Saturday, August 7, 2010

What Makes Second Life and Virtual Worlds so Stupid and Pointless

Lalo Telling in front of his Tudor homes display in Inworldz
I was working on a video project in Inworldz last night when I saw that my friend Lalo Telling was online. I'd been wanting to see the virtual synagogue he was building so I decided to take a break and IM'd him to see if he would give me a look. He was kind enough to send me a TP and I rezzed into the middle of his month old Sim. After an hour tour I was feeling completely dumbfounded by the rich, varied and beautiful environment he and his partner had created in such a short period of time.  It also reminded me why virtual worlds like Second Life are bound to be viewed as stupid and pointless by most nubes and casual users:

The truly compelling aspect of a virtual world does not arise until both the virtual environment and those you meet within it become as viscerally real to you as your physical world experience. That takes time. A lot time. Especially for one's first breakthrough experience. And even  after crossing that perceptual line, the reality of the virtual sphere will fade without consistent reinvigoration.

I intentionally used a fairly mundane photo to illustrate the point. To the casual eye there's a cartoonish, dorky-looking figure standing in a boring setting (except for that barely-visible hottie in the far background.) But experienced from a highly immersed mind's eye, one sees the deeper reality of a creative and multi-talented man standing in the midst of a fantastic world he and his partner are building.

There is as much perceptual difference between a casual user's experience of a virtual world and that of an engaged resident who is truly embedded, as there is between viewing a photo of a place in the physical world and actually living within the environment.

I'll post more on this next week. For now here's a quote from a post today by Gwyneth Llewelyn:
... the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that we’re really seeing things from the wrong perspective. Second Life is not about happy newbies. It’s about high-quality immersion. And that has very low appeal to the vast majority of people out there.


Lalo Telling said...

"cartoonish, dorky-looking..." Hmmph!


For the sake of completeness: I am proud to call Alisa Falconvale my partner, and our island sim in InWorldz bears her name, too.

Thoroughly enjoyed your visit -- come back again soon :)

Crone on the Loose OG said...

AH.. Botgirl once again speaks with great wisdom :)

Code Handyman said...

Well put!

a neon devil breath said...

I really liked your posting. and yes the creativity in SL is vastly underrated by the general public and noobs.

sororNishi said...

Yes, that is well perceived.
I had hoped that the low grade visual aspect of SL/IWz would have improved over the years.
I had hoped my avatars abilities would have improved too.
I think, however, the salesmen tried to sell a product that isn't quite ready for mass consumption.

As you say, you have to understand the difficulties and limitations before you can appreciate the accomplishments.

Mera Kranfel said...

very true, totally agree...

Anonymous said...

Is "ready for mass consumption" so important? I prefer quality over quantity and presence over presentation. The large librarian community in SL attests to its effectiveness in handling continuing education needs as well as creating innovative ways of delivering information services. I have seen success for education as well as edification and entertainment in SL.