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Why have a Second Life?

Upon exploring Second Life in class on Wednesday, it felt most of my time was spent learning to use the software, create my own avatar, and communicate with others. While I consider myself moderately computer savy, this was all new to me, and to be honest, was quite overwhelming. My immediate observations were that it felt like an online game, like World of Warcraft. The focus of my first couple hours on Second Life seemed to be around the creation of my own avatar, which right away I realized was the primary focal point. Julie Rak emphasizes this when she says “if Second Life has a gaming objective, it is this game of identity itself” (2009).

Personally, I have never really thought too much about an online identity. It’s an organic thing for me to try to represent myself properly on all the social media tools that I am involved in (I list the same interests, post the same pictures, etc). But Second Life is evidently different in that it requires you to create an avatar of yourself and you appear in a world as a representation of yourself. Of course this may not be much different than posting a profile picture of yourself on your facebook page. However there were many aspects of Second Life which I felt limited the creation of an identity, such as the names made available to you. Also, though there is a wide range of appearance features to choose from, people may feel that their avatar doesn’t properly represent them.

With my initial insights in mind, I also admit that I am still new to Second Life and feel I will need to do more exploring before I choose to embrace (or not embrace) its full potential. I can understand why people would become so involved on second life for personal and social purposes, but  the idea of meeting on second life (for work or school purposes) seems a bit forced and bizarre to me. I recognize that tools like second life make life easier for people and businesses, I also feel like the whole environment may be distracting and may take away from a quality conversation.

Yes, I am one to constantly chat on msn (with friends, for personal use), and I realize that second life is only a more elaborate version of this, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around meeting people in a professional context on second life. I feel like tools such as Skype would be much more effective, as you can actually see/hear the real person and get a better idea of who they are. For me, I feel, this much better then an avatar of Sarah Sapphire.

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June 1, 2009 - Posted by | Comment on Course Material

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