Lentis/Second Life

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Overview[edit]

Philip Rosedale: The founder of Linden Labs and creator of Second Life

Second Life is a virtual online community set in a 3-D online world. Despite all of the interactions being online, the users of Second Life have created aspects one would find in a society in the real world. Second Life users have made friends, built relationships, opened businesses, created organizations, gotten married, created fashion, and the list goes on. Despite the world of Second Life existing only online with no physical interaction, the users have created a fully functioning society around them and have truly allowed users to experience a "second life".

History[edit]

The creator of the virtual world Second Life is Philip Rosedale, a technological entrepreneur from San Diego California. In 1999, Philip Rosedale moved to San Francisco and founded Linden Labs with hopes of creating a revolutionary 3-D virtual experience[1]. In June 2003, Linden Lab released the first version of Second Life. Second Life is a three dimensional virtual world (referred to as the grid by users) where a user's avatar (the user's personification within Second Life) can interact on an online landscape. Second Life was created using elements such as collaboration and openness to give users full freedom to experience Second Life. Second Life's popularity skyrocketed in 2006 when the total number of registered users increased from 100,000 in January of 2006[2] to 1 million in October of 2006[3]. This number has now increased to 21.4 million registered users as of November 2010[4].

SL Experience[edit]

Second Life free to use and can be downloaded off the internet onto your computer. You are given an avatar and can then begin exploring the "grid". Residents have free reign over what they would like to do. Residents can buy and sell goods and services. They can dance at the club, or go to a bar. There is a bar staff and streaming music so everyone hears the same music. Some residents are even regulars at virtual bars. There is a Teen Second Life for those ages 13-17, which has its own grid, teens cannot enter adult areas, and adults cannot enter teen areas.[5] Many people use Second Life as a social outlet, as many residents engage in chats and meaningful conversations.[6] Virtual relationships are formed, but with real emotions. Second Life can be used to travel to other cities and countries and to go site seeing. You can then talk to other residents in a 3-D setting.

Social Groups[edit]

Second Life contains a virtual society in which different Social Groups have been created around the Second Life environment. Users of Second Life have different motivations for entering the grid. Some users log on for the entertainment of interacting with new people and are purely recreational users. Others see Second Life as a business opportunity where they attempt to sell goods and services to other users. In one survey of Second Life users, the most popular motivations for joining second life were learning and plain fun. The same survey also stated that 66% of those polled used Second Life to create new things, and 17% used Second Life to sell these creations. Though this is a smaller percentage then those that use Second Life purely for the social aspect, it is important to note that there is a social group that uses Second Life to make money[7]. There are also religious groups that have used Second Life as a congregation center and place of worship[8]. Despite the fact that Second Life is virtual, many of the social groups that exist in RL (Real Life) appear in Second Life.

Creating a Real Life in Second Life[edit]

Second Life is, in many ways, a glorified chatroom - a 3D online game. However, for many of this virtual world's inhabitants, Second Life is much more. SL has it's own economy with thriving businesses making real US dollars, a stock market and a myriad of entrepreneurial opportunities. Residents can buy, rent, own, design, sell and develop land and property. Users can make friends, join groups and even get married.

Business[edit]

Second Life has provided an avenue for some people to earn a comfortable living. Anshe Chung (Ailin Graef in Real Life) became the first millionaire (in real U.S. dollars) in Second Life, landing the cover of BusinessWeek in 2006. In two and a half years, Ailin turned her account fee of $9.95 into a fortune by purchasing virtual real estate then subdividing and developing properties for rental and resale. Today, Ailin still manages Second Life properties and has even started a real-world 3D environment developer business in China called Anshe Chung Studios. [9][10]

Second Life embraces entrepreneurship. Linden Labs is one of the only virtual environments to allow users to maintain copyright of their Second Life creations – and retain those in the real world.[11] Many users run businesses or hold jobs in Second Life. The website lists some examples of Second Life enterprises run by residents including a wedding planner, a pet manufacturer, a tattooist, a fashion designer, a custom avatar designer, an architect, a game developer, a tour guide, a real estate speculator and a publicist. [12]

Real World businesses are becoming interested in Second Life as an avenue for additional business. Companies like American Apparel and Dell have set up stores and advertisements within Second Life.[13].

