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网络游戏影响现实世界吗 Virtual Virtues

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   Virtual Virtues   
   Could online fantasy games actually have a bearing on the real world? 
      虚拟效力   
   网络虚拟游戏真能影响现实世界吗?

Nurses leave Nigeria and come to the UK, hoping for a better career. Farmers leave Mexico to work in construction or catering in the US. Such migrants can have a profound impact on the economy, as well as the society and politics both of the country they leave and the country to which they move. Social scientists, naturally, take an interest.

护士们离开尼日利亚,来到英国,希望谋求更好的职业发展。农民们离开墨西哥,到美国的建筑业或者餐饮业工作。这些移民可以对他们迁出国和迁入国的经济、社会和政治产生深刻影响。社会学家自然对此很感兴趣。

Unhappy with your job as a Starbucks barista? Why not become a starship captain instead? Impossible if you stay in the country of your birth, but simplicity itself if, instead, you emigrate to an online fantasy world.

对你在星巴克(Starbucks)作咖啡吧员的工作不满意?为什么不去担任一艘星际飞船的船长呢?如果你呆在你出生的国家,这是不可能实现的,但如果你迁入一个网络虚拟世界,这一切都会很简单了。

In such worlds, players usually pay a monthly fee for the right to explore richly detailed three-dimensional landscapes inhabited by dragons or aliens or, in some cases, punks and strippers. They are also populated by other players - guess who plays the strippers. If a player spends enough time there, perhaps he has migrated.

在这些世界中,玩家通常支付月费,换取一个权利,去探索细节极为丰富的三维世界。这些世界里居住着龙或者外星人,在有些情况下,或者还居住着小阿飞和脱衣舞娘。这里还居住着其他玩家——猜猜谁会扮演脱衣舞娘。如果一个玩家在那里花费足够的时间,或许他就算移居到这个世界里了。

A third spent more time in the Everquest(an online game) world than they did working for pay (and the average respondent worked a 40-hour week). One fifth regarded themselves as residents of the Everquest world, and a similar proportion said they would spend all their time in Everquest, if only that were possible.

三分之一的玩家在Everquest(一款网络游戏)世界中花费的时间多于他们为挣工资而工作的时间(受访者平均每周工作40小时)。五分之一的玩家认为自己是Everquest世界的居民。类似比例的玩家表示,如果可能的话,他们愿意把全部时间花在Everquest中。

By itself, that means little. But it should set us thinking. There is no doubt that these games have a modest but real and growing economic significance. People spend time and effort inside the game, creating or obtaining items that other players value. Virtual currency can be traded for dollars, and performing mundane tasks inside a computer game can even provide an income that is attractive to Chinese and eastern European students. Paying real dollars for an in-game item sounds silly, but no more than paying for a new mobile phone ringtone, which is also a digital product of purely aesthetic value. Time is spent, fun is had, money is spent, economic value is added.

就其本身而言,这没有什么意义。但它应当引发我们的思考。这些游戏无疑拥有一些实实在在的且不断增加的经济重要性。人们向游戏投入时间和精力,创造或者获取其他玩家重视的物品。虚拟货币可以兑换美元,在一个电脑游戏中执行无聊的任务甚至可以带来收入——这对中国和东欧的学生颇具吸引力。用实实在在的美元购买游戏中的物品听起来有些傻,但这并不比花钱购买新的手机铃声傻多少——手机铃声也是一种纯粹具有审美价值的电子产品。花了时间,找到了乐趣,花了钱,增加了经济价值。

As many more people log on and spend time having fun in a synthetic economy, will that really change the mundane world, as Castronova argues in a new book, Exodus to the Virtual World? Is the phenomenon any different from, say, poker - which is also a game in which time is spent, fun is had, and money changes hands?

随着越来越多的人登录游戏并花时间在一个人造经济体中寻找乐趣,这是否真的会像卡斯特罗诺瓦在新书《向虚拟世界的大迁徙》(Exodus to the Virtual World)中认为的那样,改变这个世俗世界?这种现象跟扑克之类的游戏有什么区别吗?——打扑克也是一种花费时间、享受乐趣、金钱换手的游戏。

If there turns out to be a difference it will be because synthetic worlds offer us an alternative vision of how society might work. These are places in which alter-egos live and die, fall in love, and develop careers and alliances. Their politics are very different from those to which we are accustomed.

如果真有什么区别,那就是因为虚拟世界为我们提供了另一种看待社会可能如何运转的视角。在这些世界中,人们以另一面生活、死去、相爱、发展职业、结成联盟。这些世界的政治迥异于那些我们熟悉的政治。

Most synthetic worlds, for instance, celebrate their huge inequalities. Some characters are helpless and penniless, others are near gods, and every facet of the game's interface will scream the distinction at you. But nobody minds, because the game is seen as fair. Everyone starts from the bottom and works their way up without state intervention, a libertarian's dream. Yet other facets of the game are centrally controlled with great care: tremendous effort goes into offering equal opportunity to all players.

例如,多数虚拟世界都赞美它们巨大的不平等。一些人物孤立无助、身无分文,而其他人则近乎于神,游戏中的每个界面都在向你昭示着这种差异。但没有人介意,因为人们认为游戏是公平的。在没有国家干预的环境下,所有人都从最底层开始,努力向上爬升,这是一种自由主义者的梦想。但游戏的其它方面则被非常小心地集中控制着:游戏运营商花费巨大努力向所有玩家提供均等的机会。

Castronova believes that compelling, increasingly popular and radically new experiences in synthetic worlds will start to change the nature of politics "back home". That remains to be seen. But I find the idea faintly encouraging: a little healthy competition never did anyone any harm.

卡斯特罗诺瓦认为,虚拟世界中引人入胜、日益流行和完全新鲜的体验将开始改变现实世界的政治性质。这仍有待观察。但我发现这种想法有那么点儿令人鼓舞:一点健康的竞争对谁都没有害处。


By Tim Harford 提姆•哈福德是《生活的逻辑》(The Logic of Life,小布朗出版社出版)一书的作者。

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