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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

8 - Community and Worthwhile Living in Second Life

Summary

According to Linden Lab's reports, more than nine million people are residents of Second Life. Many residents spend (on average according to Linden Lab) up to four hours a day in Second Life, some considerably more. What are they doing in that three-dimensional virtual environment, or rather, what are their avatars doing there? They are visiting art galleries, going to concerts, having sex, gambling, consuming and manufacturing products, attending webinars, taking college courses, worshipping, buying and selling, trying to make a profit in Lindens (Linden dollars), which are convertible to real-world currency. In short, living, or, at least, living it up!

Although some commentators and critics have interpreted Second Life as a game on a par with World of Warcraft, it is not a game in the usual sense of the term, although Wittgenstein might disagree. In any event, there are no rule-constitutive actions peculiar to Second Life, no winning or losing, no definable success or failure other than what is understood by those terms in real life (or perhaps I should say in “First Life”). Whatever Second Life now is and whatever it will become is, in very large measure, a product of its residents, who are provided or purchase the programming tools in Second Life to manufacture the objects that give their experiences of Second Life whatever character and content they may have. Residents create or manufacture everything in Second Life, from cars to mansions, and they sell on E-Bay to other residents the programs to do likewise. The Official Guide to Second Life says the following: “Second Life is often held up as the perfect place to get your fantasy on – and yes, there's no other place like it for becoming something you aren't, or even for working out just what it is you want to be. In a sense, it's the epitome of the ‘walled garden’, a place where reality dare not intrude.”