Why 'Second Life' is crap

Julian Klewes, digital brand strategist, published this article 7 years ago

Written by Julian Klewes

27 y/o Digital Native with a cum laude degree in International Business, Management, Marketing and Controlling, with hands on experience in both Agency and Corporate worlds.

Interesting, tell me more about JK

no image, sorry

Second Life

Second Life has been around since 2003, but just recently a wave of heavily polished articles written by Public Relations companies working for LindenLab has hit Germany. It seems like their Marketing department is now trying to reach out to new grounds. I find the concept of Second Life highly interesting, but it simply is not ‘ready’ yet. Read why below, checkout the In-Game images and the review. The closing paragraph offers some ideas of what to do instead of playing ‘Second Life’.

‘Second Life’ reviewed

This review is divided into three parts, feel free to ‘fast-forward’:
PC specs and account used for testing
‘Second Life’ In-Game images
Review of ‘Second Life’
Why play ‘Second Life’ when you can <enter action> in reality?!

PC specs and account used for testing

So I signed up at the Second Life website for a FREE account and entered my Paypal-Information to
a) verify I am over 18
b) receive $250 Linden bucks (handy if you want to ‘buy’ something in ‘Second Life’).

Next I had to download the Windows Installer for Second Life, it’s titled Windows 2000/XP: (30MB). There are also version available for Mac OS-X (61MB) and Linux (39MB). I have only tested the Windows / PC version.

After the downloaded finished (quite fast – good servers), I run the Installer on my system:

Windows XP Professional (Service Pack 2)
Intel Core Duo 2.667 GHz
1500 MB G.E.I.L DDR2 Ram
GeForce 6200 256 MB Ram

3456 kBit/s Downstream (1&1 fastpathed)
448 KBit/S Upsteam (1&1 fastpathed)

Notes: Not the best system, but a stable mule that keeps running smoothly and silent (21 db measured), with a stable and speedy 3 Meg-line connection. This should be well above ‘Second Life’s’ min. requirements to run the game!

So after some minutes of installing, the game was launched. I had to re-enter the account information and was then connected to ‘the world of Second Life’.

‘Second Life’ In-Game images

Here are some images, let them do the talking before I begin to with my starfall of criticism. These are just some images I found on google images (I was too lazy to screenshot them myself, because it simply is not worth it..)

miserable quality

a smurf, a freak and a zebra - now this is real..

one of the higher quality public relations pictures

Review of ‘Second Life’

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 2,617,859 people from around the globe. Source: secondlife.com.

PR crafted articles speak highly positive of ‘Second Life’, for the reason of offering ‘a new and unique chance of commencing a new life’. A life in which you can even earn real money. The currency used in Second Life is called Linden Dollar, a self-creation by Linden Labs.

So after some time installing and setting up the game I found ‘myself (my character – 3rd person view)’ on an island, a so called ‘spawning point’ for new players. It seems like I am not alone as there are many characters ‘standing’ around and not having a clue what to do. A father like voice explains the phenomena of lag, followed by a female voice introducing the world and the game.
You can change your character’s outer appearance, the cloths he/she wears, the body attributes such as height, width, size etc, the color of the hair, the eyes, the length of the nose – well nearly everything. As seen on the images above, people highly customize their characters, put custom textures (skins) on them, so that you can even look like papa smurf or a zebra.

The aspect of customization is really interesting, as it allows people to become creative easily.
There is a variety of programming languages that can be applied/used in the Second Life, so for example it is possible to combine 3D designing skills with programming skills to create -let’s say- an arcade/amusement park. I have been to areas where you’d play blackjack: enter the amount of Linden $ you wanted to set, click pay, and voil?: either you win or either you loose.
The possibility of buying your own land and building on there, say a house/villa/pool whatsoever is great, but nearly every place is empty:
how does this match with Linden Labs’ statement that thousands of people around the world play Second Life simultaneously?
What is the high level of customization good for if others can only experience it in a limited way? (e.g. you create yourself nice multi-colored shinny hair, but other players only see a brown blob…)
Second Life offers the option of getting yourself a job within the new world and earn money. This earned money can be exchanged into real US $ using Linden Labs exchange ‘Lindex’. Linden Labs claims that the first Linden dollar millionaire was spotted a week ago. A millionaire, but still playing?

