Part I - bUTTONpUSHER Jones
At this date, Second Life has existed in some form for more than ten months. (Which must be decades, by the game's internal clock.) Many thousands have since joined the world; whole neighborhoods and cities have since been built; much more of both are coming soon. But what was it like in the first few weeks, when Linden Lab launched the game in its very nascent, "Alpha" stage, when it was still known as LindenWorld? To get some handle on that, while also trying to get a sense of how far Second Life has come, since then, this ongoing oral history will let the people who were there back then tell us about it, in their own words.
bUTTONpUSHER Jones, 32, describes himself as a player of first-person shooters like Quake III and Unreal Tournament 2003, while also being "a recovering Diablo II" addict. His story below.
WHAT BROUGHT HIM TO HERE
I had been searching for the Metaverse since I read Snow Crash about 3 years ago. I found Second Life mentioned in a GameSpy.com forum that was discussing the inadequacies of MMORPGs shown at 2002's E3. When I checked the link, I immediately knew I had found my Metaverse.
That was in August, 2002, and after a few excited e-mails to Linden Lab, I was allowed into LindenWorld in early September. LindenWorld was the pre-Second Life world, basically SL without water.
WHO WAS THERE, WHEN HE ARRIVED
I heard that about 50 users had logged into the game before I arrived, but there were only about 5 regulars that I would see each week. If 6 people were in-world at the same time it was a PAR-TAY! A couple months later we moved from LindenWorld to Second Life, and there were peaks of 20 people on at the same time. They mostly hung out in the same area -- around the "newbie corral".
WHAT THE "CULTURE" WAS, WHEN IT BEGAN
In the early months the culture was definitely create-centric. At least I was. I love creating, and socializing is secondary for me. My most memorable event was one weekend (while the Lindens were away), BuhBuhCuh and I decided to build a bunch of Neo-Tokyo structures overshadowing the little downtown city the Lindens had built. Money went a lot farther in those days, and over the course of 2 days we made about 4 or 5 enormous towers with interconnecting walkways. Okay, so that wasn't really an event... The idea of "events" is something that appears to be proactively created by Linden starting in (looking at the event calendar) January '03. I can take or leave events, but I know many people love them, and it's another aspect in which SL shines -- communication.
WHO WERE AMONG THE MOST VALUED MEMBERS, BACK THEN
Nobisan Wu made an amazing house in LindenWorld -- looked like a cover shot for Architectural Digest. I have yet to see its equal. SpaceDave Didgeridoo made a texture farm with about 100 textures free for the taking. I wore one of those textures as my shirt for months. Alpha Omega started LindenWorld the same day I did. He and I made trouble.
WHO ARE STILL AMONG THE MOST VALUED MEMBERS, EVEN NOW
Steller Sunshine embodies the spirit of Second Life. Endlessly cheerful, creative, and helpful. Flyk Escher is up to her eyeballs in style. She is a master of organic shapes and playful outfits. BuhBuhCuh Fairchild is a soft-spoken pioneer. He is a fountain of good ideas.
WHAT KEEPS HIM HERE
The reason I am still in Second Life is because I find it fun, and it's a fantastic creative outlet. My to-do list has grown from about 5 items before I entered SL to around 50 items now. As I learn more about the scripting language and am inspired by other people's creations, the potential keeps expanding. I haven't hit Second Life's "ceiling" yet, and I don't think I'm close.
(Thanks to bUTTONpUSHER Jones, for his comments.)