Second Life: I Don't Get It

Every time I turn around, it seems that one of my friends has signed up for a Second Life account and is raving about it. I finally took the plunge tonight and gave birth to “Wicket Pixie” (yes, that’s my SL character’s name, you can look it up and everything). My initial impressions were… well, they weren’t all that good. I know you can create all sorts of objects in Second Life, and it’s a metaverse that has unlimited potential, but I’m not a developer and I’ve never been addicted to chat rooms of any kind (three dimensional or IRC-like). I asked a friend to help, and he introduced me to a guy who helped me…

Wicket Pixie in Second Life (1)

WTF?! How the hell did I get a box on my head? When I did that, I swear I laughed (in the real world) for five minutes straight. Is this what landed Linden Labs on the front cover of BusinessWeek magazine? It’s so far ahead of the curve. I decided to fly around the metaverse to see what was happening – and apparently there’s a lot of sex happening in Second Life. Wow. Hot avatar on avatar action! Time to make “Wicket Pixie” look a little more like me and…

Wicket Pixie in Second Life (2)

Jebus Christ – how the f*ck did I end up with a beer bottle sticking out of my ear!? I don’t get it. I just don’t freakin’ get it, man. I know Second Life is supposed to be cool and awesome and amazing and unbelievable and futuristic and what-have-you – but I just don’t get it. Sorry, I must be stupid. I’m not afraid to try new things, but I think I’ve gotta wait for this thing to bake a little longer and get a bit easier to use before I spend every waking moment inside a second life I have no time for.

55 thoughts on “Second Life: I Don't Get It”

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  5. Hi Chris.

    Noobs always have a box on their head at some stage. 🙂

    Strangely enough, I was about to set up a big Gnomedex sign for you
    Though I’m having trouble building a big 3d gnome. 🙂

    It will appear beside ‘The RSS Platform’ – adjacent to the ‘Shared Extension’ plot (where we’ll have podcaster rental properties and a monoPODrail)

    Who is handing audio and recordings etc this year? Doug/Eric/Jake?
    We can set you up with a shoutcast server to beam audio back into Second Life

    Look me up on SL – name is Koz Farina –
    on the RSS Platform and ‘The Bluggcast Balcony’

    Cheers, bottlehead! 😉
    Koz

  6. Hey Boxhead Pirillo, that has happened to me many times. Did your ear like the beer? Really, I don’t get it either, I am always bored in SL. So I don’t use it often, and I don’t have the kinda cash to get any space of my own in there, nor any time to do anything with it, FL comes first.

  7. Heh the graphic of Pirillo is at the Convention Center for virtual gnomedex… stick that in your ear.

    There’s something I’ve been noticing about SL and how people perceive it. Aside from the fact that it’s this wide open “The Earth: What do you do on it?” thing that is way different that something with a specific purpose, I’m finding that the MORE technically-inclined (many blogger-types) that someone is, the LESS they have a good experience… whereas many who might not even consider themselves computer literate, totally ‘get it’…

    Even Scoble needed a lot of hand holding, and yet, people like my wife who are less than nerdy more or less, dove in and made it work nearly instantly.

    There are two types of blog posts about SL… first is the one that reads, “I walked in, didn’t see anyone, had no idea what to do, too hard, this is lame, how boring” and the second is the “Here are the 7,000 things I got done in the last 30 minutes and yeah, we’re cashing checks, too.”

    This is also a fascinating study in our desire as a public to want/need democratized media. For those that are gaming-centric, I’m starting to wonder if the lack of someone giving you a specific object, point, goal, purpose—ie., TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO, is desired more than the, “Go ahead and Do-it-yourself!”

    We can hype up participatory media all day long. We can hype up un-conferences and the like, as well. When it comes down to the brass of it all, do we REALLY want *everything* to be wide open? Second Life is showing both of these realities. The reality that, (and Chris can relate to this) “Hells yeah, I monetize this stuff” and the other reality of “What’s the purpose?”

    What’s the purpose of buying an XBOX. How do you make money on this? Hrmmm. Things to ponder.

