Augmentology"...is a concise manual of reality for our digital age."

Mark Hancock,_Augmentology: Interfaccia Tra Due Mondi_

[Sponsored by The Ars Virtua Foundation/CADRE Laboratory for New Media]

[cont]

Having decided to take action regarding the Swastika Symbol, Bowtox broadcasts a _call to action_ to other interested WoW characters through the general, trade and looking-for-group chat channels. He also talks to the surrounding player characters, who begin to modify the base symbol shape.

Lilsmoky is the first to perform the “/sleep” action, which allows them to lie down along one symbol _arm_. Other players adopt the action and a user-generated box pattern forms to replace the Swastika:

Group Dialogue begins regarding action[s]. The lilac text indicates chatting privately, the white is general, and the orange indicates in-game gesturing.

The Group continues to modify the symbol.

As the symbol intervention continues, additional players perform other reappropriation actions, such as:

  • Riding mounts so as to close spaces and join gaps within the symbol:

Characters Actively Altering the Symbol Shape

  • _Beautifying_ the area with displays derived from inherent game functions [eg multiple spell casting(s)]:

Symbol beautification in action

  • Morphing of player characters into disco-dancing pirates. These pirates proceed to play a game of catch with a leather ball whilst dancing in the swastika-turned-box:

Disco-dancing Reappropriation Pirates 1

Disco-dancing Reappropriation Pirates 2

This Synthetic Presencing example ends when Blizzard begins to remove the symbol corpses [due to player complaints]. After thanking his fellow actioneers, Bowtox proceeds to the mailbox and resumes playing WoW via convention game dynamics.

The presencing action is deemed successful as the symbol disappears

_In real life_ [irl] is a phrase employed in a wide range of networked interactions and used notably in early phases of internet communication [eg IRC, ICQ and Y-talk]. _Irl_ is used as a label to demarcate a subject’s presence on-and-offline. In this dichotomy, definitions of reality are binary with a clear schism evident between the geophysical and synthetic. The title of _Second Life_ is an example of this divide via the implication of a necessary “First Life” [phenomenological reality]. _Irl_ is often relayed with negatively-inflected emotionality towards those who display a perceived preference for online/synthetic immersion.

In contrast, the term afk [_away from keyboard_] indicates an inclusiveness regarding geophysical and synthetic states. Whereas irl evokes hierarchical connotations in relation to reality definitions, afk indicates a fluctuating, fluid involvement. Afk illustrates a fuzzy presencing that eclipses easy polarisations; a subject’s physical body is removed from the synthetic environment whereas their synth/avatar is still actualised in-world:

“Away from keyboard means a user is not at their computer. There is a command, /afk, which marks the user as AFK. The name of the character will show up as <AFK>Name, and an auto-response will be sent to anyone who sends the flagged user a tell…

Example:

Person A says: /afk eating food

Person B says: /w A Hello.

Person B receives: A is Away from Keyboard: eating food”.

The afk concept demonstrates the murkiness of establishing reality gradations when considering synthetic environments. Paul Milgram suggested the Reality-Virtuality Continuum as a type of linear reality scale where at one end lies Geophysical Reality ["The Real Environment"] and the opposite end houses the Virtual. In-between lies an area defined as Mixed Reality: a mixture of augmented virtuality and the corporeal.

This Reality-Virtuality Continuum as such offers a vectored compartmentalisation of reality within scientific confines. An elastic, contemporized version of this Continuum might read:

[Geophysical]<—-—[Cartesian]–-—–[Mixed]–-—–>[Synthetic]

…with each mode spawning distinct “swarmic variables” or “notional massing”. Conditional examples of such masses/variables are:

[Synthetic] = Avatar Fluctuations / Non-Player Character Annexing / Auxiliary Proprieception / Networked Socialisation

[Mixed] = Layered Attention / Identity Extensions / Augmented States of Consciousness / Multiple Theories-of-Mind[s]

[Cartesian] = Euclidian / Non-Euclidian / Human Area Networks / Dimensional Consciousness

[Geophysical] = Primary Consciousness / Ego-Mediation / Geospecificity / Geolocation

These masses could parallel volume [in the audio sense] in terms of measurement and production of reality clusters that map and mix composite modes simultaneously. For instance, the phenomena of Geocaching or mobile gaming such as _Parallel Kingdom_ which: “brings new meaning to Role Playing Games by using GPS to place the virtual world on top of the real world“.

In relation to the creation of such a _Reality Spectrum_, one intriguing by-product could be a redefinition of established principles regarding conceptions of consciousness, perception, identity construction and associated mental health conditions related to “normalcy”. If reality isn’t what we once thought it was, perhaps the inclusion of an Internet Addiction Disorder in the DSMV should not be a desired aim. Instead, should there be a proposal to include a range of disorders that diagnose the inability of a subject to adapt to reality contouring? For instance, a type of _Geospecificity Complex_ that highlights a dysfunction perceiving modalities that exist apart from concrete geophysical markers?