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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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  • That's easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by ubrgeek ( 679399 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:33AM (#30653398)
    Its users got a first life. Translation: They moved over to Warcraft.
    • by vadim_t ( 324782 )

      Warcraft isn't a SL replacement. I know that quite a few people have WoW accounts, but they still keep logging into SL.

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Qlither ( 1614211 )
      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 mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        Still actively making a nice additional income in SL so no bad words about it, but I've seen the selfdestructive changes seen and come.

        The writer of the article only partially "got" second life.

        Yes, sex is the #1 activity. Followed by #2: the pursuit of sex or "how to look attractive?". #3 probably has something to do with sex as well.

        But then there's the things he doesn't get. Walking around observing stuff. Wrong. #4: Interacting with others; just chatting, playing parlour games, walking around and observ

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

      Unless you are a furry. []

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I tried that a little a fair while back, (I was bored and in the end trying it did not fix that).
        I never came across any actual sex, but the yiffy section is certainly a damn sight more crowded than most of it (still most of them just stand around and do nothing, so pretty much like second life, except with even worse graphics and no money aspect).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BESTouff ( 531293 )

      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 ?

    • ..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..

      Totally wrong. Thanks to the relaxed privacy standards in the US of A, there's tons of readily available personal information in online databases that you can use to pass the age verification.

    • "It involves basicaly forking over Credit Card information, in some cases a Birth Certificate, and yuor home address.) "
      Let's not forget what stopped me from playing the game. After refusal to give up CC info, the only other way to verify was to give them my address and my SSN. No thanks, I'll push on to Blue Mars [] to peddle my virtual warez.
    • It's been a looong time since I spent time in virtual worlds like these (remember Alphaworld?), but one of the things that I really liked was the scale of it all. Acre upon acre of elaborately constructed buildings and artwork - no people anywhere in sight, but so what? I liked it, in a "walking alone in the mountains" kind of way. Introverts need places to be, too.

      For SL, if the kink has moved away to their own island, and left all the glorious monuments behind, I'm more attracted to it than ever! Never co

    • This is a lot like the old MUDs (text based multi-user environments). The free ones were split between gaming and social varieties. Modern MMORPGs resemble the old gaming MUDs, whereas Second Life resembles a social MUD.
  • It was a Fad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BobReturns ( 1424847 )
    Second life was always just a silly fad. The money situation with it was just silly - it was just a bubble.
    • by vadim_t ( 324782 )

      What do you mean "was"?

      It's still doing pretty nicely. Not growing so much anymore, but doesn't seem to be shrinking. I don't see any decrease in the areas I hang out at.

    • It took the author of TFA 3 years to realize it though. For that, we must applaud him. Next week, he's going to be writing about MySpace.
  • by Kohath ( 38547 )

    Second Life was based on PR and hype. No one needs to hear old news or the same tired Second Life stories again.

  • 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 [] 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 [] , and my science group is at [] 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: []

    • I have tried to check out your dark matter video but I got distracted by a huge tarantula sitting in the "audience"

    • Re:Ignorant (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @09:13AM (#30653816) Homepage

      One of the things I though that second life SHOULD have become but never did.... The fricking internet interface in a Avatar interface. There is no Google island where I can search Second life for something and zip there. 99% of Second life is just a timewaster you cant do anything in there. Even when Ira Flato did his Science Friday shows in Second life it was a joke. Oh boy, I can either listen on my pc and easily twitter my questions, or I can sit there in a difficult to use UI and act like I am listening... no thanks.

      It had potential, but it never really went anywhere useful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      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 ot

    • by remmelt ( 837671 )

      > 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

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jbezorg ( 1263978 )

        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.

    • One, Second Life has a woefully steep learning curve.

      The UI in Second Life is truly second to none when it comes to complete crap.

      Seriously. Learning curve?

      Sure, it *has* a learning curve but the UI is so incredibly ugly and useless and slow and clunky that... how can anyone be bothered with the learning curve at all?

