Saturday, April 28, 2007

Second Life Paper

Thus my argument is not that you should care about the ogres and elves running around in cyberspace, but that you should care about the fact that there are ogres and elves, millions of them, running around in cyberspace. It’s the phenomenon that deserves interest, not its manifestations per se

Edward Castronova, an associate professor of telecommunications s at Indiana University and author of Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, from which the above quote was taken, has written extensively about the economics of massively multi-player online role-playing games or MMORPGS as the ogres call it. He's a gifted writer with a nice, subtle sense of humor who spends a good deal of time demonstrating to fellow researchers that MMORPGS and virtual worlds like Second Life are worthy of serious study. He also writes about some very sensible (and ridiculous- but I find I'm more then willing to listen even if I'm not entirely buying it) things along the way. The above quote is one of the more sensible. There really are millions of people running around in these synthetic worlds, spending a lot of time and energy embodying virtual ogres and elves. Or as animated versions of themselves.

The crummy screen shot is of myself and some of my classmates lounging at our bar on Entropy Island (restricted access for now) in Second Life after holding a book chat that briefly descended into a John Updike pileup. When folks can't get down with the Rabbit-man, he's like an itch you just gotta scratch and tell everybody about. Anyway, I'm at the bar, far left and dressed all in black. I have a Grizzly-Adams like beard and a long, flowing lock of a mohawk as my do. I'll post a better picture soon. Once, looking just like this, I spent 15 minutes dancing to Sleazy D's I've Lost Control (still the ultimate acid track) in some lame virtual club I teleported to. I ended up feeling terribly lame for dancing my free, prefabricated dance moves amongst fellow avatar's who had either spent some serious downtime modifying their movements or wheeling and dealing with some dance programming maestro to jack their groove. It was fun for about 15 minutes because of the novelty of hearing Sleazy D, then I got bored. There's potential in that there Second Life, but I think it's at the Atari 2600 stage of development. Some folks are definitely doing some amazing things in Second Life with "user-generated content," for sure, but most of what's been created there passes as an amusing novelty or is simply banal. I'm interested in its potential and will continue to check in but I think I'm okay with letting others advance it.

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