    As far as your experiences my dear bottle-in-eared comrade–these aren’t too dissimilar to many people’s first week or so. Heck, I still inadvertantly put a box on my head. So fear not. It could have been worse. You could be stuck drinking a beer at the welcome area experiencing lag and a whooooollle lot more twisted first impressions.

  8. Yeah, Second Life is an interesting program.

    It’s most decidedly not a game. If you go into it with that kinda viewpoint, you won’t enjoy it. Drove me mad trying to understand it like that.

    It’s more a giant sandbox mode. You can make a shooter, or an RPG, or a chat room, or something illicit. You can make nearly anything in the game, if you have the scripting knowledge and artistic talent.

    But to enjoy it, you have to get some sort of amazement from having put some item into cyberspace. That’s the hard part – most people who know enough about scripting or electronic art, also know enough to post a render or a pile of code somewhere else, for free, that will nurish their egos a similar amount.

    Second Life is interesting, if only for its success (and the economic status, which is kinda creepy to me, but is probably why it made the papers).

  9. Ok well I tried last night…
    I think you missed some of the most informative parts last night. I just kept going on and on while you were editing you appearance. I am going to blog about this over on my SL Blog and link back to this for more detail. I am going to post the instructional pieces from our talk last night. Oh and yes the baby woke me a 5 AM so I am dragging a little 😉

    John Anthony Hartman

    a.k.a. Thought Plasma

  10. I agree, Chris – caught the buzz about 6mo ago, installed, tried it a few times, got bored, never went back. As far as where I fall in the technical spectrum, I’m a former web developer therefore technical so maybe that’s why I don’t get it.

    But, I think a fair argument could be made that it’s not ready for prime-time if the most influential of your audience need “hand-holding” to see the vaue and use it.

    Still, reminds me of the Metaverse in Snowcrash, and that is tantalizing.

  11. chris ,, I havent taken a bite at all ,,,

    Im having trouble with keeping up too stuff in REAL LIFE , to worry about a Second Life

    Maybe someday ,,,

  12. Hi Chis,
    I went over to the Hipcast conference center in SL, for vloggercon, and fell into the water.

    But I got back up.

    It took me 30 minutes to put on a hat.

    I like flying around.

    Try virtually attending vloggercon today and see what that’s like.
    –Steve

  13. I’m an avid Second Life player, but also think you just hit the nail on the head, as far as my biggest complaint about it; that it takes SO damn long to get acclimated to the universe there, to even learn how to actually use the interface, much less even begin to start learning of cool stuff to do there. And in this respect, you can see that Second Life really is much more like moving to a new city than it is playing a new videogame; how for a recent transplant to Chicago or London, for example, it might take them weeks of nightly exploration before starting to discover the first places there where they truly enjoy visiting. It’s both the blessing and the curse of Second Life, really, is the utter complexity and lack of a clear “point;” how it can be endlessly fascinating once you’ve caught on, but endlessly frustrating before that point arrives. –Jason Pettus/Miller Copeland (SL)

  14. LOL…I tried second life and thought it looked like something from around 1996. There was a very similar program out there around that time frame but I can’t remember what it was called. I think the idea is good but man is second life clunky!
    Overall, there’s too much clutter and it’s just another time waster like wow and the rest of them. No thanks!

    Funny review man..keep it up!

  15. God, I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    I keep trying to “get into it”, mainly by building and hacking, but every time I go all I see are furries dancing. That’s it, just dancing furries.

    So I log in once every few weeks and poke around for twenty minutes, and then go do something else.

    Maybe I’m too old!

  16. Have you seen the other white meat of metaverse, There? http://www.there.com

    It’s a much more user-friendly experience than Second Life. I’ve been playing There on and off (mostly off these days) since its beta period a couple of years ago. It’s very attractive and mostly stable. It’s a little disappointing that they haven’t added much functionality or content in quite some time, but the UI is all but foolproof and the community is rather helpful.

    They’ve got a free trial so give it a try! If the moon is blue (not literally) look for me online – my avie (avatar) is Spyrochaete.

  17. I’m pretty sure the box-on-head moment is part of the initiation for most users. Don’t despair Chris.

    By the way, have you read Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash’? It’s quite amazing how much of what he wrote back in 1992 has become (virtual) reality.

