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Reader Comments (18)

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 2:30AM (Unverified) said

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Brilliant examination, Kevin!

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 5:16AM (Unverified) said

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Second Life is not an MMO game (the creators say so).
Second Life is an MMO game ENGINE!
A Massively Multiuser tool, or platform, where people from the entire world can come together to collaborate (or compete) on whatever they want, be it sex, commerce, a game, a role playing environment, virtual tourism.
It is a Life, a Simulation, a virtualization of the real world where you can do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, including gaming and role-playing, but certainly not limited or equal to a role-playing game.
You do not need to adopt a persona. You can be yourself, or simply go there to browse the available content, to create things as a hobby, or try and make money off of it without even socially engaging with other people.

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 7:06AM (Unverified) said

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The creators may say that "Second Life is not an MMO game", but that doesn't necessarily make it so. Incidentally, I wouldn't mind seeing the source of that quote.

What makes SL different than games like WoW or Hello Kitty Online is that there is no clearly defined objective. To go back to Kevin's point of "The activity has some sort of purpose or goal associated with it", Second Life is a bit more existential than your average MMORPG in that the goal is something that the player defines, and not part of a plot or storyline created by the developer. In short, like real life, the goals and "Meaning of Life" are determined by the player.

In every other meaningful way, SL fits the description of an MMORPG. You say that "You do not need to adopt a persona. You can be yourself..." however you do create an avatar and the things that happen to that avatar do not happen to you personally. Even if you define your "role" as "yourself", it is still a role and not real. (hence the term "virtual world")

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 9:36AM (Unverified) said

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Second Life is as much a game as me coming to work.

SL and soon to launch OL, and BL, and GL, and WhateverElseL are "existence platforms" representing a migration to virtual existence and quite possibly, evolutionary experiences.

My "role" in SL is indeed real. Manifestation of psyche in digitized form. I interact with other digitized psyche across the planet. Their creations (at least the ones that stick) accept the fact they are "real" in their manifestation.

I am lucky enough to be in an industry where my immersion into SL constitutes work (sorta...to me at least...maybe not my boss) and I am able to watch demographics and track the possibilities of reaching these bright and brilliant souls.

We have determined that the secret to "reaching" SLers is to advertise to the "SLouls" not the mundane at the keyboard. Actual marketing to the "reality within" the game.

So keep yer "gamer boy" philosophy to yourself, and ring me up (in world please...in "reality" I am a cocker spaniel) when you have done a year on the Grid. Once a day. Every day.

That said...all you folks whose psyche is manifest as orc or elf or knight. Keep the faith. It IS the hero within...and there is NO SHAME in expressing the true you in-game.

Just floss. And try to stay awake at work. The bio needs to stay healthy or the avatar croaks.

Just remember, Hiro lived in a storage bin.

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 9:45AM (Unverified) said

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If you say SL is an RPG because you can do RP in it, then it is an RPG as much as IRC, AIM, YIM, ICQ, MSN, and Google Talk, or any forum, or web-based chatroom, heck, your PHONE IS AN RPG!

Second Life is a game as much as real life is a game, or as much as the world wide web is a game. Is wikipedia a game? There's lots of people on it and they all talk to each other! They can put up images too! They collaborate on projects. Same as every "web 2.0" site. Is youtube a game, too?

If you're unfamiliar with the source of this quote, erm, have you tried google? Have you actually met any Lindens?

The "goal" of Second Life is to be a 3D chat room with a 3D whiteboard. You do some talking, you do some drawing, you wander around to see what other people are drawing and maybe purchase some of their art. Is "MMO art" a game just because you have a silly doll in front of you? Is online chat a game just because it has beautiful 3D graphics?

The vast majority of people do not come to Second Life to role play. They come to chat. To be themselves and meet new people. A lot of us adopt an avatar relatively similar to our real look, if somewhat younger, and better dressed.

Second Life is also my job, incidentally, as it is for thousands of other people spread around the world. We resent not being taken seriously. But then again when I started doing websites twelve years ago people thought it wasn't "serious" work either.

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 10:17AM (Unverified) said

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"Second Life is also my job, incidentally, as it is for thousands of other people spread around the world. We resent not being taken seriously. But then again when I started doing websites twelve years ago people thought it wasn't "serious" work either."

So a job has to be serious? Tell that to Carrot Top.

Do you think that there aren't folks playing EVE Online or World of Warcraft for the money?

Aside from the lack of pre-developed storyline, how is Second Life any different than any other MMO? Why should it be treated any differently?

