What is Second Life? SL is what you make of it. From scraping out a living to creating your dream house (or paying someone else to), SL allows use to escape from reality and go to another world that can be whatever we want.

Second LifeEverything in Second Life is player-made. From the shirts people wear to the shops that sell them, to the skeletal thing-a-ma-jig on this page, and even to the economy itself, SL showcases what can happen when talented people work with limitless resources. Allot of the people in SL are insanely creative, and insanely talented. I’ve seen butterfly houses, dragon statues, and tropical wonderlands. It really is a marvel of talent, skill and dedication.

Resources aren’t actually limitless; there is an object-per-lot limit, and you have to own land to build on it. Of course, you can also just reep the rewards of what others have done. Many people’s work involves entertaining other players, and for that we should all tell them, “Thank you.”

One of the most popular forms of entertainment (to my delight) is gambling. I love finding the nicest slot houses. I actually bought a few slot machines and had them on my lot, but no one ever played them, so no money for me. You have to work to make money in Second Life, and sometimes that means working for someone else. Be it ‘camping’ on someone’s lot to get them money or doing actual labor for them, money drives Second Life the same way it does our first lives.

I have a gambling problem, I’ll admit it. I currently have three Linden Dollars (L$ 3), with no income in sight. I try to gamble and get rich quick but, as in real life, that is rare, indeed (although I did hit for L$ 12,000 once). Once you have your money, however you get it, there are tons of things to spend it on. Like I said, people are very talented, and some have created working vehicles like cars, bikes, and planes that you can buy and ride. I once owned a helicopter, but I crashed it and now it doesn’t work anymore. Owning land to work on costs real world cash, as in a minimum monthly fee of $9.95. You can pay more for larger parcels of land, but that’s the base rate. I used to pay for my lots, but since I sold them both, I’m playing as a Basic Member, with no monthly fee. Most people play this way, I’d assume. It’s not ideal, but it works.

The game allows for ‘grouping,’ in which players can form communities and clans to pool resources and talent to accomplish goals that they couldn’t on their own. Groups can jointly own land, and have a hierarchy to keep some semblance of control.

There are interesting goings-on, though. I was passing a casino (only because i was broke) when some dude walked in with a chain gun and tossed a bomb into the building. I backed up as fast as I could as another came rolling down the steps towards me. Anything not fixed in place was knocked all over the room. I kinda felt at home, though, as if I was back in Unreal Tournament, dealing with a Redeemer blast.

The graphics are nigh impossible to rate, as they vary greatly depending on the talent of the individual who made whatever you’re looking at. Sound, too, is hard to grade. The biggest complaint I have is of the lag, produced in busy areas and when there are allot of objects to load. My system (Athlon 64 3200+, nVidia 7600 GT, 512 MB RAM) gets choked up some in the more complex areas, but never stalls badly. If you’re looking for a different MMO experience that doesn’t involve questing and allows you to explore a pseudo-modern world, this is it. Just pay head to those who would help you (there are many), and don’t add to the ‘jerk’ population. The game world will thank you. BTW, I go by Budaniel Penguin – check me out when I’m online. Alphasim out.