  18. >Sorry, I must be stupid.

    Most people that say these words don’t really realize the ironic, but sad, truth to their statements. The phrase seems to be used an an excuse supposed to prove the direct opposite, only to hit them right back like a boomerang. Most often other people see this, while the person actually writing the phrase seems clueless to what the statement made actually indicates.

  19. Well, I tried it, and don’t like it. All the game appears to be is just another place where people want to peddle their crap onto people, dancing rooms (who the hell wants to dance in the VR world anyways), and unspecified agendas. The idea that was suggested that someone can invent things and sell them in the game should be flogged. Why in the world do I want to earn money and spend it on making my character look better when the time and EFFORT that I can put into actual tangible activities will help me succeed in life? But some will say that these games are addictive…I say take up heroine and/or coke or whatever the drug of choice is today – if you are going to waste your time being addicted to something, might as well make it worth your wild — because SL wont get you anywhere unless you are a true junkie with loads of code under your belt still living in your MOMS basement. I don’t know, I guess my hopes of a true VR world are too high. Someday in the near future, if Moore’s Law keeps chugging along, I may go back to VR but only when my ass can be implanted with a chip actually ‘getting’ me in the game. Until then….

  20. Second life is more about reality than virtuality.

    Games are going to be only a small fraction of the virtual experience in the near future. Its like Reality TV to the online experience

  21. Thing about Second Life is when you join you are offered a choice of Avatars. All have nice smiley WHITE faces, unless you want to pose as a Racoon.
    And in the adult Horizons Resort, one character, Palad, says whenever the issue arises, we wishes the “furries” would stick to their own “community”. He defends his views, but incites others to act. His girlfriend Felicity dismisses all Scots as “mean” and the few who have dared protest this RAMPANT RACISM have been arbitrarily thrown off the site by a defiant management

  22. Yeah, I’ve found there is about a 5-7 hour learning curve for Second Life, just to get to the point where you can work your avatar and travel the ‘verse. That’s way past most people’s tolerance, and it makes things like having business meetings in SL impossible. How can I ask a client to go through 5 -7 hours of ramp-up time just to come to a 30 minute meeting?

    So what ends up happening? We’ve created another ‘l337’ crowd: folks that are VR-skilled in SL can meet, do business, trade, role play, build and more *with each other* but not other people. The SL-skilled folks get the benefits of a micropayments economy and implict e-commerce systems – plus a whole new market for digital goods – *now*. And that’s great – but the opportunities and benefits are cut-off from most of the world. (sigh) I guess it has to start somewhere, but SL is definately version 1.0 of the VR worlds. Remember 300 baud modems? That’s just about the stage we’re at in VR land right now, relatively speaking. Well, maybe SL is like 1200 baud modems. Figure in ten years, the VR worlds tech will be at the relative equivalent of 4.4MB/sec broadband. _Then_ it’ll be accessible by folks. (I’m not talking actual speeds of data in this comparison, but usability, accessibilty, capability, etc.) Then, I’d imagine that a new user could be operating in a VR world with intuitive controls and do useful things in 10 minutes.

    Until then…. well, I had a GREAT (if slow) time on BBS’s, etc. in the 300 baud days. And I’m having a great time on SL. You just have to play realizing it’s the early early days of this kind of tech.

  23. SL is a terrible game. I’ve been trying to learn to script for 3 years now. People never help really. They hide the important information from you, like if you know it too, then they somehow lose their status in the world. It’s sad. I’ve had over 47 teachers help me (or pretend to help me), and I read tutorials, took classes, I just don’t understand Sl scripting, yet I an script in other platforms. SL is full of greedy people, nothing helpful about most of them, unlike say other gamign communities

  24. Just tried it today. I learned one valuable lesson…… thank God I have a real life, cuz my second life is LAME.
    “uninstall successful”

  25. You guys complaining about the complex interface are laughstocks.
    I mean, an interface HAS to be complex to allow such things as real-time prim-based modeling and built-in scripting language.
    BTW the whole box-on-the-head thing only happens when idiots try to see what “wearing a prim” does…
    It’s not only the first step in VR, it also owns a part of it’s future. The typical gaming crowd won’t appreciate SL, based on past experience trying to show the game to friends… You need to have some sort of creative ambition to truly appreciate SL. There is one thing SL sure isn’t : boring.
    It’s a virtual WORLD created by it’s inhabitants so if you can’t find anything interesting, learn how to make it…or leave and don’t complain when the whole world will be plugged in to SL

    Isador out.

