It was not long ago I came to know about Second Life (SL). I saw a news report about Second Life on NDTV and even before the report was over I registered myself with SL. At first it looked like any other MMOG. I would have lost interest in SL if it was another game, but it is not a game. SL is more than a game, it is a flexible medium or I would say a tool which can be used for anything you want to do, obviously it has its own limitations. It is a business platform if you want to make money, a social networking medium if you want to make friends, a game if you want to play and a black hole if you want to get addicted and get lost from your first life (SL term for your real life).
When I joined SL there were not much Indian population in it and there were less than five Indian hangout and only one place was active. But SL, which was launched in June 2003, had already made its long journey in few countries by 2007. IBM, American Apparels, WIPRO and few American and European Universities started their virtual campuses in Second Life. Reuters had its own reporter dedicated to Second Life to report its happening and few countries had their embassies to promote their tourism. While some of the few real life businesses pulled out of Second Life few still exists and some Second Life residents made their own stardom inworld. They built their own business and empires in the virtual world.
Second Life is a 3D virtual world where people can create avatars to represent them and interact with other users. Most of the Second Life grid was designed and created by its residents. Members can buy land (server space) from Linden Lab(LL) or from private estate owners to have their own place. Only premium members can buy land from Linden Lab directly and not everyone has the need to have a premium membership. Non premium members who like to own their own place in second life rent land from private estate owners. Apart from real estate, fashion and sex are the other two industries that thrive in SL. Second life has its own fashion line, residents create their own cloths, accessories etc and sell them. SL has its own in world shopping areas and web based shopping portal too (the items get delivered inworld). And the sex industry has its own place in SL (SL is only for adults, SL has a separate grid for teens 13 – 18, Teen Second Life). Recently Linden Lab restricted sexual activities to a separate adult continent where only age verified adults can enter.
When we have humans control a system, there would be obviously some anti social elements in it. Second Life has its own inworld villains in the form of content thieves, scammers and sex offenders. Content thieves try to copy-bot creations of other residents and sell them or few distribute it around the grid to spoil the business from whom they ripped the content. SL residents and LL are constantly working to stop these copy botters by various methods. There are few instances where SL creators have took the case to real life court to sue the offender. Scammers try to steal LD or L$ (Linden Dollar, the currency used in SL) using scripts and other methods. Sex offenders are usually pedophiles, SL is restricted only for adults, it is possible for adults to create their avatar as child avatar. While most create child avatars to role play as kids, few create child avatars with perversion in mind. Even if both the adult avatar and child avatar which indulge in such activity are operated by a real life adult behind the computer it is not ethical and such perversion is crime.
Second Life also has its own virtual social activities for real life. Residents create awareness on various issues and also donate money to various real life incedents
Today there is a considerable amount of Indian community in SL. There are few successful Indian designers, builders, club owners, DJ’s, photographers, artists, service providers, live performers and SL media persons. There are non Indians who have some successful Indian hangouts as well. Most people who start SL do not have an aim, they start it out of curiosity. Since it is a bit hard to understand the SL culture and the need of a decent bandwidth and computer, not many continue it for a long time. Some newbies (noobs) consider it as a fun game which offends the long time residents. So, it usually takes quite a while for newbies to get into a group. Some people even get married in SL and there are instances where people get divorced in RL (real life) because of their second life addiction.
Anyone who uses internet should try Second Life, to have a taste of it. Unfortunately SL is not much known in India. I would say, SL is a place for socializing, learning new culture and a place to unleash your creativity but not an alternate for real life. Also take care that you do not lose yourself in this virtual world or someone have to remind you to GET A REAL LIFE!
First Indian Magazine in SL. But we had to stop it after first issue due to RL commitments.
I Thank all my friends in SL for making my journey in SL a wonderful experience. And special thanks to DeDe and Katty for the pictures above and also thanks to Dips, Kazu, Chance, Sukku, Rob and Dec for contributing pictures to other posts in my blog.