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Friday, November 10, 2017


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It's surely an interesting, well written and researched article.
Her first impression in SL is sadly true (sadly, because the user's first impression is crucial for user retention). It's also pretty true about immersion, connections, SL being like a dream, and people with disabilities, transgenders, and people with other issues coming in SL to find relief.

As for what's real or not, SL scenery is a dream, but as someone points out, when you feel something, those are your real feelings. Outside roleplay settings, you know the avatars around you are neither characters nor NPCs, but other people like you. Outside roleplaying (including the mentioned parenting in the article), SL isn't as perfect and without surprises as the Leslie Jamison writes, when you really engage in socialization. Every person is different, with different ideas, motivations and reactions, the unexpected (positive, negative, strange, funny or just unexpected) is always behind the corner. Or people take you to places you didn't expect, when you were just planning to go shopping. But I understand her point.

There is something I agree less though. Leslie Jamison wrote:

What is second life? The short answer is that it’s a virtual world that launched in 2003 and was hailed by some as the future of the internet. The longer answer is that it’s a landscape full of goth cities and preciously tattered beach shanties, vampire castles and tropical islands and rainforest temples and dinosaur stomping grounds, disco-ball-glittering nightclubs and trippy giant chess games.

It's like describing Minecraft as a landscape of cubes, missing the important thing: all the above is user generated content. Not to mention creativity and art. SL is a platform not just because that word was "meant to suggest something more holistic, more immersive, and more encompassing" (quoting the article), but because Second Life is a creative platform, above which you can build, create and simulate almost anything, and use it for a plethora of different purposes.
On the other hand most people in SL aren't "creators": they may see SL as Leslie Jamison wrote. They visit, explore, use what other people made/assembled in-world. Some people decor their homes. Indeed, as the article mentions later, Second Life hasn't become as Rosedale was once dreaming (a geek dream): people had other dreams and fantasies, and they focused on what we can see now. "Consumers of a young, sexy, rich world, clubbing like 20-somethings with infinite money", "what ended up emerging looked more like Malibu. People were building mansions and Ferraris". Besides some exceptions.
All that is true.
However the above is the definition of how most people use SL and what you may see in SL (mostly), not the answer to what SL actually is.
I think the distinction is important, because some people aren't aware of the amount of user generated content in SL. When you are aware that what you see hasn't been made by a big company, but by other users like you, then you can see those creations and SL with different eyes.


I agree that "instead of learning from mistakes, people and companies do the same thing over and over again". As for the simultaneous rise of Facebook and the plateau in Second Life users", yes, it can be a "proof that Linden Lab misread public desires", but I'm not sure it was the sole reason. And I don't think the reason was the one told by LL's communication director and "the technology hasn’t yet advanced enough" for an "utterly immersive virtual world".

I remember when Blizzard released World of Warcraft, they said they weren't making the best graphic, but something that would work for a larger audience. That was a good idea. Of course they had the already successful Warcraft brand pushing the new game, but making the game more accessible I guess it gave a good hand. It doesn't mean it should run on a Commodore 64, but they look at the then current average machine.
I remember Blue Mars, built around CryEngine 2, sporting some top notch graphic for the time. And the hair! OMG! Moving naturally, falling on your shoulders as you move, like real hair would do. That rendering engine was a technology marvel, way more advanced than SL, but... do you know that old joke and meme? "But can it run Crysis?". Of course it wasn't the only factor, but it didn't help to make Blue Mars massive success.

Now let's go back to 2003-2008. But let's take SL as it was hyped, as the next Internet, or as a the 3D social thing that SL is (among other things), rather than a game. Second Life offered another level of user-to-user interaction, compared to Facebook, any forum or Internet chat, even compared to massively online games.
On the other hand, Facebook was much more accessible. All you needed (and still need) was a web browser. The simpler computer of the time, connected even with just a 56k modem, could access to Facebook comfortably without extra technical complexities (not to mention special devices such as VR headsets).

Now Linden Lab is doing the same mistake again, with Sansar, both by offering a similar model and by requiring a demanding hardware and a network speed, that restricts considerably the amount of people for whom Sansar would be accessible and enjoyable. So far Google Trend shows a tiny peak at Sansar's launch, which went down quickly, just to remain flat since then. And they think the key to make it massively used is to focus on more advanced tech, VR headset, a somewhat good gaming machine, and a too much demanding network speed for 2017 averages (again, up to an half hour to access to a scene, at the recommended speed of 10 Mbps. Was it good at that speed, it would be fine for today average speeds).

Cybele  Moon

She writes a very interesting article and expresses some of my own feelings. I am both fascinated and repelled by the idea of living virtually. Like Leslie I can only sit for so long watching my avatar on screen before I need to immerse myself back into the reality of five senses and the more prosaic but satisfying challenges of daily life. Every person has their own needs and reasons for being there from the sublime to the ridiculous. For an average person a life without limitations can become a prison of it's own not to mention the moral implications of such a life. We can't have it both ways peeps i.e. people excusing their actions because they are not actually physically performing them. On the other hand a virtual world is great visual alchemy, and SL has that aspect of being a canvas for the creative mind. I like that.


SL is different things to different people. This is why it is so hard to accurately describe. The only unifying experience seems to be the frustration of figuring how to get everything to work. I am pretty sure everyone, at one point, ended up wearing a box and wondering "WTF"?

I think one common aspect of SL is that it helps lonely people feel less alone. The writer probably can't fully appreciate this, but I assert many SL users do.

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