Second Learning Environments: An Educator's Primer to Virtual Worlds
Second Life (abbreviated as SL) is an Internet-based virtual world launched in 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 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, create and trade items (virtual property) and services from 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 marketplace consisting of residents, Linden Lab and real life companies.
While Second Life is sometimes referred to as a game, this description does not fit the standard definition. It does not have points, scores, winners or losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games, though it can be thought of as a game on a more basic level because it is "played for fun".
In all, more than 11.5 million accounts have been registered, although many are inactive, some Residents have multiple accounts, and there are no reliable figures for actual long term consistent usage. Despite its prominence, Second Life has notable competitors, including There, Active Worlds, and the more "mature" themed Red Light Center. 1
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