but that it can even transform it both materially and pollitcally (de Castell, 2014). One example she gives is Wii Fit, a Nintendo game which takes players through a range of exercises and could lead to increased physical fitness. Aside from physical changes brought on by a game, specialized knowledge and skills attained in a virtual realm, such as World of Warcraft, can also transfer into real world worth such as prestige among other players.
This transference is not limited to one-way travel. In the book Ready Player One, the main character Wade (and most everyone else) spends a large chunk of his life plugged into a virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Even Wade's education is spent inside a virtual school with virtual classmates, all represented by avatar creations of their owners. Despite this, the sense of Utopia is dampened by socioeconomic disparities that are transferred into the OASIS. Character clothing, weapons and their ability to transport (travel) about the OASIS are restricted by a player's financial abilities. Because of this, players like Wade from a low-income background are still bound within certain areas and social circles unless they are helped by the charity of wealthier players.
The OASIS, of course, is not yet reality, but it is easy to see that we are heading this way in the very near future. Haptic gloves, glasses and furniture are already available so full body haptic suits must not be very far behind for the commercial market. The affordability of such technical innovations will, however, remain a barrier for a great many people and so the economic realities of some players will continue to bleed both ways.
Ratto, M., & Boler, M. (2014). DIY citizenship: Critical making and social media. MIT Press.