What is SecondLife?

Posted by jerry on July 21st, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media

Broken Toys blog has an excellent discussion/analysis of SecondLife – one of the best I’ve read that provides a balanced and informative insight into the virtual world phenomenon. The writer takes as a starting point the notion of SL as a massively multi-player online (MMO) game, as a useful analogy with which to unpack SL.

Some key insights:

  • It’s about community – so the top players in the game are women
  • Levels are climbed by social interaction and participating in social groups
  • Blokes, if you’re in it for the laggy sex and violence, you’re in the wrong place and you’ve missed the point
  • Fashion favours the feminine – the range of blokes gear is limited and largely unimaginative
  • As a mutli-level game you gain experience points (XP) by, well, gaining experience – newbies with default avatars and free clothing and bad hair mark out the newcomer – and experienced users will often (a) shun newbies; (b) prey on newbies (c) help them. The emphasis seems to be on (a) and (b).
  • Searches have been skewed by dubious practices, like ‘camping’ (exploiting newbies with the promise of cash for camping) which adds artificially to the popularity count and moves a site up the search ranking, while paying sub-cent values to the campers.
  • Avatars are sexualised – almost to the point of caricature – most female avatars (avs) have exaggerated breasts and hips, while male avs have six-pack abs and huge shoulder to hip ratio, and invariably with perfect skin and youthful appearance – it is actually quite difficult (need XP) to find more realistic shapes and skins.

So blokes, if you are after violence, go to Warcraft, and if you are after porn, check your email spam box. But if you are after a space in which people can share a sense of community and imagine and create, then SL has a whole world to offer.

For me the attraction is meeting people from different parts of the (real) world, and the possibility of finding a different venue for sharing my music performances.

Thanks to Metaverse Territories for pointing to the Broken Toys post.


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