One Night In Second Life
Posted on Friday August 17, 2007, 16:28 by Nick de Semlyen in Infinite Lives
Second Life, if you’ve not heard of it, is a 3-D virtual world that you can enter through your internet connection. Once there, you create a new-look personality for yourself and are then free to do pretty much whatever you please. You can spend real cash in shops, purchasing a new outfit or a flashy pixel-based sports car. There are nightclubs for dancing and virtual cinemas for watching films. You can build your own house, or even visit a brothel (genitals cost extra).
Then there are the Second Life residents. Everyone you encounter is an actual, live person, somewhere in the world. Now and again you may even meet a real-life celebrity, like Bruce Willis – who recently assumed a creepily androgynous cyber-form to do a Q&A for Die Hard 4 (see right). Willis is the exception, though — most everyone who logs onto Second Life does so to escape their Earth-bound self, to become a fantasy alter ego, be it a muscle-bound hunk or a neon griffin with a mohawk.
Anyway, it all sounded so surreal that I had to give it a go. One evening, my friend Ali and I downloaded the Second Life software, our aim being to spend a few hours in SL, flying about (the quickest means of transport) and interacting with its denizens. So, what lessons did our investigation yield? Number one: it’s hard to be serious when designing your character. Some people spend hours sculpting their digital double into a paragon of Aryan perfection — we, however, ended up as a lanky blue creature with a beetroot-coloured mullet and a parrot for a nose (Ali) and a bulbous, three-foot-high freak in a ball-gown (me). As for names, you can’t completely make one up, but instead select first and last names from scrolling lists. Our new monickers: BBoy Roughneck and Dweebell Habercom.
Lesson number two: despite Second Life’s claim to be a 'social network', it’s actually a lot more difficult to strike up a conversation with someone when they look like a Dalek or a giant frog. What do you talk about: newts? After trying in vain to chat with some forlorn-looking characters on the fringes of an urban build-up, Ali and I headed into one of Second Life’s many bustling clubs. There, we were greeted by the bizarre spectacle of a small crowd swaying to rockabilly tunes mixed by some DJ somewhere, probably in his bedroom.
Within this computerised meat market, we learned our final and most startling lesson. Simply, that in a world where you can start from scratch and live out your wildest fantasy, some people will choose to become security guards. What job satisfaction can come from patrolling a club which doesn’t exist, who knows, but with the sight of a tuxedoed bouncer surveying his domain for miscreants, all thought of investigative journalism was gone from our minds. Instead, we decided to annoy him.
Here’s what happened. Ali went to the other side of the dancefloor and began using a random menu option to construct columns. In my guise as a gormless-looking midget lady, I approached the bouncer and alerted him to the security breach.
Dweebell Habercom: Hello sir.
Head of Security: Yes, Dweebell.
Dweebell: Please could you help me?
Dweebell: Sir, there is a man who is looking at me funny. Is there anything you can do?
Security: Where is this guy?
Dweebell: He was by the dj booth.
Security: Do you have a nome?
Dweebell: He has red hair. He is called BBoy something.
Dweebell: If you could just caution him, I would be grateful.
Security: Ok I will check it out.
Dweebell: Thank you sir.
Dweebell: I will wait here.
He had taken the bait and seemed eager to get some action. Curious to see how he'd defuse the situation, I waddled along after him.
BBoy Roughneck: Hello.
Security: What r u doing?
BBoy: Rockin out.
Security: Take down the columns.
BBoy: I thought they looked good.
BBoy: Are you security?
At this point, the bouncer decided he’d had enough. He gave Ali his first warning.
The incident in progress
Security has frozen BBoy for 30 seconds. BBoy cannot move or interact with the world.
Security: Take them down.
Dweebell: That's him, that's the man, sir.
Dweebell: Teach him a lesson.
Security has unfrozen BBoy.
Security: Are you harassing others?
Complicating the situation, Ali then accused me of being the guilty one.
BBoy: No, this guy keeps following me.
