Secondlife is a virtual world created by the tens of millions of residents, located across the globe, who live there. The name it actually misleading, as I don’t think it is a “Second” Life so much as it is an extension of the tangible world or life itself. I’ve honestly rewritten this article more than a half dozen times, simply because Second Life is an individual venture, built on personal exploration, choices, and relationships making it a completely different experience from one person to the next.
I can only tell you about Second Life as I have lived it, the ways in which it has impacted my own life both personally & professionally. I hope this article is successful at telling the tale with as much passion as I feel for this world, as it is one of the two greatest contributors to how I became the person I am today.
I first heard of Second Life in 2007, while working as an architecture designer. An e-mail landed in my inbox that talked about a lecture that was being held in the virtual world, entitled “What is Second Life and why Architects should take notice.”
In addition my work in architecture, I was also the co-founder of an online artist forum and gallery, Rendervisions.com, that at its peak reached over 30,000 artists from all mediums with talents including traditional arts and architecture, literary arts, and cgi modeling,2d graphic design and animation. Those interests along with my love of video games, creating 3d cgi models and textures in my free time, and my passion for teaching design, lead me to my own birth into Second Life, as Wynd Ling.
I became a resident of Second Life, rezzed as we residents call it, on February 23, 2007.It was exciting yet almost overwhelming. It was/is an entrepreneurial hotbed of design and talent. I saw an entire world filled with both creatives & socialites alike. An landscape decorated with nightclubs where you can attend live shows. Discussions and lectures held in classrooms. Movie theatres, homes, bandstands, parks, cafes’, shopping malls, stores, forests, and open fields, something for every walk of life to enjoy. Not only a world of model and texture, but a world created completely by it’s residents, utilizing their real world skills in 3ds Max, Maya, Photoshop, clothing design, shoe design, architecture and a wealth of other disciplines, each design as varied as the places in the world the residents came from. Each design as unique as the tangible world allows and some things not quite possible to achieve in the tangible world at all.
Naturally, I went back to Rendervisions and told all the artists there what I had seen.
Imagine a world where you did not create for static scenes, still renders, and fictional characters, bound by the limitations of building code and material. Instead, a place where your only limitation was that of your own imagination. A place where your neighbor lived in the house you designed, his son wore the shoes you crafted, your best friend designed the hairstyle that you would later wear to the gala where your colleague would show their paintings and you would be entertained by the live singing of his wife.
For the first time in our four years interacting, the artists of Rendervisions could sit face to face with our peers and design in real time, sketch, build, brain storm ideas, and get instant feedback from one another.We could teach in a classroom more closely related to real then webinar style environment could offer, helping each student grow as we interacting with then; enabling lessons to be taught more quickly and connections to form as we could have never achieved before. This constant stimulation and interaction brought my creativity to new levels, opening my mind and benefited me as an architect, a designer, a student and a artist.
With my new eyes, I was able to design at an almost unimaginable pace; fast, precise, and well thought out,cohesive buildings.These skills lead to my promotion in the workplace, and as a student, I gave a flawless presentation to a board of five architects, leaving not one student in the room, nor instructor or critic room for one negative comment on my final presentation that school year. However, it is not the creative venture alone that makes me so passion about this world but the precious gifts it gives to each person who enters it.
The other day I was sitting in a lounge in Second Life just relaxing after a very long day. A woman messaged me , curious about a small line of text in my profile biography. It is not a quote from a book, movie or famous personality but one in which I coined. It gives small insight to second reason I am so passionate about the benefits of Second Life. It reads “Though our skin is painted, our hair made of prims, we are more real here then in the tangible world. “
When we meet someone in the tangible world our brain opens a file and begins to catalog information about that person. . Without even speaking to them our brains document what our eyes see. This person is tall or short, pretty or unattractive, fat, thin,old…young…in good shape…handicapped and so on. We don’t put much active thought into it really at all. None-the-less, our brains are building an image so that later, should we meet this person again, we can call upon that memory and connect who they are with the image our eyes lead our minds to perceive.
In a virtual world, one where the face and form can change in an instant, you have nothing but a personality, and a mind full of thoughts to build your memory on. You are not a color, a race, a sex, elderly, or handicapped, you are just you. You are your personality & the thoughts in your mind, free to live without restriction of what natures form has chosen for you.
An elderly couple can dance the night away as if they were 20 years old again. A military family can curl up on a sofa and share a bucket of popcorn no matter how far apart they are stationed. A man bound in a wheelchair can run a race, and I can share a cup of coffee on a winters morning, with a woman in a cafe’ from New Zealand, while she is ending her summer’s day.
One could argue “but Wynd, it’s not real”, but I could also argue, that “all feelings and experiences begin in the mind, so if you can think it you can truly feel each experience and interaction no matter which world you choose to have that experience in.”
In short, we all become less bias, our minds evolve becoming more open, and through this we become a free, united world.
Author Wynd Ling