Calling SL a glorified chat room isn't exactly new. I've heard the same assertion made about EQ, WoW, and every MUD I've ever played or designed. Again, how is SL any less of a game than any other MMORPG?

Role Playing is a kind of game in and of itself. Whether you call it "Let's Pretend", "LARP", "World of Warcraft", or "Second Life", you are developing an identity that exists outside yourself. It might be a representation of yourself, but it is not you. So, to your point about chat rooms, web pages, and instant messaging, if you are creating an identity apart from yourself, how is it NOT a game?

I will agree that there are those who blur the line between their virtual identities and their physical selves to the point that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other, just as there are personalities who are "in character" so much (Think: Andy Kaufman, for an example) that it is difficult to separate the personality from the "real person". No matter how integrated the representation is with the real person, it is still a distinct and separate thing in an online virtual world. No matter how hard you try, you will never *be* your virtual self.

Playing "Cowboys and Indians" all day will not make you a real Cowboy or a real Indian, now matter how long you play, or how much you get paid to play it.

If you find it easier to think of Second Life as a kind of blank canvas upon which digital art is created and experienced, then that is another matter altogether, and perhaps one upon which we can agree. However, from what I have seen, no two people experience SL the same way. Again, that should be credited to the existential nature of the platform itself. It means what you want it to mean.

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 10:28AM (Unverified) said

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I was hoping this would focus more on the MMO* aspect of it than on the rpg aspect of it (and i was kinda disapointed with MMO in the wp being redirected to MMORPG)

eventhought like how it happened this time, I was kinda shaken in my beliefs SL wasn't a game in itself after reading another post here on Massivelly (or was it SLI?) about the game status of SL. I still kinda agree with some of the people in here comparing SL to the web, but in parts, more like a wiki-web, a whole site created by it's users, a single "place" but containing tons of different stuff.

also, this article focused too much on defending SL as being an mmorpg and not much in pointing how much the more estabilished representants of the class fit or don't fit the definitions

my personal definition of SL is it is a mu* that isn't based on just text interface, and since we are talking about this, SL would be a mmo* actually (haven't ever felt I could mention mmo* instead of mu* when talking about the way I view SL till now, first time the people I'm talking with probably know more about mmo*s than mu*s), i like the suggestion of calling it an mmop (massive multiuser online platform), althought the excat definition of that subset of mmo* needs carefull study to avoid it describing the web, or sites like the Wikipedia without much differentiation from stuff like SL and such. it has similarities, it mmop, as I see the category, is a whole different beast from the web, thought perhaps the distance between mmop and the web, and the distance between mmop and mu* are not that much different (the ammount of differences and the way they are somewhat analog, not the specifics of all of the differences)

ps:yay! my question got it's very own post :D
/me starts to remind when shi had hir own tag on SLI

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 10:42AM (Unverified) said

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(forgot to mention that I intentionally did not link tot he wp article about mmo cause it was not really the definition of mmo, but the definition of mmorpg (and it mentions a few other mmo* types somewhere in it, not sure), so to not divert from the point I was trying to make (that SL was an MMO, and so deserved to be covered by Massivelly) I decided not to bring attention to the miss-redirection they have on the Wikipedia)

ps:don't have time right now to confirm that i didn't linked to the wp article on my comments on the other blog post, but I don't remember doing so

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 10:54AM (Unverified) said

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Well, directly to the question "Is Second Life an MMO"?

I'm having difficulty imagining that the answer could be anything but a "Yes". I suppose one could quibble with the notion of "Multiplayer" with respect to the idea that one does not "play" Second Life, but if I had that kind of time on my hands, I'd be spending it in an MMO somewhere. It is good enough for me to consider SL an MMO and to treat it as such. MMORPG, MMOP, MMOLMNOP, or MMOPleaseKevinMakeItStop works for me.


Posted: Feb 15th 2008 11:50AM (Unverified) said

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(I can't reply a reply? oh well, Kev is probably going to read this with or without it being a reply :)

Kev, sorry if I sounded disrespectfull, that was not my intention, somtimes when talking about stuff that makes me think I end up comming out more agressive than i realise, rest assured that i do appreciate this article (and others), I love when I get this slap on my face of realizing at the same time I was not completly wrong, there were many aspects of the topic I hadn't considered yet, people who can write stuff like you do are trully gifted :D

ps:btw, I've jsut checked the wikipedia quickly, and it seems either they've fixed the mis-redirection, or it was just a product of my crappy memory :P

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 12:45PM (Unverified) said

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I am a little surprised at the reluctance of so many Virt World "addicts" (sorry...ummm...enthusiasts) to speak to the "reality" of existance in-world...thus...qualshing this whole...SL is a MMO debate.

