the sadness of Second Life
May 31, 2007 8:37 AM   Subscribe

The sadness of Second Life, if you know any examples. Bad things that have happened in there, stats about why people leave, anecdotes about what's wrong with it, etc.

I'm not suggesting that it's only bad, it's just that it's easy to find a lot talking about why it's AWESOME. I'm looking for counterexamples, is all. There was a post over a year ago asking what's good about it, but a lot's happened since... for example Warren Ellis' "Shipwrecked And Abandoned" post. I'm looking for anything qualitative, quantitative, anecdotal, or whatever you've got.

(Again, none of this is to say that SL is only bad or start a debate over it. It's just to get some concrete examples of what goes wrong.)
posted by cloudscratcher to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Ahhh...just read Warren Ellis' article about it, and I've gotta say, he's right on. I was going to post a comment exactly along those lines—most places you go in Second Life are either (1) empty or (2) boring unless you want to pony up some real money.
posted by limeonaire at 9:00 AM on May 31, 2007

Common criticism include: high-profile vandalism/greifing, price gouging for real estate, the goth/emo majority, the incredible amount of weird pornographic content, the AOL chatroom ambience, excessive use of system resources for the client, and general pointlessness.

The wikipedia has a whole page this stuff.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:01 AM on May 31, 2007

I only know what Drew from the webcomic Toothpaste for Dinner says:

It is like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, except you can't shoot anyone, and you can't hit people. You just walk around. There are no prostitutes, and everything costs real money, and you can't rob anyone to get money. You have to use your credit card, with real money, to buy fake money to use in the game. It's not actually like Grand Theft Auto at all...
posted by puddleglum at 9:17 AM on May 31, 2007 [2 favorites]

Also, while there aren't a lot of items you can get without pumping real money into the game, there is lots of junk lying around—but that junk is only available for free 'cause it's made by amateur hackers/artists/griefers, looks like it was made in MS Paint, and is generally useless.
posted by limeonaire at 9:20 AM on May 31, 2007

SL is not particularly fun. I'm assuming all the "Gee-Whiz" stories we've been hearing are caused by the SL marketing team then amplified by the traditional media's complete ignorance regarding all things digital.

On a personal level, when I tried SL the first thing someone handed me was an erect penis. That pretty much sums up the whole experience.
posted by chairface at 9:55 AM on May 31, 2007

I tried to take up SecondLife (since it seemed cheaper than WoW, because I didnt need to pay monthly). I probably wasnt paying too much attention, but somehow i ended up with a stupid name which I couldnt change, and looked like a japanese cybergoth character, I couldnt exactly work out how to reskin him with ease, so I kind of let it stick.

Broadband in New Zealand isnt exceptionally fast, so I probably wasnt getting a true experience, but the graphics felt years behind, and random objects kept appearing, i got a motorcycle (yay) but didnt know what to do with it really, and it was free so no one would buy it.

I somehow ended up at a casino where I was getting given free money to stand next to something, the logic of this didnt entirely make sense, then there were strange female characters offering me 'services' which I found a bit weird for a virtual reality game...

It might have been due to my setup, but the lack of sound... like even ambient noise was disturbing enough to not keep me awake long enough.

All this granted though, that I have the patience of a child on some of these things.
posted by chrisbucks at 9:59 AM on May 31, 2007

according to this article, an average sl avatar consumes as much energy as an average brazilian:
posted by lgyre at 10:01 AM on May 31, 2007

I tried second life for a few days (over a year ago) and my own experiences were not that great. In my opinion the problems with the 'game' go far beyond the community of freaks, weirdos and sexual deviants, the engine behind it all is terribly sub-par and the tutorial is terrible.

The basic models and animations for your starting character are rubbish - you shouldnt have to buy a decent walk animation - seriously. For the most part the people I met were nice, lots wanted to give me free stuff to get me out of the newbie clothes which was cool and there were sandboxes for trying out modelling and scripting but there was no ingame help or tutorial for the content building tools - which was my main reason for wanting to check out the game in the first plce.

After enduring the rather painful tutorial I was presented with a list of 10 interesting places for new players to visit - I naively picked the first one - a tree-top hang-out (sounded cool to sweet innocent little me) so I teleported myself off there and ofcourse, it wasnt so much cool as a furry hangout - which is fine if you're into that sort of thing but not exactly the sort of thing I expected to stumble upon in my first session. (I quickly flew away)

After recovering in newbsville for a while and aquiring a bass guitar in the sandbox (which on 'equip' ended up through my head) I decided to head off to some other safer sounding places in the guidebook - first stop - a mall. Well I would have liked to look at the dresses and maybe make a purchase but I got bored waiting for the place to render. Staring at fuzzy walls waiting for the textures to show up is pretty boring (I have 10MB broadband so I'm not exactly on a slow connection), although a nice girl did come along and show me how to put the guitar in my hand and not my head and gave me a box of free shoes.

