First Life, Please…

September 17, 2009 · Posted in Uncategorized 

I entered the Second Life assignment with an open mind.  I really did.   I had no preconceived notions because I knew nothing about it.  I’m sure fans of the site will say I haven’t given it enough time to truly appreciate it and that may be true.  But I don’t want to give it any more of my time.  I’ve seen enough. You can keep it.  I’ll keep my first life, which is, sufficiently–if not more–interesting and fun, thank you very much.


I had little trouble signing up, although it did take an inordinate amount of time, I thought.  For a “game,” something that is supposed to be fun, getting started was a lot of work.  Thanks again to YouTube for a pretty good tutorial that probably cut my getting started time by an hour or more.  I was able to create an avatar that shared some similarities to me–white hair and beard-but the police sketch artist is not in danger of losing his job to me.Snapshot_001

I was able to make contact with other avatars without much difficulty.  Many were in the process of building their appearances, as well, and we tried to help each other.  One person had figured out one thing or another, while another had a suggestion on skin tone, etc.  I never was able to find eyeglasses, though, and was not interested in paying anything, even a dollar, to obtain more objects.    Walking was easy, flying was mildly entertaining and crashing to earth after a fly-around even brought a chuckle.   Frankly, after two or three hours a day on successive days, I lost interest.


I can see how someone could find Second Life fun and totally engrossing.  It’s just not for me.  I simply prefer my First Life.  I would rather really do than virtually do all that Second Life allows you to do.  (Sounds like the line from Blazing Saddles–go do that voodoo that you do so well.)

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, (ALPHIE) ? (generational reference/lame attempt at humor–sorry if you don’t get it…kind of like how I feel about SL)

First, what Second Life isn’t.  It isn’t a game, in the traditional sense.  It has no objective, no rules  You don’t enter SL with a goal per se.  You’re not trying to kill the other guy or gather more points or money than an opponent.  Some people do make money at Second Life, and not just virtual money.  Second Life reports 64,000 participants  actually made money from the site this year, although most made less than $10.  Two-hundred-thirty-three people made more than $5,000 selling virtual goods and renting virtual land.

Still, you don’t win or lose at Second Life, so it’s not really a game in the common sense of the word.  It is, however, play for a lot of people.    Linden Labs stats indicate residents spent 28-million hours “in world” in January of 2008.  An average of 38,000 residents are logged in at any particular time.

So what is Second Life?  The introductory video/animation explains Second Life is a place to: connect, shop, work, love, explore,  be different, be yourself, free yourself, free your mind, change your look, love your life.

I get it.  Second Life is pure escapism, and who doesn’t want or need that.  It seems Second Life is tapping into those who don’t have connections and love and exploration in their lives.  It is pitching itself and is attractive to people who long to be different from what they are, people who don’t love their lives.  I apologize if that offends aficionados of SL and I fear it might but…there you have it.

I, too, like to escape.  That’s why I read and go to movies and watch TV.  Ah, but that is “para-social,” as Dr. Halavais points out in his lecture.  Perhaps so.  Still, a better way to spend my time in my value set.  Second Life is indeed interactive; you get to create a persona and go places and talk to people and experience a wide variety of things.  That’s what I do in my First Life.  I travel near and far…that is, really go to real places with real people to interact with and real things to see.

I read that SL is used by hundreds of classes so I see a real educational benefit is available, especially to learn another language.  It has wonderful educational potential.  But let’s be honest, it doesn’t take long to realize that SL is used by an awful lot of unhappy, unfulfilled, lonely people who may be less than socially adept for the purpose of playing out sexual fantasies.  An oversimplification?  Sure.  True?  Yup.  Perhaps not exclusively, and maybe not even by a majority, but the “experience,” as Pine and Gilmore would say, sure feels like that.  (Wasn’t that a good way to work in the course reading to my rant?!)



Here’s an offer…Forget Second Life and come “play” in my First Life “game.”  Like Second Life, my First Life platform is totally interactive.  You get to mix and match the method of communication–live face to face, telephone, email, IM.  There are no rules.  No winners.  Except that everyone playing my First Life game is enhanced by: the intellectual stimulation of good conversation; the physical exertion of hiking, biking, golf and travel to interesting places; and endorphins are raised by plentiful laughter.  It is true that in my First Life game there are risks.  Good food can lead to gluttony and single malt scotch can lead to any number of things.


