I’m taking two classes in the spring semester (531 and 532) that use Second Life for class meetings, so I thought I would get acclimated to the program over the weekend.

I’m still not sure about what I think about Second Life.  I initially hated the controls and the fact that you can’t inherently rebind any of the keys.  It’s hard to take it seriously as a mature client when a function that is so useful, simple, and pervasive is left out.  However, I found a set of instructions online that explained how to do it by changing the keys.ini file, so I can’t complain too much there.

I think the thing that I am having a hard time with is the open-ended nature of the program.  All of the other MMORPGs that I have played have specific tasks, quests, achievements, etc to them.  Second Life has none of that.  You are just…there.  I don’t see what the fun of this is, but I am going to continue to try it for a while to see what I am missing.  In addition, I hope to find that the assignments and classroom sessions give the program some purpose in my mind.

Speaking of purpose, Sunflower posted a Second Life scavenger hunt on the NoobToob forums recently.  The strange thing is that I have seen many of the things on that list already, and I haven’t gone on any of the adult servers.

I attended a Second Life “end of semester” party with other students and instructors in the program last night.  It was mostly a dance party with people chatting.  I actually found this to be kind of fun.  This brought up an interesting discussion topic between me and one of the instructors: why are dances in Second Life fun?  I see people in Guild Wars dancing all of the time, too, but it hadn’t occurred to me before to ask “why?”

I think people enjoy dancing in large groups in MMORPGs for a few reasons:

  1. Dances have become a metaphor for social interaction in our society.  Even if many of us don’t enjoy going to dances or dance clubs (and I say “us” because that includes me), we enjoy participating in the strange ritual with others.
  2. Dances in MMORPG’s allow us to participate in that societal norm while still participating in an intellectual conversation with others.  The “body” dances without the lack of communication.

In a sense, such activities allow us to conform to societal norms, even as we break them.

I’ll keep you posted as I progress through the courses.