I decided to go back and explore “Social Island” because it felt safe for someone like me who was still learning how to play (use the controls and understand the interface well). While I continued exploring the space ‘Social island,’ I ran into a museum of tutorials. I found this space similar to what is traditionally considered a museum because information was presented in a passive manner, showing what players can do in other worlds in Second Life. Tomas Brown wrote an article about the four main roles that museums can fall into within videogames: the story-driver, the social space, the political/historical device, and the identity exploration. Second Life’s museum tutorials would mostly likely fall into identity exploration. While they ensure that the player is educated about in-game mechanics, the embedded videos constantly focused on the liberty that Second Life grants its players to be and do whatever they pleased. These museum-like spaces share many characteristics of the identity role of museums in videogames, because in these spaces, the player is better informed about how the virtual world enables total control and exploration of one’s identity.
Once I felt more comfortable with the controls, I I decided to do some intentional exploration in other game maps for my last session of gameplay in Second Life. The game world is huge, and requires portals to move from map to map. When I was exploring, I discovered an activist organization that created their own world to support their cause. The world had embedded images with hyperlinks to their Facebook page and Flickr accounts. Second Life is a 3D space that allows you to do almost every ‘thing’ that Ian Bogost defines in his book, How to do Things in Videogames. In Second Life, you can take snapshots (chap 10) and people have created portfolios of their avatars in Flickr. The game is art within art (chapter 1). Players are encouraged to create and sell their own creations. There’s even worlds completely built on the idea of titillation (chapter 15) because their are objects, apparel, and worlds that fall under “adult.”
While many other videogames focus on one or two of Bogost’s “things,” Second Life intends to be a self-contained, expansive virtual environment. I did not have the time or knowledge to explore all of the world map, The infinity of freedom in this game has allowed for players to find their various niches and expand on each of Bogost’s “things.” It does a great job at replicating (and sometimes enhancing) real-life events, actions, and activities. Almost anything that can be done in real life can be done in Second Life.
Tomas Brown, “The Role of the museum in Video Games,” Play the Past, (2014). See http://www.playthepast.org/?p=4717
Ian Bogost, How to Do Things with Videogames, University of Minnesota Press (2011).