I’ve been a player on Second Life, on and off, for a year or more now. Most of the time more off than on. Aside from my few friends who play Second Life and invite me to their digital strip clubs and give me cyber lap dances, I find the virtual world supremely disappointing. It’s not that I’m not fascinated by the idea of an anything-goes world as large and complex as our own, because I like the idea.
The practical application, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
I find Second Life to be a hell of a lot more trouble than its worth, as the program runs very slowly on my desktop, and will not run at all on my laptop, despite the fact I own a gaming laptop from the stud stable Alienware lineup. So in order to fire up SL, there has to be something really interesting on the other end, and thanks to the marketing tie-in for the Will Smith remake of I Am Legend, cleverly called I Am Legend: Survivor, I finally had a reason to give SL a whirl.
You take your preexisting Linden avatar, and use the I Am Legend web portal to teleport him/her/it to orientation. When you land there, you’ve got a choice to make. Do you want to play a survivor on the run from flesh-hungry Darkseeker, whatever that might be, or do you want to be an infected monster seeking to destroy the last remnants of humanity? Because I’ve always wanted a zombie MMO, I chose to be a Survivor.
The orientation process takes a while, but is a necessary and relatively painless process that is required to learn how to do the various tasks in the game. You learn how to attach your HUD to your screen, how to target and equip your weapon, how to toggle yourself on as an active combatant, and the ins and outs of turning on generators to keep the Darkseekers away, resurrection points, and looting body bags for supplies and upgrades. I didn’t do much of the searching, looting, or researching part, because the only reason I was there was to blow away some monsters.
If you’ve played any first-person shooter on your computer, you’ll get used to the keyboard and mouse method used to control the action in I Am Legend: Survivor. Those on better rigs than I, with more experience than I, were doing really well. As for me, I got my face eaten three times, then my computer crashed. Feel free to laugh.
Despite the usual difficulties associated with the Linden grid, I did something while playing I Am Legend: Survivor that I haven’t done on Second Life in a long time: I had a lot of fun. The virtual reconstruction of New York covers 60 acres of the city, and a new zone, Columbus Circle, is scheduled to open at the end of November just in case Central Park, Coney Island, and Chinatown weren’t enough. If you get bored with the chase and the kill, you can also explore the rest of Second Life and spend your Linden dollars at one of the many strip clubs, dance clubs with strippers, and sex clubs with drinking and music.
If you’ve never given Second Life a try, and you have a computer capable of running the program and a tolerance for frustration, now’s the perfect time to give it a run (it’s all free). After all, if this sim is successful, then maybe other movies will market this way, and we’ll get other things to do while in the big digital sandbox. I, for one, hope to see a Diary of the Dead promotional land for the upcoming George A. Romero film of the same name one of these days. I doubt it will happen, but I can hope.