Thursday, April 3, 2008

Second Life


Second life is a unique shared experience created in 1999 by Philip Rosedale in San Francisco. Rosedale's "Linden lab" employs over 200 people in the United States, Europe and Asia. To begin the virtual experience, each new player creates a digital onscreen character called an avatar which can be personalized with specific clothing, objects such as wild hair, wings, leather accessories etc. This is not a "game" but rather a 3-D virtual world whereby the linden grid allows a player to visit various communities, clubs, countries, entertainment circles, concerts and even create their own environment (Linden Lab, 2008).

The social network environment is how this experience is unique. The people within the game can purchase Linden dollars that can be traded for US dollar (real money!) and thus land can be purchased, businesses opened to sell merchandise, admission charged for nightclubs, software sold for specific purposes and even college courses can be attended with the students interacting in this second life community. Many players have made actual money by becoming real estate moguls, software creators, and selling of licensed games within the second life game-sounds impossible but this is happening. What makes all the above appeal to users is the fact that each character has ownership of what is created in second life. All the characters act as citizens and work together to build and form the type of community, a better virtual world in which they wish to share. Money can be spent and earned by doing this. Some have spent as much as 100,000 US dollars-real money- and others are making thousands of US dollars yearly by their inventions (My virtual life, 2006).

Working together as a community is why this is a classic example of a social network. The participants are not merely there for entertainment, although this is the appeal, but to interact with their friends, meet new people, share in travel, explore, build, sell, invest in stocks and create. Second life is entertainment, a social connection, social interaction and gives the player full ownership via property rights for their creations in the game.

If you are new to second life Youtube has a video which explains how the game works and gives a deeper insight to why one may want to entertain themselves in this game. It is titled "Introduction to Second life" and was made in the UK. View it by going to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b72CvvMuD6Q
My character in second life character is Tulle Grun, in photo above. I began my experience by changing my generic hair and outfit to represent my style. I didn’t want to be viewed as a newbie by all the avatar people. Next, to the disco I went. The music was great but it was not a busy night in the disco, but this was a good opportunity to figure out the controls for my avatar such as sitting, standing, changing my appearance and photographing my character as well. Teleporting was my next feat and is easy to do. I traveled from the disco, to the mall, to a concert. The concert was packed and had some interesting avatar characters. At this concert is where a lot happened. Someone gave me $20 in Linden money and invited me to be part of their group. I was leery at first accepting the money but since I was broke I took the chance and was invited to join a social group as well. I am now part of Purple Angel VIP Group and have been invited to many events by e-mail communication. The only problem with many of these invites is they all cost Linden money and I am broke after spending my money on snapshots to include in this blog. Being part of this virtual experience is strange, but it does feel as though you are socializing and having something in common with others. It doesn’t feel real to me but is rather like playing a 3-D advanced game of paper dolls.

There is a downside to playing in a virtual environment. The sexual freedom characteristic involved in role playing and seeing naked people walking around (orientation especially) is weird and uncomfortable. The sexual facet is unnecessary in my view and should be eliminated; however, if this game parallels our amoral real world, sexual inclusion may actually be a draw for many users. The second aspect that I found odd is virtual Linden money being exchanged for real money and the potential for abuse in getting caught up in a virtual world spending money you don’t have. It just seems foolish to spend real money on virtual merchandise and services. This is where the virtual social experience is blurred with the real world. The whole concept is bizarre and I don’t think I would spend my real money here.

Attending class or courses in a virtual world such as second life would definitely be a new experience. I think the experience would be most useful working in groups to complete a project, more like a team building experience. This would require a good amount of time and would be better suited as a classroom exercise rather than a work related activity. Preferrably, if in a classroom in this virtual world, I would prefer a regular type classroom to start and then it would be okay to venture into other worldly introductions. Second life as a teaching tool can be useful if the class is combined with other aspects of internet, software and interpersonal interaction rather than second life alone.


References:

Linden Lab. (2008). Retrieved April 3rd, 2008 from: http://lindenlab.com/

My Virual Life. (2006, May 6). Business Weekly. Retrieved April 3rd,
2008 from:
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_18/b3982001.htm

Newitz, Analee. (2006, September 1). Your second life is ready.
[Electronic Version]. Popular Science. No pagination.
Retrieved April 3rd, 2008 from:
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_18/b3982001.htm

SusiSpicoli. (2006, September 6). Introduction to Second Life.
YouTube. Retreived April 3rd, 2008 from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b72CvvMuD6Q#

5 comments:

Susan said...

Hi Marcy,

Congratulations on being to first to write about your experience in Second Life. You blog was very informative and explained Second Life clearly. I liked the link to You Tube. That was also very helpful. I agree with you that there is a lot of weird stuff going in Second Life. Personally, I can not see myself spending time there. It sounds like there is potential for some interesting endeavors there.
Susan

Mr.Forsley said...

Very good blog! You provided all the essential information on "Second Life" while also, at the same time, giving a clearly written perspective of the site and your take on virtual worlds. I especially liked your insight into how these virtual worlds are, for some people, becoming a part of our real worlds.

Maribel Trujillo said...

Hi Marcy,

I enjoyed reading about your experience in Second Life (SL). You provided a great example of an Introduction to SL by using Youtube, which was very helpful. Your blog was informative and you provided a great photo of your avatar. Nice. :-)

Cole said...

Naked people? I never see naked people. I must go to boring places.

afriendtoall said...

Hi, Marcy

Great blog! This was my first time on a website like Second Life. I was lucky enough to avoid the nudity scene. I agree with you that the nudity and sexual components are unnecessary. I would not be comfortable in such a situation, either (even if the characters ARE virtual people). Thank you for your in-depth, informative article. I enjoyed it.