Building a House[edit]

Just like in real life, users in Second Life can own property. While some make money buying, developing and reselling or renting property; other users make money designing homes for other users. Virtuatecture is term used to describe the creation of structures in a virtual world - specifically designed for the virtual world. These structures are not bounded by real life constraints such as physics, weather or materials. The result is some very strange - and unique structures. Many people use their houses as a fantasy residence - by the beach or in a castle (Interestingly the most popular type of house). Although Second Life eliminates the need for certain human amenities, many users like to have familiar comforts. Users will have bathrooms with toilets even though avatars never need them, full luxury kitchens even though eating is also unnecessary and nice fireplaces even though they are purely decorative[14].

Relationships and Family[edit]

Second Life provides a platform for a myriad of relationships. It is easy to search for and meet other users and add them as a "friend". Users meet up with friends, host parties or get-togethers and join groups and communities. Interactions can be brief and friendly with random strangers you may encounter or friendships formed from mutual interests. Users can use Second Life as a way to establish and build relationships - both virtual and real.

In some cases, these relationships become romantic. Users in Second Life can have their avatars get married - complete with a ceremony ranging from simple to extravagant. You can even have it handled as a legally binding marriage with a state wedding license. [15]. These relationships do not stay strictly virtual. In a couple of cases, such as avatars Brie Janick Seany1235 Blinker (Nina Allam and Sean Barbary in real life) the online wedding turned into a real-life love story. [16] Unfortunately in some cases relationships, intimate interaction or cheating on Second Life can cause divorce or other marital problems in real life [17].

Some users have used Second Life to create a virtual family. You can get married and have a baby by purchasing "pregnant shapes" for your avatar and a "baby" from the marketplace. [18]. The experience can be even more realistic with visits to the hospital or a midwife. [19] Users can also choose to have their avatar be a child. These avatars will often join with other avatars to form "families" complete with aunts and uncles and cousins. Adult avatars can find these children and adopt them through one of several adoption agencies in Second Life. [20]

Sex[edit]

Sex is very popular within Second Life, and it is a huge moneymaker. Similar to real life, in Second Life, sex sells. Users' avatars can have sex in the virtual world. The creators of Second Life chose to include sex because they want residents to be free to create their own experience. They say the benefits of sex in Second Life is that it is completely 100% safe, you never have to worry about STDs or pregnancy.[21]
It is also a place where people can explore their fantasies without anyone getting physically harmed. This is not to say that you see sex everywhere, as nudity and sexual behavior is not allowed in Second Life besides private areas and sex clubs.[22]

Money[edit]

In Second Life, the currency is Linden Dollars. US dollars and Linden dollars may be exchanged at any time, the current exchange rate as of December 2010 being $L255 to $1USD[23]. Most people do not make a profit in Second Life, although it is possible. It has a real economy by design. Many people fund their Second Life by working in Second Life, there are a few people that earn an income from being content creators. Hundreds of millions of US dollars are circulated through Second Life’s economy each year.[24] The dollar value of things in Second Life are much less than in real life, as an outfit would cost about a dollar, and a house would be less than $10. Starting a business in Second Life requires very little investment, less than 5 dollars. There isn’t nearly the risk associated with starting a business in real life. There are also no limits to how many or what kind of businesses you can own. There is little to no creative restriction.[25]

Glamour[edit]

A glamorous SL avatar

You can look however you would like and you can change your appearance at any time- you can be a man, a woman, an animal, a robot, or any other object. You can change eye color, height, weight, skin color, hair, clothes, everything- and most people look nothing like they do in real life, although some do. It is very interesting to see how people choose to look when their options are endless.[26]

Fashion[edit]

Fashion has no limits in SL, it is another way to show creativity.

