Meh… Its just a video game. amiright? Second Life need to own what it is – a game

Meh… Its just a video game. amiright?
– Or isn’t that what they keep on trying to say with all of this stuff.

Second Life needs to own what it is; a video game.

Denying that puts it in a strange middle ground where it cannot get any traction.

It doesn’t help matters that SL, in trying to be seen as serious; flips the situation and tries to pretend that it is -not- a video game when its really not all that different from any other ‘massive multiplayer online world’.

SL actually hurts its popularity and potential by trying to pretend to not be a video game in world where half the people expect video games to be serious entertainment and social venues – all the things SL can provide, and the other half look at anything with animation or 3D and dismiss it out of hand no matter what it claims to be.

Its like folks in the ghetto who try to bleach their skin to be white or change their dialect to be WASP… you end up failing in both worlds. Own your roots (be they hood or redneck or reservation or whatever).

Some folks will not accept you no matter how much you try to change yourself to be like them. Its wasted energy to appeal to these folks. Focus instead on catching those who are already amenable to you and your ways. Being mixed maybe gives me a benefit here. There was one small set of the white side of my family that refused to accept my presence, and still remains cold towards me and mine to this day. Those relatives who would ask my step-father to only visit with his younger whiter-looking children…

Taught me the lesson that you’re better off not wasting time trying to be what some who will never accept you want…

(That is not saying you should be your RL self in SL – that’s a very different thing. Though I do think people should not be ‘fake’ about the ID they choose: don’t pick one to hide yourself. Pick one to be more yourself, even if that makes you a floating blue ball.)

(And mind you, one of the people who most helped me see that you should claim yourself as yourself was another of those white relatives from my step-father who was so into his roots and culture it drove him to be a traveling history buff and civil/class rights activist.)

Back to SL, games, and cross-over media…

– Video games are -THE- future of entertainment. TV, Radio, Movies,and all that other stuff is dated – it is very viable, but its not where the main focus should be anymore.

Now I’m responding a little to a blog of Hamlet’s, which got me thinking on my own, different, topic today.

You shouldn’t use a video game for added value for a TV show or movie. You should use the movie or TV show as an added bonus to the video game. The profit, the money, and the audience; will come to and from the game first and most. Hamlet sees this as a happy marriage either way – just happy to see the kids playing together – and I guess I’m looking at it from the ‘are we getting exploited here’ POV.

Denying that and be-littling things for being ‘games’, is like the decades Jamaica spent refusing to air Ska, Rocksteady, and Reggae on its radio shows because it was ‘black music’ or ‘ghetto music’… its denying the reality around you.

If SL were to own what it is more, it might be able to get better media than a couple of movies and shows about people portrayed as ‘weird sex freaks using it for escape‘…

SL’s deeper nature would make it -perfect- for a cross-media project like Hamlet mentions here. Where you can expand in near real time on both sides and have them influence each other more.

Again; some people will look at SL’s 3D cartoon graphics and online nature and see something they will dismiss out of hand no matter what you do with it. So stop wasting your potential by trying to appease them.

They don’t like you, live with it.

Focus on your own crowd; people for whom such graphics are not a stain. Gamers, and the game potential of what you have and are.

SL needs to stop trying to rub off the black.

Or at least its users need to stop. The company behind SL at least, in the last year, seems to ‘get it’ with who they can appeal to. Linden Lab is trying to move the ball – we need to help them move it, not resist it. Because all the folks who want to play ball are over there in the ‘game’ camp, not in the ‘this is srs bsns’ camp.

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cisop Sixpence (@CisopSixpence)
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 10:51:31

    I don’t see it as a video game. I see it as virtual reality, a place to have meetings, training, hang out with friends with out having to drive or fly, book a hotel and spend excessive amounts of time and money traveling from here to there. It’s where you don’t have to be you, it is where you can let your imagination make your a better you, or get to know your bad self. It’s like the holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s not just a game, it’s a Second Life®

    • Pussycat Catnap
      Apr 11, 2012 @ 10:59:13

      “I see it as virtual reality, a place to have meetings, training, hang out with friends”
      None of which is any different from any other video game.

      Plus it has all the various forms of entertainment of any other form of game, and its animated to boot.

      I see this as very much a generation-gap thing. Like the generation of miniorities that still try to ‘be white’… There’s a stigma among those older folks against a certain label: “game”, and even more “video game” – so they work to deny it.

