What is all this Second Life stuff, anyways?

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

- “What is Life” George Harrison, 1970

Perhaps the dear reader is unfamiliar with Second Life. Before delving into my story, let’s make sure everyone is caught up, shall we?

Second Life is an immersive 3-dimensional digital world, where one acts out a character (“avatar”), in an online environment with other people. In this, it bears a superficial resemblance to MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games – I think I got that right). However, there are several key differences that make it so much more -

1) There is no universally defined goal to SL. Once inworld, what does one do? What do you want to do? I was inworld in order to run a given business (though I have taken a detour, which we shall cover later). Others are inworld to build things, to program things, to go clubbing, meet others, have cyber sex, whatever. There are even those in SL that are inworld to engage in standard MMORPG activities (kill or be killed – though this is limited to certain identified areas). Like real life (RL), the goals are as individual as the people who have them.

2) Almost everything inworld is created by the residents themselves. Ordinary people like you and me. Landforms, critters, dances, cars, buildings, wings, clothes, lighting sources, sounds, games, etc. There is almost nothing you will run across inworld that you could not create yourself from scratch (given enough time and study).

3) SL has a real functioning economy. There is an inworld currency (the Linden Dollar, or L$) that is freely convertible from and to US Dollars. True, the L$ is a fiat currency, created out of nothing by Linden Labs (the RL originator of SL). However, this currency creation follows strict rules on how much currency can be created, and at what time it will be created. In this regard, the L$ is actually a more stable currency than the US$, which is created out of nothing by the FED according only to their whim. This currency system enables many real people to support themselves in RL strictly from providing goods and services in SL for L$, and converting these L$ for US$.

Technologically, Second Life consists essentially of a server farm upon which one’s identity is stored, along with everyone else’s identities. A user connects over the internet to this server complex while running a client program known as a viewer, which is responsible for rendering in 3D the environment defined by the server.

In a very real sense, Second Life is, for millions of people, a second life – a life where they are free to pursue their interests, wishes, and desires, unfettered by the bounds of physical form.

And so I was rezzed…. sent by the creator with a mission to build a specific business. Left to my own devices in a strange land, what would transpire?