Where am I? The Problem of Bilocation in Virtual Environments

Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics 7 (3):13-24 (2010)
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In this paper, I deal with a striking phenomenon that often occurs when we explore the virtual environment of, for example, a video game. Suppose a friend sees me playing a video game and asks ‘Where are you?’ There are two possible answers to this question. I can either refer to my actual location (‘I am in my room’), but I can also refer to my location in the virtual world (‘I am in a space-ship’). Although my friend is probably after this second reply, the first one is not false. At first sight, this gives rise to a tension. On the one hand both claims – ‘I am in my room’ and ‘I am in a space-ship’ – seem true. But on the other hand they also seem mutually exclusive as bilocation, i.e. being in two places at the same time, is impossible. I am either in London or in Paris, in the bathroom or in the kitchen, in a space-ship or in my room. How can I claim to be in two places at once? In the following, I discuss two ways to dissolve this tension:

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Geert Gooskens
University of Antwerp


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