Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Second Life to Make a First Impression

If you're in or around my age, and so I don't have to say what my age is, I'll just assume that you are, then you are among the first generation to have grown up with computers, and have spent a fair amount of your youth dropping quarters into Gauntlet, Kung Fu and Street Fighter 2 down at your local arcade. During those years, you spent your days at school, and your nights playing outside with your friends or down at that same arcade spending your allowance. Being the first generation to really have grown up with this type of technology has skewed other generations opinions of us, and not always for the best. Video games are associated with little boys entertaining themselves, but it is likely that is the perception because that's what we did as children and no one before us really set the standard, so it's up to us to make a stand for our childish games!

Anyways, what I'm getting at is that since leaving school and moving into the real world, many of us have been partly shut off from the social routine that we enjoyed as kids. Many of us are employed, working full time in an engaging (or not) career and even married, meaning that you generally go to work, stay until the work is done, go home to your best friend, go to bed and do it all over again. We don't generally have the time that we did as kids to socialize every day and night of the week.

This is where I find sites like Second Life really fascinating. A good friend of mine introduced me to Second Life about a year ago and everytime i think about it, I find it fascinating! Linden (the company behind Second Life) has developed a virtual world that has been in existence since 2003 and can now claim to have almost 1.5 million inhabitants. See the trend below of search volume over the past couple of years:

What this means to those of us taking back our video game roots, is that social networking sites and applications like this give us the ability to interact with other people, all over the world, in a way that we haven't been able to since school. By signing up for an account with Second Life your daily routine doesn't have to change, and you're able to interact with groups or individuals all without leaving the couch, for as long or short a time as you'd like. There are many facets of this application that mimic the real world, even appealing to the desire for status. You can go so far as building a home and outfitting it with all the furniture, bells and whistles that you can think of. Of course, this requires a paid subscription to this virtual world, and for some it is well worth it, but I don't plan on going into that here!

The schoolyard used to be where we found out what was cool, who was a jerk, who had a crush on who, all of which really doesn't mean a thing on an individual basis, outside of enjoying the moment, but it's the moments that define us. We would be entirely different people if we didn't have the social interaction that we had as kids.

I'm not telling you to spend all your time ignoring the real world and spend all your time online in a quasi-real world, i mean, go to the pub if that's what you do. But for those of us that miss that comraderie, and that connection that you can make with a good friend, look into it. Those of us that got beat up in school, I'm sorry, there are nice people out there...

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