May 162007

Ben Haslem notes a Crikey article on the dark side of cyber-capitalism.

I’ve had a look at Second Life. In fact, if can find the confirmatory email, I could probably log back into my SL persona, but quite frankly, I found the experience more than a little boring. Second Life is yet another example of rampant American capitalism which is purpose designed to prey upon the consumer within us all and today’s ‘gotta-have-it-now’ society. If you’re a game geek and you understand MUDs then SL is merely a highly graphical representation of a cyber dimension run on similar lines to a MUD. The computer you use to access this dimension needs to be a high-end graphic processor or specifically game-oriented platform or you’ll find as I found that moving around within the dimension becomes a rather stilted and monotonous experience as the graphics card & processor struggle to cope with the intensity of the presentation. I was running SL on a 3Ghz Intel P4 laptop with 512Mb of available RAM over a fast wireless broadband connection and it was just plain annoying.
Aside from the stodgy game play, I found the concept of someone else profiting massively by selling chunks of nothing to a whole world of wanna-be’s who are clearly dissatisfied with the real world sufficiently to want to buy a piece of a place where they can pretend to be what they regard as successful, more than a little disturbing. For example, as I type this, US$1.6m has been spent within SL in the past 24 hours. That’s real US$, not the pretend Linden currency within the virtual world. To buy a small piece of what amounts to nothing in SL costs you, the wanna-be, considerable cash on a monthly basis. US$10/month for the premium account, the only level in which you can ‘own’ land, then a minimum of US$5/month thereafter for the measley allotment of 512 sq mt. If, as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has done, you desire ownership of an Island then be prepared to shell out US$1,675.00 for just over 6.5Ha PLUS a monthly fee of US$295 for ‘maintenance’. To me, the whole thing is a bloody expensive way to play at being something you know you just can’t be in the real world.
Now it seems SL has become a nest of vipers harbouring the real world’s low life element. Lovely.

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