Virtual Friday: Beyond Second Life

In this Post: Several articles & videos about the metaverse, changes in SecondLife  talked about on Treet.tv, and I get out of my little box and explore other virtual worlds besides Second Life. Come along for the adventure!

eating at home

Note: I am not an expert at the technological aspects of the metaverse. I’m only sharing what I’ve read and experienced.

Hello dear ones and welcome to Virtual Friday! I decided to interrupt my new series on the educational aspect of Second Life so I can share a bit of metaverse news.  What is the metaverse?

“The Metaverse is a collective online shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space,[1] including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.”

~Wikipedia

Second Life is pretty much the mother of the Metaverse. It pretty much brought this idea to life of a new world in cyberspace. A place where people from all over the world could meet, work, and create. You may say, well the internet does that, but these virtual spaces are quite different from text on a screen or flat pictures on Facebook.  In the metaverse people are able to create what they can not in the physical world. They are able to express themselves in fantastical ways. It is a place where one’s imagination becomes reality and other people can enter that reality. There is an economical and business aspect of these virtual worlds. People make their living here and big companies invest in the Metaverse.

   There has been much discussion in the Metaverse about the state of Second Life. Many believe Linden Labs will eventually fall. The price of tiers in Second Life is ridiculous and it seems since the change in leadership Linden Labs is trying to make Second Life into a game.  It has never been a game though there are games in it. It is a world full of places created by other users. Some sims have games. Some sims have art galleries and universities. There are people learning how to speak other languages in virtual classrooms. Some sims have shopping centers and some have concert halls. While many are role playing lands Second Life can’t be lumped into one category as a game. There isn’t one objective where you try to win or advance. Second Life can be whatever you want it to be.  I hope Linden Labs will keep Second Life true to what it was in the beginning. Many people make a living from their jobs in Second Life. It would be sad to oust a whole community of users who have been around for years just to make a profit. There are plenty of virtual games out there but few virtual worlds in the Metaverse that have the quality and diversity of Second Life.

So because of the constant doomsdayers I’ve decided to branch out into other virtual worlds…just in case Second Life does fall. I’ll share more about that later. I really enjoy the quality of Second Life and I hope it does survive. I pray Linden Labs will listen to the people. There are a few developments that have my hopes high. Designing Worlds, a tv show in the virtual world, has an episode talking about changes in Second Life. The changes are supposed to significantly up the visual quality inworld.  For those interested, here is a link to the show:

http://treet.tv/shows/designingworlds/episodes/project-materials

By the way, if you want to watch machinima and interesting shows about the virtual world, Treet.tv is a great place to do it. You can even watch snail races, which is a big sport in Second Life.

Will Second Life use Oculus Rift? It looks like that’s coming in the future. What is Oculus Rift? Imagine being completely immersed in a virtual world by wearing head gear. You’ve most likely heard of these devices before but imagine using that in Second Life. It’s one thing to be able to use Oculus Rift in a game where there are certain objectives and you have limited control but on the grid, where the skies the limit? Other devices work with the arms and such. We already have similar tech with the Nintendo Wii and such but people are still aware of their real surroundings. I’m telling you, SL already feels somewhat real just staring at the screen in a dark room. I can only imagine what it’d be like with Oculus Rift. The question is how expensive will this be and how long before it’s compatible with SL?

Check out this article on hypergridbusiness and the video of a 90 year old woman trying out the technology:

Big things on the horizon

For any fellow Christians who have seen the end times movies that show virtual reality being used as the mark of the beast, well this is a bit scary.  I have no clue if this technology will ever be used in that way but I believe most anything can be used either for good or evil. I hope to show on my blog, that the metaverse can be used for good and even for spreading the gospel. It is a mission field…a new world with many opportunities. It’s a bit of a jungle. You’ve got to know how it works and what’s safe.

Moving on…I signed up for three virtual worlds and here are my experiences with them:

InWorldz

Inworldz was my second world to explore but I liked it the best. It was the closest to what I have experienced in Second Life. I have to laugh at being a noob/ newbie again. It’s been 4 and a half years since I was a newbie in Second Life. I’ve learned a lot in that time so it was pretty embarrassing to start again in a new world….to show up with a crappy avatar that walks like a drunk cat. Also there was this sign above my head that said “Help me!”.

Okay, so even though it’s a virtual world, I still have my pride. This was rather humbling for me. There were all these experienced Inworldz people there to help us newbies. So when a girl tried to help me I just asked her for a notecard with instructions and a quiet place to gather my thoughts. I mumbled about how I have a nice house in Second Life and a pretty avatar…how I’ve been there for a long time. How embarrassing it was to be a noob again. I probably sounded like an idiot. I ended up needing more help than I thought but once I was pointed in the right direction I went on the search for the perfect shape and skin.

