second life hype

(i just posted this to a mailing list type thing that i belong to, and i’m reposting it here because…well because so much of my writing seems to be occurring on forums and mailing lists these days, and not enough over here on the blog. there is a lot of talk right now about the overhype surrounding second life, and these are my thoughts.)

it is the emergence and growth of the worlds themselves that deserve the hype. focusing on second life or world of warcraft and looking for clues to their popularity in the specifics of the worlds misses the most compelling aspect of what is going on here. i guess it is unavoidable given that the companies themselves are cranking the PR as vigorously as possible to give the impression that the phenomenon is all about *their* innovations, or the uniqueness of their take on virtual worlds. it’s not. while i get really excited when i log into second life sometimes, it is primarily a vision of the future that generates the feeling, and not the clunky app that i am using to be in that world. warcraft seems too lewt-centric and quest-oriented to be the future of MMO.

it is about better hardware and greater broadband penetration to some extent, but what is really going on is that a large and growing number of people are ready and excited to enter and hang out in online 3D spaces. we are on the cusp of something bigger, and online virtual worlds are rapidly becoming mainstream. second life and warcraft are both at their cores social networks, and we all lived through the last wave of those. my guess is that second life is the friendster of the genre: by the time they rebuild the thing from the ground up, some myspace-type app will have leapfrogged them, pulled away a lot of their membership and appealed to a broader community. snide advice for SLers? learn portuguese (oh wait, that was orkut….)

check out this slide show from amy jo kim . i think the next gen MMOs will tie together more and more of the functions of currently disparate web 2.0 apps in a more compelling and cohesive 3D universe. (hat tip to fellow we know guildie susan for the slide show).






6 responses to “second life hype”

  1. Jason Avatar

    Okay, I think I want to be on the mailing lists you’re on.

  2. Susan Wu Avatar

    Oooh. Investment mailing list? I think it’s interesting that when people hear “immersive worlds” people immediately think “3D worlds”. I actually think that what creates immersion – or, the feeling of being completely enveloped in a convincing, emotionally resonant environment – is not necessarily the technology.

  3. Adam Young Avatar

    Nice post. You should it to the guild forums and see what responses it gets. I think that you are right in saying that the individual worlds themselves are not significant in a broad sense so much as what these virtual spaces represent. Though I really enjoy the game, I certainly hope WoW does not (and it surely won’t) represent the ultimate (or even penultimate) stage of virtual worlds.

    Susan, interesting point, though I do think that as humans are generally more reliant on visual input than input their other senses, a graphical interface (and even more so, a 3-D one) is a bit of a shortcut to immersion. It is entirely possible to create a test-based yet wholly immersive virtual experience, but I would think that it takes more work to pull it off.


  4. citizenx Avatar

    my burning question?

    why is it that these VIRTUAL social network/worlds are so wildly popular?

    and by extention…

    why is any MEANINGFUL “LMIRL” networking NOT?

    i mean IMAGINE your guild or clan
    organized essentially the SAME accomplish something REAL…
    meaning “in the REAL world”

    my quick and dirty answer

    as the “real” world spins ever downward into chaos

    “virtual” worlds become the preference
    (FOR THOSE WHO POSSESS THE TECH to escape)i.e. those LEAST affected by the unpleasantness “out there”

    i mean SERIOUSLY

    you are talking about THE SIMS

    WoW equals the SIMS with MAGIC

    SecondLife is the SIMS v.2.0

    lesson to be learned

    Nerds and Geeks CAN be socialized
    they just need ‘to think’ its PRETEND

    except when they get wet in the crotch
    selling WoW gold on eBay for ‘real’ ca$h

  5. citizenx Avatar

    my apologies
    geeks and nerds fact.. meet in real life
    and when they do
    they talk about computers and virtual gaming


  6. […] eric haller » second life hype Eric notes that Second Life and WoW are not in-and-of-themselves, but that they facilitate excitement about entering and existing in virtual worlds. (tags: cyber- virtualworlds gaming WoW worldofwarcraft erichaller mmorpg) […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.