I have been pondering sometime writing an article on Secondlife. But where to begin? With the social life? Business? Education? Sex? I have instead opted to create a series articles dedicated to various aspects over the next several weeks. These articles will be anything but exhaustive. I will attempt, however, to expand on the media’s current representation and provide a more in depth focus on potential implications and theoretical linkages between the world in Secondlife and everyday life.

– What is Second Life? –

For those of you not ‘in the know,’ Secondlife (or SL) is an online networking world where users (residents) are allowed to create an avatar, an internet users representation of him or herself, to interact with those around them as well as generate a multitude of objects from clothing to buildings inhabiting a small parcel to entire islands. It has been likened to World of Warcraft (WoW) and other Massive Multiplayer Online Roll Playing Games (MMORPGs). Unlike other MMORPGs, however, SL represents a departure in terms of the flexible environment created by its users. Instead of participating in a guild and completing quests residents may choose a seemingly endless list of activities limited by one’s imagination.

Population

Once online you will find a diverse population representative of persons and personalities from around the world. You can get an idea of the relative population growth of the multiple online worlds which is tracked on Swivel.com. Though in relative terms, WoW still maintains its position in terms of absolute users, but Secondlife’s broader offering and media exposure will surely make it a significant alternative. According to Linden Labs, creator of SL, since going online in 2003 the population has grown to over 2,000,000 users.

World of Warcraft and Second Life: who’s on top?

MMORPG subscribers World of Warcraft
MMORPG subscribers Second Life

who's on top?
Environment

As mentioned above, the construct of SL is almost limitless. User generated objects and environments range from personal residences to scenes symbolic of the Elysium fields. Exploring the many islands of SL will yield a plethora of locations, some as recognizable as 30 Rockefeller Center, location of the GE Building (NBC’s headquarters), others as abstract as the University of Texas at Dallas’ ATEC Museum.

Following are links to but only a couple of several blogs that I recommend frequenting at your leisure for information on both residents, events and locations:

Infoisland.org
New World Notes

Though not your typical MMORPG, SL brings a richer environment with serious linkages to Real life (RL). Several companies and universities are gaining a presence in the online world for purposes of marketing, research or to participate directly in the SL economy. Be sure to check back for these upcoming articles:

  • Business of Second Life
  • Education and Research in Second Life
  • Psychology of Second Life and Online Worlds


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