      The results are similarly tragic: SL gets denied access to those for whom it would appeal most, and to those these old-thinkers are trying to appeal to; they just see the animation and 3D and cartoon and dismiss it out of hand before ever looking further.
      – Much as whites of that ‘white is better’ worldview will dismiss people of color no matter what we do, so there’s no point in trying to appeal to their world.

  2. Shug Maitland
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 11:31:06

    Potato/Potahto No real rules or end-game says it is not a game. The technology says it is.
    Or is it social networking? That too certainly happens in SL, but does not define it any more than game/not game.
    Basicly SL is something *other* with aspects of gaming, aspects of social networking, aspects of 3D modeling software, (and, for that matter, aspects of a Porn site). So far it has defied labeling.

    • Pussycat Catnap
      Apr 11, 2012 @ 11:36:59

      What you call yourself though, how you identify; shapes your identity and where you can go with things. My point is that trying to deny being a game, is cutting SL off from its most viable source of residents, and trying to appeal to a set that will never accept SL no matter what.

      • Shug Maitland
        Apr 11, 2012 @ 11:45:09

        Your point is well taken, but LL need not market SL to any one RL community exclusively. In fact targeting marketing to gamers, social networkers, creative and artistic communities, even commercial ventures is vital to our future. Obviously they should “talk up” SL differently depending on the audience.

  3. Glorf Bulmer
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 13:35:02

    I don’t agree, and it’s not because of any “just a game” stigmatization….

    SL is not a game, because a game has rules; it has progression and victory conditions, and rules that define those. SL doesn’t have these things, unless you set out to make them for yourself.

    So, apart from the purely incidental factor of involving images on a video screen, SL does not deliver a game-like experience to the people inside it. Unless they deliberately make it that way, for themselves…. but you can make it other things, too; you can make it a 3D chatroom, you can make it a roleplaying environment, you can make it an artistic medium. SL is a different kind of animal from a video game; it’s got elements in common, yes, but it’s also different enough that it stands on its own.

    So I don’t think we should see it as a game, or talk about it as a game… if for no other reason than that people coming into it will be disappointed when they don’t get the “game” experience to start with. (I’ve seen a lot of “This game sucks!” cries at new-people welcome areas like Caledon Oxbridge… and you can see their point, really; as a game, it DOES suck… until you make it not do.)

    • Shug Maitland
      Apr 11, 2012 @ 15:56:43

      Glorf; I agree with your points, SL is not a game, but —– it is a gaming platform, by which I mean it uses the same technology as any video game. This is a “hook” to attract those gamers who are looking for something more. In SL they can build that castle they envision from their game play, built their way, furnished the way they would like and actually live in it! They can do that with an easy to learn building system and a modest investment in some land. For many gamers SL can be a dream come true if it is presented to them properly.

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  5. Jeremiah Leitner
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 14:30:24

    If SL is a game, what is my score and how do I win?

    No, SL and other grids in the metaverse are a highly customizable, interactive, 3 dimensional platform for communication and creativity.

    In games, especially MMOs, you do quests and gain levels. You kill, kill, kill. You have endgame scenarios. You run dungeons and instances. You PVP. You have a toon, not an avatar. You have virtually no control over the world around you. You are limited by the assets that the devs place within the world.

    In SL and comparable virtual worlds you………do pretty much anything your mind can conceive of. You can create your own world, make and spend real money, and do a nearly infinite list of things. The only real limit is your imagination.

    It’s true, as a game, SL flat out sucks.

    @Shug: SL isn’t a gaming platform nor does it use the same technology as video games. Pretty much any serious video game these days uses tech that leaves SL viewer graphics tech in the dust. But this makes perfect sense since SL is neither a game nor a gaming platform.

    I understand the point that this blog post is attempting to make. I simply disagree with it wholeheartedly. In my personal opinion, marketing SL as a video game would spectacularly hasten it’s demise

    • Pussycat Catnap
      Apr 13, 2012 @ 17:52:32

      I would say your concept of game is so narrow it only fits a small segment of activities that have come out since 1973 – yet nothing in the 6 million years of human evolution before that. You might consider broadening your definition a little.

  6. Jeremiah Leitner
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 18:18:15

    It’s your blog, so you are free to be insulting.