  • Article summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by naz404 ( 1282810 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:56AM (#30653478) Homepage
    Article Summary:

    Linden labs shut down gambling, segregated all porn to its own island, and now 2nd life's "wholesome areas" are now ghost towns because everyone's hanging out in porn island and spending their money there for virtual kinkiness. Also, writer speculates that most of 2nd life's revenue is now from porn island.
  • 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 vadim_t ( 324782 )

      Er, it's not dead by any means yet. In fact load seems to be climbing still, just slower than it used to.

      And you can still be a bipedal cat, have sex with anything, or go to a club with strippers. There a few more rules in place than there were some years ago, but none of what you mentioned except gambling went anywhere.

      Now the thing about playing the slots is unfortunate US stupidity, but that's not SL's fault.

      • The Adult Content Island is barriered off and most users cannot access it.

      • It's long past its heyday. It will linger and wither.

        Yes, it does have a tremendous number of player accounts register, but how many are active?

        No, SL was fun while it ignored real life. Now? Not so much.

        • by vadim_t ( 324782 )

          Yes, it does have a tremendous number of player accounts register, but how many are active?

          Well, Eve Online just broke the news that they reached a new record with 45000 online users at once.

          Right now, SL is at 60000, during the low times (night in the US) it's about 30K, and I've seen it reach 70K. But somehow nobody is saying Eve is dying, heh.

    • 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.

      There was unique quality of SL that attracted people who wanted to create a new reality. For those who wanted a cool 3D chat program, it probably has lost some of the appeal.

      I noticed my oldest daughter likes to chat with people on IMVU. This environment seems to have as much rich avatar capability--clothes, body styles, create your own rooms, etc.-- but is definitely at the core a chat room. She can jump between different rooms quickly and play RP scenarios without any "MMO" trappings.

      Just an opinion

  • For me? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:01AM (#30653500)

    For me, I can tell you what happened to Second Life. They screwed up my account and their customer service is useless.

    Long version: I had an OLD account that received the 500 L$ weekly allowance that used to be given to every account. Then they changed it so that new accounts don't get that allowance. I went on, made a few custom objects and was happen with my character... Until they got hacked. When they get hacked, they force everyone to change their passwords using the password retrieval system. No problem, it's an email that gives you a link. Everything was fine... And then they got hacked again. This time, my password link doesn't work... It just says there was 'an error'. After trying like 5 times over a couple days, I call them. Their machine hangs up on me without ANY voice prompt. Over the next 6 months to a year, I called over and over, but each time it hung up on me, or answered then hung up, or answered and told me to leave a message then told me the mailbox was full... One time it DID let me leave a message and their message promised me they'd contact me... Nothing. So I eventually just gave up. It's not worth the hassle, and I'm NOT going to make a new account and lose my allowance and the customizations to my character.

    I've been told that the customer service is better now, but I no longer care.

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      Edit: Actually, after thinking about it for a while, I think it was a $L50 allowance. But the actual amount wasn't the point.

  • Second Life resembles the real world too much, there's a commercial real estate bubble to.
  • 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.

    • 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

  • by hallux.sinister ( 1633067 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:22AM (#30653582)
    Tenth Life.
  • Probably the most practical (non-sex) application of 2nd Life is its capacity for distance learning/education. Holding online courses in a virtual world... beats the hell out of the buggy web applet i was using back in the glory days of nortel.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      There is ZERO worth for 2nd life distance learning. Having content available on the site for the students, videoconferenceing and teleconferencing is 90000% more effective than doing a animated barbie doll classroom on the screen.

      This is so much more effective it's why ALL schools use it instead of second life and it's horribly clunky interface with a steep learning curve. Even a non educated computer user can easily learn from a webcam enabled laptop with a videoconference flash link.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sw33tjimmy ( 662009 )
        not sure where you get your info, but not ALL schools exclude second life from DE. You'd probably be surprised how many actually have campuses in second life and pay big bucks for researching/developing SL as a platform. I'm not going to argue the effectiveness of it (and I'm certainly not going to defend it, either), but I will say this much: Bell's first phone looked nothing like an iPhone. Just like 2nd life looks nothing like the Matrix.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Random Walk ( 252043 )
        The problem with videoconferencing is that you see half of the audience only through the tiny "keyhole" of the video screen. In a public seminar talk, it's distracting and confusing for the speaker and the part of the audience that is physically present. I've been at seminar talks involving videoconferencing, and I've been in SL seminar talks, and I found the latter a much better, more consistent experience.
    • by DrXym ( 126579 )
      There must be hundreds of apps for distance learning, some of them with dedicated interfaces, video / audio chat, file exchange, presentation, white boarding. About the only SL brings to the table is chat. I doubt is any use at all for the other things.
  • Ghost town effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> 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 weave ( 48069 ) * on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:53AM (#30653716) Journal

    I'm still convinced virtual worlds have a fascinating future in our lives -- Second Life may be a bit ahead of its time and needs more technology however.

