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Whatever Happened To Second Life? 209

Barence writes "It's desolate, dirty, and sex is outcast to a separate island. In this article, PC Pro's Barry Collins returns to Second Life to find out what went wrong, and why it's raking in more cash than ever before. It's a follow-up to a feature written three years ago, in which Collins spent a week living inside Second Life to see what the huge fuss at the time was all about. The difference three years can make is eye-opening."
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Whatever Happened To Second Life?

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  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:48AM (#30653450)

    Second Life had little point beyond being a sex simulator and roleplaying simulator. You can't really play a real game in there. There isn't any real combat Physics built into Second Life. You walk around, you chat, if you can buy stuff and sell stuff that looks cool. You can own housing that serves no purpose. Turning actual money into Lindens was a waste of money.

    At least in WoW you could fight enemies and make money, it could be pointless because the mobs respawn, but you could do it.

    When they made it to where no one under 18 who was verified (and their verification process was extremely intrusive and I know many people who just decided to stop using second life entirely over it. It involves basicaly forking over Credit Card information, in some cases a Birth Certificate, and yuor home address.) they killed SL. Second Life was the one MMO, however crude that you could have sex in.

  • It was a Fad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BobReturns ( 1424847 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:52AM (#30653464)
    Second life was always just a silly fad. The money situation with it was just silly - it was just a bubble.
  • Ignorant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rknop ( 240417 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:54AM (#30653470) Homepage

    This article is pretty ignorant.

    To be fair, two things are true. One, Second Life has a woefully steep learning curve. Two, it's hard to find the things you'd really want to find in Second Life. Two is connected to One.... There are lots of people doing lots of creative and interesting things in Second Life, but it takes a fair bit of experience, or somebody leading you around, to know how to find them.

    The writer of this sloppy piece did a quick dash and look, almost willfully avoiding putting in the most minimal effort it would take to really find out what's there. It would be like somebody "trying to figure out what this web thing is all about" by starting at http://www.com/ [www.com] without knowing about sites like Google. Again, yes, the web is more mature and as such it's far easier to find what you're looking for... but that is how distorted the picture this article paints is.

    Yes, the sorts of things you're interested in will often not be easily or readily found. But once you start figuring out how to find them, there's all kinds of great stuff going on.

    Two things I'm involved with-- which, thus, are the sorts of things I'm interested in-- are science and theater. My theater group is at http://www.avreptheater.com/ [avreptheater.com] , and my science group is at http://www.mica-vw.org./ [www.mica-vw.org] If you want to see evidence of a whole bunch of people showing up at once at something that at least I consider interesting (although I'm extremely biased), check this out: http://www.pookymediafilms.com/2009/05/dr-knop-talks-astronomy.html [pookymediafilms.com]

  • by TrentTheThief ( 118302 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:57AM (#30653482)

    Second Life was immensely popular with people from all walks of life. They could visit and become who and what they wanted. It was a jointly held fantasy. Want to be a bipedal tiger or cat? No problem. Want to have sex with anyone and anything? No problem. Want to go to a club with strippers and play the slots? No problem.

    People went to Second Life to have a second life, to be free of all the rules and social restrictions that made their first life so mundane.

    In forcing their laws onto the onto the Lindens, real-life governments effectively sent everyone back home to Kansas. After all, if you must follow the same rules as in real life, why bother with a second version of the same dull thing?

  • by Qlither ( 1614211 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:57AM (#30653484)
    Sex makes the world go around, when they stopped sex, they stopped the game in effect. A virtual world (sand box game) are a penny a thousand, the only difference is the fact you could of had sex with "other living people" in theirs.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:18AM (#30653564) Journal

    Basically, the 5 page story ends up concluding that Second Life is for porn. Gosh, who could have guessed?

    The simple fact is that SL was a hype based on the ancient idea of virtual/3d environments being useful. They ain't.

    The reason? It is to bloody hard to do anything. When I am in the real world, moving about, turning my head, manipulating objects and chewing gum is so easy I don't actually know how to do it, I just do it. In second life, even just walking about is a pain in the ass. FPS solve this by simplifying the world and giving you limited interaction. You can just jump up any wall rather then having to climb it or put a chair in place to use as a ladder etc etc. In Dragon Age Origins I just click on a cocoon a few meters above me, without having to climb the tree it is hanging from. But in a virtual world ala Second Life they remove this simplified game element because they want something more.

