The Evolution and Development of Self in Virtual Worlds

The Evolution and Development of Self in Virtual Worlds

Richard H. Wexler (Personnel Systems, Inc., New York, NY, USA) and Suzanne Roff-Wexler (Compass Point Consulting, LLC, New York, NY, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcbpl.2013010101
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Abstract

Understanding the concept of Self and its relationship to virtual worlds is not a luxury. Virtual worlds render a universe not limited to present laws of nature, where perception of gravity may be suspended and humans may morph and communicate in ways yet imagined. As technology progresses, distinguishing virtual from reality may become more difficult. For some, this offers gains. For others, such as individuals with a confused sense of Self and fractured identity, this is problematic. Venturing deeper, it is necessary to explore who one is and what it means to be human. Does the concept of Self, transform and evolve in virtual worlds into something different than it is in the “real world?” If the Self is transformed, what are the implications for mental health and pathology, competency assessment, and development and experiential learning? This article explores such questions in the context of the evolution and development of the concept of Self in virtual worlds. It describes differences between major philosophical frameworks developed to explain the concept of Self and identity and provides relevant research and literature. It presents a working model to understand how virtual world technology affects the concept of Self and identity and how to maintain a healthy and stable Self and identity.
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A 4-D Self Model For A Pre-Virtual World

This article explores the transformation and evolution of Self in virtual worlds. We begin by understanding the concept of Self and identity. Next we see why understanding and developing the concept Self in virtual worlds is vitally important. Finally we discover how the concept of Self must adapt and evolve as we journey deeper into virtual worlds.

Many models were developed to describe the relationship of the Self to our world prior to the creation of virtual worlds. These models generally focus on one or some combination of four dimensions, as follows:

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