Evolution of an avatar – part 2
This post continues our tales of Second Life and other metaverses (part 4 in the series)
We noted phased people go through in their Second Life experience; Newbie, Sex, Shopper, Employee.. So onto a few other roles people may assume..
5 – Gamer
Ask many casual observers of SL, even other metaverses, and they will tell you this is just a game.
Forget the online college degree programs and learning centers, museums, art galleries, live concert venues, virtual business campuses of IBM, Nissan, BigPond ISP and others– it’s just a game.
Some jaded folks would go as far to say, primarily, it’s just an adult themed playground where people have cybersex. (So untrue!)
There is much more to SL than sex, in fact, there are a number of games that you can play in SL.
There are people who exist in SL just to play the 3D games created within it.
A few of these games (which may consist of weapon or other systems, specific roleplay areas, heads-up displays, etc.) are:
Toxian City, Incilico
Two popular dark roleplay storylines set within a sort of modern post-apocalyptic cybernetically enhanced society (in the style of Bladerunner, Madmax, Neuromancer, or other alternate future/science fiction). Citizens of either city assume various roles, and may complete quests, hunts, or elaborate missions to progress through the game, or simply wander around the streets randomly, encountering who you may and roleplay accordingly.
Though 5 or 6 vampire systems exist in SL, bloodlines is the most prolific, and to some degree infamous of them all. One can choose to be a vampire, lycan, or human. The undead players are cursed and must obtain blood (or lumens in the case of lycans) to survive. There are clan families of vampires, several variations of class, royalty, or ranking systems, and various tools one may employ for their undead life. Though roleplay isn’t a requirement to the game, many clans are based on (or exist for) various dark roleplay as an addition to the standard set of rules, which makes the game that much more fun to those who enjoy roleplay. Competition between some clans is quite fierce, while others assume a more neutral, collaborative approach.
Two of the more popular combat systems of SL, created so that people may fashion their own style of fighting, including hand-to-hand, held weapons such as swords or staffs, ranged weapons such as bows and guns, and long range/large blast radius weapons such as mortar shells, grenades, or nuclear missles. Several sites or communities will use either combat system, or ones like it.
Based on the series of sci-fi novels by John Norman, the lands of Gor are set in a sort of romanticised medival age other planet Earth, with elaborately detailed social and government structures, rules of engagement, etc. Vast interlinked sims are setup in the Gorean theme, the topography normally being desert like (e.g., Middle Eastern) or forested (e.g., German, English), yet keeping within the cultural traditions of the time period). The availability of free or low-cost, high quality weapons, clothing, furniture, props, etc. in SL is extensive.
Role-playing games are the most popular type of game in SL, however there are also casino games, table games, and some other game-like areas like vehicle driving roads, airplane flying areas, boat sailing areas, etc, though I wouldn’t exactly classify that as “gaming”
One reason there aren’t a lot of arcade type of first-person shooter (e.g., Quake, Unreal Tournament) or fighting games (e.g., Tekken, Soul Edge) is the framerate and AI capability of SL’s client can’t quite compare to your leading, dedicated fast-paced games. The technical reasons for this are valid, but I won’t go into that. Instead, I can say that things are improving and by tweeking the settings a bit (sacrificing graphics drawing distance or dropping more complex settings in favor of better framerates and movement) you can achieve somewhat decent results.
6 – Builder
The worlds of SL wouldn’t be so engaging was it not for talented builders who create everything on the various sims.
Sooner or later, residents will try their virtual hand at building. Whether you make houses, furniture, clothing, vehicles or other things, there will always be a need for quality builders to make stuff in world, some build just for the enjoyment of it, others for profit, others share their creations openly.
As in real life, sometimes the best way to get what you need or fix for your home or is to do it yourself, and so true for SL, even with hundreds of builders out there, you may not always find the perfect thing, or what you do find isn’t exactly the right shape, color or texture.. you can build it, and generally other builders will allow you to modify their creations to your taste, copy it, add or change the scripting, or even transfer it away to another person (though, not all 3 attributes may be given to you).
Builders also have a social community of sorts, there are flat places of land that builders will gather to build things, and others are permitted to build or test things there as well, called a sandbox. Should you leave your builds, crash or get logged off, sandboxes normally return your stuff to you after a set amount of time.
You can meet people at sandboxes, they can be fun places to hang out, chat, or just get away from the throng of clubs and sex and gaming areas.
On that note, and because sandboxes generally won’t tolerate people doing more than building or unpacking a few temporary use objects on them, they are generally safe places, managed and visited by the more experienced, easy going people of SL.
7 – Land holder, business owner
Sometimes, you want to enjoy your virtual time by yourself, or just want to get away from it all, either with or without a loved one, dear friend, or business colleagues. What better place to get away than your own private sim? Hence the ability to acquire and hold your own speck of mainland, remote island, or full simulator region(s) to do whatever you want whenever and with whomever you like!
Perhaps you’ve gotten so good and popular with building things that you’d like to open a storefront, or run your own club, or rent some homes on your sim so that others can build or hang out privately as well.
Owning virtual real estate can be a rewarding experience; use some such place to help generate more lindens, or make the world to your liking; be it underwater, over the ocean, on land, floating in the sky, or in the darkness of space, your sim or parcel can be totally customized.
There are many successful businesses in SL, for example clothing vendors AViD or BareRose. Skin and shape makers Redgrave or Soulskins. AO makers Vista and Semotion. Script/animators Bits & Bobs and Xcite. Home builders like Aces Spaces or Dreamfall. Hair makers like Damselfly. Why not become a store or vending site yourself and cash in on some of their successes?
8 – Veteran/Hobo
Once you’ve done it all, or at least all that you would likely find interesting, and you decide you enjoy your Second Life (or other virtual life on a similar kind of grid), and to the degree you are quite likely to login to it or one of the other grids on a somewhat (or definite) regular basis, you will then settle into a routine (just like with any real hobby such as gardening, pleasure driving, painting, etc.)
People in-world will ask you for guidance on a regular basis. You may even volunteer your time to help others out. Slowly the realization hits, you have become some kind of veteran.
You may factor in the virtual life along with your real life, and find that in some ways they overlap.
Last but not least, you may have heard of hobos, they are the true elite of SL ( stop snickering, you! )
There are those veterans who have been around longer than you, who remember the good ol’ days when stipends were high and land was cheap.
Oh the days when SL was vastly new and wide open, graphics weren’t spectacular and things often didn’t work as planned, but we didn’t mind.
We have become spoiled and jaded a bit since then, but we are still here, traveling, camping, finding good music and long true friends, we dance, we chill, we earn and give our respect, we have traveled far, are neither here nor there, we are furry and skin and other things too, the tattered lovable hobos of SL.
Hobos defy definition, though I think, ultimately, this becomes one’s final phase in their SL life; you may venture everything in the same or different order as I’ve listed it here, but in done way or other you will touch on all of these aspects. I bid you fair winds on your journeys through the metaverse.
If anything in this post was worth your comments, be them public or private, feel free to drop some words here or elsewhere – in world I am “StarLord Scribe” and thus ends the Linden Labs/Second Life portion of this series: There is so much more to SL than the basic glances I’ve written here; Many levels deeper than I’ve taken you.
How far down the rabbit hole you go (and if you go..) is up to you.