Games, KFC buckets, and chorus girls.

The latest instalment in Bix Ashbourne’s journey as a new Second Life resident:


Occasionally, I hear Second Life referred to as a “game”.

Don’t quite know what to make of that.

Certainly, in some dimensions, it qualifies; there’s killer graphics, it’s run from a computer, and requires some hand-eye coordination. Especially during sex….imagine, in real life, having to multitask during intercourse the way you do in Second Life; hours and hours of material for sitcom writers in that one. Every episode has a botched orgasm…cue laugh track; humorous, quizzical dismayed look in three…two…one….NOW!  But there’s no score (unless you define ‘score’ as nailing that unrealistically-tall hottie), no battle plan, no goal (unless you define ‘goal’ as nailing that unrealistically-tall hottie). No coaches. No scorekeeper (unless you define ‘scorekeeper’ as one pissed-off, unrealistically-tall hottie).

By way of illustration, that last point helps define the transition that SL is potentially foisting upon humans. Those of us old enough to remember when you could give your finger a free ride on the telephone dial (part of a device that had a CORD, for God’s sake, forcing you to remain centralized and focus on your conversation), or experienced the first wave of vector-graphic video games in parlors (‘BattleZone’, anyone? I’ll whip your ass…), can only sometimes look on in bewilderment as some gum-popping teen risks turning her thumb into a torch from the blazing speed of text-messaging her LOLZ to a girlfriend.

The interface between humans and machine has become more densely-packed, offering a rich tapestry of clusterfuck. In SL, a numbing array of information is presented when you first arrive, and it takes you quite some time to filter out what’s important, and what is data fodder. And you can usually only do this by diving in and using it. You prioritise, acclimate, and proceed, with only keystrokes to convey the enormous amount of processing your brain is doing, navigating its way through a maze of digital commands, visual input, and emotion. Oh, and don’t forget the words. Talk about getting your shit together and your ducks in a row.

A discussion with an older friend of mine brought up talking points that were not at all unexpected; “shutting out the outside world”, “distancing yourself”, “tuning out reality”, and a whole litany of similar observations. While the talking points were no surprise, what WAS a surprise was that I found myself playing defense. Finding this strategy was natural, really. Who among us ISN’T tired of reading about one group of brown-skinned people blowing up another group of brown-skinned people in the Middle East every goddamned day? Who among us ISN’T tired of reading about school/mall/drive-by shootings? Of tales of economic woe?
Of governmental iniquities? Of Britney Spears? In a world where the comic section is just about our only relief from this dogpile–and even that gets broached from time-to-time by excellent strips such as ‘Doonesbury’.

Second Life gives you a chance to breathe, with opportunities to actually DO something about the flaming prick that suddenly ensconced you in a large bucket of KFC. (Granted, no-one’s ever tried that stunt on me in RL, but when they do–and some dumbass will–I’ll be ready. You betcha.)

You can’t die. You can’t drown. You can’t be harmed by falling off of tall buildings, or by being hit by a car. Yet, I – and I suspect many others, as well – scrupulously avoid letting these things happen. Why? Why would we worry about it, when we don’t have to? I have a theory (what a surprise); As I said before, SL is like a giant, well-funded ‘do-over’, where you get to work on RL situations in a beta test environment. A place to exercise common sense without your efforts getting too terribly shat on. As a bonus, on the flip side you get to test what you WOULD do if you had some amazing powers, such as flying, or teleporting. “Here’s a gift, see what you do with it”.  Given the power in RL, I would STILL not teleport myself into an NBA cheerleading locker room, or a Las Vegas cabaret dressing room, or the set of a porn flick (which I hear is rather unremarkable, anyway).

In many ways, SL is no different than RL. You have good people, bad people, innocent people, knowing-yet-silent people, and people who have very little idea why they’re there. If anything, the interface somehow allows these qualities to surface a little faster and a little more clearly…something we could use in RL in a big, big way.


  1. This is very good for us who doesn’t have nba tv . I like to watch nba

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