According to a story on MSNBC, the writer takes a look at the growing pertinence of Second Life in the world of the interactive computer software community. While the article insinuates the question of what Second Life is, if not a game – it would probably be more accurate to retort that Second Life is simply interactive software. If it’s no longer a game – or wasn’t supposed to be one from the start – then it’s simply software with an interactive purpose. But how many purposes can a single software platform like Second Life have? One too many to list here.
What’s more is that Second Life is actually a mod in, and of itself. For those who don’t know what a “mod” is, it simply means a modification. Only, Second Life is the modification that allows users to further modify the basic platform in which it operates. Hence, custom vehicles, clothing, houses, islands even, can all be designed or constructed for use in Second Life. What makes the experience so much more visceral is that it’s a mod that supports massive amounts of multiple players – MMO to be exact.
The creators, Linden Labs, have setup Second Life to support a vast amount of original and custom content. So much so, that dozens of real world corporations have jumped on board and setup islands and kiosks throughout the Second Life world. Not keen on those ugly slippers stuck on your feet? No worries, hop on over to a Reebok shop to pick up some of the latest sneakers. Want to get around easier? Easy, visit Toyota’s Scion Island and take one of the new cars for a spin. Yep, even Toyota (now one of the big three car makers) cashed in on the opportunity offered in Second Life. Back in February – when Second Life was only 1.2 million strong, and counting – it was widely reported about Toyota’s involvement with the online interactive software community. As reported by motoring, Scion’s marketing manager, Adrian Si commented, "We developed Scion City to connect with the trendsetters.” Adrian continued on to say, "That's our target demographic - people who do things first. Trendsetters are instrumental in promoting brands."
Realistically, Second Life’s popularity is only established because of the lack of user-content present for manipulation in World of Warcraft. The nearly 10 million strong massive multiplayer online RPG has a much stronger following than Second Life. But since corporations can’t advertise with interactive content and charge you for it in WoW, a game like Second Life is the first best option. Because hey, people need Starbucks, even if it’s Starstrucks in the virtual world.
But this doesn’t all go without protest. No, I’m not talking about real life protest against the Second Life. I’m talking about in-game protest about real life people mistreating the virtual world. According to Art2blog the inevitable happened after a certain militia became tired of the newbies acting like they “owned the place”. Second Life suffered from two [virtual] nuclear explosions from the Second Life Liberation Army. Heh, so even in cyberspace peace is but a sweet fleeting whim.
I guess the name says it all, though. Second Life isn’t just a video game, no. But it is, in essence, a second life; a virtual life that exists for many (according to Linden Labs, 4 million suscribers at present) in the world of the interactive online community. Heck, pretty soon we may even have Presidential candidates vying to be our next President through an electoral college kiosk on “Politically Correct Island”. I’m hoping it doesn’t get to that point. But so long as Second Life is seen as an interactive opportunity for just about anyone, it’s definitely going to continue on down the road as anything but a video game.