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inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #26 of 101: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 10 Mar 08 13:45
    

James, for someone like me who doesn't recognize most of the terms and 
systems being mentioned here, could you give a brief description of what 
Second Life is, exactly, what there is to do there, why someone might 
be interested in going there, and what it's like once you're there.  Does 
everybody arrive in the same place every time they log on?  How do they 
communicate with each other?  How do they find compatible groups to hang 
out with?

I've seen mentions of buying and selling, but what is available for sale?  
How are these things created and how are they paid for?  Are they SL 
credits or actual dollars?

Please educate a newbie who might be interested in joining but has no 
experience.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #27 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Mon 10 Mar 08 13:48
    
Thanks, (bumbaugh)!  Yeah, I agree with you.  My Second Life writing
was definitely inspired by Katie Hafner's Wired article (then book)
about the WELL, along with Julian's stuff.

"Could you define your 'social gamer' for me?"

An MMO for whom socialization per se-- forming relationships, starting
romances, going to parties, etc.-- is the object of being in Second
Life.

"I'm trying to wrap my head around the differences between someone who
logs into SL a couple times a week versus someone who logs into Eve
Online or WoW, or more popular lightweight social/gaming spaces like
Habbo Hotel."

I don't think there's profound differences, they're on a continuum. 
Generally speaking, the people who joined SL from other MMOs were
dissatisfied or frustrated by the options the game provided, or lack
thereof.  There's also very large roleplaying communities in SL based
in the universe of Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, BSG, etc. etc.  One
of the top mini-MMOs, City of Lost Angels, was created by a woman who
was a top guild leader in Star Wars Galaxies, who left after the game
got twinked.

COLA:  http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2007/04/onders_game_cit.html
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #28 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Mon 10 Mar 08 13:59
    
Good questions, Linda.  I have to get to some deadlines and SXSW stuff
before posting again.  Fellow SLers, can you help with answers in the
interim?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #29 of 101: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Mon 10 Mar 08 14:04
    
I don't know as much as James does, but I know that people in-game
sell both objects and experiences, anything they want to in fact.
In-game money is called Linden dollars, and those dollars are directly
convertible to US dollars. You can buy Linden dollars, or sell them
back if you earn them in-game.

People who own land pay for the privilege. They'll often run shops and
sell clothes or furnishings, for examples. Or they may run dances or
bars or brothels. The L$ they collect can be turned into US dollars.

The items are created via a scripting language. I've only studied that
language a little bit, making things like cubes and circles, but you
can of course combine shapes and colors into quite intricate items if
you're patient enough. Items can be interactive as well, or animated. 

I am not a programmer, but the language seemed somewhat clunky to me.
Not sure what someone more skilled would think of it.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #30 of 101: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 10 Mar 08 14:34
    

is there a way that someone can go try it out without making a financial 
commitment?

How much does it cost?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #31 of 101: Public persona (jmcarlin) Mon 10 Mar 08 14:37
    

Yes, you can sign up with SL without paying any real dollars. If it still
holds true, you get 100L$ when you sign up and you can do lots and still
have your "money".
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #32 of 101: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Mon 10 Mar 08 14:51
    
You only have to pay cash if you rent land, or if you opt to purchase
Linden dollars to use in-world.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #33 of 101: Lisa Harris (lrph) Tue 11 Mar 08 06:58
    
All of the economic side of SL is very interesting to me.  Are there
any SLers that make enough L$ to convert to US$ as a full time money
making job/business?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #34 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Tue 11 Mar 08 07:40
    
Yes, according to Linden's data, about 1000 users are clearing over
$1000 a month in Linden Dollar earnings; 155 of them are making over
$5000 a month.  Those figures don't count the thousands of people who
make a living developing content and projects for major companies,
universities, organizations, etc. in Second Life, but are paid in real
cash.  (For that matter, it doesn't include me, or the several dozen
people who've written a book about Second Life and got paid by a
publisher.)
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #35 of 101: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Tue 11 Mar 08 10:19
    
James, would you say a bit more about MONO and Havok 4? What are they,
and how will this change affect the average person in-world? To what
degree is SL trying to position itself as a gaming platform, or a world
for people who want to write games?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #36 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Tue 11 Mar 08 13:05
    
Programmers can explain MONO in way better detail than I could, but
basically, it's a commonly used, open source web-friendly coding
language that is soon supposed to replace Linden Script Language, a
very rudimentary native scripting system.  Havok 4 is one of the latest
versions of the game industry standard "physics engine", i.e. software
that depicts realistic gravity, collisions, etc. in 3D.  Not only is
Havok 4 important for making full-featured 3D games, it'll also fix a
lot of the lag problems that SL has, especially when more than a couple
dozen avatars are in the same space.  I doubt the company is trying to
position itself as a game platform per se, though I imagine they'll
emphasize that kind of application a lot more.  So far, the most
successful SL-made games are casual social ones like Tringo (Tetris
meets Bingo), or slower paced MMOs.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #37 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Tue 11 Mar 08 13:57
    
