Avatar Xena Gold (2008)

Second Life Hyles island

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And of course it is exotic, it is literally a new world.

Think of it this way, the history of written narrative is maybe 3,000 years old, beginning with The Mahabarata incised on clay tablets and the later paypyri of the epic poems of the Iliad and Odyssey attributed to Homer. The mask (gk. persona) of Dionysus marks another beginning where the mask 'is the other' and is given mortal expression in the festival presentations by the second century (BCE) tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles et al and their analysis by Aristotle.

Little changed during the intervening millenium, the Renaissance era saw the further development of theatre, notably Shakespeare and the later birth of opera in the 17thC, both of which continued to rely on the 'mask' albeit in a more cosmetic form.

The 19th century saw a transformational development - the growth of the novel. This new vehicle for dramatic representation allowed authors using mass production to encourage readers to escape their 'real world' and immerse themselves in the novel, fictional lives of others. The physical theatre was now replaced by the mind of the reader; all that was required was a willing suspension of disbelief.

Subsequently the 20th century saw the birth of film, an enormous technical development which presented a moving colour tableaux of heroes and heroines accompamied by an unremarkable army of walk ons who explored the timeless themes of life, love and death while a passive audience watched from comfortable upholstered chairs.

The present century presents a radical rethinking of agency, one that dispenses with the traditional manipulative guide of the author and director - the era of the multiplayer immersive role playing drama is upon us.

As John Fowles perceptively remarked in his novel 'Mantissa'(1984)

"The reflective novel is sixty years dead. What do you think modernism was about ? Let alone post-modernism. Even the dumbest student knows it's a reflexive medium now, not a reflective one."

In the post modern theatre of 3D worlds we are no longer beholden to the characters, plots and narratives of others, instead we are the actor, director and producer in dramas of our own making; in the metaverse we experince our own epiphany.