The Making of Second Life


Book Description

The wholly virtual world known as Second Life has attracted more than a million active users, millions of dollars, and created its own—very real—economy. The Making of Second Life is the behind-the-scenes story of the Web 2.0 revolution's most improbable enterprise: the creation of a virtual 3-D world with its own industries, culture, and social systems. Now the toast of the Internet economy, and the subject of countless news articles, profiles, and television shows, Second Life is usually known for the wealth of real-world companies (Reuters, Pontiac, IBM) that have created "virtual offices" within it, and the number of users ("avatars") who have become wealthy through their user-created content. What sets Second Life apart from other online worlds, and what has made it such a success (one million-plus monthly users and growing) is its simple user-centered philosophy. Instead of attempting to control the activities of those who enter it, the creators of Second Life turned them loose: users (also known as Residents) own the rights to the intellectual content they create in-world, and the in-world currency of Linden Dollars is freely exchangeable for U.S. currency. Residents have responded by generating millions of dollars of economic activity through their in-world designs and purchases—currently, the Second Life economy averages more than one million U.S. dollars in transactions every day, while dozens of real-world companies and projects have evolved and developed around content originated in Second Life. Wagner James Au explores the long, implausible road behind that success, and looks at the road ahead, where many believe that user-created worlds like Second Life will become the Net's next generation and the fulcrum for a revolution in the way we shop, work, and interact. Au's story is narrated from both within the corporate offices of Linden Lab, Second Life's creator, and from within Second Life itself, revealing all the fascinating, outrageous, brilliant, and aggravating personalities who make Second Life a very real place­—and an illuminating mirror on the real (physical) world. Au writes about the wars they fought (sometimes literally), the transformations they underwent, the empires of land and commerce they developed, and above all, the collaborative creativity that makes their society an imperfect utopia, better in some ways than the one beyond their computer screens.




Halos and Avatars


Book Description

Craig Detweiler's collection of up-to-the-minute essays on video games' theological themes (and yes, they do exist!) is an engaging and provocative book for gamers, parents, pastors, media scholars, and theologians--virtually anyone who has dared to consider the ramifications of modern society's obsession with video games and online media. Together, these essays take on an exploding genre in popular culture and interpret it through a refreshing and enlightening philosophical lens.




Virtually Sacred


Book Description

Video games and virtual worlds can rearrange or replace religious practice as designers and users collaborate in the production of a new spiritual marketplace. Using 'World of Warcraft' and 'Second Life' as case studies, this book shows that many residents now use virtual worlds to reimagine their traditions and work to restore them to 'authentic' sanctity or replace religious institutions with virtual world communities that provide meaning and purpose to human life.




Second Life, Media, and the Other Society


Book Description

This book examines the convergence of media in the largest residential virtual community to date in the gaming world: Second Life. This user content-driven platform has brought media makers and audiences together in interactive environments where news, entertainment, and art have become programming for virtual media networks with implications for traditional mainstream programming and distribution. New media moguls are emerging from Second Life and expanding to the larger Metaverse. This book explores media's role in reporting and reflecting the social, political, and economic issues within Second Life and beyond, and includes more than a dozen interviews of active Second Life residents.




Making Virtual Worlds


Book Description

The past decade has seen phenomenal growth in the development and use of virtual worlds. In one of the most notable, Second Life, millions of people have created online avatars in order to play games, take classes, socialize, and conduct business transactions. Second Life offers a gathering point and the tools for people to create a new world online. Too often neglected in popular and scholarly accounts of such groundbreaking new environments is the simple truth that, of necessity, such virtual worlds emerge from physical workplaces marked by negotiation, creation, and constant change. Thomas Malaby spent a year at Linden Lab, the real-world home of Second Life, observing those who develop and profit from the sprawling, self-generating system they have created. Some of the challenges created by Second Life for its developers were of a very traditional nature, such as how to cope with a business that is growing more quickly than existing staff can handle. Others are seemingly new: How, for instance, does one regulate something that is supposed to run on its own? Is it possible simply to create a space for people to use and then not govern its use? Can one apply these same free-range/free-market principles to the office environment in which the game is produced? "Lindens"—as the Linden Lab employees call themselves—found that their efforts to prompt user behavior of one sort or another were fraught with complexities, as a number of ongoing processes collided with their own interventions. Malaby thoughtfully describes the world of Linden Lab and the challenges faced while he was conducting his in-depth ethnographic research there. He shows how the workers of a very young but quickly growing company were themselves caught up in ideas about technology, games, and organizations, and struggled to manage not only their virtual world but also themselves in a nonhierarchical fashion. In exploring the practices the Lindens employed, he questions what was at stake in their virtual world, what a game really is (and how people participate), and the role of the unexpected in a product like Second Life and an organization like Linden Lab.




