Beware The Virtual Ides Of March…

(Yes I know the ides of march were technically yesterday, pedant..)

To be honest I’ve been too distracted by what has been happening in Japan to even consider blogging this week; major events and catastrophes on such a scale tend to make one reflect on what is important in life and writing about a virtual world hasn’t been on top of that list.

In fact, if I am being REALLY truthful it hasn’t been for a while.

I’ve become disillusioned in Second Life of late.

I’ve not been logging in as much and I’m not really sure why, but I think my lack of in-world funds has a hell of a lot to do with it. Second Life, for me, has always been about shopping and socialising, and now that I’m being more frugal with my Linden dollars  I’m finding a lot of the fun has gone.

For example: I can’t participate in the weekly events like Fifty Linden Friday or Humpday Happiness, and I can’t mooch around fairs such as Relay For Life because quite frankly I’d feel terribly awkward being there seeing as I don’t have the cash to splash. I could blog about freebies I know, and from time to time I do just that, but there are many freebie blogs out there that do the job a million times better than I ever could and I don’t want Kittywitchin to solely be about freebie finding.  I like to write about a range of metaversal stuff, and this means that to write about it I have to be able to buy it.

I think that losing my land in-world has had a huge impact on my enjoyment of the game as well; even though the place where I now live is totally gorgeous, it’s rented and I’m prim-limited, so I can’t surround myself with all the glorious furnishings and decor that now hide in my inventory gathering dust.  A huge element of Second Life for me was building a virtual home and decorating it and I miss that very much.

But I digress. It’s not my own future in Second Life that’s causing consternation, but whether there will still even be a Second Life to enjoy. And I’m not talking long term either, I’m talking soon.

The future of our metaverse is causing some concern. I heard some rumblings a while ago that Microsoft was interested in taking over the product but it seems that ship has sailed and Linden Lab were not aboard, and to make matters worse there are now rumours surfacing that key financial backers have pulled out of their dealings with the lab and do we all need reminding that  there are very few original Lindens in key positions left. Obviously without these founding members of the original team at the helm, Second Life is now left to drift along without any true direction, and this is not good.

I e-mailed Hamlet Au, New World Notes uber-blogger, about this subject earlier on and he wrote back to tell me that he’d literally *just* finished writing about  it. You can see his thoughts here. Hamlet’s post is interesting in that he mentions that it’s his sincere belief that some people would rather see Second Life fail than change and thrive. I think he’s correct.  I’ve been in-world over 5 years and change is NOT something that the community likes to see; avatars (and their operators) are creatures of habit and cry out at even the smallest change.

I had a natter with Prad Prathivi, a highly respected voice in-world, about the current speculation.  Prad’s is the kind of opinion that matters, the kind that Linden Lab should be taking on board, and Prad is concerned. He’s also very strong in his views; “A lot of Second Life bloggers are all romanticists with Second Life and would rather deny the harsh truth that Second Life is dying and probably isn’t going to survive for much longer…”  Romanticists? Seriously? Well..actually yes.  We are guys, we write about a metaverse that is just pixels upon a page.  He goes on;  “They’ve invested too much into it to be able to accept the demise that’s happening, and so they’ll continue to whitewash it, rather than pressing Linden Lab to demand the change that’s needed.” Again, kudos to Mr Prathivi for saying what needs to be said. There are only a few bloggers who have dared to stick their heads over the parapet and say changes need to be made, let alone what the changes should be.  The rest of us, myself included, just write about all things squee. New skins, new breedables, new hairstyles count for bugger all when you’ve got no metaverse to use them in.

Can Second Life recover? Again, Prad makes some really valid points.” I don’t envy them(Linden Lab) as nobody’s done virtual worlds before so there’s no precedent for them to refer to. But they need to drastically lower the cost to the users for land value and monthly tiers, and improve customer service. But they won’t do either of those things, because they can’t afford to.” So if they won’t take action on these points, what is going to happen? Prad thinks they won’t make the necessary moves because they have no intention of developing the brand, and would rather prime it for sale. This makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Why bother to add new features and make it even more cutting-edge if you can sell the company?

But it’s not just the problem of whether Second Life can continue to exist at all that concerns me; what about the emotional effect this is going to have upon people who do indeed live full second lives? For example; married couples who for whatever reason have no relationship out of the game; what will happen to those relationships? Make no mistake about this there are many people with totally committed relationships in-world and it’s inconceivable to think what would happen to them. Also, consider the implications upon friendships and the communities that have been built, not to mention the businesses that thrive and provide a real life income for a small minority of inhabitants? I hate to say this, but we need to seriously think about what is going to happen when the plug is pulled on our metaverse because if current speculation is anything to go on, this may be a situation we find ourselves in sooner rather than later.

And ask yourselves this; what if Linden Labs is taken over? What changes would be enforced upon us, and would we be able to live in a virtual world without Linden Lab at the helm? In my current frame of mind I don’t know that I could, but I’ve come too far and have invested too much emotionally in Second Life to give up on it just yet.  Perhaps we do need a fresh start and a new beginning, and if that is the case we have to be brave and understand that our metaverse cannot continue in its present format and going forward has to undergo some drastic changes to thrive.

So what do you think? Are we looking at the end? Or are we looking at the chance of a fresh new beginning? And would you stay with Second Life if someone other than Linden Labs was running the show?

 

 

They say that if you truly love someone then you have to set them free.

I believe that the same applies to Second Life.  We have been holding on too tightly, and it’s time for us to loosen our grip.  We have nothing to be scared of, nor nothing to lose.

Second Life will thrive or fail whether we, the inhabitants, are brave enough to embrace change or not, but I would rather be part of a metaverse that goes out with a bang, not one that fizzles out in a cloud of grey goo.

 

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