A short time ago, Linden Lab announced that Second Life was available through Amazon, along with a number of content bundles. I have to confess that I find this development plain embarrassing for a couple of reasons.
The first, and most obvious issue, is that Second Life is listed as a game. Unfortunately, Second Life really isn’t one – or, if you like to think that it is, let’s at least agree that it has so little in common with the sorts of things that most people think of as a ‘game’, that it meets none of the conventional definitions.
That is, if you come to Second Life expecting to find it to be a game, you’ll be disappointed. That’s not to say that it cannot be fun and interesting and challenging in its own ways, but perhaps the most prevalent complaint I’ve heard from new users is that they came expecting a game, and didn’t find Second Life to be one. Sure, there are many games contained within Second Life, but that’s like calling the World Wide Web a game (and yes, there are people who do consider the Web to be a game. I think those folks are just a bit crazy, mind).
So, it is certainly embarrassing to be associated with the idea of Second-Life-as-a-game. Many folks do consider we dedicated Second Life users to be a bit crazy because we ‘play’ this ‘game’, when they know from having tried it that it is not one. The ‘game’ label seems to make most people unable to look beyond it, and see its essential potential (realised and unrealised, both) as a content platform.
The second embarrassment relates to the content bundles. Why? They’re all vehicles, of one sort or another, and vehicles are – without a doubt in my mind – the single, weakest, most unreliable aspect of Second Life. I figure most Second Life users would tell you the same.
That’s not to say that Second Life vehicles can’t work or don’t work. They do. They just don’t work well. Often, they work shamefully poorly.
No matter how well-made an individual Second Life vehicle is, using it as a showcase item for new users is like promoting the sausage-making machinery, rather than the sausages. Not a tasty experience.
So, yes, I find the whole move quite embarrassing. In essence, it showcases Second Life in perhaps its worst possible light, and by extension makes those of us who use Second Life regularly to appear outlandish to those who wind up struck by the dichotomy.