  26. I am from the magazine Psychology Today and we are interested in writing an article about Second Life, online gaming communities, and the people who play them. I have a few questions that would help us gain a better understanding of these topics and was wondering if you would be willing to cooperate. I noticed you and a lot of your commenters have some interesting things to say about SL, so if you or anyone who looks at this blog is willing to answer some of our questions, please respond back to [email protected] with your email address and you will receive a short questionnaire. Your time and efforts are very appreciated. Hope to hear from you soon!

    Sincerely,
    PT Editorial Staff

  27. This is a “game” (actually an open-ended Virtual World) which does not direct you so much as allows you to explore and meet and role play. If you didn’t “get it” you probably are one which needs rules and directions or does not like to experiment enough to learn the wonders of SL.

    With great power comes great complexity and I am sure that although the initial interface may not be as simple as some would like, it is clear that this metaverse’s power lurks just beneath this layer. And that is what makes it powerful and fun for some, and forbidding for others.

    I for one was impressed at the standard tools that we are given at the start, and the notes and other helpful things found in SL can clarify what you can and cannot do. I’ve created a few Avatars that I am very proud of, I’ve taken a virtual Buddhist class, danced in a disco, shopped and made new friends. And I know that I’ve barely scratched the surface.

    So this metaverse is not everyone’s bag; so what? Leave and try another that suits you and stop griping how this world will not suit you. Griping about how real life does not suit you also gets you little except being labeled as a whiner. If the latter is how you feel about SL, then your attitude should be Cartman’s “Screw you guys. I’m going home.” and then go back to your real life.

  28. o_o Lolz, you ended up with a box on your head and a beer bottle in your ear because you attached it to the wrong body part.
    I happened to see your avatar in a.. strip club on SL, i remember from the odd name. hmmm…

  29. The toughest part of SL is the damn orientation. Of the 5 million memberc, I think 4.3 are still stuck in orientation. I had to get help to get out of f*cking orientaion. How’s that for embarrassing?

    For the most part, I’m with Chris–I wander around, mostly see no one–or get a cage dropped on me (arrgghhh). I did drive a Toyota and took a picture of myself. That was cool to show my little nieces. I think I’ll frame it. I also made myself 10lbs thinner than in real life which was nice (girl thing :-). However, for the most part it feels like one of those nightmares where the world has ended and you are the only one left. Of course, I haven’t visited the “paradise passion yacht” where I’m sure are regulars.

    However, big opportunity in SL is distance education (and the reason I signed up for SL). I am taking a class on the SL campus of the Harvard Law School (keyword: Berkman) It is a two hour class every tuesday at 7:30 ET. There is a real life class at harvard displayed on the screen in the outdoor auditorium and the RL and SL class interact among themselves and with one another. There is a real comraderie among the SL members. Some of the avatars are hysterically funny. Many argue with the Harvard prof. Halfway through the class the RL class sees the SL class on their screens and questions are taken from the SL class. There are phenomenally smart people in this class. At the end of the class, everyone says “see you next week” The nice thing is you can tell who is there without having to chat as you recognize their avatars. A friend of mine came in and took a seat next to me. Sounds sort of silly I know, but it is pretty cool–like you would in RL. Wander over and take a look. It’s open and free to SL folks. It is also a call that you will like. Tuesday 7:30 “Internet and Society 2007” through May. It is the best distance learning class I have ever taken.

    Next time, I’ll tell you about how I almost drowned in the fountain on (abandoned) Dell island. A fountain, for chr*st sake.