Thanks to everyone who helped talked (castellani)'s questions, by the
way.  To return to her core query, "what there is to do there, why
someone might be interested in going there, and what it's like once
you're there?", that's really what the bulk of my book talks about.  A
lot of people just enjoy it as a social game space like IMVU, for going
to parties and dancing and so on; far more than that, people enjoy
creating content, whether that's building or clothing, or just playing
around with different avatar identities.  Still more are using it
primarily as a professional/vocational development platform to create
and promote art, prototype architecture and software, etc. etc. 
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #38 of 101: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 11 Mar 08 14:48
    

Thanks!!  It sounds a lot like IMVU in that case.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #39 of 101: Rick Moffat (rickmoffat) Tue 11 Mar 08 17:47
    
<castle>, and back at <wjamesau>, what really struck me in one of
<wjamesau>'s earlier replies was his reference to a "Burning Man Leap".
I don't know if people unfamiliar with Burning Man would get the
reference, and how it applies to Second Life. 

Basically, the core SL population is somewhat tribe-like, similar to
the Burning Man festival crowd (or Dead shows, or Ren Faires, or any
fan-based community). The tribe isn't necessarily going to seek out new
members. For a new person in SL (this holds true in other mmorpg's as
well), you really do have to make a virtual leap of faith and open
yourself to social interaction, and usually make the first move.
Avatar-based communication can be awkward, but once you make a
connection with someone (usually based more on what you type than on
what your avatar is doing), entry into the tribe is easier. 

I've played a lot of mmorpg's and run around quite a few virtual
worlds. There are very few that manage to create a community where
interaction is a natural outgrowth of their game world, or virtual
world. Most of the interaction needs to be initiated by the people who
play the game. If you're new to the game/world, you'll have to approach
people and seek out like-minded companions. 

If you have an outgoing personality, and you're persistent, you can
certainly meet people in Second Life. The tribe (for lack of a better
term, <wjamesau> may be cringing to hear me describe the SL community
that way) isn't exclusionary, but they do require effort on the part of
new folks to break into the community. It's no different than moving
to a new town, really. If you can find out where people congregate, and
you can strike up conversations, you'll find out where things are
happening, and make friends in the process.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #40 of 101: Ian Betteridge (ianb) Wed 12 Mar 08 00:57
    
I think that's slightly simplistic, <rickmoffat>, in that SL really
consists of a multiplicity of tribes, lots of which rarely come into
contact with each other. The key thing in SL is finding your tribe :)
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #41 of 101: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 12 Mar 08 01:59
    

How did you do it?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #42 of 101: Rick Moffat (rickmoffat) Wed 12 Mar 08 07:29
    
I agree, Ian, and thank you for pointing it out. "A" tribe, instead of
"The" tribe, is much more accurate. And I still don't like the term
tribe, but I guess it works to describe a small community with common
interests. 

As far as the "how do you do it" part, I'm bad at it :) Well, that may
not be entirely true. I might have been more successful meeting people
and connecting with a social group or small community if my tolerance
for the technical shortcomings of Second Life was higher. I get
frustrated by the interface and the sluggish performance.

That said, if I had the patience to overcome my frustration and I
wanted to meet people, I'd try the following things.

Hmm, thinking about what <jmcarlin> said earlier, about how he already
has a well-developed community here on the Well without needing an
avatar, you might have some success trying to find an out-of-SL forum
where you can introduce yourself and ask some of these questions. You
might get good advice from people who have successfully integrated
themselves into a SL community. 

In-game, I'd find sandboxes. They're areas where people can practice
building objects, and I'd think you're likely to meet people who have
spent enough time in SL that they're interested in building something
for themselves. Introduce yourself, ask them what they're building,
show interest in what they're doing, then tell them you're new and ask
if they have any suggestions for places to go, things to see, spots
where other people congregate.

And speaking of where people congregate, <wjamesau> mentions in his
book that a way of tracking how many people are around a given area is
to watch the green dots in your minimap in the SL client. The density
of green dots lets you know when you've found a popular area. That
phenomenon can be gamed, to a certain extent (property owners paying
other players small amounts of Lindens to sit afk in a chair to give a
property the illusion of being more crowded, but if you combine that
technique with suggestions from either SL forums or people you meet
in-game, you might start to get a sense of where to find people to talk
with in SL. 

