A decade in a virtual world is a long time. I know a few people who have been in Second Life longer but not many. I think a day like this deserves some reflection and history.
On 7/28/05 I met my friend Bob. (Fun fact: What is strange his rez date is BEFORE SL officially existed. He started in April 2003 and SL wasn’t released to the public until June. He was part of the beta test. I still see him occasionally.) It is thanks to Bob that I’m still in SL. He helped me get over SL’s steep learning curve and invited me to join the Slate land holding group.
For the rest of 2005 and part of 2006 he and I were a team that helped new people with both the technical parts and play in Second Life. He showed people the tech parts and I did the fun parts by having a pool party and showing people how to dance and hear music in SL.
Second Life was a very different place back then.
· You couldn’t teleport point to point. You had to tp close to where you wanted to go and then fly the rest of the way.
· Staying connected for an hour that was surprising. Relogging was very common. I even wrote a macro for it because I had to do it so often.
· Tuesday’s weren’t just a rolling restart day. The lab would bring the whole grid down for several hours. That was often accompanied by the necessity to download a new viewer.
· The population of Second Life was much smaller. I remember setting the record of fifteen hundred online at once. Today online numbers are in the forty to over fifty thousand range.
· Residents were also very different. It seemed most male avatars were horny teen boys who thought the way to “win” SL was to have virtual sex with as many female avatars as possible.
· The “game” and “not a game” debate has been going on since even before I joined Second Life. The way I exist in world I say it is not a game. There are real people with feelings behind those keyboards. Respect them!
· One thing that is the same is that SL resident have always supported charitable causes. I was told by an early friend that she had walked all the way around SL. Try that today!
I continued having the dance parties even after Bob stopped doing his technical sessions. Occasionally someone will still tell me they wished I still did those dance parties since they enjoyed them. Once I spent eight hours dancing in Second Life.
But my five or sometime ten dance parties a week burned me out. For a while I mostly just hung out with my close friends and shopped. We even formed a morning coffee and hugs group that would get together each morning. Like most groups in SL that eventually disbanded because people moved or got bored.
After a while I sold my land and took a three year vacation from Second Life. During that time I kept my account going but I would only log in for a few minutes once a month.
It was a shock when I did come back to SL. For one thing I had forgotten how to dress. Mesh had taken off and I found a real man who courted and married me. We just celebrated our first anniversary and have a child.
So it’s with a heavy heart that I began looking for a replacement for Second Life. I have become conscious or all the controversy and intrigue surrounding virtual worlds these days. I know the lab says SL will continue. But I have been around the computer industry for many years and I feel it is time to hedge my virtual world bets and start looking what is a good alternative to Second Life.