    And in the end, they end up with something less. Maybe it is the uncanny valley, the more real a virtual meeting room becomes, the more obvious it becomes that it isn't real. This doesn't matter in a game, because a game isn't real. But a meeting with real people I work with in a virtual world will just feel off. Because nobody but the most dedicated attendee will bother to fully animate his avatar. Smiling, body posture, they will all be pre-scripted (and what kind of person who needs to attend a virtual meeting hasthe time to sculpt his own avatar?) and not like the real person. And for what? So you can talk more easily? You are still staring at a screen, why not use video conferincing? You can interact with a 3D object? Only if that 3D object is fully realized in SL. And I can also see that 3D object in any other display where I can spin the camera and not have to manipulate a camera around a character with collision detection. There are far better purpose build tools for showing a 3D object. And where you new 3D design is NOT on someone elses server.

    Oh, there are some useful scenario's, but they are so limited that SL doesn't deserve the hype. It would be like creating a hype for the Excell sheet viewer that MS has for people without Excell.

    And so, as the story shows, porn is the only activity that is worthwhile. Same as the net. Just how much information do you need in a day? But you can always use more porn.

    I find it intresting to see that the author says the hype has shifted to facebook and twitter. Indeed. Any predictions for how these will fair in 3 years time? MySpace has dropped a lot of its hype. Countless commercial blogs show current post as being several years old...

    Part of it all I think is the problem CNN has. They don't have enough news to fill 24 hours and I think the web as a whole might not actually have enough content to fill it all. Twitter is the most obvious example of this, so I will use facebook. Intresting to keep track of old friends... BUT how much can you track? Say that you follow all your friends holiday pictures. Unless you got hundreds of friends, that will hardly keep you that busy will it? There simply ain't enough things people can put online to keep social sites full. Except of course porn. How much of MySpace/Facebook is naughty pics?

    The problem is nothing new, it takes pixar 2 years to create a movie that takes us 2 hours to watch. Bioware spends a month on each hour of gameplay. A free news rag like metro is a day job for a whole office of workers and a global news network, and I am done with it in 20 minutes.

    I can spend ages setting up a beautifull display in Second Life, as some have done, and then a user goes, he sees it and that is it... done. That is why porn rules, because it is so very very cheap to make and people will pay for a very similar girl in a very similar pose over and over again. Porn is an amazing business. Only the food industry matches it in being able to get people to pay for exactly the same stuff again and again.

  • Ghost town effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:26AM (#30653594) Homepage

    SL has some impressive tech, running a user-scriptable 3D world with user generated content. The idea was great, tried it for a while...

    But the problem was that the server grid doesn't have enough power to allow a realistic amount of people anywhere. Whenever I was somewhere with over ten people things started lagging bad. So what you end up with are (often beautiful and extravagant) ghost towns. The concept of an open world seems like a great idea, but in practice a lot of areas are off limits due to security measures. And with little communal planning every server is more or less it's own little island.

    I still love the concept, but like communism, a working implementation seems to elude us still.

  • by BESTouff ( 531293 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:47AM (#30653682)

    Second Life was the one MMO, however crude that you could have sex in.

    I don't think we have the same definition for having sex. It's a computer game ! Where's the real flesh ?

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @09:15AM (#30653832)
    Consider that what you may want to be in fantasy is not what you think your parents would be all too comfortable with you actually being when you turn up for Christmas dinner.

    If you see 2L as an escape for the fearful, you're too narrow minded. I consider (the adult portion at least) to be an extension of the fantasy world, not a replacement of the real one.

    I don't "play" 2L, I just disagree with your point.
  • by ozbird ( 127571 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @09:21AM (#30653876)
    ... those that "get" Second Life, and those that begrudge them for it.
  • by Cloud K ( 125581 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @09:23AM (#30653898)

    I had a gander in there a month or so back, seems pretty much the same to me (but much bigger).

    The article asks "why it’s raking in more cash than ever before" - erm, this must be some new meaning of the phrase "went wrong" that I wasn't previously aware of!

    The issue perhaps is that it's highly commercial now and there's a LOT of competition, and also there has been insane expansion during the land boom. So whilst you're probably the only one browsing a shop, there are loads and loads and loads of them. But whilst you have to look on the map for the green dots to see where the actual people are, there are still tens of thousands of them! They're not exactly difficult to find!

    The biggest problem it has, is that it's become *too* full and 99.9% of it is crap. So you try to find an interesting event and all you see are pages and pages of yard sales and "money chair" non-events, and so it's a lot more effort trying to find someone or something that isn't about selling you stuff. But 'quiet' or 'empty' are certainly not words I'd used to describe that place. It's just not a media fad any more, but the population itself is right where it's always been.