I'm curious if <ianb> or others have better tips on how to find your
tribe in SL?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #43 of 101: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Wed 12 Mar 08 13:04
    
I think a lot of the Burning Man connection to the history of SL, as
James describes it, really passes me by, because it's not something
I've done or really been interested in, other than reading about the
experiences of people on the Well.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #44 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Wed 12 Mar 08 13:09
    
Rick, one trick is checking avatar profiles.  When you see someone
with a cool avatar that fits your tribe (steampunk, fantasy, whatever),
click on their profile and check their Picks.  Chances are they'll
have selected several places and/or groups that you'll dig.  With a
handy Teleport button right there!
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #45 of 101: streaming irreverent commentary (pauli) Wed 12 Mar 08 21:23
    
A friend of mine at Case Western taught a course on culture and computers
taht met in Second Life.  She gave a paper on it at the Society for the
History of Technology meeting in Washington last October.  It was very
interesting in discussing the good and bad of the experience.  While there
were a lot of frustrations in trying to operate a class in that environment,
she also thought that their experiences in Second Life and the discussions
about avatars and multiple identities helped to frame student critiques of
topics such as online dating, artificial intelligence, social networking,
and online gaming.  She also thought it helped them think more productively
about the digital divide because the students who were very familiar with
computers nonetheless had to learn how to operate in this digital world.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #46 of 101: Ian Betteridge (ianb) Thu 13 Mar 08 05:11
    
I'd second What <wjamesau> said - profiles, shops and search are a
good place to start. But the key thing is don't be afraid to talk to
people - the normal rules of social etiquette are more loose than in
real life :)
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #47 of 101: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 13 Mar 08 11:39
    

(Note: offsite readers with questions or comments may send them to
 <inkwell@well.com> to have them added to this conversation)
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #48 of 101: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 14 Mar 08 08:47
    

Above, <rickmoffat> mentions that some people get involved in "gaming" the
system by intentionally manipulating the environment to create, for example,
the appearance of more activity than would be there naturally.

This makes me wonder about the whole "troll" thing -- people who come into
an online environment to intentionally disrupt. In the world of MMORPGs,
I understand that these people are called griefers.

Does Second Life have to contend with griefers? Did the tech developers of
this world try to find ways to build it so that this kind of game-playing
was hard to pull off? Is it possible to develop an online world where
griefers can't engage in disruptive activities?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #49 of 101: Lisp Hax in SL (bwsmith) Fri 14 Mar 08 08:55
    
I've been "in" Second Life for about a year now... What helped me the
most for getting an idea of what it was about and what it was capable
of was to going into it for a conference sponsored by CMP/Dr Dobbs.  It
was hosted with speakers and presentations ranging from the economics
of SL, SL in education, and how SL is being used by corporations to
showing cool tools for building things. 

Presentations and roundtable discussions were scheduled 9:00-4:00PST
for the best part of a week. But the best part of it was actually the
"after hours" activities.  Those were: Road trips to the Sun, IBM,
Toyota and other sims.  Tours to shopping areas that the "old-timers"
knew about. A trip to a "damage enable" sim to play with weapons(you
don't die, your just ejected to the edge of the sim and have to find
you way back.) A tour of the various "libraries" maintained within SL. 
One for prims and building techniques, one for scripting, and one for
particle effects. And then a visit to interesting places, some just
beautiful and others educational goals like the simulation of a
tsunami. And finally, just listening to music "dancing" and most
important chatting with other folks interested in and knowledgeable
about the environment.

That gave me a good foundation to go out exploring on my own. From a
trip to a sailing community, I found out about simulated winds and
sailing and racing in SL. There are actually quite competitive sailboat
races daily in multiple locations. 

That also introduced me to the non-Linden, non-mainland, private
estates. Wanting to build and store my "stuff,"  I first rented an
apartment, then wanting more scope, rented a house, and finally
purchased a portion of one of the private (non-Linden owned) sims where
I could build my own house. This was in one of the "themed" sets of
sims. (All building and landscaping is monitored and approved to be in
the style of "A coastal New England sailing community.)

So, after a year, I own land in SL, have two houses, found out that I
was good at it building and scripting and have sold several more, just
started a shop where I also sell reproductions of museum quality
oriental rugs and shaker furniture, attend live music performances
streamed into SL on a regular basis, have sailboats ranging in size
from a racing dinghy to a blue-water schooner, attend presentations and
discussions about virtual worlds once o twice a week, and find I don't
have enough time all of the things that I'd like to do...

So, thats why someone would go into SL.

(Also the "Life 2.0 Spring '08, March 15-21" starts tomorrow.  You can
get information about it and this years speakers at:
http://www.life20.net)
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #50 of 101: Ian Betteridge (ianb) Fri 14 Mar 08 12:21
    
Oh yes, there are griefers in SL - some quite organised groups. But
they can generally be avoided. 
  

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