« Valve Adding Augmented Reality to VR System So User Needs to Leave Virtual Reality Less | Main | For Dishonored 2, Former Kidnap Victim Emily Kaldwin Becomes Playable Damsel Causing Distress »

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Cube Republic

*gets popcorn* aye it's a game.

Franklin Lubitsch

The main problem with calling it a game, IMO, is that many newbs come in world expecting a "game"-like experience, and they are genuinely confused by the lack of an "object" to the thing. Is it a game-like platform? Yes, of course. But that's as far as it goes. Emphasizing that there is no "game" component would go a long way toward eliminating confusion, and perhaps increasing account retention.

Wagner James Au

Actually Linden Lab removed all mention of SL being a game in 2006 - as I said, a marketing decision - but it hasn't helped many or most noobs assuming it's a game. Looks like a duck, etc.

Paypabak Writer

Meta game.

Nathan Hopkins

It's hard for me to see how early marketing decisions are relevant to trying to decide how best to categorize Second Life. Assuming there is a fact of the matter of whether SL is or is not a game (there probably isn't, just better and worse reasons behind someone's arriving at one or the other), I've never seen marketing used as evidence to arrive at a fact about just about anything. What is relevant is the details of how you guys arrived at a definition or categorization and whether the reasoning was good or not.

The best attempt I've seen at trying to arrive at 'necessary and sufficient conditions' for something being a game is by Bernard Suits, which is...

"To play a game is to engage in activity directed towards bringing about a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by rules, where the rules prohibit more efficient in favor of less efficient means, and where such rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity…playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.”

Video games do this, but they also happen to be the most common point of reference for people encountering any 3D interactive environment. This seems to me to be what compels people to call SL a game, as SL most resembles video games as opposed to anything else most users are familiar with. This looks a lot more like a category mistake than a good reason for calling SL a game though.

If the definition above works to cover all games, then it seems like a stretch to try to fit SL into that definition, but it could be I'm just not seeing how to do it without being imprecise and metaphorical.

Cube republic

Interesting Nathan, but I feel Bernard's point emphasises the construct of games without recognising the activity of play ( at least with regards to second life). When I was a child I used to enjoy the activity of play and make believe. Second life is to a certain extent a fantasy play platform. A kind of digital dolls house as it were.


Theres no outcome .. theres no goal .. its not a game ... simple ...


basically you cant win ....

Nathan Hopkins

Cube, he is specifically talking about what it is to play a game. He has a shorter definition of what a game is, but thought this covered that and was more flushed out.

That's a good point I hadn't thought of though about make believe being a form of play. I still think SL is just open ended enough to be used like a game, or to play games (or make believe), but is not itself a game.

And I think often when people do refer to it as a game they only are trying to distinguish it from "the real world" and so hear denials that its a game as denials of this distinction and then acuse them of "taking it too seriously". Its a confused mess...


Adec wrote: "theres no goal.. its not a game"

yes there is a goal. The primary game goal is to co-exist with others. There are rules to guide the play to reach this goal, lots of them. ToS/Community Standards. Enforced by technical limitations in many cases. Limitations imposed on players by the provider to enforce the reaching of the goal


on game specifics as in game games

SL has a built-in game system. A full-damage push combat game system. There are safe zones in the system provided by LL. There are also safe zones provided by residents who own/rent parcels

there is also a mining mechanic in the game provided by LL. You can mine crystals in the game and convert to ingame currency and buy stuff with it to enhance your gameplay. Same like in any other game

that people socialise in the game doesnt make it not a game. People socialise in WoW, etc

that other players can make/mod stuff which you can buy off them rather than off the game provider, doesnt make it not a game either. As, if resident/player make/mod ability makes it not a game then would not Skyrim, etc not be a game either


Adec wrote: "basically you cant win"

not true

co-existence is a hard challenge. peaceful co-existence even harder. But is doable

Canary Beck

If I ran a grocery store that only sold vegetables, but 80% of my potential customers came in asking for tomatoes, it would be daft of me to argue with them that "Tomatoes are not a vegetable! Tomatoes are a fruit!" The smart play would be to offer some tomatoes, enticing customers to come back for my vegetables along the way.

Shockwave Yareach

And where does the holy scripts say that all games must have an objective? The only objective all games have is to have fun. But having fun covers a very wide area - some folks have fun building drag racers, though it would be a stretch to say that's a game.

Trying to nail a single label onto SL is like trying to do so to cable TV. No matter what you describe it as being about, there are hundreds of other channels about other things. The best description that would fit is that it's a virtual world where you can do what you want and be what you want. That SL is an actual virtual world where you aren't limited by the company's vision is what made SL unique. That ll works hard to destroy this freedom and destroy its only positive attribute puzzles many of us.

Ciaran Laval

A Houston Chronicle article from 2004 describes Second Life as :

"Second Life, a massively multiplayer online PC game, brings us one step closer to a true virtual existence. Even calling it a game is a stretch: Games require an object — a purpose — and Second Life’s purpose is as enigmatic as that of real life."

So even whilst describing it as a game, they pointed out that calling it a game was a stretch.

Robin Harper

It's interesting taking a look back at the early days of SL and remember all the intricate challenges of naming, positioning and marketing something that was so clearly different than everything else out there.

The summer we were in Alpha (2002) Philip and I made a tour of the media to talk about the upcoming beta. We met largely with game press (and James, maybe you remember, you were one of them!) to get their feedback on what we were doing. The refrain was -- this isn't a game. There are no goals. And we realized that in fact it wasn't a game although it was often perceived that way due to the graphics and the use of avatars (remember EverQuest?).

Early on SL did have some of the trappings of a game, such as leaderboards, in part as a way to motivate people. It became quickly obvious, however, that the real motivator was the creative one -- building something that you conceived, designed and shaped. In other words, the goals came from within the individuals of SL, not from anything LL defined. What we did was to build the tools, the server capability, and ultimately the economic model that allowed SL residents to develop a new world.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Wagner James Au
Samsung Edge computing reports NWN
Dutchie ad 29-9-2020
Breakroom virtual meetings conferences-GIF
Ample Avi  SL avatars
Sinespace virtual world Unity free home
my site ... ... ...