Second Life

From Academic Kids

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Second Life Logo

Second Life is an open-ended virtual world created by San Francisco-based Linden Lab. It is similar to There, another such world created around the same time, in that one of its primary focuses is socialization, but the similarity ends there. The brain child of former RealNetworks CTO Philip Rosedale, Second Life gives its users (referred to as residents) tools to shape its world. A large majority of the content in the Second Life world is user-created, and one of the unique things about Second Life is that users retain the rights to the objects they create.

Contents

Objects

Second Life includes a 3D modeling tool that allows users to create objects of nearly any complexity out of a set of basic building blocks known as prims (short for primitives). Second Life includes a set of textures that users can apply to their objects, but users can also upload and apply their own images. Objects can have scripts which control their behaviors -- Second Life uses its own scripting language, called Linden Scripting Language (most commonly referred to simply as LSL), which has a syntax similar to C. LSL allows objects to interact with the Second Life world and the Internet (via email and XML-RPC). Second Life uses the Havok dynamics engine for simulated physics, though not all objects in the world necessarily respond to physics.

Avatars

Users of Second Life are represented in the world by a humanoid avatar, which can be customized and clothed in a wide variety of ways. Users can also attach objects to their avatars to further customize them -- the attachments can be something as simple as a pair of glasses, or something as complex as a costume to make the avatar look like something else entirely, such as a cartoon character. Common applications of altering characters have included animals (Second Life supports a strong social Furry group, over 200 known members strong,) Robots and Mechs, and avatars totally non-humanoid. It is also possible for users to upload animations in BVH format (acquired via motion capture or created with software such as Poser) for their avatar.

Second Life does not have a predetermined theme — Linden Lab has left the task of establishing one up to the users.

Culture

Second Life has a rich resident-driven culture, that has developed new terms revolving around metrics such as Dwell (recently renamed to traffic). Other articles will be expanded to cover this growing phenomenon.

Some of the culture revolves around "Groups." Groups can be created by any user as long as there are at least three members. The groups that each player belongs to are displayed in his or her profile. Each group has rank assigned by the group leader. The rank title appears superimposed above the name of the player's avatar, but the player can be a member of several groups so he or she can choose which Group's rank title to display at any given time. Group activity is usually centered around a particular interest, so creating groups can give people a common ground for discussion and provide for an easy way to break the ice. Some groups even maintain websites to bridge the gap between "First Life" (the real one, also abbreviated in-world as "RL" for "Real Life") and Second Life (also abbreviated as "SL") interests. Examples of a few groups include: "Brainiacs" (a group devoted to inventing new things in Second Life), "Thinkers (http://secondlife.blogs.com/nwn/2004/07/philsophy_of_se.html)" (a group devoted to discussion of philosophy, psychology, and human behavior), and perhaps even the mythical "F.I.C." [1] (http://www.fetedinnercore.com) (an illuminati-like group that may or may not exist within SL, depending on who you ask).

Besides groups, much of the culture in Second Life also revolves around events. Events can be anything from games, to virtual dance parties, to educational activities and more.

Another bridge between First Life and Second Life are the forums. They are accessible outside of the virtual world of Second Life, but they are a place for users to talk to the Lindens and talk with each other on topics as broad and varied as anything you can think of within RL or SL.

Blogs are also rapidly popping up across the internet where users detail their Second Lives, sometimes more extensively than their first. One of the most notable of these user blogs is by the formerly self-described "technomusicologist," now turned Second Life celebrity, Torley Torgeson (http://www.torley.com/).

Requirements

Second Life requires a broadband Internet connection, an up to date computer with a new nVidia or ATI 3D card, and free software (about 20MB, and available for the PC and Macintosh) that can be downloaded from the Second Life web site (http://www.secondlife.com/).

Pricing

Second Life currently has four pricing tiers (all prices in United States dollars):

  • Basic Access -- one-time access fee of $9.95
  • Premium Monthly -- $9.95/month (billed monthly)
  • Premium Quarterly -- $7.50/month (billed quarterly)
  • Premium Annual -- $6.00/month (billed annually)

Additionally, there is a seven-day free trial, for which a credit card is required for age verification. Second Life requires users to be at least 18 years of age.

Economy

Second Life has its own economy and a currency, Linden dollars. Residents receive a small amount of money when they start their account, and a weekly stipend. The size of the stipend depends on the account type. To earn additional money, residents can also sell objects or services for Linden dollars through in-world shops. It is possible to convert Linden dollars to US dollars and vice versa through real-world brokers such as Gaming Open Market (http://www.gamingopenmarket.com/) and IGE (http://www.ige.com/mg/game.asp?gid=31). The Second Life economy generates about $US 500,000 worth of economic activity per week, mostly due to the developers' encouragement of using real money to make players' ways inside the world (as opposed to almost any other MMORPG).

References

Many Second Life residents have noted the similarities between Second Life and the Metaverse from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.

External links

  • Second Life (http://www.secondlife.com/) official website
  • Linden Lab (http://lindenlab.com/) official website

Forums

Weblogs

Photo Galleries

Business Directories

  • Trade & Services Directory (http://trade.secondserver.net/) - resident-run directory of stores and services, including real-time shopping on the web, by integration with in-world automated vendors.
  • Avatar Central (http://www.sluniverse.com/avatarcentral/) - Alpha-phase directory and classifieds.
  • The SL Exchange Marketplace (http://www.slexchange.com/) - Real-time Second LifeŽ shopping on the web - thousands of items created by hundreds of SL's finest content creators.
  • Second LifeŽ Boutique (http://www.slboutique.com/) - Another approach to real-time Second LifeŽ web shopping.

Other Sites

  • LSL Wiki (http://www.secondlife.com/badgeo), a community effort to supplement the available LSL documentation
  • SLAuctions.com (http://www.slauctions.com) - Resident Run Land-Auctioning System
  • SL History Wiki (http://history.secondserver.net/index.php/Main_Page) - A project aiming to document the history of the SL world in the form of a wikide:Second Life
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