How can I have a Second Life if I don’t have time for my first one?

It is strange how life is full of coinkydinks. I just read Onion Tears’ blog about spending the weekend playing Zelda. I spent a better part of the weekend exploring Second Life. I made two avatars, here’s my main girl:

I was clued into Second Life by my mentor Mark, a world famous archaeologist and all around great informant regarding popular culture. He recommended a book recently published about SL and Identity. I’m putting off reading it until next year when I have more time. Anyway, I thought I would enter SL to check it out. When visiting Onion Tears a couple of years ago, I really got into EverQuest. I had a great looking avatar and had a lot of fun. After I returned to Lincoln, I decided not to play anymore since I get so sucked into the game (don’t even ask me about Tomb Raider). I loved “Zelda, Ocarina of Time” and “Marathon 2, Durandal,” and like Onion Tears, I will forget about RL for hours! So, I was a tad trepidatious once I stepped into Second Life that I might not leave for hours. Not to worry — YET. I spent a lot of time outfitting and wandering around. I had a couple of interesting encounters and like a good anthropologist spent some time eavesdropping in on other conversations. There was a group of people talking about the global economy – and this is how they sounded: waawaaawaawaawblahblahblahwaawaawaaa, heeheehee (woman with girly voice) waaaawaaawaawaawaa (guy pontificating on the market). BORING. Later someone admired my avatar — he looked like a normal guy. You know the type, jeans, t-shirt, average height, etc. After a bit of generic conversation he started to shape shift! It was very cool. His avatar has a randomizing effect that allows it to go from “normal” to quite fantastical.

As an experiment, I made a fat ugly stupid looking male avatar. I wanted to test if people would interact with me in the same manner as they did with my main avatar. I’d put up a photo, but I messed up his appearance and need to redo him. Anyway, the results were AMAZING! I was hanging out in an area with a lot of people just flitting by, posing, observing, and conversing. I was treated like crap! One character harassed my poor guy and no female avatars would speak to me! So, on the basis of very limited exposure to SL, I can say that it seems like people act pretty much the same in SL as in RL — maybe even worse. Great stuff for ethnographic research!

But, I’m not going to spend much time in SL. Unlike games, there’s no “point” — no quest, no fighting, no treasure to discover, etc. So, it isn’t really all that fun from a gaming sense. However, I might just keep dropping in now and then to study social interactions based on avatar appearance.

One Response to “How can I have a Second Life if I don’t have time for my first one?”

  1. oniontears Says:

    Gaming is such a great subject for research. I was amazed while doing my thesis how many games are linked to the global economy and how people adapt their characters to benefit themselves in different ways.

    Did you read/hear about the woman last week who was arrested for killing her ‘online husband’? They got married in the game and the husband decided to divorce her without telling her. She later hacked his account and deleted him.

    It’s interesting because the ones that I have played had a lot of gender crossing in that many men would play hot female characters or really cute female characters like gnomes that are small and innocent looking, not in a pervy way though. Anyway, I could go on for pages on this but maybe you should email me the book info because I’d totally read that.

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