Our little gaming blogosphere has been kicking around a fews of stories about Second Life recently, as reporters uncritically pass along press releases with large numbers and convenient narratives. These stories rarely (never?) connect the 2,000,000 “residents” and 36,000 actual subscribed accounts, and if you have read any, you are aware of the depth of understanding demonstrated about the online world and Second Life’s place and relative stature in it.
That depth of understanding is usually displayed in the standard freak show story. “After Bob started playing World of Warcraft 112 hours a week, his wife left him, he lost his job, and his cat died of starvation not thirty feet from his computer. Bob is a typical of many in his ‘guild.'” Or how about, “Two teenagers shot some people today, and one of the owns a PlayStation! When will the legislature protect us from these ‘gamers’?”
When you think about how accurately your hobby or industry is portrayed in the media, remember that they are equally competent on other issues. That same quality of journalism appears in reports on local crimes, global warming, complex legal rulings, sports scores, and what is the best diet to slim down this spring. Why is it that you can read a story about something you know first-hand, see the analysis wrong and three names misspelled, then turn the page and take their word on whether environmental conditions are improving in China?