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I Don’t Want A Second Life (Part 5)
Saturday January 28th 2006, 8:35 pm
Filed under: second life

These Second Life blog entries are at kind of a standstill right now, mostly because I’ve been suspended from the game for a week. I like to think of it as a small victory.

It all started in a weird little area of the game that I can’t remember the name of. The people there practice a weird little form of roleplaying called “Gor.” It’s all based on the writings of some sci fi writer named John Norman. The basic idea (at least as far as I can gather) is that women are completely subservient and men are super dudical. All the women are kept on leashes and aren’t allowed to talk much. If you’re interested there’s more than enough info on all the rules at this website, but if you’re like me, you’re not really interested enough to read them all. Suffice it to say these people are really weird and the whole deal is more than a little creepy. So when I encountered them, I did the only sensible thing you can do in a situation like that – I threw a bunch of giant dicks at them.

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I Don’t Want A Second Life (Part 4)
Saturday January 21st 2006, 9:34 pm
Filed under: second life

It’s over, folks. Seriously. This has gone far enough.

I’ve been a video game dork for pretty much my entire life. I’ve had a computer since I was probably 7 years old. I played Oregon Trail and all the early Sierra adventure games. I had an Intellivision and an NES. I blew it with the next generation and got a Turbo Grafx. I never had a Super Nintendo or a Playstation. Hell, I just now got a Playstation 2. Okay, I kind of suck with buying consoles, to be honest. Seriously. Who the fuck buys a Dreamcast? Whatever. The point is that I’ve been a gamer my whole life, and this is the first time I’ve felt like video games might actually be bad news.

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I Don’t Want A Second Life (Part 3)
Thursday January 12th 2006, 5:19 pm
Filed under: second life

I was sitting on my actual couch in my actual living room watching a Kelly Clarkson video on MTV, when all of the sudden it hit me: I should not be doing this. I should be doing something proactive, something that means something. I should participate in the beautiful cycle of creation and destruction, darkness and lightness and rising and falling and golly… it’s like a dance, isn’t it? I walked to the bay windows in my apartment and watched the cars go by. A plastic bag caught a gust of wind and soared majestically through the ether. I thought about Baudelaire and made a promise to myself: I will look up Baudelaire and find out who he is. Then I sat down in my swivel chair, logged in, and started looking around. Luckily, it didn’t take long to find the object of my desire.

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I Don’t Want A Second Life (Part 2)
Saturday January 07th 2006, 5:40 pm
Filed under: second life

When I told my girlfriend Jo that I was going to ironically sign up for an MMORPG, she scoffed. “Yeah, right,” she said. “See ya in a month.” I tried to tell her that no, she had it all wrong. No! This was going to be hilarious! An MMORPG! Ha! I really felt (and still do feel, to a certain extent) that there was no way I was going to get sucked in and end up playing in earnest. And yet here I am now, three or four days later, kind of speeding through this blog so I can log back on. That’s probably a bad sign, but it’s easy to rationalize away as an inclination to do “more research.”I also mentioned the game to my friend Leif, an avid MMORPG player with a particular penchant for Final Fantasy Online (parenthetical footnote: I interviewed him once about Final Fantasy – check it out here.)

“Yeah dude, it’s pretty cool. Everything in the game is created by players in the game, so it’s pretty much anything goes,” I said.

“Oh, cool. So it’s like The Sims Online, but actually fun,” he said.

“Yeah. It’s like The Sims Online, but with porn.”

Speaking of porn, Wired featured an article recently on the phenomenon of in-game porn (link). Seems that a couple of in-game entrepeneurs took it upon themselves to create a porno mag in the game by hiring female players in the game (or players who claim to be female, anyway) to pose for pictures, then created a porno mag object in the game which they are now selling. Not that I’m personally interested or anything… I’m just saying, you know, it exists… cough.

So anyway, I told Leif that I had been playing the game a bit. I’ve expressed vehemently anti-MMO sentiments to him in the past, so I had to qualify it for him.

“Yeah, I’ve been playing it a little,” I told him. “I wanna make fun of it on my blog.”

“Man,” he replied. “Making fun of MMORPGs… on your blog.”

Touche.

But enough pussyfooting around. Let’s get into it already.

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I Don’t Want A Second Life (part 1)
Wednesday January 04th 2006, 10:01 pm
Filed under: second life

I play a lot of video games. I like to shoot nazis and monsters and sometimes just regular people. I’ve been Tony Hawk and the God of War, all with potato chip crumbs falling onto my sweatpants.

I really like Katamari Damacy too. Like… a lot.

But there’s a whole batch of games that I’ve always made a conscious effort to avoid: RPGs. I played an early Final Fantasy game a few years ago that totally sucked me in, which is what they’re supposed to do, and for a couple of weeks that was all I did. I like games where you shoot stuff because you shoot stuff for a little while and then you go do something else. You can play Katamari Damacy and roll stuff up for just a little while. That’s how the game is meant to be played. Katamari Damacy isn’t supposed to be an immersive experience that supplements (or REPLACES) your actual life. Games like Final Fantasy Online tend to play a much bigger role in their players’ lives for extended periods of time, and that part of the reason why I’ve avoided them for so long: I’m absolutely petrified of getting sucked in.

Another reason I’ve avoided them for so long is that I think magic is kind of gay. Spells, wizards, tunics, potions… none of that really does much for me, and they are all cornerstones of the RPG universe. I’m not into mutton or mana.

So maybe that’s why Second Life piqued my interest – an online RPG mostly devoid of magic and mutton. I’m not totally clear on what the point is of the game yet, but that’s never particularly rigid in games like these. It seems like you can pretty much do whatever you want. There’s a complex in-game economy and people are willing to pay game money for a lot of stuff, so I guess you can conceivably do whatever the hell you want as long as people are willing to pay you for it (if you want to make money in the game at all). You can buy land and build on it, so you could run a business or something. You can create objects in the game and sell them to other players. Or, if you’re like me, you don’t really care about any of that crap. If you’re like me, you’re interested because the game is completely fucking free.

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