Monday, August 23, 2010

10 Little Known Facts About Second Life

Ten Lesser Known Facts About Second Life

The obsession to escape one's own life via addicting technologic-alternate realities is growing at a staggering rate. Back in the day, myself and my middle school posse would plop down in front of the computer for hours, completely engrossed in a game called TheSIMS. We built our dream homes, added completely unnecessary accessories, and made our SIMS character everything we were not or might never be. We tried to figure out--unsuccessfully, I might add--how to make our SIMS have sex with one another, but we could only get them to first base each time. I hear that one of the newer versions requires its buyers to be of legal age, which shows me the creators finally went to the next level.

Take TheSIMS and give it some really intense steroids--the kind baseball players get in trouble for--and you get Second Life. TheSIMS made adult life seem like a picnic; everything was free, no one had to work, and there was no limit to how big your house could be or how many toys with which you could fill your garage. And when your garage got full, you could just build a bigger one. Second Life adds the ability to turn a profit for its users, taking the pretend-to-be-whoever-you-want idea and allowing users to follow their dreams and make money (for some) doing what they always wanted; perhaps not what they're doing in non-virtual life. Some Second Life "Residents" have been reported to make over $1 million in US currency.

It's shiny, it's somewhat new, and the idea intrigues many. The perks of possible economic success on the site, however, are also accompanied by some annoying disadvantages. A list of little-known (maybe, maybe not) facts about Second Life follows:

Second Life FunFacts

1. Users' online self-representations are called Avatars. I was under the impression that was a movie that was only worth seeing at an IMAX or at the regular it's my cartoon self.

2. In the Second Life economy, there exists no taxes, low "government" regulations, and low production costs. It's as if they're paying you to invent something that could turn a profit in US dollars.

3. Real money: the Linden dollar (L$) is convertible to the US dollar. Exchange rate: L$309:US$1.

4. Real money, take two: users cannot use L$ in the US market. For example, you cannot go to a Linden Lab ATM (because they don't exist) withdraw from your L$ balance. How convenient for LL, eh?

5. Real money, take three: L$1.93 billion in monthly transactions. The virtual economy is booming while the real one continues to flounder. Awesome.

6. Despite its heavy volume of users (518,524, growing by 36 percent a month), only a small fraction of them upgrade past the basic account. Accounts past the basic level have more financial freedom and thus, can make more money at a more efficient rate. Second Life is about buying and selling, marketing and advertising. If users don't want to get bored, they should be sure they're interested in logging some non-billable business hours, contrasting the paid hours one records during...say..."Real, Original Life?"

7. Second Life "Residents" can market anything from a character's walk to facial expressions, outfits and accessories, and all kinds of services or merchandise --including a vivid sex simulator, complete with free updates for life, at a steal of a deal: L$219. That's less than a US$1. I am now starting to understand why people immerse themselves in a virtual reality; it's cheaper, you can be anyone you want to be, and you can get a sex simulation machine for less than a buck that will last you a lifetime!

8. On the same subject line as sex, a favorite of most people in the world, the social scene in Second Life mimics "Real, Original Life," with the most popular hang outs being places with names like Club Arsheba: Hot Sexy Girls, and ELEMENTS at Goddess of Love 2.

9. The Second Life network is apparently a little slow. I'm an avid Guitar Hero player, and I can't imagine the frustration I would feel if the screen or response to the guitar were delayed. Second Life's creators actually issued a warning/apology statement for the influx of signups that resulted from a Yahoo! advertisement. So, the network is slow, the creators know about it, and...

10. Linden Labs is for sale! Any takers?

Virtual reality is taking a turn towards an all-inclusive alternate lifestyle that could only lead to an increase in the obsession with escape. Escape your shitty job. Escape your socially unacceptable physique and create a new one, without even moving from your couch! Linden Lab's idea of a virtual world that can resemble almost completely the world we already live in is an intriguing one at the very least, but why not change your original life first? Build your own escape and live in it instead of logging in to it?

Anna Forge is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools for Guide to Online Schools.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Funding a Gaming Career

Funding a Gaming Career

There are dozens of careers in the gaming industry that can lead to big money. Did you know that a game artist earns an average of $61,000 per year? And a game designer with one year of experience makes an average of $52,000 per year with the highest salary documented at $300,000! Game development, design, testing, audio, production, support and programming are just a few of the types of jobs in the game world that are available. Depending on what field of study interests you the most, degrees in areas like computer programming and advertising are great degrees to have when trying to get your foot in the video game world.

Diverse Degrees

Just because you receive a degree in gaming development doesn't always mean that you will be working with video games. Graduating with degrees in majors such as art, multimedia or program development can take you in all sorts of directions and although it can be used in gaming, these degrees are versatile enough to be used in many other fields.


There are multiple scholarships for serious gamers. A few examples are:

1. Emagination Game Design which is a program designed for high school students who show interest in gaming and are given the opportunity to attend camp for gamers, the chance to show off their creations to game developers and the ability to apply for scholarships to cover tuition.

2. Rochester Institute of Technology created a Masters of Science in Game Design and Development that offers several scholarships.

3. The International Game Developers Association offers annual scholarships for those that attend the Game Developers Conference.

The list of available scholarships for serious gamers goes on and on. So the days of mom yelling at kids to stop playing games are over, it's those same games that just might get their kids into college one day!

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at College In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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