Vig’s Unified Theory of Second Life

OK, try this one on.

The technical quality of the user experience in Second Life ™ is inversely proportional to the social quality of the user experience.

Why do I say that?  Simple.  The best (and most hyped) social events in Second Life are those that attract masses of avatars to a single place.  Problem is, when the social events fill up, lag takes over and makes the avatar owners miserable.  Of course, lag can come from multiple textures, scripts and a few other sources, but I have yet to see a jam-packed sim where there isn’t lag.

Carrying my theory through to its logical conclusion, I’ll suggest that Second Life will not meaningfully grow until they reverse the technology-based fundatmentals that underlie my theory.

Discuss in the comments.

13 Responses

  1. I’ve been in SL so long… that… in essense, there is no SL for me in the visual sense. I rarely look at “the world” … instead, I find myself IM box open, prefs box open, land info box open, profiles open, groups open, not to mention a constant 50 blue group boxes flying in…. basically, I don’t see SL anymore… I dont move anywhere.
    I usually go to a location, sit down, and listen to the music and talk in chat. That’s my SL experience… it’s been that way for months.

    So in essence I experience no lag, and I also do NOT experience most of what SL is famous for.

    I’m not saying my experience in SL has lessened…. I just know for certain that people’s ideals of SL aren’t quite reached…. It’s more that people’s imagination fill in the blanks for everyone… That’s why everyone LOVES everyone else’s build, project, art, whatever… Because whatever is lacking, people’s imagination about what SL is supposed to be fills in the gaps…

    Everything in SL is a perpetuated fantasy, where the individual’s reality of SL is becoming further from the truth.

    So, I didn’t quite comment exactly on point, however, I’m just pointing out my current SL experience. It’s filled with music, chat conversation, sitting, and camerazooming to look at art and take photography. It is really that basic now-a-days. I don’t look at what other avatars are wearing, in fact I dont even look at avatars and have no idea what most of my good friends even look like unless I’ve seen pictures of them.

    Yes, in SL, the possibilities are unlimited…. and I’ve done most of em…. now I just like SL as a glorified chatroom with art and music… and I’m cool with that. If it means more to other people, I’m totally cool with keeping the perpetuation going for em.

    Bottomline: anything awesome in SL is most awesome by the creator… everyone else never gets the experience intended by the creator… and SL is the reason for that.

  2. Well then, we will just have to seek out the unpopular locations. We can run around to our heart’s content without the slightest bit of lag. Pull up the map, look for a sim with no green dots, and off we go! Even better is to find some private estate sims – they are more attractive, and not as carved up into little 512s full of ban lines. /me starts looking through her inventory for high prim accessories to wear.

    Princess Ivory

  3. Further anecdotal support for Vig’s Unified Theory of Second Life, from Ambling in Second Life:

    “As a semi-professional misanthrope, I tend to avoid large crowds in Second Life – they are laggy, confusing and more disorienting than I prefer – and on this occasion, it seems the sim was already heading towards full a good hour before the kick-off.”

  4. @ Doubledown – Can’t blame you for taking that approach. I do a lot of the same. At the same time, I have a hard time seeing Second Life growing when noobs log in expecting a robust virtual world experience…and that doesn’t include lag.

    @ Princess – You are correct in a way…SL sim sprawl is so vast, making population densities are so low, that the laggy experience isn’t as broad as one may infer. However, what you suggest isn’t really a social experience…and SL is sold at least in part as a social experience. When you have big social events, you have lag…and frustration.

    I do like the implied, “Vig, you’re a grumpy old avatar” feeling in your comment. Got a chuckle out of it!

  5. Morris, you hit it right on the head. I haven’t been on SL in months, and it’s primarily due to lag. Whenever I find something that I think is going to be neat, I find that the lag is almost crippling and it deters me from going to those places, or if I do go, from staying long once I’m there.

    It’s just not worth the frustration.

  6. What do you mean, “what you suggest isn’t really a social experience?” Of course it is. You, me, running around empty sims together. As long as we exchange a few words now and then, and trip each other on the beach, it counts as social in my book! But then, I do have an odd idea of a social life. 🙂

    Princess Ivory

  7. The ability to have a massive crowd is really a nice to have. If we are able to deal with millions in one place that may well just manifest itself as claustrophobia.
    Roo found a great advert from 2002 and put it on eigthbar as it illustrates the point a little.
    I still want more people in one place though as sometimes you need a really big crowd.
    http://eightbar.co.uk/2008/01/17/more-connections-more-possibilities/

  8. Yep..u can turn off everything (shift ctrl alt 1 etc etc) and just chat and have no lag and listen to the music..or whatever. No lag..yadda yadda. But is it SL?..is that a “virtual World”?. I argue not. All well and good to not look at anyone..but then..these social occasions are where people want to be seen by others..or..why bother spending all those L’s on clothes..etc etc
    So..u get in a group ..a large social occasion..and everyone’s gas to everyone else..and the lag is horrid..and it spoils the feeling of sharing an experience. Of course..if u are halfway smart there are limited ways around this…eg..have the event at the conjunction of 4 sims..which is a bit of a kludge.
    That is why i agree with the hypothesis.
    As for everyone loving everyone’s art..or whatever..i think there is a basic reason for that..noone has the guts to venture an honest opinion. It is a small small world and many can’t seem to get to the adult view that its ok to agree to disagree. And so you get to the absurd point of adults either acting like cheerleaders or spoiled brats that want to take the ball and go home. Either that, or we are living in some sort of renaissance in SL.

  9. […] been pleasantly surprised at the interest in Vig’s Unified Theory of Second Life ™.  (Hat tip to Hamlet Au, who I’ve never met but appears to be a reader of this humble blog […]

  10. […] like XBox and PlayStation, but life isn’t fair.  SL suffers by comparison, which is why Vig’s Unified Theory of Second Life is so relevant.  Let’s hope that Linden Lab solves these fundamental issues before the […]

  11. looking at the Habbo screenshot and column advert on the right of NWN blog it seems visually no better than some games I playes on a Sinclair 25 or so years ago. Give me SL any day.

  12. I’ve never made any comparisons to Habbo Hotel. I’d suggest comparing against something along the lines of Grand Theft Auto IV.

  13. There will be nothing to compare to GTA IV …
    It’ll be the best game EVAR!

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