So far so good, but now here is where the criticism comes into play:


Even though my PC suits the minimum system requirements for Second Life, it lags insanely.
Other characters are ‘warping’ bye, the atmosphere (trees, buildings, sea, plants, textures) takes ages to load.
This is clearly a server-side issue as my connection is fine and system does usually not lag at all.
I remember the slow male voice telling about lag and check the ‘upper right boxes’. They are green or even black, which -according to Linden Labs and this speaker- means I am lagfree.

Low world detail

As to be seen on the images above, the world detail is very low. I have checked my settings and it didn’t change at all. I waited several minutes in a people-free spot and let everything load, but yet no increase of quality. So clearly all images shown in magazines, articles and even on the Second Life website are forged or at least some kind of manipulated, because ‘Second Life’ does look like crap in reality.


‘Second Life’ is praised as one of the ‘new chances to life your live’ like you want it to, but this seems unreal for the following reasons:
1. I don’t like a world with Smurfs
2. I don’t want to live in a world with goddamn zebras talking to me
3. Second Life is already commercialized, at two different spots a person was offering ‘free ipods’ if you’d click on his shinny backpack.
4. Second Life features a world which is empty, or at least not really populated.
5. Second Life features cheap adult material, sleazy hookers and strippers. If one wants porn, simply fire up google and look for it.
6. Second Life makes it rather impossible to earn money big style, exceptions are rare. Why would you earn more in an E-True cybergame then at McDonalds around the corner?
7. Why can these people fly?
8. Weapons welcome in Second Life, so at least, was my impression. They can either be bought in arms shops or created using the ‘no limitations create it yourself kit’.
9. What about dying? You can’t really die in Second Life.
10. Membership fees. 10 bucks a month just for a graphically shitty game which is crowded by nerds that need to escape their miserable or uncool life and boast with their e-cool character in Second Life?

Read more about ‘Second Life’ at wikipedia (unbiased reporting)

Why play ‘Second Life’ when you can <enter action> in reality?!

With 10 bucks a month that you are ought to pay for Second Life a month (premium account that is needed for buying land etc) you can:
- rent 10 porn DVDs a month
- subscribe to WWF and save some cute little Pandas
- get a hustler membership account
- buy at least 10 cheeseburgers
- get a rapidshare account for downloading
- subscribe to di.fm and enjoy loads of music!
- invest your money into decent stock and get rich
- run a website like this and entertain other people

but for christsake DON’T waste it on Second Life, because this reality is fancy enough. If you need to escape your reality, buy some weed, some liquor or some smokes. It’s better then watching your e-cool character dance in a virtual club whilst you could be out there wasting your money on something cool…

If you somehow can’t get enough of Second Life, you can get even more pictures at flickr

I have no idea why, but according to this article at the businessweek, Second Life is marching on strong. Is our western society so whacky? I mean this is totally f%�$cked up. Get a job, get a life, get some porn, but don’t waste your time online on Second Life

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  • Nessa

    I do not agree with what you have said about second life. Yes it does lag a little bit but if you let it load a min or two you will see that the world detail is actually pretty good. If you create your self cool hair (mine is black with hot pink high-lights) every one can see it. If there are millionaires on second life I don?t doubted it because the more time they spend on there the more money they can make. I don?t know about all millionaires but I would have to guess that they still want to make more money and that?s why they are still playing on second life. About your ?logic? if you don?t like smurfs or zebras don?t pay attention to them or leave the place that they are that is what that person wanted to be and that?s there choice not yours. Second life is actually really populated you just have to go places were the people are, I have tried to go to many different places and I couldn?t get in because there were too many people in the area. If you want to find people to talk to go to search and type in the type of place you want to go to and pick the one that has the highest population not the lowest. About earning money you get what you put into it if you want to spend a little and build a club or store and put stuff in it then you make more money back or just go get a job through second life you can do many of things I actually know of a few people who are teachers and club owners and dancers, all of witch make great money. Have you ever had the dream were your flying, haven?t you ever thought about how much fun it would be to fly, well second life make that dream come true (sort of) that?s why ?those? people can fly if you don?t want to fly go to a no flying area. The weapons in second life can?t really harm you they are just for fun to play around with, of curse there are games through second life were you get to be a hired hit man and such like the smoking aces game were you go around ?killing? people. But you pop back up in a second and you go and replenish your health. 10 bucks for a membership isn?t that bad because you get to own land and build stuff on that land that stays until you delete it. So yea deal with the smurfs and zebras it?s a fun game. AND STOP TELLING PEOPLE TO GO OUT AND BUY WEED AND LIQUOR!
    Nessa Tamura
    (not my real name but my Second life name because your not worthy of my real life name)