  30. Look second life is a complete joke. people who know the scripts and know how to use it wont tell you how to do it because them knowing makes them feel more powerful anble to do things othres cant and the people who get really addicted and enjoy it so much are people who have no power over their real life. U PEOPLE SUCK!!!

  31. Your experience is quite common – I found the learning curve to be very steep when I joined, and still do. I’ve been on SL for two months , and I’m only now beginning to understand how things work. Nobody has helped me, I learnt only through trial and error…it can be a lonely trip in that metaverse until one makes friends. Most old hands I meet can be very guarded, jaded, cliquecy, the noobs (males) are laughingly desperate, and there is some seriously weird crap going on in there – I totally can see how and why noobs turn off real quick.

    But!

    The artistry, beauty, creativity – yes, SL really does have that wow factor, and the interesting, talented people. There’s so much to do, but you must look carefully for it…SL is worth hanging in there for, and will be brilliant (one hopes) in 4 or 5 years.

    So strange how it’s easier to find anthromorphic sex than a decent conversation in there though! (sighs!).

  32. You spent five minutes fumbling around? And then produce this pitiful blog post that says absolutely nothing except that you spent five minutes fumbling around? You are an impatient, lazy moron.

  33. I just want to say that Second Life is a pointless waste of time. You must have to be 14 to get it, because if you are over 14 and have a real social life, there is nothing to get. That is my only explanation. If you are wowed by the “graphics,” you might as well fire up PGA ’96 and walk around in that. The John Daly “avatar” in that is better, which I guess only means that SL is only 12 years behind the curve. I guess a lot of people go in there and talk dirty to each other (giggle, giggle), but most of the people I encountered in there were just standing around, not saying anything, probably like they do in actual social situations in the real world. Oh, well, they thought having a second life would be different — sorry, no. Now your first life is just that much more pathetic.

    Ok, not a glowing review.

  34. second life is really.

    really.

    really. boring.

    it might be fun if you can actually hack it but as a vidya gaem it sucks.

    if you’re a fat disturbing physically unattractive acne ridden mongrel then maybe second life is for you though.

    live on the computer and have happy relations on it sure go ahead. literally it is like a second life, for people who i guess just dont want to go out of their way to meet people in their life.

    but dude. as a video game… ._.

    billions that are more fun.

  35. So far, this game has been an awful experience.
    Reasons why:

    1. I’ve tried and tried and tried over and over and over again to take my stinkin’ hat off and it just isn’t working for me.
    2. How in the heck do I get from one place to another?
    3. Why is nobody talking. Please just somebody tell me why.

    Let’s face it people.
    This game sucks

  36. First off, your article is stupid, and you are lazy. Granted I’m writing about 3 years after your publication, but still the point I got mainly is that you’re a noob who stuck a little pinky in the ocean for all of two seconds and came to all sorts of grandiloquent conclusions about it. Pretty dumb I think.

    In my opinion, there are two things to “get” about SL. First, *many* people get it. Personally, I don’t get what they get but it’s not important. The important thing to get, if you’re technically savvy and/or artisitcally inclined, is that you can make a shitload of money from the aforementioned *many* people. How so? By creating things in SL that people want and would pay for.

    So yes, the masses go for the craziest and most incomprehensible things, but the smartest people are not the ones who merely flip such trends off with pseudo-intellectual disdain (this article being a case in point), but rather the ones who know how to capitalize on it.

    P.S. Side comment about the person who posted before me in 2009: good heavens some people are too dumb to even be part of the masses. May mother nature preserve them from reproduction. Read the f*cking manual dumbass.

  37. it takes time in SL to learn to use and enjoy it….there are some idiots that are perpeptual noobs that only are there for stupid pixel sex or to annoy others…but there are a lot of exciting things going on…great people….and very detailed sims….just because you have not had the chance to see it doesn’t mean its not impressive! if you are not a builder or a fan of chat rooms…don’t waste your time.

  38. since i was terminated for pasting text acciently all i do in second life now is write scripts with 1 second timers for local chat.. pisses people off, lets me have fun, yep, thats my secondlife, my opensim life is much more interesting. i hate supporting big companies who are ran like fascists. and LL’s board of directors are dictators, gambling’s gone, im gone.. screw it.

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