Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I've heard of "getting a life," but this is ridiculous...

Or maybe it's not.

Apparently "millions" of people don't think it's ridiculous anyway.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about the net phenomenon called "Second Life." To be honest, I don't know a whole heck of a lot about it. I first became familiar with it while watching a Dr. Phil show. (Don't judge me) All I remember is that he had a teenage girl on the show who was obsessed with Second Life, to the extent that she was neglecting her life offline.

If you go to the Second Life website you will find out that you can live your own virtual life online. For a price.

Yes. For just $9.95 you can start your life in the virtual world.

Thousands of new residents join each day and Create an Avatar

Those avatars Explore the World and Meet People

These people discover the thousands of ways to Have Fun

Some people decide to purchase Virtual Land, which allows them to open a business, build their own virtual paradise, and more!

Linden Lab creates new land to keep up with demand. What began as 64 acres in 2003 is now over 65,000 acres and growing rapidly.

Now $9.95 might not seem like much. But apparently there are "land use" fee as well. If you go here you can get the whole rundown on what it costs to use their virtual land. And if I remember correctly, you can also spend your hard earned, real world, money on things like virtual cars, homes, clothes, etc....

But hey, I suppose it's a small price to pay to have such a full virtual life. According to the site there's all kinds of fun stuff to do...

In the Second Life world, there's something new around every corner.

The world is filled with hundreds of games, from multi-player RPG's to puzzles and grid-wide contests. There are also dance clubs, shopping malls, space stations, vampire castles and movie theatres.

To find something to do at any time of the day or night, simply open the Search menu and click on Events. You'll see a listing of Discussions, Sports, Commercial, Entertainment, Games, Pageants, Education, Arts and Culture and Charity/Support Groups.

Regardless of your mood, there's always something to do...

What the hell is a "vampire castle?"

Maybe I'm just too old to "get" the whole Second Life thing. Maybe living a virtual life is the next wave of existence where we get to make up the rules to our own, real life, video game.

Or maybe some people need to go outside once in awhile.


Asara Dragoness said...

hehe.. I don't know if you remember, but this is the platform that hosted the game associated with I Am Legend. I didn't like it either, for various reasons. But it has a dedicated following, and some people swear it's going to break all kinds of new ground in the behavioral sciences. I'll just stick with WoW, thanks :D

Nepharia said...

I can see how addictive such games can be -- esp for those people with unhappy lives (they want to escape) or those that want more drama in their lives (because their current one is so mundane).

I, on the other hand, have way too much life and am willing to sell some of mine for a price. I'll give you some of mine for $10/mo with child and job rentals on an as-needed basis.

csven said...

A shame you didn't bother to take the time to learn more. First off, Second Life is free; has been for the last couple of years. Second, there aren't millions of users but millions of registrations. Only about 10% of those who register actually use the service. Third, what makes Second Life especially unique is the built-in content creation tools and the terms of service which, unlike most services, does not usurp your rights to something you've created. As an example, one programmer developed a game inside SL which was later licensed for other platforms (google "Tringo").

Most importantly, SL isn't a "game". In fact, the fastest growing use for Second Life at the moment appears to be education. For example, Harvard was (is?) teaching a law class inside SL.

Something else of interest are the efforts to link virtual and real life fashion (as demonstrated by http://www.doublehappinessjeans.com ). One designer of whom I'm aware used Second Life to pitch some fashion designs to Wal*Mart. Successfully. If I'm not mistaken, she's now working with IBM to develop a virtual world PLM using the open source SL spin-off (PLM stands for product lifecycle management, and it's a step above 3D CAD; used primarily by major manufacturers). For more on that front, you might want to read http://blog.rebang.com/?p=1411 and watch the video linked in the first comment.

There are also the augmented reality efforts forming around Second Life. Try this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2i-W9ncV_0 to better understand what that's about.

There's plenty more to Second Life than what you seem to grasp. Yes, the graphics aren't as nice as many games; a result of being a real-time, virtually dynamic 3D space. And yes, there are role-players, griefers, and all the rest, but because it isn't a pre-defined package for mindless consumption like most games, people can and do find some interesting uses for it. Don't judge them for not wanting to spend time watching Dr. Phil.

SQT said...


I didn't put it together but I remember now.


That's what I was thinking, but given the post after yours, maybe I was quick to judge.


You're right, I shouldn't judge people who do this. I got the payment info right off the site and the kid I saw on Dr. Phil claimed to have spent a lot of her own money on the site. So I don't know if that was misinformation or not.

But I'm glad you stopped to comment. I truly don't know what the whole Second Life thing is all about. Mostly I was just kidding when I wrote the post. So any enlightenment you have is appreciated.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've heard of this but I'm still working my way through first life.

csven said...

Not sure what you're seeing on the official Second Life site, but from my own experience I can say that there is no sign-up fee. In fact, there's also no verification which is a big problem since this contributes to the griefing problems (Linden Lab can't effectively "ban" anyone, since hardcore griefers re-register and IP banning has only limited success).

The money that Linden Lab receives is primarily from people who wish to have virtual land and opt for Premium accounts. And while there are advantages to having it, there are no creative disadvantages (i.e. there are public sandboxes in which to create, and plenty of virtual land "rental agencies" for those who wish to build a store from where they can sell their creations). In fact, Premium accounts are down since people find renting from third parties advantageous. Anshe Chung, the Second Life avatar that was famously pictured on the cover of BusinessWeek, is mostly in the virtual land rentals business (though she now has real offices in China and afaik operates across several platforms and is selling virtual content as well).

And yes, people spend money inside Second Life, just as they do for plenty of other virtual activities. Virtual goods is big business getting bigger, and runs the range from "Kart Rider" kids (as mentioned in BusinessWeek - Link) to Facebook "gifts" at a dollar a pop. And I suppose I don't need to mention that gold farming is alive and well. The one thing a person can do with Second Life that they can't do with a videogame is make real money. That teenage girl quite likely put money into the pockets of someone in the virtual fashion business; possibly someone using that income to pay their way through college. I'd rather see that then kids paying for virtual goods through either Sony or MS's system where the money only goes to them and the developers.

By the way, another use that I find especially interesting is a 3D architectural wiki (Link to Flickr page). A shame this and the other links don't find their way onto Dr. Phil's show, though I'm not at all surprised.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I thought it was free, as I look in occasionally. Glad csven put it right.

SQT said...

Yeah, I can see I was misinformed.

I had no idea this was so much more than it first appeared. For some reason I am glad to hear it doesn't have to cost money. I know that's unreasonable since so many people pay tons for video games and the corresponding systems. But I guess when something is labeled "game" we don't attach too much meaning to it. This is called "Second Life" and I think a lot of us (myself included) draw the wrong conclusions.

Nepharia said...

While you can have a free account, you can also purchase what are called "Linden Dollars" with which to purchase items for your character. I can't imagine someone signing up (especially teens) who wouldn't want to be able to change their appearance or not have the newest gadgets.

While it is free, it can quickly get expensive if you want to do a lot of shopping with your Linden Dollars.

GFS3 said...

My friend's company has a building in Second Life. It's not as bad as you think. There's commerce, sports, dating, etc. It's like a giant video game for geeks. The hype around the place has died down from where it was several years ago. I'm not sure how people have time for a Second Life when most of us don't have time for First Life.

weenie said...

The last comment is so true - Second Life looks really interesting, probably something that would appeal to me but I barely have time in my real life to do what I want to do!