I was sad to see how limited the choices were…especially for child avatars. I guess I’m a bit of a virtual snob because I didn’t like any of the child avatars and their clothes. I determined this after searching for hours. But keep in mind that Second Life is about to celebrate it’s tenth birthday and Inworldz is fairly new.  I think it’s in it’s third or fourth year. So it’s going to take awhile for them to build up their businesses and such. Child avatars are controversial anyways. I’ll go into that later. I chose to become an adult avatar. I’m not very satisfied with her but I didn’t want to spend too much money in a new world. By the way, Inworldz has a similar monetary system to Second Life. Instead of Lindens they use Izzies. It’s a bit cheaper.

INworlds_001

I found the search engine to be adequate and I spent the rest of the night finding a place to live. Cheap places were hard to find…especially apartments. I found an old trailer park and paid for a week. I was disappointed by the owner who never added me to the group. So I couldn’t put any furniture down. A couple of days later I found an open house (meaning no doors & limited privacy) but it was big and super cheap. All of my furniture except the paintings are from freebie shops.  So far Inworldz is agreeable but it does not have as much as SecondLife. Maybe I will find a few good places later and share them with you.

It would be great if Inworldz had a database of all their places so it’d be easy to find what you want. Also, certain sims would shut down or had disappeared altogether though they were on the welcome card. This world is not completely stable.  If it can grow then maybe it will be as successful and enjoyable as SecondLife in the near future.  I just wish it had an open grid where you can teleport to other worlds. Instead Inworldz is closed off just like SecondLife. It’s an island to itself in the metaverse.

Inworldzhome_001

OSGrid

First, I’ll say the one thing I liked in OSGrid. When I arrived they had easy instructions. I wasn’t embarrassed by a bunch of people trying to help me. I realize this is a personal preference. Some people may prefer having an actual person help them.  Because I’ve been “virtual” for several years I like my privacy.  So I just followed the signs.

Osgrid_001

Now onto the negatives. Unfortunately, I don’t have much good to say about OSGrid.  First, they have banned child avatars.  I don’t mean actual children. I mean adults choosing a child like avatar. I realize that child avatars are controversial but there are enough rules in SL to keep people from misusing the avatars. I’ve found that many people who choose to be a virtual child (including myself) do so because they want the non-sexual and innocent side of the virtual world. Some are reliving their childhood. I personally don’t like the immodest clothing and figures of adult avatars. I find that as a child avatar less weirdos try to talk to me. And if they do I can report them because SL is strict about how child like avatars are treated. The sims made just for child avatars are always g-rated and fun.

So I don’t see how OSgrid thinks it’s protecting children online when real life children aren’t allowed to be in these virtual worlds anyways.  These child avatars are real life adults. It’s no different than people who choose to have an animal avatar but they aren’t banned. By the way, I tried out an animal shape for the fun of it…a little girl mouse. I hated it so I eventually found a decent woman avatar.

Secondly, OSgrid has the worst lag I’ve seen. Every time I got on it took a good while for my clothing to load and several times I got kicked off.

Thirdly, the search engine isn’t limited to OSgrid. It’s basically takes you to a google like engine. I need to be able to search for places in OSgrid and not worry about everything else popping up. I had the hardest time finding places. I’m wondering if OSgrid really doesn’t have many places or if they are too complicated to find.

Fourthly, there is no monetary system except ones others have set up and they aren’t very secure. I love to shop virtually and I can’t do that in OSgrid. Forget trying to find a house. It took me forever just to get decent clothes.

If OSgrid can fix it’s lag issues then maybe I’ll give it another chance. I’m glad it’s an open grid but I don’t see how anyone can handle the confusion….especially those completely new to virtual worlds.

OsgridMouse_001

Kitely

I don’t have any pictures. I was never able to get it running. Kitely is cloud based…which doesn’t make any sense to me. It costs money to set up your own region and some regions charge their visitors for visiting. I tried to enter a couple of free worlds via the website but either the Kitely plug in or the third party viewer didn’t work.  Kitely seems to be popular but until I can get in it I don’t know what to think. Should it be so hard just to get started? Kitely doesn’t seem to be very new comer friendly.  If I have any luck later I will let you know.

In conclusion, I truly hope Second Life can clean up it’s act and stick around. I really enjoy many of the sims there. But if SL does eventually fall I sure hope these other virtual worlds have stepped up their game. I hope it will be easier in the future to get a place on the grid and to world jump. I hope it won’t be so expensive.  For now, I’m staying put in SL but I will continue to explore other worlds when I can.

Fire Escape playground

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

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