Second Life and Life 2.0
Every day, across all corners of the globe, hundreds of thousands of users log onto Second Life, a virtual online world not entirely unlike our own. They enter a new reality, whose inhabitants assume alternate personas in the form of avatars—digital alter egos that can be sculpted and manipulated to the heart’s desire, representing reality, fantasy, or a healthy mix of both. Within this alternate landscape, escapism abounds, relationships are formed, and a real-world economy thrives, effectively blurring the lines between reality and “virtual” reality. – life2movie.com
1hr 39 min
Before I can remark on the documentary, I want to make sure it is clear what Second Life is. Since it’s what the documentary is about, it really won’t make sense without this knowledge.
Second Life is an online virtual reality game created by Linden Lab in 2003. As of 2009 there were 19 million users. Unlike other games where the platform is completely created for the player, players actually create the reality themselves in Second Life. As of 2013 Linden Lab has been creating other platforms other than Second Life and is currently working on a beta project for 2015.
Source: Linden Lab on Flickr Under Attribution/Non-Commercial/Share-a-like License
You create an avatar (a virtual representation of you or the character you want to play) and travel the world, exploring and interacting. The main difference between a game like this and a simulation game like The Sims 3 is that in Second Life, every character is being controlled by a person in real life and you can interact with them via chat or voice messaging. The game itself is free to play but with limited access. The free version gives you an avatar and access to the world. The premium version which starts at $6/month includes a home to decorate and live in and extras. You have to download 3D browsing software to play.
The documentary is really eye opening for someone who is not familiar with the fact that video games can be addictive. The users shown in this documentary are extreme players. They play Second Life for more than half of their day, every day. They are intimately connected with the game, to an eerie level. One especially, talks about his character like she is a real person with real thoughts of her own. He talks about her (the avatar) wanting to do this or deciding to do that. At first I thought he meant metaphorically but it’s soon clear that he really believes his avatar has a mind of her own.
Four Second Life players are shown throughout the documentary. Two who fell in love during the game and end up leaving their spouses to be together, one who makes money from the game by creating products and selling them through the game and one who is so obsessive and eerie that he needs to quit playing all together to give his relationship a chance. I don’t want to ruin the outcomes of their lives for those who intend to watch the documentary but let’s just say there isn’t much in the way of positive outcomes. The one lady who makes money while spending over 12 hours a day on the computer was surprising at first, especially given how much she made. However she also was basically absent from her family who pretty much only saw her at meal times. She lives off her family and I felt sorry for her parents.
That’s not to say that every person who plays Second Life is that addicted or even addicted at all of course. But the depths that video game addiction can run is scary. This documentary illustrates how important it is to limit your gaming time, no matter what you play.
After all, it’s not really your “Second Life” if you aren’t living your “First Life” now is it?