Monday, August 23, 2010

10 Little Known Facts About Second Life

Ten Lesser Known Facts About Second Life

The obsession to escape one's own life via addicting technologic-alternate realities is growing at a staggering rate. Back in the day, myself and my middle school posse would plop down in front of the computer for hours, completely engrossed in a game called TheSIMS. We built our dream homes, added completely unnecessary accessories, and made our SIMS character everything we were not or might never be. We tried to figure out--unsuccessfully, I might add--how to make our SIMS have sex with one another, but we could only get them to first base each time. I hear that one of the newer versions requires its buyers to be of legal age, which shows me the creators finally went to the next level.

Take TheSIMS and give it some really intense steroids--the kind baseball players get in trouble for--and you get Second Life. TheSIMS made adult life seem like a picnic; everything was free, no one had to work, and there was no limit to how big your house could be or how many toys with which you could fill your garage. And when your garage got full, you could just build a bigger one. Second Life adds the ability to turn a profit for its users, taking the pretend-to-be-whoever-you-want idea and allowing users to follow their dreams and make money (for some) doing what they always wanted; perhaps not what they're doing in non-virtual life. Some Second Life "Residents" have been reported to make over $1 million in US currency.

It's shiny, it's somewhat new, and the idea intrigues many. The perks of possible economic success on the site, however, are also accompanied by some annoying disadvantages. A list of little-known (maybe, maybe not) facts about Second Life follows:

Second Life FunFacts

1. Users' online self-representations are called Avatars. I was under the impression that was a movie that was only worth seeing at an IMAX or at the regular theater...now it's my cartoon self.

2. In the Second Life economy, there exists no taxes, low "government" regulations, and low production costs. It's as if they're paying you to invent something that could turn a profit in US dollars.

3. Real money: the Linden dollar (L$) is convertible to the US dollar. Exchange rate: L$309:US$1.

4. Real money, take two: users cannot use L$ in the US market. For example, you cannot go to a Linden Lab ATM (because they don't exist) withdraw from your L$ balance. How convenient for LL, eh?

5. Real money, take three: L$1.93 billion in monthly transactions. The virtual economy is booming while the real one continues to flounder. Awesome.

6. Despite its heavy volume of users (518,524, growing by 36 percent a month), only a small fraction of them upgrade past the basic account. Accounts past the basic level have more financial freedom and thus, can make more money at a more efficient rate. Second Life is about buying and selling, marketing and advertising. If users don't want to get bored, they should be sure they're interested in logging some non-billable business hours, contrasting the paid hours one records during...say..."Real, Original Life?"

7. Second Life "Residents" can market anything from a character's walk to facial expressions, outfits and accessories, and all kinds of services or merchandise --including a vivid sex simulator, complete with free updates for life, at a steal of a deal: L$219. That's less than a US$1. I am now starting to understand why people immerse themselves in a virtual reality; it's cheaper, you can be anyone you want to be, and you can get a sex simulation machine for less than a buck that will last you a lifetime!

8. On the same subject line as sex, a favorite of most people in the world, the social scene in Second Life mimics "Real, Original Life," with the most popular hang outs being places with names like Club Arsheba: Hot Sexy Girls, and ELEMENTS at Goddess of Love 2.

9. The Second Life network is apparently a little slow. I'm an avid Guitar Hero player, and I can't imagine the frustration I would feel if the screen or response to the guitar were delayed. Second Life's creators actually issued a warning/apology statement for the influx of signups that resulted from a Yahoo! advertisement. So, the network is slow, the creators know about it, and...

10. Linden Labs is for sale! Any takers?

Virtual reality is taking a turn towards an all-inclusive alternate lifestyle that could only lead to an increase in the obsession with escape. Escape your shitty job. Escape your socially unacceptable physique and create a new one, without even moving from your couch! Linden Lab's idea of a virtual world that can resemble almost completely the world we already live in is an intriguing one at the very least, but why not change your original life first? Build your own escape and live in it instead of logging in to it?

Anna Forge is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools for Guide to Online Schools.

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