Philip Rosedale created a virtual world called Second Life beginning in 1998. “I’m not building a game. I’m building a new continent” is what he says describing the initiative which seeks to create a virtual economy inside a virtual society.
At any moment 80,000 users are on Second Life. Everyday an average of US$1.3 million dollars. Pretty amazing and awesome development. Check out the video below (it goes for 28 minutes).
So is this a world without problems and poverty? I have logged into Second Life a few years ago and haven’t visited recently, and when I was there I have never actually looked for extreme poverty. You can ‘get pregnant’ and ‘have a baby’ in Second Life, although I can only imagine there was no code built in for the tragedy of child mortality in Second Life. Need there be any inclusion of tragedy? A recreated and perfect world.
Is Second Life pure escapism from our real world? Simply an exercise in consumption? How do we make sense of this when extreme poverty is so pronounced in the real world? I am not proposing a neo-Luddite intervention to wreck or change Second Life, and I agree to a point with Rosedale that the “conceit” of exploration as he describes it has real benefits.
Creating a world where anything is possible…. The only catch is we just can’t solve this one out first. 24,000 children dying daily, most from preventable illness is an inconvenient reality of this life, our real life.
A shameless exercise of utopian self-indulgence? Opening our minds to new possibilities for currently unseen benefit? What do you think?