Here's a bit of first life and Second Life combined.
On Halloween night, SO and I had just finished watching the local news and were waiting for more trick-or-treaters to arrive. As is our wont, we changed the channel to CBC Newsworld, which often has good documentaries at 7 o'clock. And what did we find there? "You Only Live Twice," a documentary about Second Life from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
It seems to have been done last spring, shortly before voice went live on the main grid, and it was actually pretty good. The reporter was not flippant or dismissive. I think she enjoyed her time in world. She interviewed Philip Rosedale, of course. Man, is he adorable! Still looks about 20 years old. And he's wicked charming. She also interviewed other proponents of SL as well as a few prominent SL residents, notably real estate mogul Anche Chung, virtual sex merchant Stroker Serpentine, and clothing designer Simone Stern, both in world and in first life. She also interviewed some critics of SL, so the presentation was pretty balanced.
One major beef, though. Why is it that media examinations of SL pretty much always focus on money and business? This doc did touch on the social aspects of SL, and not just in the context of virtual sex (although it spent plenty of time there), but it was only a touch. I am so much more interested in SL as social experiment than I am in how much money Anche Chung made last year or how safe Simone's designs are as intellectual property.
For instance, was the reporter unaware that massive numbers of men, and not just transgendered men, play women in SL? Or did she ignore this phenomenon? From my counselling practice and from the comments on my PixelPulse article on voice in SL, I've seen a range of reasons for men doing this. Transgendered people living virtual opposite-sex lives is interesting enough, but what about the men who are completely cis-gendered, not even cross-dressers in real life, but who choose to be women in SL? And what about how they express, again and again, how this has changed their view of the world and of other people, especially women?
And what about virtual love and virtual relationships as opposed to virtual sex? What do relationships between avatars mean? Just where is that area between a cyber-relationship and playing a game? There is so much more to SL than currency exchange, really!
SL says to anyone who enters, OK, here you can be anything you want to be. What would you like to be? If someone's answer to that is "wealthy," well, it's their second life. But I prefer to let my imagination fly freely. I can make money in first life. But in SL, I can be and do so many things that simply aren't possible for me in first life. And that's what I find fascinating about SL. I wish someone would make a documentary entirely on that subject.