SL fashion remains a multimillion-dollar industry in SL. It is much more popular among the women residents, as they out shop the men 10:1. 85% of clothes can fit your avatar perfectly; you don’t need to shop for something that fits you right. The other 15% of clothes can be adjusted to fit you, and once you adjust them, the outfit stays. [27]The clothes always look right, they never shift, they don’t get ruined, and your underwear can’t get bunched up. In real life, you must have enough closet space for all your clothes, and in SL, there is an unlimited amount of space to store them.

Complex outfits can be changed very easily in Second Life, so an avatar can own many extravagant outfits. Choices of clothing in RL can be hindered by cost, where as no outfit in SL would be more than $10, so you really can wear whatever you want, without it really costing money. Like glamor, there are infinite possibilities for fashion. Without the constraints of money and comfort, users are free to explore the extravagant and the impractical, the fantastic and the bizarre. The art to designing clothes is more open, there are no consequences as it cannot be uncomfortable.

Conclusions at the Social Interface of Technology[edit]

Second Life has become a place to literally create a second life. The virtual technology allows users to design, create, explore, interact and express themselves unencumbered by the typical issues of real life like money and social awkwardness. It creates a new platform for social interaction that pushes the boundary on what is possible. This new Second Life is much closer to real life than one would originally think of such a virtual utopia. Changing the platform for social interaction will not change human nature. There are still relationship challenges, users who are nasty or unfriendly and although the aspects of the virtual life are a fraction as expensive as real life - it still costs something. Users also seek to make their second life more realistic with things like fire places, cars, new clothes and weddings. Second Life is not just a virtual fantasy life. People have used Second Life to create a virtual real-world with its own imperfections (albeit with a more creative and unencumbered twist).

References[edit]

  1. Linden Lab: About the Company [1]
  2. Linden Lab: SECOND LIFE WELCOMES 100,000th RESIDENT TO VIRTUAL WORLD (January 5, 2005) [2]
  3. Second Life Hits One Million Accounts [3]
  4. Current User Metrics for Second Life[4]
  5. 12 Things To Do In Second Life That Aren't Embarrassing If Your Priest Or Rabbi Finds Out [5]
  6. Understanding and analyzing activity and learning in virtual communities [6]
  7. Huvila I, et al. (2010), Social Capital in Second Life, Online Information Review. (295-316)
  8. The anglican Cathedral of Second Life [7]
  9. Bloomberg Businessweek: Second Life's First Millionaire[8]
  10. Anshe Chung Becomes First Virtual World Millionaire [9]
  11. Second Life: Terms of Service: Content Licenses and Intellectual Property Rights [10]
  12. Entrepeneur: Starting a Second Life Business Find out what entrepreneurial opportunities the virtual world of Second Life has to offer [11]
  13. Entrepeneur: Starting a Second Life Business Find out what entrepreneurial opportunities the virtual world of Second Life has to offer [12]
  14. Avril Korman: Virtuatecture in Second Life: What Makes a House a House? [13]
  15. AssociatedContent: Second Life Marriage [14]
  16. CNN: Virtual world, real emotions: Relationships in Second Life [15]
  17. Metro: Second Life sex causes divorce [16]
  18. Discover: When Technology Gets Creepy, Giving Birth in Second Life [17]
  19. Top1Gaming: How do you get pregnant on Second Life?[18]
  20. Desperately Seeking Family: Ageplay Adoption Agencies in Second Life [19]
  21. Sex In Second Life [20]
  22. Interview With A Virtual Madame [21]
  23. Second Life LindeX Market Data [22]
  24. Sex, Money, Fame & Glamour in Second Life [23]
  25. Second Life Wiki: Money [24]
  26. Sex, Money, Fame & Glamour in Second Life [25]
  27. Of Fashion and Sociology: The Psychology of Second Life [26]