While reading through everyone’s blogs from class tonight, I have yet to find anyone who fell in love with Second Life. What I have found are a series of mixed experiences, but one certainly stands out. Desiree’s blog recounts a near violent moment that is very scary. She was simply trying to interact with fellow people in Second Life when she was nearly attacked. Come one people! We are still human’s last I checked, not monsters. Even in a virtual world, there is a level of decorum one must expect from his fellow human beings.
During our class meet up tonight, we talked about how normal everyone in class chose to stay, especially with all the creative options one might have open to them in this virtual world. I had mentioned that even if we wanted to go crazy, we all still know each other through the class. Second Life is kinda like the out of control office Christmas party everyone talks about, where all the employees are drunk and doing the craziest stuff they would never do in a normal working day.
Certainly the point of Second Life is to go somewhere new and different to meet new people, and have pleasant experiences, and to check out of what can be a real stressful and crazy world. Why on earth would anyone want to go to an over-saturated commercial filled land where the average people are just crazy, and that’s the norm.
My advice to Second Life, if you want to stay current and still try and make it into the mainstream, find a better way to welcome new people in.
About a year ago my girlfriend came home one day and said, “we should get a Wii.” Oh I was excited. She was never really a big video game person. She liked classic games like Tetris and Super Mario, but all the older games from Nintendo and Atari. I had been wanting an Xbox 360 for a few years. I already owned the original Xbox, but I barley played it. It still sits in my office covered with dust.
So we picked up a Nintendo Wii. We loved it, played the game that came with it for about a week. Then the excitement for me tapered off. I downloaded all the old classics and enjoyed playing those. Found new versions of the old classics and quickly enjoyed those. We play it now and again, but her library gets more use out of it. She brings it into work for the kids to have championship battles in the Library.
So when I was looking for the right games for me to play, I went straight to the Wii. I have paid a lot of money for it, time for it to help me out. We own a number of games. Some I bought, some she bought. I don’t generally like her games, and neither she mine.
I like action games. I have a lot of James Bond type games for the old Xbox and for the Wii I usually rent the Lego Action games like Batman, Indiana Jones or Star Wars. She likes the more simple games where you have constant activity. Her favorite game is Raymonds Raving Rabbids.
I had never played it before so I chose Raymond. At first it seemed very elementary. I needed to take the Wii remotes and mimic running as fast as I could before a package I was given could explode. I won that pretty quickly and was impressed. I move on to something else where I had to draw with the Wii remotes the outline of an image on my screen. This was extremely complicated. I failed miserably. Then I was challenged to use the remotes and to swing a cow as fast as I could as far as I could. I managed this quite well. Finally I then had a dance competition with crazy bunnies that charged the stage. As the bunnies came at me I needed to swat them away with the remotes. This proved to be my weakest moment. I kept at this a number of times and did get a little better, but not by much.
Frustrated with this game I moved on to a Wii sports game we bought in order to get an extra remote. I never played the game before. It has just sat there for months. On it you can fish, play pool, ride a cow, and a few other games. I rode the cow, and did quite well. You have to stay on the shaking cow and knock things out of your way.
Next up was a game of pool. I found this to be hard. I had terrible aim and was too powerful on my strikes or too weak.
Finally I decided to go to an old standby, Dr. Mario. Which has been improved for Nintendo Wii. You can play the old classic version or a new online version. I went online and chose to look for a live partner somewhere across the globe. As I sat there waiting for the system to find me a partner, I thought how amazing it is that another person on the planet is looking for a partner to play against as well. That two complete strangers from different pint in the world are going to interact, however brief, on a video game. I enjoyed this game. We didn’t chat but we did play a few founds.
As I mentioned earlier I am a small time gaming geek. I look forward to the Lego games and the Batman Arkham Asylum
type games, sadly most of these are pretty lousy for the Wii due to the controls. One day I will get an Xbox. I would love an Xbox for multiple reasons. The live feature and also the Nexflix live stream as well.
Throughout all of the games I did play, there was a great deal of focus required, hand eye co-ordination, and creativity. Clearly displaying why games can be good for us.
So while speaking to the students at Lyndon State College, I was asking them what kind of websites they would like. A lot of people suggested a Facebook with live video conferencing. So basically combine Sykpe and Facebook. Allow for live video chats with multiple people all while doing status updates. While this idea does sound more technically advanced than I am capable of, it may be my new direction. I am however still looking at other ideas and may just join a class members team.
For the last week I have been experiencing Second Life. The online virtual reality. I have known about it for some time. My brother is a big fan. He has spent many years there. He has met many girls there. He speaks very highly of it.
So I thought, if my brother can do this than I will have no problem. I have made “me-like” avatars before on the Xbox and the Wii. This should be just as easy. Not so, at least for me. My avatar looks nothing like me. I can change everything about him except his hair. I can put hair on top of his hair, but I can’t change the base. Sadly, he looks like a strung out drug user. So After days of just fighting with the look, I decided to table that issue and focus on why people love this application.
The flying is pretty cool, and the graphics really are quite something, but when the volume of people increases the graphics flicker and fade. The controls are a bit odd too. The program is clearly made for a PC, and as a mac user, I had lots of trouble with just about everything. It took me an hour to figure out the quick launch circle.
All this aside I found my way around. Let me say here, I understand all the reasons why Second Life is so popular, but I found it is not for me. To begin with I am not the most social of people. If there are people I wish to connect with, I will seek them out directly. I also prefer face to face contact. I am from the school of thought that a lot gets lost in the translation of text on screen. I have many experiences which brought me to this point. Ask me ten years ago, I would have answered differently. Today however, I would rather use a program like Skype, where I can connect with video to see someone. I love Facebook and Twitter, I am fine with brief conversations there. Often if I need something elaborated upon I will pick up the phone or Skype someone.
What I do like about Second Life is where you can go. One of my favorite places in the world is Cardiff, Wales, in England. So I sought out a way to go to Cardiff. I immediately found it, but could not figure out how to get there, even now thinking back, I don’t know how I did it. Needless to say I got there, and loved it. Everything looked just like it did in real life. I walked around for a bit and found my self on a nostalgic high. I really enjoyed it. I spoke with a few people, but very little people were there. The ones who were there, seemed to want to just sit and relax. Which I found odd. I would want to be doing something.
Second Life In Cardiff
One of the reasons why I like Cardiff so much, it’s the home of Doctor Who the British TV show. Recently re-established in 2005, the show has become a big success again, and the Second Life world had lots of Doctor Who things to do in Cardiff. So I played with these features for a bit, but still a little alone.
I did speak to some folks who spoke different languages. This did present some problems which really weren’t resolved. I do see it as a place to go and escape, I see the appeal. Perhaps in another way I would get more out of it, but for now its simply not for me. I will keep at it though. It took me a little bit to tackle Twitter, maybe this is the same. To gain more practice, I will be in the virtual Cardiff. I would love it if I found myself connecting with real people, in Second Life, who were really in England.