Home: No Place Like SL?

AN ESSAY BY EXTROPIA DaSILVA.

Extropia’s back with more delightful reading — Gwyn

It is a fair bet that any company releasing a 3D social space to be inhabited by customisable avatars, who shop for virtual furniture with which to furnish their similarly virtual houses is going to find itself compared to Second Life. And that is what has happened to Sony’s new online service for the PlayStation3, which it calls ‘Home’. Not everybody agrees that such comparisons are applicable, and among those who think they are not is Sony’s Phil Harrison: “The approach that Second Life takes is that they provide the tools, and they are entirely server-based. It’s a very different approach, and it’s really inappropriate to make any direct comparison”.

Wise words. After all, in Home, you can customise your avatar and place whatever furniture you deem desirable wherever you want in your virtual private living space, but you cannot make your own furniture in the way that SL allows you to. The fact that SL is continually created by the collaborative efforts of its residents is, strange though it may seem, simultaneously its greatest strength and biggest weakness. The strength obviously lies in the fact that it never stands still and seems to be beyond easy classification. Is SL a ‘game’? Yes, if you want it to be. Is SL a 3D MySpace? Again, if that is what you want, that is what it is. In fact, Linden Lab have done user-generated content so brilliantly well that SL is both nothing and everything. It is almost as flexible as your imagination. A few limitations aside, it is a metaverse that adapts itself to be what you want it to be.
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