Cmon...aint that digital being real? In everyway...but physical?

And dont we all REALLY know that AI will manifest itself in MMO and Virt Worlds before "I-Robot" (always wondered if that was a Mac crack) ever sees the light of day?

Heck...just the power source on those things would be an issue.

"Nuclear powered robot struck by car. Phoenix leveled. Film at 11."

I am happy to tumble down the rabbit hole and say this...games is games...virt worls are a whole different thang. Exitstance...on another plane.

And my therapist agrees.

Posted: Feb 15th 2008 1:26PM (Unverified) said

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Where is my Lava Lamp when I really need it?

I'll have to put on my black trenchcoat and pince nez mirrored sunglasses instead.

What is "real"? How do you define "real"?

If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain

Without actually asking Laurence Fishburne to write this response for me, the phrase "everything but" in your comment says it all.

As long as virtual reality is distinguishable from what we now understand to be reality, then it will always occupy a secondary position in our consciousness. As a result, I hereby invoke definition #2 of "What is a game?"

"The activity exists in a reality separated from the player."

and to TigroSpottystripes Katsu...

I didn't think you were being disrespectful at all. My intent with columns like this is to get a discussion going, and most of the time, that involves opinions that conflict with one another. I'm not the type of guy who takes it personally when someone disagrees with me, so if you think I'm full of it, hit me with your best shot. :)

Posted: Feb 16th 2008 12:52AM Zulika said

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If you have to have this much discussion about if it is a MMORPG or not than I assume it is not. No one questions any other games in the genre.

I detest it for the shear fact of the amount of coverage it receives here and visit the site less because of it.

I deal with the idiots at Cisco, IBM, & etc enough at work -anywhere they are is not a game or at the very least not fun.

Posted: Feb 16th 2008 1:00PM (Unverified) said

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Here is the problem with "If you have to have this much discussion" logic.

You are implying that asking a question validates the premise behind it. If I were to ask "is George W. Bush controlled by space aliens from the planet Remulak?", does that mean that the question is valid in any way?

Asking if Second Life is really an MMO just because it doesn't involve killing mobs, or experience points, or a well defined story arc does not mean that those things are required in order for something to meet the definition of an MMO.

The reason so many people have questions about SL has more to do with the raison-d'etre of SL than it does with the issue of whether or not it is an MMO. Second Life may not be completely unique, but it is unique in it's popularity and the degree in which people and ideas cross over from the real world into the virtual.

Like you say, one doesn't have to deal with the Ciscos and IBMs of the world in Azeroth. (Let's all give a moment of thanks for that, shall we?)

Posted: Feb 16th 2008 10:09PM Zulika said

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The delta is that is the first time I have seen the questions about Bush being controlled by aliens, but I have seen this questions bout SL many times - and I will see it many more as well.

It is like how many times did you hear someone say "Wow that Britney Spears is one wacked out bish eh?" 5 years ago vs how many times you hear it today. One voice = nada while many voices repeating something speak volumes.

Posted: Feb 17th 2008 12:35AM (Unverified) said

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Sure, but 100 people asking the same question doesn't make it any more valid, just more popular.

I don't think anyone is seriously questioning the fact that Second Life is a different kind of beast than any other MMO out there, but it has enough common elements with them that the term MMO is still appropriate.

Posted: Feb 18th 2008 11:18AM Zulika said

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Yaaaa we agree, MMO yes!

Game maybe - there are checkers or something equivalent in SL like yahoo games right?

RPG -er I do not think so. I think it is more like a SIM and it actually looks alot like "The SIMs" as it appears everything I can do in SL I can do in RL.

Maybe with the marketplace it can be called MMORPG for accountants. Yes all those people that felt like they were born in the wrong time....told they did not have what it takes to be a CPA or just sucked at math.....now can live their dream - hehe!

SL gets questioned because for some reason it gets coverage on MMORPG sites sometimes - on this one hourly.

Is there another MMO that is questioned the same way as SL?

Should we be looking for the PartyPoker.com MMO coverage to be coming soon?

Posted: Feb 19th 2008 7:17AM (Unverified) said

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I'd be interested in hearing why gamers who don't play Second Life are so angry and resentful. It's very strange.

I don't play WoW, but a great many of my friends do; I don't have a big simmering pot of annoyance on the stove about WoW; I shrug my shoulders and say "It's just not my thing" and go on paying attention to the things I am interested in. But those who don't like SL who comment here at Massively seem to have a massive chip on their shoulder about SL. Why all the drama?

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