Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Second-Rate Second Life: III. Lost in Virtuality

Written 2 June, 2009

A Second-Rate Second Life

III: Lost in Virtuality

I’ve met more than a few people—some of whom have been in world a long time—who seem to have no aim or purpose in Second Life.

Sometimes people just need a kick start. When we lived at Pele, there was a guy would hang out at our tiki hut, playing trivia. That’s all he ever did in Second Life. Sweetie and I eventually rescued him, buying him (as I recall) a Mystitool and taking him out to buy a skin. Then we took him to hear live music by our friends Bill and Pam Havercamp.

That was enough to wake him up. Within a month, he had a fairly well-developed Second Life and a month after that was juggling three girlfriends. Now, nearly three years later, we run into him from time to time at Havercamp concerts with his Earth wife on his arm.

Sometimes kick starts don’t work. We’ve known another avi for at least two years. He used to visit at Pele regularly, and has been to Whimsy several times. We’ve introduced him to friends and taken him with us on some of our adventures, and I’m sure we bought him a Mystitool.

Sweetie and I still talk with him from time to time. After all these months he’s become skilled at controlling his camera and building, but he’s not particularly engaged in Second Life. He logs in, gets bored of rezzing his cop car and wandering about, and logs out.

For a long time my major topic of IM discussion with this guy has been his inability to find a girlfriend. He’s single, smart, well-educated, not bad looking, and lives in a big metropolitan area, but he just has no luck in romance in either of his lives. In a virtual world where you stumble over willing women just about everywhere you go, he has never even had a girlfriend. In his second life, as on Earth, he seems lost.

I’ve met some people who seem to have an utter lack of imagination. They can’t think of a thing to do here. Imagine that, in a world where you can skydive, be a dragon, fly to 5,000,000 meters, become a vampire, hire (or be) a prostitute, start a magazine, own a slave, or build a palace, they can’t think of a thing to do.

Yet other people, after months in world, are still newbies, unable to control the camera or work the interface. They have no friends, no home, nothing to engage them. When I meet such folks I talk with them and give them landmarks and a notecard to help them make sense of Second Life. In most cases, probably, I’ll not make a difference, but perhaps some people have just had the bad fortune to not have been helped before.

Perhaps many of Second Life’s lost people are similarly lost on Earth. Perhaps they lack social skills. Perhaps they lack imagination or passion. Perhaps they’ve just not had a second life-changing experience. Whatever the reason, they miss out on a lot.

No comments: