If I had time for a second life...

I am not, and never have been, a computer gamer -- at least not in the conventional sense. Arguably the character I play on this blog is embedded in a kind of massively multiplayer online role-playing game -- aka the blogosphere -- but when I'm invited to check out MMORPGs like Second Life I tend to say no thanks, I barely have time for my first life.

Still, Second Life keeps popping up on my radar screen. Some datapoints:

So over the Thanksgiving holiday I took an quick tour of Second Life. My 3D skills are rusty, but soon I could fly around, control the camera, build simple structures in the sandbox areas open to non-residents, explore castles, waterfalls, dance clubs, and shopping malls, meet seriously-customized avatars -- including a fire-breathing dragon and a Mad Magazine Spy-Vs-Spy character (the white one) -- and admire artfully-scripted kinetic sculptures. I suppose it is accurate to call it "user-created content" but the term hardly does justice to the richness of this world.

SL isn't a game, really, it's a laboratory in which a variety of economic and social experiments are being conducted. Wells Fargo has created an in-world experience designed to teach young people about money management. John Lester is using the environment to help Asperger's Syndrome folks improve their social skills. If I had time for a second life it would be fascinating to make screencasts documenting some of these experiments, and try some of my own as well.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/12/02.html#a1347