Second Life & the FPS

written by: Pooky Amsterdam

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The $10 million Qualcomm XPrize is for a“Star Trek like” medical tricorder. Would this have occurred without Star Trek?  Though I am not sure to the answer, I do know that science fiction is where new invention inspires reality.  Science fiction has storytelling at its core, we have utilized these stories and the gadgets within for templates of the future.

Writers of Science Fiction have been able to tap some stream of consciousness to come, in the incredibly rich veins of creation they mine and bring forth. Amongst those in the public are the scientists, who have an interest in these inventions, and I am sure young Star Trek fans were greatly influenced by what they saw each week. Clearly there is a crossover effect for science, fiction and fact. “Snow Crash” has been cited as an inspiration for Second Life itself.

Pointedly story telling is more than entertainment, it is the free imagining which leads to actualization which will carry an audience along with you. We are still Human version 1.0 and a story that has resonance is not just one with a lot of flashy effects. 

Traditional media tells us the story in movie or TV format where we watch passively, video games today allow us to play within the games' story. (Star Wars The Old Republic game released on Dec 22nd last year, had over 60 million in-game hours  played within its first week— roughly equivalent to watching all six Star Wars movies over 4 million times. ) The narrative structure is however tightly drawn, and players are forced to work within the game designers story, which granted, works for many.

Surely these players utilize the available assets and create their own interpretations of the future they are playing a part in.  The Imperial Agent in SWTOR will have to acquire new skills and equipment to help them combat the ever-growing threat to the Empire, and they have to think fast and employ weapons as fast as they can.  This is no leisurely adventure: action and reflexes are the demands of this kind of game. The player is involved with the technology in new and yes highly immersive ways, but there is no originality here and no “what if.  There are no shoulders of giants upon which to stand within a game like this.  Your success depends on how fast and accurately you can work those buttons.

The question becomes: Do you play someone else's story? Or do you originate your own?

When the story teller becomes the story participant, the narrative is taken to another level through that immersion. The authenticity of the story is irrefutable when you are living it, not waiting for the next game prompt.

In World of Warcraft though you pick your lineage, you are somewhat freer within it.  And another MMO of note HabboHotel with over 225 million registered users, allows neither scripting nor asset creation, but you are welcome to freely form your activities with what is available. What you don't have is the greater collective of millions of people who can build what they want.

For this you really do have to go to Second Life.  This is where new fiction will meet the virtual road and the first person story becomes the multi person story and eventually, the event. Science fiction  role play is significant in Second Life, with spaceships,  starbases, and a plethora of accessories available. As you can customize your look, author your role play and your storyline, the eventual enterprise which grows out of this stands an excellent chance of becoming where new invention takes place. Within virtual worlds, new ideas also infuse our minds with imaginary and fantastic invention.  And these ideas are taken further, and form the seeds of reality not only as it will come to be but as it is now!

While I am one person and can think of a lot, I am only one person, with you there is twice as much, and with a legion of people enterprising and playing,we can think of that much more. Our intelligence has demands placed upon it by others who expect a retort or answer as we play in real time with them.   This is beyond suspending our belief – we are willingly immersing ourselves in a new story which we grow and evolve daily.  This is is so different from traditional sit back and relax media.  This is tips of your fingers, edge of your seat engagement.  For those of us involved, other kinds of games pale. And here is why Second Life isn't really a game. Its a life-story told against the backdrop of a million different user creations. Just like when you walk down the street- it is the creation of many different hands, not just one Lead Art Director. 

This living story we are telling one another is vital to the  history of ourselves.  Being active participants in something we can experience beyond the “mere mortalness' of our daily and present lives. Powerful stuff, and I do look to this plane to create the new invention and discovery, because it is what we are doing with a marketplace of amazing inventions and items that I would bet will be seen in the physical world over the next 20 years or sooner.

And I also imagine a kind of  Gedankenkuche (thought kitchen) of the future as well. Not only is this a place for people to create their stories, but also where actual scientists are talking. This is the platform for development of the future, while we can now utilize full media within this environment – where we can invite scientists to sit across from a virtual table, actual location unimportant and even use Wolframs Alpha on a prim to cross fertilize ideas. That is really the science fiction of the future, where scientists can discuss ideas in real time with no limits and then, even see their visions actualized in 3D.

What kind of stories will these be? Ones I suspect which lead one day to documentaries.

Where this is the home of the future for thought leaders who can utilize not only real time interaction, video, film and more for problem solving, but the great resource which is one another.  .

Next up – Virtual Game Shows – or how I learned to stop worrying and love the buzzer.



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