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Friday, June 03, 2011


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"Virtual social bonds evolve from the fictional towards real social bonds. If you have good community ties, they will be out-of-character ties, not in-character ties. In other words, friendships will migrate right out of your world into email, real-life gatherings, etc."

From http://www.raphkoster.com/gaming/laws.shtml

Articulated in 199...8? Maybe '97.


basically; the inertia has died down now. second life will not ever be anything more glorious than chat; i dont even need to experience chat in 3d. i can do that with my family at the movies now.

Vax Sirnah

I've played in other virtual worlds where this became the issue as well.

I think it has less to do with performance than just the nature of the beast. People are looking for something to do. MMOs are based around providing that actively. Second Life is geared towards users making their own experience. This is great for the artists, the programmers, etc. But for those who are not, socialization is the easiest thing to do. And a lot of people come to SL specifically for that reason.

Thing is, an immersive virtual environment isn't really good as just conversation. IM, chat groups, etc do far better. When I tried IMVU, it didn't seem like it was meant to be an immersive environment that takes over the focus of your computer system. Rather, it felt like another app you run concurrently.

SL wants to make you to make it the focus of it, but doesn't provide much to do with that focus if you are not good at entertaining yourself.

This is the real reason breedables are so popular - it gives people things to do while talking. Things like the LOGOS card game, Flurbils, [ALT] are good examples of this as well. The more of these we see, and the wider usage (and visibility) they get, the more we'll see people in World. I think the real key to wide-spread adoption is having more things that people want to do _in world_.

Ann Otoole InSL

What Vax said about needing things to do is accurate. Then there is the issue of the SLv2 UI and how it detracts from the in world experience. We were not having this discussion back in 2007 when things were bustling, there were lots of events with 50 to 100 avatars chatting away in local, and the UI was not intrusive.

Adeon Writer

I avoid standing around chatting. I try to log off and take that to MSN when possible. That's not what SL is about for me. And not usually what I end up doing most of the time. (I much prefer ACTION and EXPLORATION)

Senban Babii

I have to say that I agree with Charlanna. A while ago a friend of mine and I realised that to all intents and purposes, our Second Life friendship could be moved to Yahoo Messenger with no practical difference and we could play pool while we chatted. So we stopped using SL as a means of communication because there were simpler tools for our particular needs.

Because SL is essentially a social space, it will naturally gravitate towards social interaction that resembles what we're used to. Look round at your friends next time you're all out. You're all physically present and yet how many of you are on your mobile phones, texting, checking Facebook? Those mobile phones are the meatlife equivalent of standing stationary in SL whilst chatting in IM.

What Charlanna is describing is nothing more than a reflection of our behavioural norms in meatspace. Why would we expect our Second Life experiences to be any different?

Mera Kranfel

I agree, I do the same when i (once a month maybee) log into SL. Im standing on a empty watersim where i rezz to chat and avoid lag. I build and entertain myself in inWorldz and OsGrid nowadays instead :)

Senban Babii

"Virtual social bonds evolve from the fictional towards real social bonds. If you have good community ties, they will be out-of-character ties, not in-character ties. In other words, friendships will migrate right out of your world into email, real-life gatherings, etc."

This is very true and no one questions that. But as I read Charlanna's post, that's not what she's talking about and I think to some degree you're possibly projecting your ideas about meatspace/cyberspace integration.

What Charlanna is talking about - and I agree entirely - is that the gradual melding of meatlife and cyberlife actual destroys the very sense of immersion that draws us to virtual spaces in the first places and so we leave. Linden Lab's insistence on turning SL into a 3D chatroom for the Facebook generation is going to hasten its demise rather than rescue it. They need to capitalise on what keeps residents logging in, not what eventually leads to them logging out.


Other people are always going to be the most interesting thing about Second Life regardless of any faults or amazing things about it.

The exact same arguments made above could be made about WoW more or less. 12 million people aren't hardcore raiders. A lot spend a lot of nights just idling around in Orgrimmar in guild chat a lot of nights.

I don't think this phenomenon is a problem. If it were, what's the supposed fix? Prims become much more interesting than people? I believe its a good trait of Second Life that its a medium I can meet people through that I eventually care more about than Second Life itself, and consequently will communicate with them through other means at leisure.

Nexii Malthus

How can you possibly be bored with SL? The more tools that I get to get more involved and interact with my community the more integrated and immersed I get.

Second Life (3D environment, realtime)
Ventrilo (group voice, realtime comms),
Skype (chat, short term),
Forums (text, medium term),
Wiki (rich text, long term).

They are all tools that extend ourselves, not replacements for one or the other!

Taking it from SL to chat with a friend means, as Raph implies, taken a relationship to the next level. (I contest his hard-cut "fictional" vs "real"-ness of it though, it's all real already, there is no such thing as a fictional relationship unless you are deluded or have an unfortunate mental illness. It's all about taking a relationship wider and deeper, not just replacing it with another type)


The ways in which I interacted within Second Life changed for me. One of the things that I felt when I started was an experience of place; that I was *there* through my avatar. As time passed, I found that Second Life became more like a glorified chat room. I would log in and my avatar would stay in one place while I would juggle conversations in IM. I recognize that this is my own fault; I certainly chose activities that led to that sort of interaction. While I chose those interactions, I can’t help but think that I followed some sort of arc of interaction with an avatar through the sorts of conversations I was having.

