What Keeps You in Second Life?

February 22, 2010

Fire by Gita Rau

The thing about SL is that most of us are here by choice.  We spend chunks of one of our most scarce personal resources by exploring Second Life: our time.  But why do those of us who are regular users keep coming back?  What draws us to the virtual world like a moth to a flame?

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I like to interview people in Second Life.  But rather than interview just one resident, I thought I would try something slightly different this time.  Instead, I asked a number of people the same question.  Here’s what I did, I looked through my Friends List to see who had passed their third rez day.  There are I’ll be the first to admit that the three year rez date was somewhat arbitrary.  I could have easily picked another milestone as a cutoff, but to me, three years in SL suggests a level of commitment beyond a casual and passing interest.I then sent them a notecard with a request to respond to a simple question in close to fifty words.  What keeps you in Second Life?

Are you curious what people said?  Want to find out what keeps people in Second Life?  Read after the jump to find out…

Liz Gealach – I have two main reasons I continue to log into SL each day; friends and continuous creativity.  The friendships I have here are as important to me as any RL friend or family member.  As a shy and rather solitary person I have found the relationships I have made in SL to be so very important … these amazing people I call friends have drawn me out of my shell in so many ways.  I am continually amazed by the depth of caring I see in SL, it’s really very inspiring.  The other force that pulls me into SL over and over again is the imagination that is found everywhere you look.  Each and every creation here was a spark in someones mind … something that took time and talent to realize in our virtual world.  I could never be a successful artist in RL but SL gives me a chance to spread my creative wings and let my imagination run wild.  I love sentences that begin with “wouldn’t it be cool if …”, because I know I can work towards making “if” a reality inside Second Life.

Paypabak Writer – All the creative people who surprise me daily–whether in creating a shoe, an outfit, a spaceship, an incredible sim like Omega Point or Insilico,  or a HUD connecting to Google. All these are the attractors that keep me coming but the equally compelling element are the friends I’ve made.

Crap Mariner – So, what keeps me coming back to SL?

I guess Richard Gere shouting I’VE GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO! doesn’t cut it?

With me getting home before 5 and the wife getting home around 11 from work, lots of idle time for the devil’s deeds, I suppose.  I used to game a lot. But first-person shooter and offshoots like Doom and Fallout have gotten just too damn fancy and complex. Who was the genius who decided that a nice relaxing cordite-and-carnage bloodbath required puzzle solving?

Secondly, I’ve gotten lazy about reading and moviewatching and television couchpotatoing. Never watched Lost. Is Nip/Tuck still on? Gave up on Monk. What? Cancelled?

I enjoy the music quite a bit. Maybe a little too much. I should probably turn the sound down and lose the fanatic leer in my eyes, huh? Eeeeeeeeeeee!  Before, I’d streamhop and streamjack through SL to catch music, but recently I have the TV set to smooth jazz music and read. Or I lay back on the sofa and zonk out. So much more reliable than streams these days.

Storytelling is fun. And when I do it for West of Ireland, it helps their charity.

For all my disgust for the instability of the platform and the deranged attitude of its so-called visionaries, they have yet to put me over the edge. It’s actually kinda fun to rant like an ignorant and spoiled jackass every so often, if every so often if five to six times a day.

But the top of the list is my obligation to the co-owners of the islands I administer. If I were to step down, would things keep running as they do? Maybe. But for now, the cult needs their fucked-up demigod, and it’s not hard work if everyone does their part and does for themselves what they can do for themselves.

Of course, playing the entire Tomb Raider series of games and being exposed to the subliminal messages on Lara’s ass didn’t have any… any…

Hey, who’s got a sale today? Got an LM?

WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget – I sometimes ask myself what keeps me in SL.  It’s a combination of things now.  I still enjoy the live music scene and will occasionally just log on at work to hear a favorite performer.  And I still enjoy the occasional IM chat with friends.  But due to changes in my RL in the last year or two Second Life is less an essential social outlet, and in fact I interact with SL people much more frequently on Plurk than in SL.

I still like to shop for clothes occasionally, but I have no ambition to develop any more creative skills.  The person whom I’d consider my best friend in SL and with whom I felt most creative is rarely on now.  Before I couldn’t wait to log on and spend time with her, but now there’s no single person to draw me like before.  And since I’ve removed myself from some cliques that were toxic, I don’t have a regular gang to hang with.

Mique Rockwell – I can still remember that boring Saturday afternoon in November 2004, when I read a compelling article about a new ‘virtual world.’ I quickly became a resident of Second Life but found myself initially unimpressed.  After a few starts, it wasn’t until 2007 when it had changed enough to resonate with me and I ate up every experience SL had to offer whether it was mundane, exciting, humorous, erotic, or just plain weird.

