Monday, December 6, 2010

Looking Backward: My First Second Life Login

My first in a series of flashbacks to 2007, when I first logged on to Second Life. Unlike Edward Bellamy, from whose Utopian novel I borrowed this title, I am not so sanguine about how things have gone over the past four years. And now, to turn on the time machine. . .

March 07, 2007 8:49 AM

Location: Keyboard, my office

I am ready to log in, for the first time, to Linden Lab’s Second Life. When I describe it many listeners shrug and get odd looks on their faces when I say “Second Life isn’t a game. It’s an alternative world.” Writers William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Neal Stephenson imagined these worlds in the 1980s, and now coders and I.T. millionaires like Mitch Kapor went ahead and made what Gibson called a “consensual hallucination.” Once broadband became common enough, it had to happen.

Unlike other online games, Second Life does not have clear-cut goals or even that many rules. It is less a competition and more a new way to communicate. It’s a paradigm-buster like e-mail, chat, or the Web. This may be hyperbole or it may be a moment that we’ll long remember: the first virtual reality for the masses.

Evidence? A meteoric growth in Second Life’s online population and the million dollars laid down every day by over 20,000 players, some of them running virtual businesses “in-world.” What are they “buying”? Imagine virtual real-estate, clothing, vehicles, chips at the casino, and tickets to virtual events. Yet SL is free to use.

Or is this just more hype? Is Second Life just World of Warcraft for bored Yuppies?

When I dive in, what will I find? Stay tuned.

March 09, 2007 8:53 AM

Location: Orientation Island

I needed an identity for this world; you may not use your own name. In fact, players must choose a last name from Linden’s list. I picked “Onomatopoeia”; this was the one word I was beaten (repeatedly) by Father Raymond for never learning in 11th grade English.

I’ve chosen “Ignatius” as my first, after John Kennedy Toole’s Ignatius Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces (to reflect my fears) and Iggy Pop (to reflect my attitude of “why not?).

After downloading and installing Linden Lab’s free player (for fast Mac, Windows, or Linux systems) my next step was to design Iggy’s avatar, the 3-D manikin that walks, flies, or drives its way around Second Life’s virtual world to meet, greet, flirt, or shop with other avatars. I chose a stock image from several, and like most players, the next step was to customize Ignatius to make his face, hair, body, and clothes fit some ideal.

I chose to make Iggy look as much as my first-life self as I could. But here there is a snag; I cannot be nearly bald and gray. In fact, when newly arrived avatars appear in the segregated starting place that Second Life calls “Orientation Island,” it’s hard to find an avatar who is not smooth and polished in a bland-but-a-tad-edgy, Barbie-meets-Ken, or maybe Paris-Hilton-meets-GWAR kind of way.

There are shiny, happy, bone-stock avatars all around me, bumping into others as they learn to walk and begin their second lives. So, it has begun. . .more pictures soon!

1 comment:

Mera Kranfel said...

this is fun! I like to look back and remember. I will stay tuned! =)