Virtually Speaking

Second Life along with the First.

When bloggers get bored

I don’t subscribe to my local newspaper any more.  Haven’t for a number of years, in fact.  It’s a small town paper.  Their version of “news” is when an elderly couple’s cat gets lost.  Crime creeps into the headlines once in a while but this is one of those places whose crime rate would make Detroit or Washington, D.C. cry with envy.   It’s that stereotypical “Middle America” you read about but don’t believe exists.   It does.

I’ve found that I can get more important information from internet news – the NY Times Online, Dallas Morning Herald, Chicago Trib, and so forth.  I even read the Jerusalem Post and London Times.  Who needs the local yokels with their trivial personality feuds when there are bigger yokels who actually have (or are trying to get) nuclear weapons?

So it’s no surprise when I picked up my local paper in the office this morning – the company pays for the subscription, not me – and see that they’ve dug up an old Michael Duff blog entry from August 30.

Mid-Life Crisis Online

It’s a well-worn tale by now.  Oblivious, non-techie journalist hears that Second Life is the “hot” thing on the internet now thanks to Philip’s PR, German pervs  and Mark Bragg in the news.   It’s free to try, he needs blog material, he’s bored, so why not?

Is the result hard to predict? 

Second Life held no attraction for me because there is no “game” here. They might as well change the name to Mid-life Crisis. Call me shallow, but if I’m not killing Orcs within 10 minutes of character creation, your design concept is fundamentally flawed.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but spending real money on fake things sounds ludicrous to me — like going out for dinner so you can buy pictures of steak.

I actually get that part – killing Orcs can be fun.  I’ve been personally responsible for more than one virtual Orc extinction myself over the years. 

But this is what we call “missing the entire point”, boys and girls.  How many newbies do you know who have NO design skills, no programming skills, don’t engage in cybersex and yet have become immersed in the world so completely their real-life relationships suffer? 

Why does that happen? 

I think it’s twofold.  First, I think some of us – the creative types, even if we don’t have creative skills – have much richer imaginations.  Those imaginations draw us to places like Second Life.  And TSO, IMVue, or insert-your-favorite-VW-here.  The very appeal of SL is to those of us who feel most comfortable in a virtuality because we can visualize ourselves as being there, becoming our avatar, interacting as virtual people. 

Second, I think the social interaction in SL is very powerful.  People enjoy engaging other people.  It gives us the feedback, support, and benchmarking we need as individuals to feel worthy and not alone.

Duff apparently only gave it a few days before hitting his blog deadline and peeling off a tongue-in-cheek denouncement.  That’s hardly a fair review, even if fairness wasn’t his intention.  I think it took me two weeks of frequenting the same clubs and stores, figuring out all the nuances of interface and the hidden tricks of the debug menu to even get to the point where I felt there was a social pull in Second Life for me.  Two months later I was much more comfortably immersed.  Two years later, SL is as much a part of my life as my real family and friends.  My SL friends are real – disguised in some way perhaps and hundreds or thousands of miles away, but nevertheless real.

A word of advice to Mr. Duff:  Stick to killing orcs.  Let me know how immersed you are after two years of killing the same ugly orcs 4,000 times.  After you max out your level in WoW, I’ll still be discovering new things in Second Life.

October 1, 2007 Posted by | First Life, Second Life | , , , , | Leave a comment