    There are also useful things going on there. For example, Cape Town Housing Project [].

    Here some students from Delaware, USA designed and built virtual homes for the townships around Cape Town. The designs were critiqued by an organization that handles this stuff in Cape Town in real-life. The students got some valuable experience. For example, designing a house with multiple bathrooms. Ah, no. Or using materials not readily available in South Africa.

    I can see with time and technological advances that students won't have to truck into their local university, they'll be able to learn within virtual classrooms.

  • Greed (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Skal Tura ( 595728 )

    Linden Lab got greedy. That's what happened. They do all kinds of things to drive their revenue higher and higher, on th expense of the users, and i don't mean just their wallets, but enjoyability.

    And yes, it's become quite desolent place, empty and eerie due to that. Nevermind, technically it's not very good work either ...

  • by lyinhart ( 1352173 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @09:12AM (#30653812)
    BBC asked the same question a few months ago. Their investigation was a bit more comprehensive: []
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wjamesau ( 221905 )

      The BBC article was even more inaccurate than the current one being discussed:

  • ... 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.

    • I concur, been on for most of a year, and while most of it is empty, there are areas of constant activity. I think a lot of the marketing tie ins are empty because they are like a commercial, they are all fancy and such but after a few minutes its all just the same from then on. Like a good web portal you have to maintain it to keep interest.

      If the author had looked for an interest topic and searched around for related sims he'd probably end up on one that is active.

      A lot of people interested in design ar

    • 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!

      +1 Funny.

    • A gander? As in a male goose?

      Hey, you never know with that thing.

  • Superceded (Score:2, Informative)

    by GrubLord ( 1662041 )

    Perhaps Second Life has simply been killed off by the far superior offering that is Sony's "Home".




    ... hahahahaha! :D

    Had you going there, didn't I? Yeah, it's still awful.

    Incidentally, though, it would seem that Sony's Home is also plagued by sex fiends []. Maybe it is shaping up to become a worthy successor?

  • Two Reasons (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hasai ( 131313 )

    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.

  • My sister is a home care nurse and last week she had to visit a patient who just had some surgery. The patient's 40-50 year old son lived in the same house to take care of his mom. While my sister was trying to take care of the patient, the guy kept asking if she used computers much.. then he kept talking about how he is always playing Second Life. Then he told my sister that she should try it out and look him up in game...

    I figure the guy was probably just an extreme introvert, though it really cree
  • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

    There are some real gems in SL, such as the NASA museum.

    I would love to use it to prototype architectural stuff. However, the engine is pretty old and not really compatible with models you could build in Blender or other 3D editor software. You need to do a lot of stuff in the SL editor itself, which is pretty nice, but I don't really want my creations locked away in their proprietary format. I've been looking at using the UnReal engine or the Valve Source engine instead (though I'll probably just end up

  • There are no goals, no objectives, no points or levels to completed.

    That's because it isn't a game - it's a simulation. The point, like in most non-directed play, is to make your own fun. I'm doing it by programming in LSL (SL's development language - reminds me of really early PERL), seeing other people's kewl stuff and making friends. I've even got a boyfriend. He knows perfectly well that I'm not "real", but as it stands he doesn't have a hope in hell of getting a real girlfriend (yes, I'm using f

  • Five-wanged vixen/dragon/Na'vi hybrid of eternal lactation looking for a good time, yaff~
  • For a few ideas of what might be in store from virtual worlds like Second Life in the future check out a trailer made for the "Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds." This group has over a thousand members from government, the private sector, and educational institutions. []

    You can find more information about the group and their next conference at: []

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