    We are both entitled to our opinions. I’m quite comfortable with my definition, thanks. It is based on extensive personal experience.

    If you want to broadly classify a game as simply something that passes the time, then viewing this blog and posting comments to it is a game.

    Part of me wants to argue this with you. But we won’t change each others minds. So I’ll agree to disagree and disengage. Have an awesome weekend. 🙂

  7. Lindal Kidd
    May 18, 2012 @ 15:54:41

    Pussycat, I have to disagree with you here. As others have said, SL isn’t a “game” because it doesn’t possess some necessary characteristics, such as rules, progression, and a “victory condition”.

    But there are other things that make it “nottagame”. Bring any gamer into SL and they will snort in disgust at the technology. The frame rates are horrible, the lag is everywhere, the graphics (with the exception of some truly spectacular builds) are fifteen years behind the mainstream gaming industry. Gamers dismiss us SL addicts as incurably lame.

    Why is that? It’s because the creators of SL did not set out to make a game. They asked themselves, “if we toss together the bare bones of a shared virtual world, and then invited people to come and do and build whatever they want…what would happen?” It’s a research project, a social experiment. There is a reason for the “Lab” in “Linden Lab”.

    SL cannot hope to compete with video games on their own territory. Unfortunately, SL is so open-ended, capable of being so many things to so many people, that LL has never found the right way to market it. Whatever that way may be, it’s not as a “video game”.

    • Pussycat Catnap
      May 18, 2012 @ 21:26:42

      By that analogy, Pac Man is not a game – the graphics are out of date. Chutes and Ladders wouldn’t be a game because the lag is so horrible when you try and tape the board to you computer screen. 😀

      Or put another way; the notion of game might be wider than just high end computer games. After all, it encompasses everything from playing ‘Tea Party’ to Mancala to Hide and Seek to Hopscotch as well as say, the very small set of things in the world of games that comprise the ‘World of Warcraft’ sort of scene. Plenty of computer games also that are of different genres or would have no appeal to the kinds of gamers that think about things like lag and graphics and monsters and such. Games like ‘Cooking Mama’ or ‘YoVille’ or ‘Wii Fit’… Social pastimes for people. Games.

      Its only in the very recent few decades that DUngeons and Dragons has ‘absconded’ away with the word ‘game’ and narrowed its definition to so small a subset among a certain crowd.

      • Jeremiah Leitner
        May 18, 2012 @ 21:33:33

        But Pac man, Chutes and Ladders, World of Warcraft, and D&D all have victory conditions. SL does not.

        SL is not a game.

      • Pussycat Catnap
        May 19, 2012 @ 09:34:22

        EDIT: This blog is quite clearly something myself and many of those reading here will NEVER AGREE ON. So as I really don’t like dwelling on points of contention, I’m closing comments to it. It won’t resolve. I feel the harm to SL is inevitable from what I see in this – others seem to disagree with me. And that’s just going to have to be where things stay.

        *********

        Teahouse, and many other forms of social gaming do not have winners and losers. There is a dogged determination to narrow the definition of a game, so as to exclude the things that are “really important” – such as seen by comments from the ‘this is not some lame game’ crowd here, is what hurts SL so much.

        My blog’s point, that all of you have missed – showing the very need of the point itself – is that by this determined denial, you hurt SL. It will never be accepted by the outside world as something other than a game because it has too many trappings of such. Its a 3D cartoon for social entertainment – or visibly so from a casual observation by those not already indoctrinated into its ‘make me some moneyz’ memes. People will never accept it as a ‘platform’ beyond these things.

        Some of you would do well to ACTUALLY READ my blog, rather than ZOMGing onto one little tiny part of it because it so seriously offends you.

        Because SL has this, it should own up to that which it is closer to, and claim that space. Claim the space among the crowd more able to accept it – where it actually has potential to grow into something.

        Or we can sit here denying we’re a game, slamming those who try to move that way, and begging for acceptance from the ‘life is more serious than cartoons’ crowd that will never accept this platform – until the day SL dies from becoming irrelevant. All because I’ve offended us by daring to classify this as a game…

        It doesn’t even matter if I”m right or wrong about it being a game. That’s a minor part of the argument. The real argument is perception from the outside world.

        What matters is where it can be accepted, where it can find like minded crowds that will push it forward. And the anti-game crowd is not that space; they will never work with, in a serious manner, something that is about cartoons.

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