Misperception in/of/and Second Life

Oblivion (adult)

This will shock my regular readers (not!), but two seemingly unrelated events came together in the morass of my mind and, somehow, connected.

One of them was an IM from somebody I’ve known for years. We haven’t spoken in a long time and he wanted to update me on some locations he really likes. The vast majority of them are “adult” and most of those involved things like “Slave Hunt”. He obviously doesn’t know me very well if he thinks I’d go there, so I was pretty confused.

Oblivion (adult)

I did go visit one of his recommendations this morning, a steampunk location called Oblivion. The land info is in german but, if you can believe google translate, this is “a private Steampunk Sim of modern times. RPG Occasions & Club openings are published there at the landing point“. The “private” part eludes me because there’s no hinderance to the random explorer.

The region is full of working machinery and gorgeous buildings. There are some really cool clubs as well.

Oblivion (adult)

This all made me think of the plethora of Second Life ads I’ve been seeing lately. They keep popping up on almost every website I visit. Before the 14th they showed a young couple with the tagline “Your Valentine is waiting for you. Play for free.”

Today the ads show ladies in very skimpy bikinis with the words “Make New Friends From Around the World. Play for free!” I checked the ad source and I get them because of my “browsing history”. So, going to SL-related sites means I qualify for gaming ads. My reading of the content is that Marketing has given in to the perception of Second Life. It’s all about sex and it’s a game.

Oblivion (adult)

Admittedly it would be tough to explain our virtual world in 10 words or less. Still, the marketers’ perception of what people want coincides with the uninformed public’s perception of what we are.  It makes sense then (in somebody’s mind) to use that to entice new signups.

The “Where’s teh sex?” and “How do I level up?” questions will be even more common now. We may get new residents from this ad campaign, but they’re going to be really confused. I just wish there was a way to reach out to those who actually want what we really offer. :)

Oblivion (adult)
Leave a comment


  1. Very well put. I hope Ebbe Linden reads yours and today’s Ciaran Laval’s post. As a matter of fact, I’ll flag both to him with a tweet… :)

  2. It’s an interesting question which is likely to be worse: the “gamification” of Second Life, with the perils and potential misunderstandings that you note are likely to occur, or the “Facebookization” of SL, which was much threatened (but never really transpired) under Mark Kingdon. Arguably, they represent the two extremes perspectives of, respectively, immersionist and augmentationist.

    The idea that Second Life might be something entirely other than either of these will be difficult for those not already uninitiated to understand. In particular, the conception that this is a place for creativity of various kinds is going to be hard to sell in part because there are very few other popular examples of that sort of a platform. Minecraft comes closest, I suppose, but it really only caters for one kind of creativity (building), and it is perhaps most often used, and thought of, as a gaming platform anyway.

    It would be nice to think that we are moving towards a time when creative apps and platforms will be more in evidence, and more popular. Unfortunately, however, the internetz are for the time being far more interested in our role as consumers (which in one way is what even social media “curation” is all about) than as creators.

    It would be nice, and daring, for LL to market SL primarily as a place for creativity. I don’t think they’ve ever really tried this, although the old “Your world, your imagination” tag comes close. But then LL may be more interested in us as consumers as well, as evidenced by the prominence that the SL Marketplace gets on its web pages.

  3. Looks like another sim I need to visit. Curse you, Honour McMillan, for highlighting all this goodness! *shakes fist*

  4. LOL , SL Sex ?
    Ok ,, I don’t want tot meet them & so I have keep myself set on Busy all the time .

    BTW , this place looks great , also yesterday’s blog about Livio Korobase’s work in LEA . Thanks honour !

  5. Hi Honour… yeah, I’ll join you at the slave hunt. good grief :|

  6. I have to admit, I actually like the idea of a leveling system for teaching people how to use different features of Second Life – like flying, or checking profiles, etc… I think it’s a way to keep people engaged in what’s arguably a difficult ramping up cycle in terms of the interface.

    The biggest problem with advertising SL is, I think, that it’s more like offline life than anything else online. I was thinking about this recently because I have a new friend who is into a lot of local things I’d like but that I’d never heard of before, and I was thinking how similar that was to SL and how I wished we had some sort of interactive calendar / notice system so you could “sign up” for different types of info – kind of like what events might have been if someone curated them.

    • You’re right that there are a lot of options. I think it’s possible that a real project might start now to work on orientation – but then I’m an optimist. :P

  7. Inara Pey

     /  February 18, 2014

    I’ve taken heart.

    In a conversation on the 18th Feb, Ebbe acknowledged the Lab has lost the message about SL and has been allowing others to both dictate the message to the masses and back at LL itself (and by “acknowledged”, I mean raised the issue himself rather than being in any way brow-beaten into agreeing).

    It would seem changing that situation and getting a more positive, broader message out there is on his To Do list …

    Much more was said, all of it more than soundbites, so I’m keeping fingers crossed that it doesn’t turn out of be “newbie” optimism doomed to receive a squishing from the board …

  8. I’m with you, Honour. The Marketing Team at LL (or whatever they call themselves) are missing the boat. Whilst pixel sex is part of the scene for some in SL, and whilst “gaming” is a feature here, neither of those captures the spirit of the thing – in fact, not even close!
    If they would market based on the opportunity for creativity, the art and music and written word activities, the sheer beauty of the place… SIGH…
    I wonder if that will ever happen? But just think of the possibilities! Who would come here but more creatives? What would the future look like with busy minds dreaming and creating the future?
    SIGH again.
    Oh, well. A girl can dream!

  9. I do feel hopeful too, Inara. Ebbe Altberg/Linden seems very savvy and very interested in what’s going on in SL – and what the future could hold.
    Let’s keep our collective fingers crossed and keep communicating with him. Thank you and Honour and some others for your efforts. Very appreciated!

  10. carama Mizin

     /  February 19, 2014

    Honor, I think we have all witnessed ‘newbies’ coming to SL thinking it ia game (& for the sexy component) however those long term Residents see way beyond this as we all know. , thanks for the topic.
    OH! I seconded “rhianonjameson: you reiview some top sim, I can barely keep up., thanks again.

  11. “It’s all about sex and it’s a game.” This ‘selling point’ by LL is really disappointing. To me it’s a cop-out and it belittles not only current visitors to Second Life, but everyone that is faced with such advertising (and beyond) – as if that’s all that everyone seeks in life. I guess it’s easier to sell simple things to simple minds than sell something that could be (and is in my mind) so much more, to those that appreciate it… and perhaps sway some simple minds in the process.

    On a positive note, I do like steampunk-themed sims :D

  12. DJ Frenzy

     /  February 20, 2014

    I love your post and l respect your perspective deeply.. But I also ‘game’ in other environments too.. A marketing ploy to get people interested in what are largely static environments ( no body shooting at you, no strategy to reach new locations, no team centric play ) not to mention that there are high resolution games that blow SL away for character rendering and places you can go, it is forgivable that they want to get a new person in world by any means available.. Younger people want action.. Lots of it.. Socially they want to party, play and yes date… There is room for creativity always, beauty too.. but like the saying goes ‘ don’t hate the playa, hate the game’… Linden labs would be well served if they can update the look and feel graphically I think, but some how keep the ability to create alive.. You always seem to find the beauty in world, and that is wonderful… But if you put on a twenty something’s shoes, many locations are down right dull.. Just my opinion, love your work.

    • oh I think if somebody is looking for a game with lots of action they’ll find SL dull – my point is that false advertising won’t get you long term residents. :)

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