  • perpetualmotionuk

    I agree totally with your assessment of Second Life. It is the pits. I have never experienced such ‘designed’ boredom before this, and hopefully will never again!. Luckily I never paid a penny to Linden Labs for this shite, and never would.

    I’d love to become a SL serial killer, but my application to Linden Labs was denied. Can’t think why ;-)

  • Satya

    get a life. Second life sucks.. whats the point with that shit game anyways. waste of time and money and the lag just kills your time and money.
    huh..go get real and get some real hair and wigs..

  • http://klew.es/about jez

    hey satya,
    thanks for commenting on my second life article, I was laughing my ass off when I read your comment.
    I must admit I kinda lost track on the debate, so is there anything new despite the fact that second life sucks?

  • Stefan

    well yeah, it sucks pretty much. it’s like a compiled heap of bad taste. but the scripting aspect is really neat! i like the idea that you can design almost every object that you can image in the world. i just created a flying pacman, yeah ;) i really hope SL (or soon an imitation by google ;) evolves to level where it actually _feels_ like a simulated world. this might sound futuristic, but why not make the social part of the net a world where you can actually walk around and meet the people “in person”? i really hope that SL is the first step in that direction. i think they’ve created the first 3D environment which doesn’t claim to be a game.

  • dj666us

    You want an alternative?: Active Worlds (google for it, i’m hate putting web links in comments)

    No money involved, clean chat, not as fancy as SL but at least it doesn’t cram porn down your throat or strand you somewhere you don’t want to be.

    Also it doesn’t lag because it uses a DECENT rendering engine, and not that Adobe Atmosphere based obscenity.

    To Nessa: You sound like a cross between an AmWay upliner and a scientologist. Stop reading those damn self help books and lying to yourself. You want an easy way to make money? Here is how:

    1. Everyone who reads this comment send me 10 bucks to know the secret to becoming a millionaire!!
    2. Do the same i just did.

    Alternatively you COULD get a job and get off SL for five minutes.

  • jez

    hah, dj666 great comment! thanks!

  • adkmom

    Well, all I can say is that I enjoy SL. I don’t need burgers or porn rags or the like. I joined with a lot of friends from other places & we have a blast in SL. I’ve only sporadically experienced the lag as you’ve described it? I have 2GB RAM (DDR), 256mb graphics, 2.6ghz P4- nothing really amazing…I particularly enjoy being on Skype, w/these friends, whilst playing in the game. SL allowed my long-distance GF & I to be together when we couldn’t in real life. I enjoy playing around w/the scripting & making objects, too. Mind you, I don’t spend hour upon hour in-world…but when I’m there, it’s always fun…

    I suppose, as with anything, it’s what you’re after that matters most. I’ve never understood blasting something simply because it isn’t your “cup of tea”? Keep looking & you’ll eventually find the game that suits you. I wish you luck…

  • Ronco

    you’re just a newb at the game. :)
    edit by jez: maybe you are a towl and just got high. newb yourself :)

  • someone

    Second Life is pure crap. It’s cluttered full of this supposed “creativity” that makes paint splattered on paper actually begin to look like true art after all. Honestly half of second life looks like someones personal trash can. It was a great concept, it just didn’t work. And the more people catch on to it the worse it’s going to become.

  • http://psarmstrong.wordpress.com/ Paul

    I kept hearing all the hype, so I thought I’d better try it. I’m glad I did, but there is nothing compelling me to return. I have plenty of more fulfilling things I could do with my time. Also, I don’t appreciate the idea that I’d have to pay $10 a month ($120 each year!) to make any real use of SL. The concept may be ok, but they’re going to need to do better than SL, if they wish to take it anywhere.

