In the Press: PC Gamer unboxes Second Life

Strawberry Singh, 2014, on FlickrSecond Life is a virtual world with an infamous reputation. If you’ve never played, you may only be familiar with the tales of kinky sex rooms and the YouTubers who troll the locals for a cheap laugh. But Second Life is so much more than that—a point driven home after I spent a whole evening reading a Second Life beauty blog.

So opens Second Life’s makeup unboxing videos are surreal and wonderful, by Steven Messner, writing for PC Gamer. It’s a refreshing look at the platform through the eyes of someone who may well have been aware of the SL’s reputation, but may not have spent much (if any) time in-world himself – and it makes for a pleasing read.

The focus – as can be gleaned from the title of the piece – is Berry’s popular unboxing videos. These are actually a clever way of offering non-SL users an alternative point-of-view on the platform simply because, as Mr. Messner points out, unboxing events do permeate modern consumer culture. Hence, it’s a neat hook on which to hang a look at Second Life as seen through the eyes of a knowledgeable, empathic ambassador for the platform, and Mr Messner wisely allows Berry’s own words frame the important aspects of the exchange – the attraction of the platform as a social medium, as a mean for personal growth, and as a powerful means of personal and creative expression.

It is in the latter regard that the article particularly frames things, with Berry correctly pointing out that the pseudonymous nature of Second Life is a powerful enabler. Not only does it provide us with a means of being fully engaged in the platform and with one another whilst keeping whatever comfortable separation we feel we need between our digital and physical lives, it also allows us to enjoy a much wider canvas for creative expression if we so wish – video, photography, etc., utilising platforms such as YouTube and Flickr. It also allows use, if we wish to present our art and creativity to the physical world through our digital personas, as the likes of Toysoldier Thor and Bryn Oh have done.

Steven Messner

As Berry also points out, this freedom can also something of a two-edged sword; frustration can be born out of a desire of wanting to more fully reveal oneself whilst knowing circumstance, the attitude of friends, the potential reaction (which is somewhat born out by some of the comments which follow the article), do much to push one away from doing so as much as any concerns vis career, etc.

The other attractive aspect of the article is Mr. Messner’s own approach. He writes frankly and openly, without any lean towards personal bias of the subject matter or need to add any snide pokes at the platform – a trait not always apparent in pieces about Second Life, even when well-intentioned. It’s also clear he’s come aware from his conversations with Berry with a new awareness and – dare I say – respect for the platform:

My conversation with Berry has given me a rare glimpse into a world that is often negatively branded as bizarre. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find a community of artists and creators who have banded together to share and celebrate each other. It’s not something you see in other massively multi-player games, but it’s something I wish there is more of. It makes me a bit sad, then, that Second Life will always be labelled by its strip joints and sex clubs. As Berry tells me, “That’s just not what Second Life is about, there’s so much more you can do here.”

All told, a nicely written piece which makes a very worthwhile read – so do please follow the link at the top of this article and see for yourself, if you haven’t already. Kudos, Berry and Steven.

5 thoughts on “In the Press: PC Gamer unboxes Second Life

  1. That was a very nice referral to Second Life by Mr. Messner. Of course there are strip joints and sex clubs and all the other “highlight” offerings on the Grid. There are also places of surpassing beauty and wonder to be found on our Grid. People can be who they see themselves as being rather than what life has made them – in Second Life you are who YOU are, minus distracting real-world physical problems or perceived shortcomings. In a way it’s funny: I know of someone who when I first met her was literally an extreme female sex-goddess. That was five years ago. Now she’s like me; a Furr. She’s a werewolf or a feral wolf and claims not to have worn her Sex Goddess avatar in over three years. That’s SL – you find the oddest people on the Grid and you find yourself in the process.

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  2. You are right, Inara, about Mr. Messner’s own approach and it’s a joy to read his unbiased articles like that. It also shows how good videos can help SL, featuring aspects and possibilities that not everyone knows about this virtual reality social and creative platform. It would be great if someone talented and into SL aviation and sailing communities could create catching videos about SL that.

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    1. If ever get my video capture software to play nice with SL again – or find myself software I’m comfortable with using as much, sailing and flying is something I’d certainly cover :).


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