In four ways, massively multiplayer online role-playing games may serve as tools for advancing sustainability goals, and as laboratories for developing alternatives to current social arrangements that have implications for the natural environment. First, by moving conspicuous consumption and other usually costly status competitions into virtual environments, these virtual worlds might reduce the need for physical resources. Second, they provide training that could prepare individuals to be teleworkers, and develop or demonstrate methods for using information technology to replace much transportation technology, notably in commuting. Third, virtual worlds and online games build international cooperation, even blending national cultures, thereby inching us toward not only the world consciousness needed for international agreements about the environment, but also toward non-spatial government that cuts across archaic nationalisms. Finally, realizing the potential social benefits of this new technology may urge us to reconsider a number of traditional societal institutions.
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