  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:00AM (#30654160) Journal

    Ah yes, let's list transgender people alongside failing at life. Perhaps the point of Slashdot is for people like you who want to throw insults, when you'd be too scared to do so in the real world, right?

    I don't know what the point of Second Life is either, but the obvious comparison is to things like IRC. People make the same tired cliched criticisms of IRC as you did of SL, but I'd hope that generally any geek on Slashdot didn't fall for that.

  • by umghhh ( 965931 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:06AM (#30654236)
    extension or replacement - if t here are people for which 2L is their 1L that is fine too - I still prefer documentaries in my cellar but I can understand there are people that enjoy virtual sex in 2Las well as enjoying rubbing their real selves against other equally real bodies and even exchanging body fluids or do whatever they prefer to do. The point is looking from aside any of these three alternatives may be perceived as disturbing and I am sure there are places where majority of such activities are illegal, bottom line is however: there are people ready to invest money into such activities and they do not hurt anybody in a process so the service is maybe not up to everybody's liking but it certainly satisfies certain needs and generates profits in a process. I do not mind and I see not why should anybody be disturbed by this. Then again there are people putting other people in the prison only for smoking a joint - how sick is that compared to 2L? I think GP should take it easy and get some perspective - getting out of cellar and getting aforementioned date with real people may help but is not really necessary.
  • Re:Ignorant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:09AM (#30654264) Homepage Journal

    One of the cool things about the web is that it's easy to find things you're interested in. Second Life is just an incompetent, anthropomorphic version of the web, where it's hard to find stuff. It's hard to find things I'm interested in when I'm in meatspace, without the benefit of the internet. If Linden Labs were competent they would have found a way to make a second life that's easier and more convenient than the first one. Instead, they made a world where you have to make buildings oversized because otherwise avatars have inordinate trouble passing through doorways... and where, I suspect, it would be harder for me to build a house that looks like a house than it would to do it in the real world. (I've tried to use the building tools, which are either just fucking stupid or different for the sake of being different, in which case, it's just fucking stupid.)

  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:10AM (#30654278) Journal

    I think it's the get-off-my-lawn luddism applied to old school Internet users. Anything to do with blogs or social networking gets the same treatment.

    Only three stories earlier to this one, do we have an Eve Online story, with none of these criticisms. Of course, it's fair to say that a game is more fun than something that isn't a game, but the SL criticisms aren't about that. The "get a first life" style comments would apply to any online environment, be it IRC, Eve Online, or indeed amusingly, posting on Slashdot, as you point out.

  • by wurble ( 1430179 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:22AM (#30654384)
    It can also be an escape from RL for the disabled. I know several disabled individuals that play SL on a regular basis. For them it makes real life a little easier to cope with knowing they have someplace they can go to where they aren't limited by their disabilities.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:35AM (#30654518)

    What's wrong with wanting to be something else than what you are for a while?

    When I go to Second Life, I can be whatever I want to be, unlimited by physical restrictions (although SL imposes its own restrictions, of course). But that's not because I'm unhappy with what I actually am; it's simply because sometimes, it's fun to enter a fantasy.

    Seriously, how is it different from playing other computer games, or watching movies, or reading books, especially science-fiction and fantasy?

    The answer, of course, is that it isn't, and that doing the things you like, because you like them, without being constantly afraid of how others will view you and your actions is a good thing. People who do that and who always think about how others might perceive them with everything they do... well, I pity people like that.

    Of course SL can be overdone, just like anything else, and those people who spend 14 hours per day there (if they actually exist) are overdoing it. But then, so are those surfing the Internet (perhaps reading Slashdot?) 14 hours a day, for instance; the problem isn't with the hobby but rather with overdoing it.

    One MIGHT argue that Linden Labs actually has a vested interest in sucking people in and making them spend as much as possible of their life on SL, but I'm not sure if that's the case, and in any case, it's up to the user anyway.

    Caveat gamer. YOU are in charge of your own life, as an adult, noone else, so if you overdo it, you have noone but yourself to blame. However, this also means that if you don't overdo things, there's nothing wrong with them. It's two sides of the same coin really.

  • Two Reasons (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hasai ( 131313 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:46AM (#30654644)

    First, this twit of a journalist logs in at 1200 GMT, which equates to 0400 SLT(PST). The first country that I can find that falls into 'prime time' for that period is Nepal.