  • secondlifeblows

    This game is crap!!! I just started playing the game to try it out. I created a character or whatever and go to this place called furnation. Right when i get there some guy makes fun of me sets me on fire then crashes my game. I come back and ask why he did that and im banned from the whole fricken game. WTF!!!! Wow banned from the game for not doing anything. Niceee nobody play this game they treat you like shit!!

  • Doina

    Amen! I don’t agree with one thing tho’ : you don’t have to be nerd to play this kind of “game” .I’m an artist,a dreamer,sometimes i feel the need to live in another world,to be whoever i want and so on…But i TOTALLY AGREE Second Life IS crap! You spend(never did) real money for some image,animation,the graphics are primitive,and you get there and don’t have a clue of “what to do now?”. Between SL and The Sims i choose the second one.But i’m still waiting for THAT “game” which will have it all.Thanks for pointing out the facts! ;)

  • http://klew.es/about jez

    @Doina: hey there, thanks for your reply, I think it is pretty much the best comment on thi post, ever. It is both stating your point but also appreciating my statements – way to go

  • jupiter cardelines

    i got banned from sl after an hour i’ve joned it. i got stranded in this glitchy island, couldn’t change my apperance or clothes, so i decided to take them off altogheter. So this sl mentor called yoko something came to me and said i had 30 seconds to get dressed. i told her i was a naturist. she reported me and got my account blocked.
    i think everyone should get undress in public on sl.
    i mean, why do they give you that option if you can’t use it??
    utterly rubbish.
    ban this crap game or yoko will find you too.

  • http://klew.es/about jez

    exactly – what is the point in developing something if not put into use? I stick to my initial month-old statement of SL sucking crap.

  • sl is shit

    i can’t begin to say how utterly shit this virtual world really is. seriously, if you are really into this kinda shit… PLEASE, GET A REAL FIRST LIFE!

  • Chaz Maz

    Second Life: Land of the WEAK home of the BROKEN

    First of all, I have been there, have done that. Had clubs, owned land, made friends, money, and fell in love. Second life on the surface, especially for the newbie and Entrepreneur/artist is a fun and cool place to make some friends, and make some money. It is looked at as a supercharged chat room, a video game. But the nature of its name is where the insidiousness is. As much of a second life (SL) as it might be, in order to operate you still have to use your Real Life (RL) abilities. You do not follow a different thought and emotional pattern when in SL. You can only use what you know in RL. But kidding yourself is one of the appeals of SL. You eventually get lost in it.
    At first it is new and exciting. Like a new video game. Learning the functions that move your avatar around, visiting places and socializing with the natives. You are perfect, and you can fly. No sickness, no need for money (well not as much) and people don’t have bad breath and, as a “normal”, “intelligent” person, it is an interesting place to explore and learn. But it eventually becomes one of three things. 1. Boring, like a video game you have played over and over. 2. An environment to explore your creative ability to design and sell things. Or, 3 it consumes your psyche.
    The first two are what they are; the third is the meat and potatoes of SL. This is the one that is more consistent. Do you really think the folks at Linden Labs are spending their free time on SL.? No, they are spending the money they are making in RL (SL is a business so it is RL for them) on RL things.
    There comes a saturation point where you walk away or get sucked in. I will say this for the last time and it does not apply to you newbie’s, or the smart ones that are making money off the lonely. It is a place to hide from reality. It is a place where weak, lost souls go to escape from the depth and breadth of life. I will allow some latitude for you shut-ins. Some people have nothing else but the four walls of the room they are in. SL can provide a form of “human” entertainment that they otherwise would not be able to get. But, that just causes the shut-in to let go of their emotional self being even more. This is a hard pill to swallow, no one wants to take a good look at them selves and most do not. But the covert nature of SL allows you to cut loose. Sort of the absolute power corrupts absolutely theory. People that stay too long get lost in it. And yes, justifying all the way, that it is just a game. For the predator, and a predator is weak by nature, it is a place to be free of thought and persecution. To dominate the weak that makes SL their home. And, it is a place for the weak to not be judged, a place that they can feel and accept that who they are is ok, even if it is with the few. Some people can handle the trials and tribulations of life, some can’t and they end up in SL. You start to see a symbiotic circle of relationships in SL. For the people designing objects to sell, they may not interact totally and directly with the person/s and, their sales may come from across the board. The newbie that is playing the “game” to the obsessed, but, the obsessed is a long term customer. Theses business individuals usually get in, add new product, convert their lindens to dollars or pounds and get out.

