It started in 1999 when Philip Rosedale created Linden Lab with the intention of developing computer hardware that would allow people to immerse themselves in a virtual world.
Second Life was launched on June 23rd 2003 by San Francisco based Linden Lab. Second life is an online virtual world. Second Life users also known as “Residents”, they create virtual representatives of themselves called avatars. Using these avatars they are able to interact with other avatars, places or objects. Second Life provides these users with the ability to socialise and participate in individual and group activities, build, create, shop and trade virtual property and services with one another. “The virtual world is your oyster”, so to say. Pretty much anything and everything you have ever wanted to do, Second Life gives you the opportunity to do that.
Some people even make a business in Second Life that actually rewards them in the real world. The money used in Second Life is called Linden dollars and has it’s own exchange rate. It can be exchanged into “real world” currency and vice versa. Users can buy land, sell land, parcel off the land, sell inventory items, sell things they build, etc.
This all takes place on the second life platform known as a “grid”. The grid is made up of regions, there are different classifications for each region; General (no extreme violence or nudity), Moderate (some violence, swearing, adult situations, some nudity) and Adult (may contain overt sexual activity, nudity and violence). They have not always have this classification system, I believe that it is excellent they have brought this on. It prevents the wrong person going into the wrong place and becoming involved in things they shouldn’t be involved in. Which is some of the reason Second Life has had a colourful reputation in the past.
This is my avatar, her name is Anna Isabel, which is my first and middle name. Not very original I know! She is a student avatar so I figured I would just stick with my name. She has a sort of goth look going on, I was fortunate enough to come across one of my tutors Treasure Chests filled with different items, which is how I dressed up my avatar. I am a newbie to Second Life so all of this has been a completely new experience for me, but such a fun one! I had a hard time with just changing my avatars clothing, she spent most of the time in her “birthday suit” until I got the hang of it.
This is my building area in Second Life, as you can tell building is not one of my strong points. Don’t get me wrong I love everything virtual Second Life has introduced me too, it’s just not where my skills lie.
This is the building window, I like having a play around with the different shapes and seeing what I can turn them into.
As you would expect your computer has to have specifications to run Second Life, the higher your specifications the better and smoother your experience will be. Below are tables of the minimum and recommended requirements for a Windows, Linux and Mac operating system.
I did a bit of research into other virtual environments that are available for public use. There are an incredible amount of them! It surprised me, as I have never come across any of them in the past. I’m going to compare Second Life to Kitely, a very similar virtual environment to Second Life, although different is some crucial ways. As Second Life was pretty much the first of its kind, the newer versions of this kind of virtual environment are putting up quite the competition.
Is one of the most user friendly, biggest commerical providers of OpenSim regions.
From my research, I have gathered that there are not a lot of fans of Second Life these days, mostly because of the restrictions set upon it by Linden Labs. People are turning to cheaper more efficient ways to “play” in a virtual environment.
Kitely Credits Exchange
Lindex (Second Life Linden Dollar Exchange)
Kitely Membership Pricing
Second Life Membership Pricing
As you can see per month Kitely is more expensive, $19.95 USD per month. However, what Kitely offers for that price compared to what Second Life offers for their price of $9.95 USD per month is a great deal more. Kitely allows you to create an unlimited amount of worlds in 5 different regions. A free reign to create as many whole entire worlds as you want! Second Life allows you to pick a home out of a few selected themes. It becomes your home, you are not able to edit it in any way, but you are able to put whatever items you like in it. I guess it’s a sort of safe haven for you avatar.
Kitely Land Purchasing and Maintaining
Second Life Land Purchasing and Maintaining
When signing up for Kitely you are able to create an avatar and create your own world for free, a whole world you can create with only your imagination to stop you! WIth Second Life you are able to create a avatar for free and if you look hard enough you can find free items in the marketplace. If you choose to pay and become a premium member, Linden Labs give you a free home, which you can choose from six different locations. You are not able to change anything about the house, only put furniture or items in it.
I had a little play on Kitely, I made an account and went exploring through a couple of worlds, the Kitely Welcome Center and the Universal Campus. As soon as I was introduced to Second Life I was hooked and loved every minute of it. With Kitely I found myself having such a smoother experience not as glitchy as Second Life can be, the worlds just seemed like they had more thought put into them, the speed for which the worlds loaded when teleporting was a lot faster than Second Life.
Kitely falls short with their avatars, although I like the fact that their avatars movements are more lifelike without having to add any animations. Their appearance is not as life like as the Second Life avatars. However, adding, editing and changing clothing or any other item in your inventory is very much the same in both.
Although Second Life is more renowed than Kitely, Kitely provides a nicer, smoother experience for less the expense! If you’re big on avatars and the way they look Second Life is probably more your alley. If you’re looking for the better overall experience, I do think Kitely takes that cake, it just seems like there is a lot more thought put into the creation of their worlds.
While doing these comparisons I used both Kitely and Second Life in the viewer Firestorm to make things equal.
My impressions of Second Life are that I absolutely love it! It was the first kind of virtual environment that I was introduced to. I have always absolutely loved playing The Sims on computer, and Second Life is pretty much a step up from that, so I knew I had no hope, I was gonna love it! I love the freedom it provides to become whoever you want to be, more likely than not someone that you cannot normally be in real life. You can meet all different kinds of people from all over the world and visit a huge variety of amazing places that people have created. You can dress how you wanna dress, talk how you wanna talk and do what you wanna do. Now, who in their right mind wouldn’t love doing that? It also provides the ability to talk to someone from a country on the other side of the world and seem like you are simply sitting on the couch with them, like any other day. Provides the ability to have business meetings in an actual meeting room, with people from different parts of the country or the world. It is such an innovative, simply amazing creation and I look forward to seeing it grow in to so much more, become involved in every day life, that’s where the future of virtual environments are heading!