    Second, SL has installed your typical Ivy League bean-counter as their new CEO. That is invariably the beginning of the end.

  • by baKanale ( 830108 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:47AM (#30654660)

    I don't know if that's a story about the hypocrisy of Linden Labs, or a sad commentary on the nature of human beings.

  • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:52AM (#30655582) Homepage

    In any society, a few people are sociopaths. They want to inflict harm on others for their own personal gain, and it makes no difference whether they are violent criminals or violent criminals who claim to kill people for "security" or "freedom."

    In a proper civil society, sociopaths are separated from the rest of the population. Otherwise the people who are able to resolve their differences under the law are hamstrung by the juvenile minds who can't let go of their primitive impulses.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @12:45PM (#30656454) Journal

    Your facts have been checked, and found wanting. The real story is now there for all to see: conservative assholes moved into an area that didn't want them and started griefing the locals. The locals complained, and Linden did the right thing. Once again, when asshole conservatives aren't allowed to be bullies, they will whine about their 'freedom' being taken away.

    Your sad attempt at propaganda fails.

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @01:45PM (#30657568)

    Too long a story to tell here (you can google it) but their originally-stated goal was laudable: a lassaiz-faire (sp?) world with basic physics, to see how people would operate, including a truly free-for all zone called Jesse.

    So basically, just like every other time laissez-faire system have been set up, people acted true to their dickhead nature, and the system fell down in flames. Now if only the people running the economy would learn from this, and stop pushing the destructive right-wing no-regulation policies...

    This escalated to a full scale war which, when the peacniks (who'd been joined by socialists and other fellow travelers) begged the Lindens to intervene, and they did. Their actions to enforce 'peace' in some Left-Coast sort of utopian view directly contravened their own stated rules of non-intervention, and showed them for the hypocrites they are.

    I guess the hawks don't like being in the receiving end of shock and awe. BWAAAA!!!

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @01:49PM (#30657624) Journal

    Ah, geez. Give us a break from your superior, "look at what a life I have, not like those SL losers!' crap. You know who says things like that? People with no life. Seriously, have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, different people like different things? Or, maybe people DO try out new social strategies in SL, build up their confidence, and then go back to the real world with the courage to be a slut.

    I'm sorry that I have to give you such a hard time about this, but you, sir, are discouraging sluts, and this, I will not tolerate.

  • No. You have edited it to be less objective. Removing a fact because you disagree with it or think things are more 'balanced' with its removal, is not objective. The griefers were conservatives. That is a fact. Why delete it?

  • by beer_maker ( 263112 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @04:35PM (#30660038)

    Part of it all I think is the problem CNN has. They don't have enough news to fill 24 hours and I think the web as a whole might not actually have enough content to fill it all.

    It's funny, but I can spend all day reading different news sites, covering different countries or disciplines (science/finance/funny_pictures_of_cats today) and yet CNN can't seem to produce more than about 43 minutes of bad summaries of (mostly 1st-) world events. There's NEWS aplenty, but they don't seem to care about sharing the majority of it.

  • Did these people present conservative ideologies and theories? I doubt it. I doubt they would have recognized political theories without shooting at it first. "Conservative" does not mean pro-war, pro-violence, anti-hippie, etc.

    Of course they presented conservative ideologies and theories. I wouldn't have said so unless it were true. RTFA.

    Are you American? I understand that in the rest of the world, 'conservative' does not mean 'pro war, pro-violence, anti-hippy.' But here in the Land of the Free, it does. Oh sure, there are conservatives who do not espouse such things, even here. But they never speak up against those who do, so I lump them all together, the deathers, the birthers, the teabaggers: all the wacky conspiracy theorists; the libertarians, the Austrian Schoolers, and all the other lassaiz-faire deregulationists: these are the true conservatives of America. If you find these stereotypes offensive, then perhaps you ought to do something to prove that there are other, alternative forms of conservatism that are not based on fear, anger, hatred, violence, and domination.

  • Re:Ignorant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jbezorg ( 1263978 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:30PM (#30663334)

    He "lived inside SL" for a week, albeit three years ago. You can hardly call that a quick dash and look.

    Ask any fan of any outdated MMO about the game they've put so much time and effort into and they will tell you it's the best thing in the world. Point out to them the MMO's faults and they will will quickly dismiss it. Tell them that the world is empty and they will say they are surrounded by friends and players. What they often fail to see is that, for them, all of that is true. For a noob, it isn't.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser