workzine

Second Life

In Second Life, players relax in surreal surroundings.

In Second Life, players relax in surreal surroundings.

Linden Labs seeks Solution Providers. Solution Provider is the curious job of producing nothing out of something. Code becomes script which manipulates a figure rendered in a 3D vitual environment hosted on Linden Labs servers. Solution Providers use code to create clothing, “skins” (a combination of body features one can drag and drop on an avatar to instantly change the body shape & look), develop audio scripts, landscape, terraform, create textures like wood grain for a tree or a living room floor, animate movements, or assist with marketing for businesses.

In 2002, Linden Labs released the first public version of a 3D web-based virtual world called SecondLife (SL). As of a lecture the founder made in 2008, SL has 250,000 people logging in every day and at that time (it has since grown) was considered 25,000 times larger than the game World of Warcraft. Anyone anywhere with a computer and internet access can download a program which logs users into an online fauxland. Each user has an Avatar, a 3D virtual body that moves through the SL world. Users may customize their virtual bodies (Ex: big nose, wide hips, rosy cheeks and long arms, five foot two, or maybe today you want to be six foot two with fuller lips, long legs, flippers for hands and a receding hairline), change gender, change clothes styles, change into a fox or a kitten or a Monty Python character. Whatever you want to be, you can be. The catch is that SL is not real.

The rules of gravity and proportion are flexible in SL.

The rules of gravity and proportion are flexible in SL.

In some regards, SL is like its name: a second life. It is a place to meet new people or old friends, join classes, watch movies, attend lectures and interviews, produce plays and interact much as in real life. At the same time, SL is nothing. It is a game. The things you make out of code have to stay there. Unless you are in possession of a 3D copy machine, you will never be able to transfer things you make or purchase to the real world. While Linden Labs has enabled a talk feature (speak through your computer microphone with others in SL as if making a phone call), most conversations happen in an Instant Messaging format. Even though a virtual room can be full of virtual representations of real people, there often is no dialog as the real people are IMing friend-to-friend.

Many SL members (SLers, for short) are engaged in obtaining Lindens, fake money (that exchanges with real money at about two to three hundred Linden per US dollar), or in manipulating their avatars around stripper poles. Some SLers make their avatars maneuver through various uninspired sexual activities. Members or Solution Providers make code which moves avatars in particular ways: facial expressions, posturing, sex acts, and dancing. Dancing is popular and begs the question: what are the people at home doing?

Virtual property is bought and sold via online auctions. Property can be blank land which you terraform and naturescape as you would in a game like SimCity, or you can purchase property pre-loaded with landscaping and houses. A pre-made castle (a ‘drag and drop’ building) can be bought for about a thousand Lindens and put on your property. Linden Labs provides community spaces called Sandboxes where people can test out designs built with code. Sometimes these designs include codes which control other avatars, other times the code designs make flying machines or simulations of Star Wars scenes; whatever the code designer wants. Anything is possible. Theoretically, space for property is only as limited as the Linden Labs’ servers. And all the code, everything in the faux-universe, needs someone to provide maintenance. The people who do this are called Solution Providers.

The application to become a Solution Provider is not very complicated. As an applicant, you either can do the work, or not. One has to log in with a SL user name and password in order to see the application. Most of what is requested is typical to any application for any job.

    • Description
      Up to 250 words describing your offerings and business; do not include returns in your text
    • Business Focus
      Please select up to 3 that best describe the services you provide

These things are not out of the ordinary. You either have code and design skills, or you don’t. So, to you, brave Solution Provider, we salute your intangible job. JMM

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