Monday, July 30, 2007

Who does Second Life appeal to?

One of the problems with Second Life (SL) is explaining the appeal. My wife for instance, tried SL and just does not get it at all. She likes action and mystery sorts of games-"Heroes of Might and Magic", "The Bards Tale" and "CSI" as well as point gathering games such as "Luxor". I am not much of gamer-Myst is about my speed and back when I had a Mac Quadra 650 I was also a "Sim City" addict. But I have to confess I have not played the newer variants on sims.

Part of my build in SL. If you have SL installed this link will open SL and take you to my land.

So what do I get out of Second Life? It's not the sex. After all, there is no feeling in Second Life and since I have never been turned on by porn, that has no appeal. Lots of people seem attracted to SL because of the money aspect there are people who claim to make a good hunk of their real income from Second Life. There are shoot em up sims in SL and role playing of all sorts. A lot of that doesn't appeal to me, though I am usually Simone in world. So that certainly is a role, one reflective of some of my real life issues though.

The things about SL that appeal to me are two things. First, I like to create and build-this is not too surprising since in real life I have a strong artistic bent. Next, Second, Life allows me to pull all those things together in a very immersive way. Even more so now that I can play SL on a machine that can handle the graphics. And the immersiveness is not just the 3D aspect of the SL world.

A view from an Australian Site. Wonderful texturing. SLURL= Follow this link if Second Life is Installed.

For instance I constantly bring in textures and images that I have taken and worked with digitally. I can bring in links to my poetry-even have it in world. I get to script and program. So right now I am working on my own holodeck program for teaching. What I can't build I can buy from the loads of talented designers in SL. The immersiveness of SL then is that it allows you to pull in yourself, much like blogging does.

The hitch of course is that the SL learning curve is MUCH steeper than for blogging. For instance, SL has just introduced a new type of object or "prim" called a "sculptie". Without getting into the details, most SL objects are based on simple geometric shapes. Now you can take a 3D object (say a vase or a face) made with a program such as Blender, convert into a mapping that SL can read into a special kind of object. Sounds great but it took the better part of a week to even be able to create the special textures. And it may be another week before I have this thing mastered. But since most biological shapes are not easily reduced to simple geometric forms (e.g blocks, cylinders), sculpties have a lot of potential use for me in teaching!

I don't know what the future of these sorts of 3D worlds is going to be. Right now I feel that I am back in 1993-94 hearing about this thing called the world wide web or working with one of the early browsers and coding my first HTML by hand. For me that's pretty cool.
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