If the most important part of the secret sauce begins with individual identity, then it follows that the next ingredient has to be other people and communities.
I’ve met people in Second Life who consider it to be “nothing more than a glorified chatroom with pictures.” I’ve met people who need to see your real life photo and know where you live, what’s your age is and so on. I think you have to say this is a whole class of SL people, and I’ll write more about this in the future. Nonetheless, these people apparently enjoy Second Life enough to return again and again. However, I’m pretty sure they’d be fine in any well equipped chatroom with video cams, photo libraries and so forth, if there was no SL.
Then there’s the people I talked about in my Part 2 post, people who identify with their avatars. I believe this is a vast and diverse group, and I believe these people are “social” people (even if they are shy). These people, we, need other people, enjoy other people and when people like us find people with similar interests, we create friendships and communities.
I didn’t come to SL until 2007, but I’ve seen vids and read about the old days. I’ve seen the remnants of communities as I explored the mainlands. Some communities are stuck in time; others have evolved. But this post isn’t about places and things, it’s about the people who came together to create communities. Everywhere I’ve travelled I’ve come across sims where communities came together and formed places to live and play. In many cases, communities have fled the relative chaos of the mainlands, others have dug in and made a stand. Virtually all the communities are based on some theme. I’m a member of several different communities, but let me use the Junkyard Blues community as an example, it has a well documented history.
Junkyard Blues began when a few friends started inviting a few more friends over to listen to blues music. They chatted, danced, romanced and did silly things, but the seeds of a community began to grow. And it grew from a plot of mainland to today’s 12 sim complex. Again, this isn’t about the sims or builds or stores or residences, it’s about a community.
Junkyard blues is a community of people who love the blues. And while friends have come and gone over the years, Junkyard Blues is about ready to celebrate its 6th anniversary. People come to the Junkyard to enjoy the music, but they also express their identities and their connection with the bluesy community. Junkyare Dawgs come to the JY almost 24-7, month after month, year after year. Dawgs donates Linden$ to bluesy DJs and performers. They spend Linden$ on clothes and products and rentals. They even donate Linden$ to charitable fundraisers. There is life at the Junkyard.
Ingredient #3: Thousands of thriving communities blend in their unique spices to the giant SL “secret sauce” pot.
Regardless of the community’s theme, regardless of whether they have great sim complexes or don’t even a plot of land, communities are where the life is created in Second Life. And Second Life is very different than any other “game” because of that vast diversity of life.
There is much more to say about Second Life’s secret sauce and I’ll get to the sims and builds and clothes and planes, trains and automobiles. More on this soon.