Second Life (abbreviated as SL) is an Internet-based virtual world video game launched on June 23, 2003, developed by Linden Research, Inc (commonly referred to as Linden Lab), which came to international attention via mainstream news media in late 2006 and early 2007. A free downloadable client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called "Residents", to interact with each other through motional avatars, providing an advanced level of a social network service combined with general aspects of a metaverse. Residents can explore, meet other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade items (virtual property) and services with one another.
Second Life is one of several virtual worlds that have been inspired by the cyberpunk literary movement, and particularly by Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash. The stated goal of Linden Lab is to create a world like the Metaverse described by Stephenson, a user-defined world in which people can interact, play, do business, and otherwise communicate. Second Life's virtual currency is the Linden Dollar (Linden, or L$) and is exchangeable for real world currencies in a resident to resident marketplace facilitated by Linden Lab. There is no fee for registering an account or participating in Second Life, however registration of "payment information" (i.e. a credit card) is mandatory in order to participate in some functions, such as owning land or islands, as well as to access certain support features such as Second Life's support portal and online forums.
At the end of March 2008, approximately 13 million accounts were registered, although there are no reliable figures for actual long term consistent usage. In January 2008, residents spent 28,274,505 hours there, so on average about 38,000 residents were logged on at any particular moment. Despite its prominence, Second Life has notable competitors, including IMVU, There, Active Worlds, Kaneva, and the erotic-oriented Red Light Center.
In 2008 Second Life was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for advancing the development of online sites with user generated content. Philip Rosedale, President of Linden Lab, accepted the award.
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