Ann Otoole InSL

We also can't forget that the media feature in SL is used to track people for the purpose of violating the TOS and other nefarious reasons that people simply stopped going anywhere. If LL wants to fix this then they can rip out the media code and let people identify which external applications will be used to open radio urls, etc if the user wants to open the url. Besides, Winamp sounds better than SL anyway so many people just get the radio urls and open them in winamp manually.

I have never seen any media on a prim outside of LL help areas. Apparently it's sole purpose on the grid is to support spyware.


Thanks for the link, Hamlet! :)

The reality is that there are a whole host of reasons why I'm in Second Life much less these days. As I noted in the beginning of my post, those reasons fell into what I would describe as two broad categories. The first relates to a shift in a feeling of immersion - chatting in IM was only the symptom. The second is more personal - but not unique - and I'm planning to follow up with another post. (the Cliff's Notes version: I entered a phase where my experiences in SL were taking more than giving to me. Plus less flexible time in RL, too.)

Maybe I noted too subtly in my post, I didn't have any problem discussing my RL context with people. It is something I did from the start from the start of my SL experience. Yes, I shared more over time, but it wasn't that I was sharing that I felt was the problem. I believe the problem was that I began experiencing the 3D aspects of SL less and, in doing so, took myself away from a large part of the magic of the world. But it was just one reason among many why I log in less these days. I do think I will be back more at some point and when I am, I expect I'll be getting out more. :)

Taamon Jules

I have never felt trapped into having to be a chatty social butterfly, or spending time completely alone building, learning, creating, basically making stuff and art. Always busy! I've thought about moving to open sim because it's so much cheaper, but when I'm tired of working on my latest project, I know that I can go out and mingle and chat all I want, because sl is still the most populated by far. No UI or 'sl policy' has ever had the slightest impact on doing what I want to do when I want to do it. As for your friend list and how you manage them, well that's another subject. ....

GreenLantern Excelsior

A long time ago, someone told me that Second Life was nothing more than "IRC with sock puppets." That sounds like a good description of this problem. Most role playing seems to be the same way. It could be done over IRC just as easily as inworld. The only structured activity I've seen where inworld activity is more important than IM conversation is fighting as a member of one of the SL armies.

If you want to enjoy Second Life without getting stuck in endless IMs with the same people, try helping new residents in an Infohub or Welcome Area. One of their first questions is usually "What can I do here?" At that point you get to explain to them how Second Life is different from IRC with sock puppets.

Metacam Oh

People who get bored easily in real life, and cannot occupy themselves, will come across the same thing in Second Life. If you are someone who can occupy themselves and find things to do you will never get bored in RL or SL. When someone tells me in RL "I'm bored what do I do" its hard for me to comprehend, I can ALWAYS find something to do, something to read, something to play, something to create, what have you, Second Life is the same way. If you are like that you will never get bored. There is nothing wrong anyway with SL being used for chat and forming social connections that rise above the Virtual World. But I do have to ask for those who get 'bored' and only come in just to 'chat' with people, what about SL previously made it not boring or more than just a 3d chat? I really do have to question people who do not see SL for more than just a 3d chat? Have you ever rezzed a prim? Do you go listen to live music, do you script, do you make videos, whatever? The possibilities are endless.

Senban Babii

@Ann O'Toole
"We also can't forget that the media feature in SL is used to track people for the purpose of violating the TOS and other nefarious reasons that people simply stopped going anywhere."

I can't speak for others but this is precisely why I no longer log into SL. On the rare occasions I do (because I need to do something rather than just for leisure), I have all media turned off. All that spyware and residents seeking to control the experiences of others just sucked the life right out of it all.

@Metacam Oh
I think you're kind of missing Charlanna's point. As I understand it, she's not saying she logs in less because she's bored.

"I believe the problem was that I began experiencing the 3D aspects of SL less and, in doing so, took myself away from a large part of the magic of the world."

I completely agree with what Charlanna says here, it ties in with my own experiences. It was one of the reasons why I originally grew away from SL back in around 2008. When I returned after about six months, I tried to stay away from long IM conversations that would in effect reduce my experience of the world to a small chat window and the lines of text it contained. Whenever I found myself going down that path again, I'd walk away from SL for a while. It's inevitable that friendships will deepen and you'll have the occasional long chat but if this becomes the sum total of your SL existence, then you'll walk away, not out of boredom but rather out of the fact that somehow SL has become something other than why you were originally there. And it's not as Raph attempts to claim because people grow up and away - that's just Raph projecting his expectations rather than examining the actuality. If Raph was right about these things, I'd be off to log into Metaplace about now and...oh wait.

foneco zuzu

Metacam, some wise words at least o this topic:)

Suzanne Aurilio

After 2 years of regular and intense activity (social and research), I was done. I reflected during the process and afterwards and found that the sensory impoverishment of virtual life takes a toll. Even when all I'm doing is hanging out and chatting, I need more. I need smells,sounds gestures, eye contact, movement.

When the novelty of online-ness wears off, I believe we'll be able to have more reflective and meaningful conversations about embodiment and the physicality of virtuality.

I played Kinect recently and have the same thoughts about that experience.

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