Next place I tried was supposedly a tranquil old-english style village which someone had obviously put a lot of effort into but again the same problem with the mall - waiting ages for textures to load.

The most fun was in the sandboxes, looking at what people had built in awe - I was amazed anyone could make anything with the ingame tools - I'm no noob to 3d modelling but the best I managed was a sort of abstract sculpture.

I did see people doing amazing things and obviously having a lot of fun but at the end of the day, it shouldnt be such hard work to have fun in a game. I decided while there was potential to have fun it wasnt worth the effort involved in figuring it all out.
posted by missmagenta at 10:37 AM on May 31, 2007

This is sad, funny, and NSFW:
posted by smackfu at 12:24 PM on May 31, 2007

Furries and flying cocks, that's really all you need to know.
posted by prostyle at 12:46 PM on May 31, 2007

I tried SL a year ago and didn't get it, but I read about NOAA creating an island with all sorts of weather related exhibits the other day, so installed it again.

I logged on and refamiliarized myself with the controls, and followed NOAAs link to get to the island. It didn't work, so I tried entering the co-ordinates manually which seemed to work.

I walked around (slowly).. the place was empty, but some of it worked (the glacier and tsunami exhibits).. though other parts were totally busted. One video wall had "OWNED BY Hackshaven" written on it. The "hurricane tour" was totally broken with the airplane for the tour half sticking through a wall and it totally didn't work.

I then tried using the Search tools to find other places to go.. and even the busiest places only had twenty or so people. I walked around a mall, and then wandered out and almost everywhere was a mall or some building selling something. It was like the worst of America all in one place. Casinos, endless malls, people trying to sell crap everywhere.. :)
posted by wackybrit at 12:59 PM on May 31, 2007

SomethingAwful has a recurring feature called Second Life Safari, which chronicles some of the ridiculousness. Some of the links are NSFW.
posted by shadow vector at 1:46 PM on May 31, 2007

The only fun things I got out of 2nd life were designing my avatar (which after a lot of fiddling ended up looking just like me) and about 20 minutes of flying. After that, the flying stopped being fun.

I tried going to some newbie places and people were clumped around having really boring IM-type conversations

(whats up?

ha ha what u doin

hey look here



hey dude


All the people seemed to know each other and wouldn't talk to any one else, which was fine by me because they were being really boring, but it seemed strange for a place that was meant for new players.

Then I went to some sort of mall/fun park thing, which was nearly deserted. There were a couple of other avatars skulking around, one of which trailed my avatar at a distance and one of which stood really close to me and 'stared' at me whenever I stopped moving, but never said anything. It was sort of like a Silent Hill video game, and freaked me out a bit even though I knew I was in my comfortable safe home and weirdos weren't actually standing around staring at me.

A couple of days later I tried again and found that all the interesting looking places I could find were off-limits to me - they were 'by invitation only' or something (I don't remember exactly what the reason was). I spent some time flying around bumping into big red electric fences and feeling left out.

I uninstalled it after about a week.
posted by frobozz at 1:58 PM on May 31, 2007

I get really bored at work and I log in on occasion. I rarely see any other people there. When I do, they're just standing there.

To this day, I am amazed by all the hype it got.
posted by drstein at 2:28 PM on May 31, 2007

and aquiring a bass guitar in the sandbox (which on 'equip' ended up through my head)

That... is... the... FUNNIEST thing I have read all week! LOL funny! Not fake LOL, but real LOL.
posted by The Deej at 3:03 PM on May 31, 2007

Saddest thing I saw in Second Life was Kurt Vonnegut. He was doing a simultaneous radio show and in-world presentation. An avatar was created for him that looked like a fair simulacrum. But the avatar kept nodding off, as I recall. He was there, but he was really gone.
posted by squink at 4:13 PM on May 31, 2007

The fact that it's - not real? A virtual toy?
posted by Gerard Sorme at 4:22 PM on May 31, 2007

A geekfriend of mine was a beta tester for Asheron's call. He let me roam around in it, and since it was in beta, there were very few people. I walked across a vast wasteland, and saw someone approaching. We finally met, and he greeted me.
Me: Wanna see a card trick?
Him: Sure!!!!
Me: Got any cards?

That was the most exciting thing I did. I'm sure I'd have a hoot in SL.
posted by The Deej at 6:09 PM on May 31, 2007

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