Is Second Life A Game

I was thinking about starting a thread about Second Life and I thought, “I’ll put it in the gaming forum.” Then I thought, “Yeah, but is Second Life a game? It’s a simulation but the players make up … everything. Can that really be defined as a game?”

Then I thought, “You know, this is a more interesting question than the one you were going to ask. Why not throw it out to the gaming thread and see what they say?”

Therefore I did.

For those who don’t know about it, here’s some info on Second Life.

What do you guys think?

Second Life is a toy. You can play games with toys, but you don’t have to. (A friend of mine has a shooting gallery thingy set up in SL somewhere, with zombies and stuff.)

A toy is about right. It’s a sandbox game, and the game part is only very loosely applied, as there are no objectives or rules except what users come up with themselves. It’s mostly considered a game only in that it uses a 3D environment, and the only applications to really make use of such to a large degree so far are games.

Office quote:
Dwight: Second Life is not a game. It is a multi-user, virtual environment. It doesn’t have points or scores. It doesn’t have winners or losers.
Jim: Oh, it has losers.

If it’s a game, it may be the most boring game in the world (and I’m including Axis and Allies there, guys. I’m including setting up Axis and Allies.)

I couldn’t get into second life at all. The graphics suck, the animation is jerky, the controls are less than optimally responsive, and the user interface is cumbersome and poorly laid out, to put it kindly.

…and yeah, it’s not a game.

Yeah, I spent about 30 minutes in it. The thing is, I’m a non-communicative, misanthropic hermit in real life. I’m also a non-communicative, misanthropic hermit in real-time online things. So really…if I’m going to spend all my time wandering the streets alone and silent, I might as well do it IRL instead of in a virtual world.

The thing I was interested in was, at what point does a simulated world stop being a game and start being a tool? Clearly a lot of people use it as a game, however unsatisfactory all of your experiences have been. But I have read that Brazil and some other countries have opened up portals on Second Life to promote tourism, etc. I understand there has been some speculation/attempts to use it for virtual business meetings. Most of your comments cite technical and emotional problems with Second Life, rather than addressing what is/is not a game and whether or not Second Life.

There was a big-name company I proofed a transcript for a year or so ago that was really excited about setting up a virtual office in Second Life. I don’t know what became of it, since I’ve never tried Second Life and I no longer work on corporate transcripts. It’s an interesting idea, but only if the market is there.


Think about it this way. Let’s say that I have the world’s most advanced computer system and I use it to model rainfall in Wisconson with absolute precision thanks to a US geological survey map. Now let’s say that one weekend for kicks I create an interface to that data which instead of just dumping to a spreadsheet draws a picture of a little man standing in the rain.

Is that a game?

No, because a game is not an environment.

And that’s what Second Life is. An environment. It’s the same principle as MySpace or Facebook only modeled in 3D rather than text. It can contain a game but it is not a game much in the way that the SDMB contains games in this forum but is not a game.

That’s the reason I don’t play games online most of the time(being a non-communicative, misanthropic hermit). That and Second life is pretty must just user created content, most of which tends to suck.

Thanks for all your responses. I did some research and I’ve pretty much decided that, as just some guy says, Second Life is an environment that can be used for a variety of purposes. Frex, I was not aware that it was so widely used for educational purposes in Scotland.