The virtual is magic

I know the iPad is supposed to be magical. But, to me, it doesn’t come close to the magic I feel inside Second Life and OpenSim worlds.

When I’m on a grid, I can wave my virtual arms and have things appear out of thin (virtual) air. I can change my clothes at will. Even change my whole body. I can teleport. I can fly. Normally, these things are only possible for Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

I’ve wanted to have magical powers ever since I was a kid. Who hasn’t?

Of course, virtual magical powers have some of the same limitations as Sabrina’s did. Fans of the show might remember that she wasn’t allowed to magically create brand-name products. Instead, she and visiting friends had to eat Schnickers, N and N’s and Butterthumb candy and drink Popsi. Instead of “You-Hoo,” she served “Hey, over here.”

My daughter was a huge fan of the show. Oh, who am I kidding. It was me. I’m the one loved it. I’ve watched every episode multiple times.

But, for me, the magic of virtual worlds is about more than just having magical powers.

To me, virtual worlds transport you into a fairy tale.

Faerie Castle region. Free OAR available at OpenSim Worlds.

Probably a lot of that has to do with the fact that today’s virtual world graphics are like the drawings in story books.

But even as graphics improve and virtual worlds become more and more realistic, the presence of talking animals, flying dragons, and other fantastical creatures — and fantastical settings — will continue to keep virtual worlds magical places.

When I was young, I used to dream that I could walk through magic portals and live in the fairy tales — in the world of Pinocchio, and Winnie-the-Pooh.

In fact, when my parents moved my family to the US when I was a child, the one thing I was most desperate to take with me was a copy of the map of the Hundred Acre Woods. We could only bring two suitcases — for a family of five people — and there was no room in the luggage. They told me that I could get another copy of the book when we got to the US, but I was really worried about it. It was my single biggest fear about moving.

Virtual worlds bring these childhood dreams to live.

And it doesn’t stop there. Every myth mankind has believed in can be found — or recreated — in virtual worlds.

Devils and angels, mermaids, vampires. The Garden of Eden, where everyone walks around naked and nobody gets sick, or old, or hungry.

There are musical instruments that play themselves — and perfectly, every time. There are pirates, and slave owners, and anyone who wants to can be a princess in her own castle.

Also, the world is flat, and, if you go too far, you can fall off the edge.

Maybe our ancestors weren’t mistaken about that. Maybe, in some weird, quantum way, they were foreseeing our future.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.