Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) yesterday appeared in a popular on-line video game, the user-created online world Second Life. Wagner James Au reports in New World Notes that staff members of Warner's exploratory campaign staff contacted him to ask if he'd "be interested in interviewing Governor Warner in Second Life."
Au reports on how it came about:
“Well,” Nancy Mandelbrot (RL info here) explains, “we were sitting in our offices one day and kind of goofing around, just geeking out about social technologies, gaming, that sort of thing, as we're wont to do. Someone made a joke about how great it would be if we brought an avatar of Governor Warner into Second Life.Au, known as Hamlet in Second Life, agreed to interview Warner on the site, "But it’s still a bit vertiginous to be in-world standing there in front of the avatar of a man that leading Democratic Party financier Chris Korge (speaking to Bai) pronounced as, '[T]he one to watch as an outsider in this race. He seems presidential.' ”
“When we all quit laughing, we kind of looked around and said, ‘Hey, that's not a bad idea.’
“One of Governor Warner's operating principles is to go where the voters are,” she continues, “not make them come to you. We saw how rich an environment [SL] was. I mean, you can sit next to someone's avatar, strike up a conversation, and forget that you're not in the same room. We started to see that in Second Life, people can get together and talk politics with other folks without the obstacles of real life.”
The proprietors of the site are understandably excited about Warner's appearance in the online world, and are characterizing it as a history-making event. However, it is nothing of the sort.
Instead of slaying a gigantic robot or inventing a new kind of staple food, Warner's avatar simply sits in a comfy chair and answers questions about contemporary politics in the former governor's usual smarmy way.
The interview shows conclusively that politicians are politicians whatever the medium, and that empty suits are empty suits even when they're computer-generated.
From Karnick on Culture