Second Life is too easy to make fun of, be it for the failed gold rush when advertisers gambled on the future of the metaverse or for the sleazy commercialism that still defines many in-world locations. These things, while true, make it too easy to dismiss the creative projects you can find within that world if you know where to look.
The Drax Files: World Makers, a series of documentary shorts available on YouTube, is useful assistance in knowing where to look. Created by ‘machinima journalist’ Draxtor Despres, each episode mixes Second Life and real-world footage to profile some of the people devoted to making interesting things within the long-running MMO. I’ve embedded a trailer and linked some of the episodes I’ve enjoyed so far below.
First up, the trailer, which gives a good idea of the diversity of work and people profiled:
There are currently 20 episodes in the “World Makers” series, each 5 minutes long. I’ve enjoyed this episode about a couple making an AI-driven fantasy village populated by dwarves, this one about Elie Spot who makes her income running an in-world boutique clothing store, and this about Abramelin Wolfe who sells motion captured animations he records himself.
Obviously every one of these episodes is putting a positive spin on Second Life, making it appear as if the virtual world is all about unfettered creativity and the magic of people and community. That’s lovely, but perhaps won’t be apparent when you first connect, struggle with its still-clunky interface and stumble into a blandly decorated building aggressively advertising sex toys and trashy clothing. The current future of the game isn’t clear, either. Developers Linden Lab have recently shut down some of their products such as Dio, Creatoverse and Versu, announced that a spiritual successor to Second Life is in-development, and former Sims boss and Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble left the company back in January. (Humble was interviewed in the series last June).
None of that cancels out the lovely experiences I’ve had visiting Second Life. You can connect, teleport to a random part of the world and, every now and then, discover something amazing. And even if you never intend to do the same, these are entertaining, well-edited and concise videos, so well worth watching. There’s also a podcast series, which I haven’t tried.