Friday, May 19, 2006

Second Life

What is Second Life?

This is the most interesting thing that I have heard of recently. This is in existence since 2003, but I came to know about it only recently.

So what is Second Life?

Second life is a virtual society on the web. More specifically, it is a huge multiplayer game and is subscription based. It was released for the public in 2003 by Linden Lab. All players of the game are residents and they can take part in the economy of the virtual world. This is made possible by the creators of this game, who have mandated that all digital property created by the residents of the virtual world remains the residents property. Below are some screenshots of the second life.

What does this means?

When you decide to enter this society, you can create your own virtual representative. Let’s say your name is John in real world and you create a virtual person named as Richard in the virtual world. Richard will live a life very similar to that of the real world and do things like we do to survive, entertain build relationships, earn money etc. Hence the name second life.

So what?

Richard can live and interact with hundreds of thousands of virtual people in this virtual world. What else, he can own a house or land in this digital world. He can trade in this world, the currencies of which are convertible to our real world currencies. So, Richard can earn and John can get the money. The valid currency in the virtual world in Linden Dollars and each resident of the virtual world receives a weekly stipend to keep him going though his daily routine. Additionally the virtual resident can also buy or sell products and services to and from other residents of the virtual world. As mentioned earlier Linden Dollars is convertible to US Dollars. The conversion rate between Linden Dollars and USD is in the ratio of 200:1. However, this rate fluctuates a lot like real currencies.
One interesting incident happened recently in which a second life resident had sued the makers of the game over a cyber land dispute. This suit was filed in the real world though. Look here for more details.

So what can you do in the second life?

You can customize the appearance of your virtual 3D representative (Richard). You can use lots of tools provided by the manufacturers of the game. You can create structures like buildings and other products which you can sell to other second life residents. You can attend events and visit brothels (only if you are of 18 years and above). For residents younger than 18 years there is a Second Life for teens.

So how much does it costs?

Basic membership is free. Subscription is USD 6 to USD 9.95 per month depending on the type of membership you choose. The difference is, a basic member does not get land by default and receives less stipend than the paid member. Basic membership is a good place to start though.

So how to access Second Life?

You can access second life by clicking here. Second life is built completely on open source technology, but can be accessed by Windows and Mac. In fact, support for a Linux client is only recently introduced for second life.


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