Creating an alternate life

As an old ex-Second Lifer, and a huge fan of the commercial applications for both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality; would love it if Second Life had, well, a second life.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Second Life was (is, still) a 3D virtual world launched in 2003, where you could buy an “island” and create/interact with your own virtual world (or other people’s). It got a lot of flack for being uber-geek at the time (although a lot of real money was made there by buying and selling both virtual real estate and goods).

It did always feel somehow wrong, though, that you interacted with a virtual 3d world through a flat screen – and clunky keyboard commands.

So the recent announcement that it is planning on becoming fully immersive with virtual reality goggles (with the Oculus Rift. although there are others), to have a working version available by the early next year and a commercial release before the end of 2016 was exciting news.

I always thought the concept of losing yourself in a virtual world of your own creation a very powerful idea. Different than a game because there isn’t a goal, different than an immersive movie because you drive the story. Truly, a Second Life. The appeal is of course enormous. People will get lost in it as the “real” world seems gray and boring in comparison.

Second Life living room{I also always thought it interesting that instead of creating wildly different “realities” though, people often created houses with fireplaces, sofas, and oil paintings on the wall. Given that the normal constraints of physics don’t apply, why didn’t the majority of people create wildly fantastical alternative realities?}.

Time will tell if Second Life has another chance. There are a lot more competitors out there now, and the incredibly high quality of the game graphics – with VR headsets – is going to give it a run for its money. But I think there will be a niche for people who don’t want to engage in a pre-scripted manner, to create the reality *they* want. Even it it’s as mundane as a living room, couch, and fireplace.

 

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