As the online gaming boom kicked off in the late-90s and early-2000s, one game offered an experience unlike any other. While MMORPGs like World of Warcraft offered deep fantasy lore with magical combat, Second Life came along to offer limitless self expression.
In the years since, Second Life has retained a strong community of virtual roleplayers. Some go clubbing, some play games, some own businesses, and some even engage in more explicit forms of roleplay.
Second Life vs The Metaverse
As virtual reality technology becomes more affordable and accessible, companies like Meta — formerly Facebook — are attempting to create The Metaverse. Based on a dystopian sci-fi concept, these companies wish to create a second Internet to plunder.
However, the virtual worlds that Meta wants to create already exist. Even VR virtual worlds exist with the likes of VRChat and Rec Room, popular user-driven experiences driven by players a team of passionate devs.
In a recent press release, Second Life creator Philip Rosedale slammed Big Tech's Metaverse money grab. The game developer explained that the metaverse bubble is only trying to find new ways to push ads and track user behaviour.
“No one has come close to building a virtual world like Second Life," Rosedale said. “Big Tech giving away VR headsets and building a Metaverse on their ad-driven, behavior-modification platforms isn’t going to create a magical, single digital utopia for everyone. Second Life has managed to create both a positive, enriching experience for its residents — with room for millions more to join — and built a thriving subscription-based business at the same time. Virtual worlds don’t need to be dystopias.”
Will The Metaverse replace video games?
Investors are currently funnelling a lot of money into Metaverses like Horizon Worlds, Sandbox and Decentraland. While attracting the likes of Snoop Dogg, Adidas and more make the technology appear popular, it’s actually far from it.
Meta recently pulled off three high-end concerts in the Metaverse; barely anyone attended. Additionally, the crypto bubble that fuels most Metaverses has been revealed as a hilariously miniscule industry.
Right now, it seems that most people don't want to spend all of their time in a VR headset. As a species that has developed the convenience of smartphone communication, why would we want to strap a screen to our face to stand in a fake home?