Yet the ultimate reason I find myself continuing to come back time and again is the fact that while SL may change, virtual worlds simply are not going away.  I believe we are all a part of something much bigger than we or the Lindens themselves may realize. To me, this is less of a game and more like a revolution in the way we experience life and an extension of our very lives into the very fabric of social media. I believe that SL is to our present times what LSD was to the counter culture of the early 60’s.   Some might expect that SL would take you away from the rest of the world, but for me it has brought the world closer. In my encounters with others in SL, I have experienced and shared a plethora of emotions here beyond the basic anger and aggression experienced in an average video game.

Second Life has enriched me and taught me more than I would have ever expected on that dull Saturday back in 2004.  I come from and enjoy the real world, but when it comes to cyberspace, the many offerings of gaming, MMORPG’s and social networking, I have made the conscious choice to continue to spend my time in Second Life. –

Zha Ewry – In one word People. In several words: People, Creativity, and Energy. When I first explored Second Life, builds and the things you could do drew me in. As I explored, it was sharing Second life with people that became the anchor point. Three years in, it’s the people and the sharing which keep me coming back.  My Second Life is tapestry of ideas constantly re-woven by people’s creativity, infused with their energy.

Noelani Lightfoot – My reason is in the people I have met who either cross from this virtual world into my corporeal world brightening my life or in those who work to create art, music, immersive shows, stories, poetry and builds from dreams. Sometimes those combine; it is creative energy and spirit that keeps me returning.

Charlanna Beresford – To borrow from a friend, I came out of curiosity, but stayed for the people.  The creativity, culture and expression in Second Life are nothing short of amazing, but it is the connections that I’ve developed with people that keeps me here.

My deepest thanks go to everyone who took the time to respond; they’re all pretty interesting, no?  While I like for interviews to stand on their own, I thought that turnabout was fair play and that I should share as well, which is why I added mine response at the end.  So, now it is your turn to share, dear reader.  Even if you aren’t three years or older, I would love to hear what keeps you in SL in the comments.



  1. A charming article, and It’s nice to see so many of this generations second names in this list of contributors. I must concur that Second Life is about the people. It’s a place where I’ve made real and valued friends, and shared experiences we will cherish for many rezdays to come 🙂

  2. There are things that happen in Sl from time to time sometimes relating to Live Music which Im around alot.. but not always.. that seem almost magical.. those moments are why I stick around.

  3. Oh My…I have asked that same question of everyone I meet thats older than I {I’ll be 3 in May}.
    The almost universal answer is the people.
    To continue in Secondlife one must find a passion…I’ve yet to meet anyone thats been here a long time tell me it’s the pixel sex or the shopping. {even Crap}
    (Hi ya Robot!}
    It’s the people for me as well!

  4. all the above Plus:
    an enduring relationship.
    a reluctance to leave a dance begun with Philip and friends 4 1/2 years ago.

  5. I just want to see what’s around the next corner.

  6. […] 2.0 Viewer Merges Real Life & Avatar Identity Onto Single Profile PanelWhat are people saying? -http://bit.ly/9cZtEE interviews with established avatars, why do peole stay in #secondlife ?Second Life Viewer 2 Beta is […]

  7. The fantasy keeps me coming back (3 years!).

    When RL becomes overwhelming, stressful, mundane – there’s the fantasy of SL.
    SecondLife can be perfect (or not!). An escape. A place to explore and experience when reality confines.

  8. Thanks for the great comments.

    I’ve often found that it is hard to encapsulate all the whys of SL in a succinct way and each of you have done it so well. Maybe I need to follow-up at some point with something about what it is about people and experiences that help keep us returning.

    Thanks again!

  9. It always comes down to the people…as it should! But not just any people but some of the most creative visionaries I have ever had the pleasure to meet and interact with. Whether it is the newest WOW build or discovering an amazing fashion or attending a fantastic concert in-world none of it would be there if the creative people weren’t. To me SL is all things possible and impossible.

    BTW, I’ll be three in April 🙂

  10. “Second Life, is where I want to be
    ‘Cause when I’m there the real world
    don’t bother me…”

    I’m quickly approaching 4 years in SL and often wonder how I’ve managed to stick around so long when others have faded away. In addition to those reasons set forth in earlier responses and the main post, I think I’ve managed to stay because I can remake myself when bored.

    Unlike other types of virtual worlds (such as WoW), SL is not limited to one general category of player. You can go from being a DJ to a kajira to a MMA fighter to a fashion designer by simply modifying your profile, changing your skin and dropping/joining some groups. This ease of transition–coupled with the fact that all of these “classes” of players are all able to interact with each other–gives an almost infinite selection of things to do/people to be.

    And if your main character becomes too well known in SL to do something considered OOC (e.g. “Hey, isn’t that CRAP MARINER sitting in that camping chair?”), you can always create an alt and do it.

    I guess I still subscribe to the old LL motto “Your World Your Imagination”….


  11. This was an awesome read, and I agree with those who say they stay for the creativity. Without a creative outlet like SL, I would go insane. Those who have never walked out grid could never fully understand until they do. Everyone that i have introduced to SL were skeptical until they learned how to use the build menu. I think that is what makes the most difference. Where the interaction with different people from various areas of the world is in fact refreshing, most of my small circle of RL friends are not people persons.

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