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A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the Crowded Empty paradox, the unique aspects of Second Life which makes large swathes of the world seem abandoned, even when there are 75-80,000 concurrent users logged in. Looking over the reader commentary, I realized how the Crowded Empty phenomenon explains another strange quirk of Second Life culture: the popularity of virtual rural sites in Second Life, like Empress and Hierophant, the island depicted above, lovingly designed to look like a blasted heath in Ireland that's nearly bereft of human presence. In fact, reviewing the list of 2009's top 20 Second Life locations most popular with users of the virtual world social network Koinup (occasionally a sponsoring partner of this blog), roughly 15 of the top 20 depict rural countrysides, empty coastlines, or as in the case of Drowsy, a small village. Another site in the top twenty, Innsmouth, architecturally looks like a medium-sized town, but is consciously created to look like an abandoned one, crowded only with ghosts and the hint of tragic stories:
Where you might expect Second Life's great cyberpunk cities like Insilico or Midian to be the top destinations (and they do enjoy healthy traffic of visitors and regulars), they are eclipsed by the appeal of lonely beauty. A modern cityscape creates an expectation of a crowded place, but due to Second Life's essential architecture, only a few dozen people can inhabit it at any given time. But in a vast and sprawling landscape, even a half dozen Residents can seem like a crowd. Or as Arcadia Codesmith astutely put it, "If you find yourself alone in a park/wilderness sim, it's much less jarring than finding yourself in a Times Square devoid of people."
From a user experience perspective, there's probably a lesson here for the Lindens and the larger Resident estate owners: the ideal virtual world experience to create in Second Life isn't urban, but rural.
Thursday, January 21, 2010 in New World Editorial, Social Structures, Social Upheaval | Permalink
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Isn't it a bit off to assume that because the popular images on one website focus on places of beauty rather than decay that the rural spots are the "most popular?" I'm just saying, but it feels like a bit of a logic leap.
Marianne McCann |
Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 04:06 PM
Not just images, Koinup's popularity tracks via SLurl clickthroughs.
Hamlet Au |
Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 04:10 PM
If you want proof, just look how popular America's national parks are; so popular and beloved that, at times, they're in danger of being loved to death, to borrow from (I believe) an old National Geographic article. If we don't live in quiet, rural areas, we're frequently hankering to get away into such surroundings, for a week or two at least.
Harper Ganesvoort |
Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 10:01 PM
I click through a lot of SLURLs - but I don't teleport to the site more than 1 in 30 or 1 in 40 times.
Mostly what I want to do is see the site on the map. Call me peculiar, but there it is.
Tateru Nino |
Friday, January 22, 2010 at 01:39 AM
if you click the slurls (on Koinup) below the slideshow, you're teleported in the main hub of the region. While if you're interested in the specific spot, you must click the image and then click on the slurl below the single image.
Koinup Burt |
Friday, January 22, 2010 at 02:29 AM
perhaps 'artistically' most popular in some sense, but in any event...
I love the rural spaces, the wastelands, of all sorts.
In part I love to take photos in those places with no obvious commercial activity, no out of theme items, no contrasting neighbours visible, and very artistically designed. While those criteria do lead me to love some of the cybersims like SIC and Insilico, they also favour some of the more rural and landscape focussed creative work, such as that of AM Radio and others.
shameless plug: Sunday my new exhibit The Virtual Prairie: sl photo art, opens at artRIOT gallery, celebration Jan 24 12noon slt. everyone welcome :)
Nova Dyszel |
Friday, January 22, 2010 at 09:01 PM
Great Article, there also a SL Group Called "Our Virtual Green Builders" that have a FlikR group where members can post photos http://www.flickr.com/groups/ourgreenvirtualworld/
Buddy Winsmore |
Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 02:58 AM
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