Dweebell: That's not true.
Dweebell: Look at him.
Dweebell: He has a beak.
BBoy: It's a parrot.
Security: You know what if you both can’t have fun here I will ask you both to leave.
Dweebell: That's not fair!
BBoy: I was having fun making columns.
Dweebell: I don’t know this guy but he looks like a troublemaker.
Security: Not at my club you wont. now step out from behind the dj booth and go dance.
Dweebell: HE'S MADE ANOTHER COLUMN!!
The bouncer’s patience snapped and he revealed his greatest power, flinging Ali into a vortex.
Dweebell: Thank you officer. I appreciate it and will go dance now.
Security: You know I didnt need you here helping.
Security: Go have fun...
Dweebell: I will.
Dweebell: Good night sir. Glad to see you guys are keeping this place in order.
I’m not sure exactly what the point of this story is, except to demonstrate that even in a world of fantasy and imagination, bouncers are still officious, jobsworth bastards. Plus they now have the ability to throw you into a vortex, which is surely illegal. Has anyone else out there had a weird virtual-world experience? I could relate the tale of Dan Jolin’s friend almost getting groped inside World Of Warcraft, but that’s one for another time…
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Posted on Sunday August 19, 2007, 13:35
That was a funny story. Cyber-journalism, interesting. It sounds like Second-life is an escape for people not cutting it in the real world. Eventually, they'll realise that what ever problems they have in this world, they'll take with 'em to that.
Posted on Sunday August 19, 2007, 16:02
Mods, eh? Bunch of facist Nazi bastards. Oh...
And what's this World of Warcraft you mention Nick? Isn't that the kids version of Dark Age of Camelot?
I still don't get the appeal of Second Life. It's similar in a way to The Sims. You get totally engrossed in this pointless secondary existence, buying all the stuff that you're unable to own in reality, albeit made of computer pixels, that if you put as much effort in your First Life you'd probably be able to buy the Japanese aquariam with the Koi Carp that you've always wanted. Pointless. But then I've been meaning to get beyond the second paragraph of my book for a couple of months now only to find Civ 4 and Oblivion blocking my path to Word. Perhaps there's a second life in all us workshy slackers...
Posted on Sunday August 19, 2007, 16:58
You didn't check out the sex dens!? that's got to be the freakiest place in that world *shudders* never again!
Posted on Monday August 20, 2007, 11:33
I find it utterly fucked up that a woman has bought up Second Life real estate and it has actually made her a real life millionaire. People have actually managed to sell nothing to chumps. If i wasn't so disturbed by that I'd be in admirattion of it.
Posted on Monday August 20, 2007, 12:03
Some people have far too much time on their hands. I barely have time for a real social life, let alone a virtual one.
Posted on Monday August 20, 2007, 12:25
*I am a Security worker on Second-Life and although I was off ill that night, my hard drive was down with a virus and the guard you tricked was a buddy of mine who was filling in for me, he's a hard working father of three fictional Second-life children and a single parent after his wife was reset during a system clean up.
He once saved a woman from a Trojan Horse virus throwing himself in the line of the attack, luckily that night he was wearing his firewall or his fictional Second-life children would be orphans and would subsequently be deleated from the system to save space.
*may not be true... :p
Posted on Monday August 20, 2007, 12:54
The fact that terrorist bombings find place in Second Life is too mindblowing. We're as a race so 'advanced' that we can terrorise a non existent alternate reality.
Recently Belgian Police had to invest a case of child rape in that very same universe. Besides the wrongness (go, corner of wrong) of it all, how do you abuse somebody over the internet?
Guess we'll never learn from the past, even in a made-up world!
Posted on Tuesday August 21, 2007, 07:40
Willis looks like a burn victim in the virtual world...
Posted on Sunday August 26, 2007, 19:58
That was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. You guys are geniuses!!!
Posted on Saturday January 16, 2010, 00:42
hahahhahahahahh! that was amazing! my favourite part..."HE'S MADE ANOTHER COLUMN!!"