    The tragedy is the weak and broken. Don’t roll your eyes, In the Real World we are always conned with flashy marketing to get us to buy something or believe something in order to be more acceptable. Magic creams or potions. Don’t kid yourself; Second Life is about making money. Making money off of what? Our loneliness and our lack of self worth in the real world. HELLO, McFly!! It is called Second Life.

    It might be simple, you build a club, people come and visit or create a group, and you solicit for members. People get together and boom, you feel wanted and needed. Building your dream home in the clouds and littering your lawn with cool things like jets and swimming pools. That can make you popular. Walking in a park with your perfect Avatar girlfriend/boyfriend, no RL issues so it is a perfect relationship. That leads to good puppet sex. Mmmm nice. All this is accomplished by tugging on your weakness, your emotional frailty. Either you are not getting it in RL or are too afraid to face the truth of how to exist in RL. You can’t handle the truth and if you are a long term SL puppet, you just can’t handle life, Real Life. Don’t get me wrong, we all like to escape from time to time.

    In some places it is much darker, like I said before, predators hunting the weak. The Gorean Master and the slaves that he takes control of. This one is unusual, in that the Master has total control over the slave. The “slave” giving not only total control of their Avatar, and who can communicate to them, but also, control as to when they will or will not talk to what they can wear. Believe me this does carry over to real life. Imagine the fun of kneeling next to your Avatar Master and saying nothing. Second life being nothing more then a place to be told what to do, serving fake food and ale. You want to call it guided, or taught? Hey, what ever floats your boat? I know just a video game, right? This setup just allows the predator to get in that persons head and develop a false sense of security. Tell that to your husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend. Why you are glued to the PC instead of enjoying life, REAL LIFE. And, couples also get on there too, as couples, this is a nutty one. Worked hard all week, beautiful weekend, and, you both are on a computer, every free moment, building and designing that special home, having that child you never could have. (Yes, people do play the part of the child.) I find it unhealthy when instead of developing a better real life and real relationship in RL. You take that precious time and waste it. Yes, ok… You are free to do what you want. But there are plenty of damaged people on SL. And your fantasy could be causing them to loose sense of reality, along with your lost sense of reality. Their marriages, get funky, destroyed, their children get neglected. And you get a ridiculous God complex that makes you anti social in the Real World, which just plummets yourself deeper in to SL. Cha Ching! Sweet business you got Linden People.
    You have the 50+ couple that spends every “free” moment in SL being the King and Queen. Oh, and so good to their obedient subjects. At their beckons call, at their total command. Or, the sexual perverts. Ok, my opinion….. That can now live out the fantasy of doing it with a farm animal. Or, kneeling down and being the public toilet. Sex is rampant in SL. The anonymous nature of your avatar is something too. You really do not know if the man is a woman or the woman is a man, plenty of men that are living out their desire to be a Transsexual, or a woman. Plenty of women that want to love another woman, so she hides in the body of a man. I guess what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Hey, no one is getting hurt, no aids. Nicey nice. The soul is willing but the flesh is weak. So, the wall that SL provides, allows for an easier transition to experiment. Sad part is as your getting deeper and deeper; you are getting more lost in fantasy then reality and they start to blend. Actually, you probably were lost between the two to begin with. Now you go out into the real world. Take a break; meet one of your SL friends. Break the rule, cross that line; remember SL and RL are supposed to be two different places. People meet up, some get married, the rare few. But mostly it is a letdown, disappointment, and harm to others. It is a dirty little secret. Who wants to tell people that you got into that trouble because you decided to meet your “make believe” friend?
    Lips stay sealed, people get hurt. And in the end, the only place they feel right, the only place that people understand is right back on Second Life. CHA CHING!

  • http://klew.es/about jez

    thanks for the detailed comment, appreciated!

  • second life is ~!#$@%^#&^$&*((%

    hahahaha!!! you are damn true!

    I like ur website!

    and yes Second life is not at all better than a real life!

