This past week has seen some references to the phrase “SL is a game. I win”, as what appears to be a badge of honor for a resident whom seems to have found the hidden end-game component that many a gamer has failed to find within Second Life. I and many other residents had been unaware that SL is really a game, until this resident declared it for all to hear. Perhaps we should help get this guy a job at the marketing department of Linden Labs so he can help bring in more of the gamers to join and start to play the ‘game’.
Yes, I’m being sarcastic here but I can’t help have a laugh at the insanity of the ‘I win’ phrase. Hence the opening title with the extremely sarcastic response courtesy of cringe comedian Jim Norton, “Is it?” Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t see the game aspect of Second Life anywhere, except if you frequent the role play sims. Other possible titles for the blog posting that did not make the cut are “Breaking News: End-game found for Second life” and “Gamers rejoice: Linden Labs reveals quests and Boss battles for Second Life”
Last night I was talking this over with my mate and she was in agreement. My take on SL is that it is a mirror of our true selves. You are able to shape yourself as you wish. The shaping process allows you to choose your gender, height, age, weight, ethnicity, and even your behavior. True, you can do this in many MMOs but SL is very different.
I’ve played MMOs such as Guild Wars and Battlefield and have chatted with other players. You interact and have conversations at times but they are mostly game related. There is really no socializing aspect in the games, aside from that which would have to do with collaborating, plotting, jabs at other players, and claims of victory. MMOs normally don’t have a social aspect in terms of:
• heading out to a club
• going to a concert
• watching a fashion show
• building and creating objects
• wearing the latest fashions or trends.
To call Second Life an MMO or a game is truly an error in judgement. Perhaps someone can explain the objective and the end-game as well. All games have a beginning and an end, they have a scoring system, and they have an objective. This is one of the problems that gamers as well as others encounter when they first arrive inworld; they find it boring because there is no objective mapped out for them. This is life 2.0 or social networking on steroids.
Life does not come with a roadmap and neither does Second Life. Linden Labs wants you to become a premium member and spend your real money on land, homes, clothing, vehicles, objects, and services. Beyond that, what you do and how you do it is your own business. The only objective, if you can call it that is, to have fun.
This, however, is not the end of this blog posting. I’m attempting to demonstrate that Second Life is a mirror or Real Life and as such, permits people to get emotionally involved. This involvement includes a range of emotions that vary from happiness to anger and everything in between. Though there may be the occasional couple that meets on Warcraft or another game, SL has an environment built just for the type of social networking necessary to foment friendship and beyond.
One need look no further than all the services available inworld having to do with marriage. There is a strong human component that not only feels everything the avatar feels but also shares in the experiences. The avatar is an extension of our true selves and to deny it would deny our own existence. We all know friends in SL that have been affected in their Real Life because of events that took place in SL. For some, the emotional impact has been so much, that they have abandoned SL completely or gone into hiding for a period of time. Studies such as this one titled “The Effect of the Emotion-related Channel in 3D Virtual Communication Environments” conducted by Sony Corp and Naruto University, demonstrate that emotions are strongly connected to the avatar experience.
Hence, I have to laugh when people not only think that SL is a game but that they can do as they please without consequences or repercushions. Statements like this reflect the lack of tact and humanity they possess. Toying with the human emotions of others, be it in SL or the real world, is simply wrong. To believe otherwise is immature and prepostorous. Avatars are made of pixels but that does not mean they are robots; there is a human controller behind each one. Let’s not forget that the pixels don’t move themselves and that the human component is always there, whether we want it or not.