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.
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.