Saturday, 22 March 2008

The voyage of a Avatar in Second Life: from Newbie to Addict

We enter as alienated beings searching a pretext to form some kind of social context. Newbies to the strange culture of identity play we seek to resolve the exciting yet strange flux of fantasy forms. In is what psychoanalysis would says is a regressive state. Life of a newbie is very childlike with both the wonder and the strange identities returning.

I think this is one of the charms of Second Life. By entering it to enter a dance of childhood. You become a child again, but as a child you are overcome with a compulsion to learn. There is an endless curiosity that returns to you.

But in time an identity forms, one becomes trapped in an image. This may be a good thing, like a child one inserts one self in to a game and it becomes real. I think this is what a lot of people in SL call Drama.

Lacan said that the house or fortress is the symbol of a formed identity. As I have written before Linden Labs makes its money of identity formation. It sells land. Buying land is a deep expression of identity recognition on the part of the person and Linden Labs revenues are dependent upon people's ability to suture themselves in to the AV role.

But the process of coming to an identity is also a point of business opportunity. Provided that making payments in SL is possible costs are so low that SL reopens the toy market to adults. For small sums people buy what Winnicot called transactional objects, things that help form the space in which the person identities themselves.

The danger for SL is the what next question. Once someone has settled in to an identity and the childlike period of play is over what is there to keep them engaged in the simulation. This is where the community of artists is critical. Second Life is a great merging of artists and technologists. The future of this VR experiments depends on the ability of these groups to produce content that hold attention.

In this way Linden Labs, unlike Yahoo, Google or Microsot, must become a free space, and autonomous zone of anarchist capitalism and communalism (take your pick) which provides the Content Engine to keep people engaged.
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