Virtually Speaking

Second Life along with the First.

The Long Goodbye

In case some of you missed it (or in case anyone still ever reads this place), I’ve been posting occasionally over on The Grid Grind.  It’s diluted what little time and energy I had for blogging to the point that I just haven’t been up to keeping up here in the old homestead.

That’s the way it happens, though, any time you diffuse your energy.  I’ve done it with games I’ve played, getting so far along in the plot or high in the levels only to see some other new shiny that grabs my attention.  I most recently did it with Lord of the Rings Online, a Tolkien-based MMRPG which I had been playing since the middle of beta.  I had done most of the quests and character classes so much that, by the time I was advanced in the release version I just lost interest.  Burned out.  I think I’ve played LOTRO all of about 30 minutes in the last month.  Lifetime memberships for the win — Turbine’s strategy to create a membership that could never leave, just like Hotel California, is paying off.

I sometimes joke about suffering from ADHD – though it’s not a very funny joke.  My son has suffered from it for most of his life, and it’s taken some serious changes in diet and medication to get him to some semblance of normalcy.   It’s not a joking matter.  So when I flippantly say that I think I suffer from it, it’s not without some basis.

I have a very hard time staying focused on one thing for very long.  In terms of online worlds, my limit seems to be somewhere between one and two years.  Historically, I will leave a game for a while, take a deep breath, and return with a vengeance or a new character after I’ve recharged my interest.  Sometimes, like with Anarchy Online and City of Heroes, I’ve done that several times.  I think I’m on my fourth COH account now because Cryptic/NCSoft makes it so damned hard to reactivate old accounts.

The forces that divert my interest do not always involve boredom, though.  With Second Life, boredom isn’t the whole story.  I was making good progress mastering the creation tools of SL – in-world building, Photoshop, Poser, writing scripts.  I even got a free copy of Maya 2008 to start playing with sculpted prims.  But my enthusiasm has flagged.  What’s going on here?

For one, I think the year-long saga and emotional shipwreck that was Archan ultimately sapped me of the last spark of enthusiasm I had for Second Life.  Of the hundreds of people I considered to be friends from my Archan experience, I think I can still count 4 of them that have stuck by me and proven themselves to be unselfish, caring, and considerate.  The others either drifted away or got caught up in the post-apocalypse paranoia and hard feelings.  As I fully expected, some blamed the whole thing on me.  I don’t care.

I suppose adversity is the true test of friendship.  I understand that, and I understand that the nature of Second Life is such that new friendships are only an IM away.    In SL more than in real life, everything is transitory.  That includes friendships, for the most part.  It’s just like me to keep people on my friends list who haven’t been in world for 2 years, just on the outside chance they may come back and say ‘hi’.  But maybe I’m an unrepentant idealist, who knows.

The most glaring difference between SL and all those other games I’ve tired of is that, in SL it’s not the loot and the levels.  It’s the friends.  The friends are what keeps me around and makes me come back.  The possibility of future friends keeps my hopes up as old friends fall by the wayside or decide I’ve inflicted some imaginary hurt on them.   And that’s what this is all about, this ADHD/boredom/wandering loner syndrome I’m in.  It’s about hope and the possibility that things will be better tomorrow than they are today or they were yesterday.  We all need hope.

Still,  going on my third year in Second Life, if I weighed all the formed and budding relationships I’ve had against those that ended gradually or abruptly, it feels to me like one long goodbye.  Most of the time, a virtual friend just isn’t going to have the shape and substance you find in a real-life friend, and like spring tulips you hardly say hello before you’re saying goodbye.

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November 26, 2007 Posted by | Second Life | , , , , | 2 Comments