9 Responses to “First Life, Please…”

  1. Pat Daddona on September 17th, 2009 5:38 pm

    The stats and the single malt scotch made this blog sing. And I am of the generation that can hear “What’s It All About, Alfie” in my head, so that too added a few grace notes. When you market First Life, board game preferable to the online version for obvious reasons, let us all know! ;-) As a songwriter, maybe I can write you a soundtrack.

  2. admin on September 17th, 2009 7:54 pm

    Thanks, Pat!

  3. KTD4vp27 on September 18th, 2009 3:46 pm

    I must admit I chcukled when I read your blog as I sympathize with you. I hadn’t really given the logo much thought but after your first paragraph and then a Second Life logo glaring at me, it took on a whole new reading that I don’t think the logo designers would appreciate. To me, it now looks like a hand that someone sticks out when they want you to stop, one of those halts… like don’t enter there believe me, you don’t want to. For example when you have guests and they try to open your overstuffed closet you try to stop them by sticking out your hand.

    I agree with your quote that you would rather do, than virtually do. However, I don’t agree with the fact that you think Second Life isn’t a game in the traditional sense. I think the goal here is to live a fulfilling life, afterall that is most life goals. It simply removes everyday rules. Winners are those who find themselves happier and wealthier. In addition, our lecture states that gaming sets up an environment. This certainly sets up any environment that you can deem imaginable and worthy. Also Malliet describes games as offering expanded possibilites for action which Second Life definately does. Just traveling alone you can teleport, fly or walk. Aslo he states that games aren’t always about participants in direct opposition to each other. Sometimes, they work together for a common goal. Each participant can help fufill the others life by offering love, affection, jobs etc. Just one final point, in games you take on roles. Here you can take on the role of anyone at all. If you want to be a firefighter, a rock star, a cool kid, a nerd you can.

  4. Alex H. on September 20th, 2009 1:05 am

    I don’t think it’s a matter of “offense.” One previous student in the program met his current girlfriend in Second Life, and they are now partners in First Life. I suppose that happens to some people who go to the movies, but generally–no.

    I have no doubt that escapism is a big part of this, but there are also a large number of people who know each other both in SL and in RL. So, for example, IBM has encouraged their employees to hold meetings in SL. We don’t talk about people using the telephone as engaging in escapism.

    Now, that’s not to say that some people do things in SL that they wouldn’t in RL–I’m sure they do. But that relationship is not simple. For a large number of people the line between real life and online life is not so definite.

  5. Brett on September 20th, 2009 3:19 pm

    Agree, agree, agree!!!!!! I felt like I was doing something I shouldn’t be. I can’t quite explain it, but it just felt off. I didn’t understand why people were shouting at me or why they would start a conversation with no real direction. Why am I here in Second Life is a harder question than why am I here in my real life. I did enjoy traveling to a virtual location, of a favorite vacation spot of mine, but over all I too was at a loss as to why I was there. I do understand why people use it and why it is so popular. My brother is a big fan, but even he couldn’t help me with all my frustrations getting around in Second Life.

  6. Evan Sacks on September 20th, 2009 10:49 pm

    I want to defend SL but I just can’t. I want to enjoy SL but I just can’t. So in that respect I’m with you OTNG. I prefer my games to reduce the barriers to experiences outside of my own life, not to create more. I do see what’s behind it though and can draw some parallels to even our own ICM program. Even though we’ve met in RL technically this class takes place in a sort of SL. We attend lectures, read articles, and interact with each other in the ICM SL. The class in a traditional sense virtual but the knowledge is real. What SL seems to be attempting is to create some kind of spacial reality within a virtual world. In other words your blog in SL would represent a property in SL and in SL you would see me spray painting on the side of your house a comment about the similarities between ICM SL and ICM RL. In RL you will just see the end result of my comment on your blog and not virtually see me type it (or spray painting it). Of course the end result of this educational SL is a Masters Degree in RL and some RL $$$. Then again if the government starts to accept Linden Bucks as legal tender we might have to reconsider our positions.

  7. He started it… « Where the wild things go on September 20th, 2009 11:13 pm

    [...] like Old TV News Guy started quite a buzz about SecondLife. [...]

  8. Second opinions - Chuck's Q Blog on September 21st, 2009 6:14 pm

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