This was actually the last time I was in 2nd Life, and it was a blast! When it was finally time to me to say goodbye to 2nd Life, my peoples and i decided to jump off something tall. The Eiffel Tower was handy, so we had a party and all jumped off! I miss that kind of stuff and all my SL friends.
Interestingly, the memories you lay down don’t discriminate much between the real and virtual, so my memories of floating under the rim of a moon crater with my sister, or crawling trough edwardian sewer tunnels with my brother are as vivid as can be…
Originally written for http://www.assistivegaming.com
Thinking Inside the Box
Something that everyone dreams of is flying, and of course it is a generally absurd to think of flying, at least while you are wearing your body…
Some who are severely disabled, like myself dream as well – of walking or holding things – though it’s just about as silly as wanting to fly.
With a bit of practice though, i can do all those things and far more in the massive multi-user universe called Second life.
Second Life is an online, 3-D virtual world that has been running since 2003 and now has five million members around the world – in it you can be who – or even what – ever you want to be.
When you are first “born” in SL (as it is often abbreviated) you arrive on a playpen island – where you can get used to your new Avatar, or virtual body – without embarrassment or fear of annoying the “old timers ” – veteran inhabitants, who own land, and build almost everything you see.
This is one of Second Life’s weird strengths – everything you encounter was built by an inhabitant at some point – and so SL mirrors the fascinating complexity of the First Life, albeit without the constraints of physics or finances.
Don’t mistake this as a “mere” roleplaying game though because Second Life has its own currency: the “Linden”, which can be exchanged for real world money. I have met many people who are working in Second Life, builders, teachers, scripters… even the sex worker has a place. There is much conjecture that Second Life is the future of the internet a la Gibson’s “Neuromancer”. Already many major corporations have a presence, as well as universities, study groups and so on. It would be no exaggeration to say that the Second life is to the internet as the graphic user interface was to the command line.
In this slightly lo-rez “Matrix” i have seen many wondrous and mysterious things:
A blue wolverine and a vampire making love on top of an erupting volcano which took me a half hour to climb.
A field of rusting cold war nuclear missles at daybreak, moaning in the fog.
A companion casually transforming herself into a 3 story tall dragon and roasting us all in delightful feathery flames (we were fine).
A neo-nazi secret midnight u-boat garrison where strange misshapen dwarves and jackbooted rednecks attacked me, knocked me off their boat where i immediately sank to the bottom of the fiord, paralyzed (Not so fine but temporarily ; -@) by some unpleasant spell.
C-beams glittering in the night off Tannhauser Gate…
Underwater cathedrals and sky cities, flying bananas,pirate ships steam-punk derigibles battling in the dusky sunset.
Met people (there’s no other way to put it) that i would certainly never have met otherwise.
Attended live music events complete with irate stagehands and fatuous groupies.
Walked on the bottom of the ocean.
All with a Headmouse and on-screen keyboard.
This exploration would have been be fun in any case, but the possibilities for those of us who in whatever way struggle in a cruel world of gravity and time – can be unexpectedly rewarding.
You might even meet Wylde Cunningham, a composite multiple personality “avatar” formed by 7 severely physically disabled patients and the caregiver who types for them!
In any event, if you get a chance, teleport over to ‘Wheelies’ SL’s first disability nightclub. Started by Disabled entrepreneur Simon Stevens, Wheelies is now a central point for disability issues within Second Life. Unsupprisingly there are as many opinions about the best way to approach having a new body as there are people…. Some make faithful copies of their first life selves, complete with wheelchairs & other fancy stuff – while others (Again understandably) go completly off the deep end conjuring selves that – shall we say – bear little resemblance to their meat bodies.
So now you know.
You have to be over 18, though there is another version for 13-17-year-olds. A basic account is free, but users who wish to own land, build things or stem media in or out of SL incur fees. (I’ve never spent a dime – but I’m like that ; -) Obviously a dial-up connection into the internets is not going to work very well (if at all) but if you can manage cable or DSL- you’re in.