Second Bore
March 2, 2006 2:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to figure out what the appeal of Second Life is.

This mostly goes out to anyone who actually plays/uses/whatevers it and enjoys it.

I recently signed up again after using it for a week about six months ago, and am trying to find something I like about it. The idea is interesting to me, but I can't seem to get into any portion of it. What's the appeal?

I can see where if I decided to make textures and objects and "sell" them I could make a couple of bucks a week or something, but beyond that I can't see myself enjoying anything enough to justify the cost of the "money" needed to do anything interesting.

Is it really just an amazing waste of time?
posted by cellphone to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't played it, but this blog (nsfw warning: computer-generated titillation) may help understand the appeal.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:34 PM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: I found it was intriguing because you can design absolutely anything, not just your character, and you don't have to be playing a game (like Everquest or others). I also liked the idea of shopping/acquiring user created objects, not just items that have been created by the developers. It's very open and flexible.

I guess I was expecting something more sci-fi and less furries and club-kids. I haven't signed on in a long time. Also, what's with all the gambling?
posted by dual_action at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: Also, what's with all the gambling?

That's the main annoyance of mine. No matter what I search for, it's nothing but clothes and gambling. Well, unless I click the 'show mature content' box. But I was kind of hoping there'd be more appeal than that.
posted by cellphone at 3:03 PM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: It appeals to different people in different ways. Me, not much in any:

1. Chat. Obviously you can chat without the 3D environment trappings, but there it is
2. Create. Some people really get very creative, and considering how crude the tools are, I find that impressive. A subset of the creators is the coders--I've seen some people do some pretty clever things with the scripting language. So it can satisfy the artistic/creative urge in people.
3. Relationships. Obviously a lot of the relationships in there are kind of weird, but there it is.
4. Gaming. There are all those games like Slingo etc going on inside SL, so if you're into that, cool. Although a lot of those involve gambling, I think that's probably secondary to the social aspect.
5. Escapism. Duh. You get to be the person and create the environment you want, rather than live with what you've got. I met an Israeli kid in SL who in RL is living in the occupied territories. He's sure got something to escape from.
6. Shopping. Not a big hobby for me, but it is for some people, and your L$ go so far!

I spent enough time there to get bored with it myself, but I can see how some combination of the above is appealing.
posted by adamrice at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: I used to be on SL, back before the newer property taxes &c. The map used to be packed with buildings that were interesting - cabins overlooking lakes, architectural sculptures. Lots of interesting, but pointless (beyond aesthetics) stuff.

Now it's mostly shops, clubs and gambling. Everything is business-driven because it costs to persitently manifest anything in game. For an item to be persistent, it generally has to pay its own way.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lot of the pleasant, non-business content getting packed up and removed.

Around about when I was getting into scripting constructors, the taxes gutted everyone's rezzed polygon limits. People adapted by becoming costumed gypsies - removing their permanent installations and expressing creativity only in what they wore in SL (clothes rez with your avatar, so they don't accrue property taxes.)

I haven't been on in months, and I gave up my paid membership long ago.
posted by Crosius at 3:25 PM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: I sum it up that there are five basic things to do:

Play with in-game creations.

You don't have to spend much to build or script... you need some money to upload textures, but not much. Anything you see in SL, no matter how cool or complex, you could theoretically build yourself.

You don't _have_ to own land at all. If you want permanent structures, you can sometimes make friends and build on someone's land, or you can sometimes rent land with in-game money.

The biggest thing is finding good people. It used to be that every single person you ran into was highly intelligent and very interesting to talk to. You could think of that early crowd as sort of a live-chat 3-D metafilter. :)

Over time, as it has grown, the mediocrity has expanded a great deal, and there's a LOT of useless, boring crap to wade through. Back in the day, there was about one event every hour, and everyone went to the one event. But they were GOOD events. In many ways, when there were 10 events a day, it was better than it is now with five hundred.

If you can find the interesting people, it can be a fantastic place to hang out and play. But you may have to spend some real time looking.

The Ethics group is pretty good. Thinkers is good. The sim Neualtenberg has many fascinating people... it's a haven of old-timers. The Captions event (which I run) on Wednesday nights is good. (in my not very humble opinion :) ) There's a guy named Flaming Moe who plays live music on Friday nights... he streams through a server, and everyone on the land parcel where he is can hear him. (I haven't heard Moe, but he's been at it awhile, so he's probably decent.) Astrin Few does a similar thing on many Wednesday nights... his vocals are a bit weak, but his guitar playing is excellent.

Most days there are a few events that are actually worth going to. If you uncheck 'Show Mature', you'll immediately cut about half the crap.

And, if you don't find anyone you like, there's always WoW. :)

On preview: Crosius, I dunno what game you've been playing, but there's a huge number of completely useless-except-for-aesthetics builds. Just a huge number of them. Your criticism doesn't match what I've seen _at all_. There are whole sims that are designed just to be aesthetic... check out Amsterdam, for instance. Or Slate. Or, as mentioned above, Neualtenburg. A lot of people spend money just to have a place to play.

And there have always been limits on prims... up until about 2 years ago, you had to pay a weekly tax for every rezzed prim you had in game. Money was scarce, builds were tiny, and land was cheap because nobody needed it, not being able to afford permanent builds.

In 1.2, they moved to having a certain number of prims based on how much land you own... and having prims rezzed doesn't cost you anything directly. It's just the land maintenance fees. You don't have to own land, and in fact can play the game completely for free... but if you want to pay some money, you can make a permanent build. Many people do, because most folks find building fun... and while commercial builds are very common, they by NO means dominate the game.
posted by Malor at 3:44 PM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: Note: the commercial builds are NOISY. You have to look for the non-commercial ones. :)
posted by Malor at 3:48 PM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: I logged in to Second Life for the first time recently, and I'm hooked. Personally I like the social aspect of it. I'm pretty shy online, and it does take some searching, but I've managed to find at least one interesting person to talk to every time I log in. A lot of people hate the clubs, but I'm having a lot of fun just bar hopping. I get to listen to a lot of music I wouldn't otherwise be exposed to, most of it cheesy as hell, but some of it a revelation.

It can be pretty surreal, and I love that. Nothing like playing nerd trivia against a 3 foot dancing goose (and winning).

I've found some builds that push the boundaries of what i was expecting. Someone from the University of Queensland has set up an area that attempts to recreate the aural and visual hallucinations of skitzophrenics as a way of educating people about the illness. I've also heard of other people using Second Life for online counseling. It has huge potential as a medium for communication.

I think the creative aspects of it will be what keeps me in, once I get tired of wandering round aimlessly and chatting.

Malor, thanks for you help from the other thread about account activation. I never recieved an explanation from Linden Labs, but they responded promptly and I was able to log in the next day
posted by arha at 4:50 PM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: I started playing recently as well and the honeymoon hasn't worn off yet. For me too, it's all about meeting interesting people and exploring the products of people's imaginations. It probably helps that I'm a Neal Stephenson fan too.

There was also a recent article about online worlds in First Monday that has a pretty extensive list of footnotes.
posted by Pryde at 7:27 PM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: I second joining Thinkers. Some great discussion there. It's just a shame they don't meet as often as they used to.

There's also a group called Digital Cultures run by an assistant professor of anthropology at UC Irvine that holds some pretty neat group discussions about online communities.

I lost interest shortly after Tringo was invented and became the ONLY event all day every day and also what dual_action and cellphone said about the gambling.
posted by saraswati at 7:48 PM on March 2, 2006

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