Coming of Age in Second Life


Book Description

Millions of people around the world today spend portions of their lives in online virtual worlds. Second Life is one of the largest of these virtual worlds. The residents of Second Life create communities, buy property and build homes, go to concerts, meet in bars, attend weddings and religious services, buy and sell virtual goods and services, find friendship, fall in love--the possibilities are endless, and all encountered through a computer screen. At the time of its initial publication in 2008, Coming of Age in Second Life was the first book of anthropology to examine this thriving alternate universe. Tom Boellstorff conducted more than two years of fieldwork in Second Life, living among and observing its residents in exactly the same way anthropologists traditionally have done to learn about cultures and social groups in the so-called real world. He conducted his research as the avatar "Tom Bukowski," and applied the rigorous methods of anthropology to study many facets of this new frontier of human life, including issues of gender, race, sex, money, conflict and antisocial behavior, the construction of place and time, and the interplay of self and group. Coming of Age in Second Life shows how virtual worlds can change ideas about identity and society. Bringing anthropology into territory never before studied, this book demonstrates that in some ways humans have always been virtual, and that virtual worlds in all their rich complexity build upon a human capacity for culture that is as old as humanity itself. Now with a new preface in which the author places his book in light of the most recent transformations in online culture, Coming of Age in Second Life remains the classic ethnography of virtual worlds.




The Second Life Herald


Book Description

When a virtual journalist for a virtual newspaper reporting on the digital world of an online game lands on the real-world front page of the New York Times,it just might signal the dawn of a new era. Virtual journalist Peter Ludlow was banned from The Sims Onlinefor being a bit too good at his job--for reporting in his virtual tabloid The Alphaville Heraldon the cyber-brothels, crimes, and strong-arm tactics that had become rife in the game--and when the Times,the BBC, CNN, and other media outlets covered the story, users all over the Internet called the banning censorship. Seeking a new virtual home, Ludlow moved the Heraldto another virtual world--the powerful online environment of Second Life--just as it was about to explode onto the international mediascape and usher in the next iteration of the Internet. In The Second Life Herald,Ludlow and his colleague Mark Wallace take us behind the scenes of the Heraldas they report on the emergence of a fascinating universe of virtual spaces that will become the next generation of the World Wide Web: a 3-D environment that provides richer, more expressive interactions than the Web we know today. In 1992, science fiction writer Neal Stephenson imagined the "Metaverse," a virtual space that we would enter via the Internet and in which we would conduct important parts of our daily lives. According to Ludlow and Wallace, that future is coming sooner than we may think. They chronicle its chaotic, exhilarating, frightening birth, including the issue that the mainstream media often ignore: conflicts across the client-server divide over who should write the laws governing virtual worlds.




Women and Second Life


Book Description

This collection of new essays explores issues of identity, work and play in the virtual world of Second Life (SL). Fourteen women discuss their experiences. Topics include teaching in Second Life, becoming an SL journalist, and using SL as a means to bring human rights to health care; exploring issues of identity and gender such as performing the role of digital geisha, playing with gender crossing, or determining how identity is formed virtually; examining how race is perceived; and investigating creativity such as poetry writing or quilting. The text is unique in that it represents only women and their experiences in a world that is most often viewed as a man's world.




Cyber Zen


Book Description

Cyber Zen ethnographically explores Buddhist practices in the online virtual world of Second Life. Does typing at a keyboard and moving avatars around the screen, however, count as real Buddhism? If authentic practices must mimic the actual world, then Second Life Buddhism does not. In fact, a critical investigation reveals that online Buddhist practices have at best only a family resemblance to canonical Asian traditions and owe much of their methods to the late twentieth-century field of cybernetics. If, however, they are judged existentially, by how they enable users to respond to the suffering generated by living in a highly mediated consumer society, then Second Life Buddhism consists of authentic spiritual practices. Cyber Zen explores how Second Life Buddhist enthusiasts form communities, identities, locations, and practices that are both products of and authentic responses to contemporary Network Consumer Society. Gregory Price Grieve illustrates that to some extent all religion has always been virtual and gives a glimpse of possible future alternative forms of religion.




Learning and Teaching in the Virtual World of Second Life


Book Description

Virtual worlds are increasingly incorporated into modern universities and teaching pedagogy. Over 190 higher education institutions worldwide have done teaching in the virtual world of Second Life (SL). This book is based on the first Scandinavian project to experiment with the design and testing of teaching platforms for life long learning in SL. In 2007, it created a virtual island or "sim" in SL called "Kamimo Education Island." The project generated a number of courses taught in SL, and instructed educators in the use of SL. This book disseminates the experiences and lessons learned from that project and from other educational projects in SL. The book identifies the gaps in traditional forms of education. It provides a roadmap on issues of instructional design, learner modeling, building simulations, exploring alternatives to design, and integrating tools in education with other learning systems.