Where do we go next?

Want to know how the wider virtual worlds landscape is developing? I urge you to read this article published yesterday in Re/Code, to get an overview of the key players shaping the metaverse today: Linden Lab, High Fidelity, and AltspaceVR. The article also addresses Facebook, and of course Oculus VR, and includes excerpts from interviews with Palmer Luckey, Ebbe […]

10 Reasons why Sansar would be a good name for the successor to Second Life

Most of us have heard of Linden Lab’s Project Sansar, the confirmed codename for the next generation virtual world they will begin alpha testing later this year. Some have shown their disapproval for the name, even as a temporary working title. I see it differently. A code name for a project is temporary by nature – so it […]

Milestones in Second Life

Most people come into Second Life in one of two ways. One way that’s familiar to most of us might be termed dissociative. We might first consider Second Life as something to try as a diversion. When we enter, we look for what immediate needs it can fulfil. We tend not to see our avatar as ourselves – but as nothing more than a […]

What if our avatars aged (and died!) in Second Life?

How morbid… we don’t like to talk about it, but (spoiler alert) we’re all gonna die, and on the journey, we’re going to look older than today, with every step we take towards our inevitable end. The fact that ageing and death isn’t optional, doesn’t make many of us fear it any less. Hands down, ageing […]

What if… in Second Life

When we both lived at home, I’d sometimes sneak into my brother’s room, and specifically his comic book collection, to sample the treasures he hoarded there. He was a fastidious collector, keeping every precious comic book in a mylar bag with alkali-buffered backing boards, placed in vertically stacked, acid-free boxes, archived by title and date. One of my favourite titles […]

Where I met my friends in Second Life

The other night a friend asked me “What are the best places in Second Life to meet new people?” After tossing some ideas back and forth, I realised that I didn’t really know the answer. Puzzled as to why, I decided to do a little research. My hypothesis My gut response was, come and sit with me and meet […]

The importance of virtual worlds in an uncertain future

Red Pill v Blue PillThe most credible scenario for humankind might be one of the most important reasons we need swallow the red pill and get serious about virtual worlds now.

This is an essay about how virtual worlds like Second Life and High Fidelity might be a place of refuge if human civilisation ceases to progress along the expectations of the standard narrative: a world where things ‘just keep getting better and better’. In it, I discuss

  • why the future will probably not look like what we know from science fiction,
  • several examples of where human progress has led us backwards instead of forwards,
  • a brief summary of the global problems we face and how our future might play out,
  • the positive outcomes of such a future, and the things we can choose to protect what we have
  • how virtual worlds might act as an insurance policy for our greater social lives in a future of relative scarcity

I hope that reading this post gives you cause to reconsider your relationship with not only virtual worlds, but also the physical world in which we live today. Whilst it makes for depressing reading at times, I urge you to remain cautiously optimistic. Whilst the science fiction future is very likely not in the cards, we still have a choice between (a) a managed transition to a lower standard of living or (b) a global collapse the brings out catastrophic consequences to human society.

Based on a few negative reactions inworld to the views and assertions I am sharing in this post, I’ve held back on publishing it. Upon reflection, I’ve decided that not writing about this topic (whist thinking about it almost every day) is tantamount to saying “You can’t handle the truth!”

Still, I know that whilst much of what I’ll get into is well-known in educated circles and may come as no great surprise to many, I can also appreciate that many people escape to virtual worlds in part to temporarily abandon the sometimes grim realities of our physical world.

So, as a final warning before I open up my can of existential whoopass on your otherwise peaceful repose, I shall quote the famous choice given by Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix:

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.

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