Saturday, October 29, 2011

Second Life

As part of my required studies at Full Sail, I took a course on how Second Life might be integrated into course studies at Full Sail. Kristopher Newton introduced the course instructors to Second Life which is a virtual online world where people can create their own avatars. Amazingly people are selling virtual merchandise, real estate and art in this environment. Fifty five million dollars were generated last year, making it the fifth fastest growing economy in the world. Apparently pop singers and musicians release their songs in this virtual world to test their market. There are virtual galleries and museums where artists are selling their work. I imagine creating my own avatar that does what I do every day which is to draw. My avatar would enter a club, bar or concert hall, find a seat and sketch. I could become the Analog Artist in a Virtual World.

Kristopher actually created a virtual Full Sail campus modeled on the real life existing campus. When he started, he discovered that the polygon count had sky rocketed overnight. He explored his model and couldn't figure out what had happened. He finally discovered that someone had built an entire city above his campus and they had painted a sky below the base of the city so it was impossible to see. Kristopher dismantled the city, saving the parts he might be able to use in the future. He remains convinced that Second Life can be used as a teaching tool to get students to interact in new ways with the curriculum.

I decided to give Second Life a chance when I got home that night. I picked an avatar that had a backpack and hiking boots since that seemed the most practical options for exploring a new world. Being a robot or a pussy cat didn't appeal to me. I walked through the introductory rooms learning how to walk, sit, talk and fly, then I explored my first environment. The place was designed for social interaction among avatars just starting out in Second Life. My computer volume was down but I noticed people kept typing "Welcome Thor." I walked up to a balcony so I could overlook the club. I sat and imagined myself starting a sketch. Perhaps this was an answer to the conflicts that arise when I find myself sketching in the real world too often. I could be home every night documenting life in a virtual world, forever at my desk, available yet lost in thought.

Unfortunately Second Life is excruciatingly slow. I had to wait for all the other people in the room to materialize and walking around was an awkward process making my Avatar look like he was ice skating through quick sand. I kept flying into walls and falling from insane heights. In the end, I became bored and shut off my computer so I could explore my one and only life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hah! I did the Second Life thing for just about the same amount of time. I pity my poor avatar - she is probably still wandering around the welcome room, eternally! At least she's in good company...