  • Mero

    To be honest, most of SL does look rather pathetic, but that’s only because it’s created entirely by its residents; and most of SL’s residents aren’t exactly digital media artists or coding gurus. Since the overwhelming majority of SL’s population lack these skills, the shit that you see everywhere is.. well, shit. Occasionally you’ll find a sim that’s made by skilled residents, and there are some truly amazing builds scattered amongst all the pathetic-ness, especially granted SL’s limitations in regard to content creation (you can’t just import .obj files from Maya, etc).

    If you want a place to go, either to dick around in a virtual world to kill some time, or engage in a unique community and try to discover the higher quality facets of the game, Second Life is currently the only TRULY “freeform” 3D virtual platform that I know of, in the sense that you can make and do whatever you want. It’s the epitome of sandbox games, and just like in a real life sandbox, you’ll find some lame looking sand castles made by 4 year olds, but every now and then, some crazy guy will build a freakin’ mansion with seashell decor and working plumbing/electricity. :D

    • h4x3d.com

      hey mero, thanks for your in detail post, much appreciated.

  • TSdek

    Most of you take it too seriously, especially Maz. Obviously Maz has been hurt by someone inside SL, to have such extreme negativity. Ohhh, the drama!

    I learned about SL from a lecture at the School of Architecture at UT back in ’04 where they were doing some pretty cool stuff with the limited tools available to them at the time. I was intrigued by the idea that architects and designers could try out and showcase their work real-time with live critics from around the world. I still think it’s a powerful argument in favor of SL.

    I joined in ’06, made a few $L and made some friends. Had fun with it for a while – something to do late at night. Eventually I got bored and moved on to other things.

    The atmosphere and orientation of SL has changed from the early days, but you can still find worthy experiments going on if you’re willing to look for it.

    I’m a big believer in the statement that you get back what you put into something and I’d suggest to those of you who want to simply hate on SL that you examine your motives for even being there. If you just want to jerk off, then no SL is not going to be the most satisfying experience. If you wish to fulfill some sort of ego deficiency, then NO, it’s not going to be the most satisfying experience. But, if you want to learn something and perhaps find a few friends and mentors along the way, then SL can be a great experience.

    Those of you who got banned – it was your fault and you admitted as much. When you joined, you agreed to the TOS and if you broke them, then you suffer the consequences. Complaining on a forum is just sour grapes.

    • h4x3d.com

      TSdek, many thanks for your detailed and reasonable comment,
      have a great year 2010 and enjoy! :)

  • http://www.engrish.com Matambo Tamatzui

    this is exactly what every nublet thinks of every established online game after the first 48 hours. get emerald, get some old-ingame friends get some inspired searches and explore like you don’t hate it already. have someone on there explain why they’re still playing. Torture someone with the venom of your textified sassings. Crash some chumps cyberorgy, or just go out and have sex with that dude or animal you’ve been afraid to chase after in your own backyard. SL is internet too, live it as such.

  • p

    second life is the biggest scam ever and one day soon… when linden labs pulls the plug and cashes out the “economy” people are going to find themselfs 500 million dollars short and linden labs is going to be laughing their way to the bank. liquidate and NEVER invest a single dime into this game. Pointless shit crap sham marketing platform for idiots. SCAM SCAM SCAM SCAM SCAM

  • Eddie

    It DOES suck! You cant even FART without it costing you something in there. New user disappointment level is 10 of 10

    There is no incentive for a new user to stay in the game when right out fo the box, you cant get you a place, and just about ANYTHING worth while in the thing cost you money, which by the way, you start out with none of when you get on to test the thing.

    It’s total horse dobbins.

  • Muziekfreak1980 miles

    Sl well been a member since 04.04.2007.

    So hardly new at the game, the concept proven to be fun i even met my rl wife in sl. I mean the possibilities are endless, unfortanely its a HUGE waste of time aswell it became more and more addiction then a actual fun game. I stopped using it so much i still run a sim with my own shop that runs itself. I learned allot on content creating and still have fun doing it.

    But it will never dominate me as before, i find my rl way more important that this “shitty” world. I just see it as a game nothing more nothing less. Took me a HARD lesson rl of my friends and family to realise that.