In a recent article in Wired Magazine, Regina Lynn talked about her experience of dating in 3D virtual worlds like Second life and why she found the experience preferable to standard online dating.
If I’m going to get involved online, I’d rather meet people in a 3-D virtual environment. The avatars they wear and the environments they build tell me more about them than their online dating profiles.
While I agree that standard online dating has a lot of issues, the thought of dating in Second Life as it is now, fills me with actual dread. Back when I was a teenager using text-only chat in the early days of the Internet, I met quite a few people online and the thing that most hit me was how easy it is to build up a completely false mental view of someone from the way they conduct themselves online. More often than not, the people were completely different in real life. I’ve met many people whose majestic online presence painted a picture of confident, funny and creative individuals, who in real life were socially inept, hygenically questionable deadbeats far from the well-adjusted image they presented on the Internet. Sure, the sides of their personality represented online were definitely them as well, but unless I was going to limit my interaction with these people to the virtual world, I wanted to make damn sure the people I associated with were real-life compatible too. I went through a phase of trying to bring out the best in such people but ultimately decided it wasn’t my job to be a social interaction advisor for people I was considering dating.
Maybe I am a bit result-oriented, but the wonderful things someone does virtually don’t really count for much in my eyes if the person is a couch potato who spends most of his life online programming virtual world monuments to visit from the comfort of his own bedroom. I’d be much more impressed by someone who actually got off his ass and went to the great wall of China than by someone who knew how to script one in Second Life.
Fantasies are just that, fantasies. You can make them real in a virtual world but that still doesn’t make them real enough for me.
Saying that, an integration of 3D worlds into dating sites might not be a bad idea. Most sites nowadays offer some sort of chat, so why not make it more exciting?