How one gets tired of virtual worlds

Reacting on my previous post about Second Life veterans uniting, draxfiles asked on this site and on Facebook:

Interesting how some folks get “tired” of a world unlimited in its creative possibilities, a world that is continuously mind-boggling in the sense that folks make awesome things and yes: a LOT of them are a lot better than what was done in the hype days. The creative forces that are marveling at the tools that Linden churns out [xp tools, ALM model, etc] and use them = I am in awe of them and the monthly video show is not nearly enough to cover this bustling life. I simply do not understand how you get tired of it: it is like saying “I am tired of this pencil and this piece of paper!” :) Come on the show Roland and help those of us [in the audience of the show] who are pushing the envelope every day understand what this means!

Well here we go. Of course I agree that new tools are making new things possible (such as using Second Life on a mobile device or on old machines), and more is to come when Oculus Rift will release its VR-headset on the broader market.
However, people get tired because well, that’s life: people evolve, move on to new jobs, expand their families and end up with less time and energy. But there is more: Second Life and virtual worlds in 2007/2008 were technologically speaking less sophisticated, but there was this feeling that ‘this is the new thing’: the online world was evolving from 2D to 3D, and websites or social media feeds would become just a part of this encompassing 3D-metaverse.

Embassies, corporations, news wires and other media, religious institutions entered Second Life because it was the future. Then we all know what happened: the end of the hype, mass traction not materializing, corporations and institutions did not find out how to use this new space. The new headlines now claimed that Second Life was dying or that is was just “a niche of a niche”.

While it’s not correct to say Second Life is dying (I hope), I think it’s true to say that it’s a niche-activity. Will it finally gain traction during the Oculus (or similar devices) era? I’m not sure. People are tired and stressed out: this is an era of fast dipping into media feeds (Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, SnapChat… ) not of long immersive media-experiences (at least when you’re not a young student). This argument has nothing to do with technological breakthroughs but with how we structure time in this first part of the 21st century.

So, when we speak about people getting tired of immersive worlds, this is what I mean: we have such limited time and right now and quite possibly for a long time these worlds will remain a niche industry. While you can probably find a job quite easily as a Facebook-marketing expert, I’m afraid it will be difficult to market your skills as a Second Life guru.

This being said, yes I’m impressed by the new energy and developments which are to be found in virtual reality and virtual worlds (both concepts being rather different). So, can one be impressed and tired at the same time? I think so.

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About rolandlegrand

I'm social media manager at Mediafin, the publisher of Belgium's leading business newspapers De Tijd and L'Echo. I have a special interest in the intersection of immersive media, business and philosophy.
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4 Responses to How one gets tired of virtual worlds

  1. You are totally right Roland, it is a niche just as much as big novels and spending time with family rather than working in the hamster wheel. We need to abandon artistic activities and TLDR news right now to make more time to make more money. I recommend also Soylent as a nutritional supplement. All hail capitalism!!! Let’s speed up that thing even more….we owe it to the kids .)

  2. oops I forgot the URL = http://www.soylent.me/ because if you use that you save so much more time by abandoning cooking as well! We simply cannot afford the time for these activities. I also actually just cancelled my son’s violin lessons because where does that lead? There is no immediate value in violin right? How is going to make money with this art stuff? Instead I am enrolling him in Chinese and coding class after he gets out of math tutoring at 4pm. Screw free play = no value in that, darn it: NONE!

  3. Heheh. True and true again dear Draxtor. But I do think the opposition between ‘artistic, deep-minded virtual worlds stuff’ and “mindless money-making” would be far too simple.

  4. Inara Pey says:

    Ah, pendulums, pendulums. They never swing gently … ;-).

    But, back to the article …

    SL dead – no, not by a long shot.

    Will it see a revival through the Oculus? Frankly, no. It’ll still have the same initial issues that have always palgued it – steep learning curve, people failing to understand “what it is about”, etc., etc.). The only difference will be that the people are seeing the problems through a set of screens strapped to their noggin …

    Niche – absolutely. Some of the best products in the world are niche … until something else comes alongwith a more comfortable niche. Hence why LL are now hammering into the rock face above and to the left of SL …. 🙂 .

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