I was taught at a young age that everyone is different. That being said, I’m not going to knock anyone who plays Second Life, but it definitely isn’t for me. I can see going on there as a means to communicate with fellow employees who live in various places, but not to build relationships and live a life in a digital world. When playing the game for roughly 3 hours, I was so happy to know that I had a life outside of the game to get back to, even though my current house didn’t exactly measure up to my beachfront mansion…
My experiences were confusing, to say the least. At first I had to pick a character, to which I couldn’t find one that resembled me. The first destination I went to, it was apparent to me that quite a few people’s avatar or “digital person” in this game was obviously not how they looked in real life.
Integrated selves – I noticed people whose avatar looked like someone could in real life. They didn’t have Hulk-like muscles or an absolutely flawless figure (digitally-speaking).
Augmented selves – The avatars looked flawless, yet could still resemble what someone looks like if all their flaws turned to strengths.
Immersed selves – These are the types of selves I noticed the most. Those who had taken the route of someone who they didn’t resemble at all, but possibly wish they did. From the guys with 6 packs and sculpted chins, to the women with hourglass bodies and model-like facial features.
As far as communicating with some individuals, some were welcoming and others trash-talked me for not knowing what to do. Although I did find someone who was willing to talk to me a little bit. He sounded like a younger kid, fully immersed in the game, and given his avatar resembled “The Rock” from WWE, I can only assume that has very little to no resemblance to his real self. I tried to capture each answer he gave me, but he talked fast and trailed off here and there, but this was the just of it:
G = Me | T = Trevor
G: Hey, I’m Gavin; I have no idea what I’m doing.
T: Hi, I’m Trevor, you need to change your character, and you have no features.
G: You look like Gumby meets blocks…
G: I believe you, hey I have a question—do you play this game a lot?
T: Sometimes when I get home from school and after dinner, until my Mom tells me to get off the computer.
G: Interesting, I was just wondering because I’m doing a little research on Second Life. If I ever play online games, it’s usually like on Xbox or something, nothing too virtual.
T: This game is really fun, there’s a lot to do. Sometimes it lags, but whatever.
G: I hear you. Well nice talking to you, good luck in the virtual world.
I tried to talk to other people, but when I transported to locations there were so many people, I couldn’t get a word off. There was a lot of static from people’s microphones and my Internet was either running slow or the game had to much action in one specific area.
One specific area I went to was playing a Bruno Mars’ song and had female characters dancing everywhere. Reminded me of a strip club, and I think that’s exactly what it was supposed to mimic. Male characters stood there while females danced explicitly around them. Needless to say, this was the most confusing, yet interesting thing I saw on Second Life.
From what I did and the various “areas” of the game I saw, it gave me more of a fantasy-futuristic world more than anything. From being able to fly, to donut seats, to having 15 people together on a random island talking, it was just fiction. It also feels like the creator(s) of the game were keen to employ the “commonalities” of society as to what people want in life. For example, living on a beach/island, with a beautiful house, money and people to experience it with.
This is not reality, you have to actually do things in life and be productive to even come close to getting a private beachfront house. In this game, it’s just given to you. I think it takes away from the work ethic and presents the idea that you “can’t” have those materialistic things in society, even though you want to. But in this game you can—there are no limits and you can be, live, enjoy anything you want to, without repercussions, working, worrying, or even putting on clothes.
I understand there is certain people in real-life you can’t be or materialistic items you can’t get, but the escapism that is the game Second Life gives people the outlet to acquire things they want in their mind, while living out their fantasy-life. It is not something for me and I’m completely content with who I am and what I have. Sure, I’d like more money, a bigger house and no obligations, but that’s not how it is.
I worry that this game can give people a false reality, and once they experience reality, they will continue to rely on the game to function. It presents an outlet for people to escape into a fictional world of their desires, but what happens when the game isn’t on?
While I feel Second Life does take virtual reality to the next step and has great uses such as: interviewing, interacting and meeting with people across the world, it’s still a fictional world and it lacks the overall meaning of life. I have no discontent with people involved in the game, but I think it’s important for people to remember that’s exactly what it is—a game!