SL is Missing Something

08Aug06

It really does seem to me that Second Life is missing something. I think it is a middle class. This will become increasingly evident as the effects of the LL’s Open Registration policy – specifically the elimination of start-up funding for new residents – continue to resonate.

I know the argument is for economic balance and the slowing of inflation, but when I started, my .25K L$ enabled me to explore the world with a bit of a purpose…to spend it. I visited a bunch a crappy malls and tried out some casinos, none of which really held my interest, but that gave me the opportunity to get used to the UI, meet a couple of people, and, in time, find the New Citizen’s Plaza (Kuula/53/175), where I ended up making some firm friends and discovering activities that interested me.

Eliminating the start-up stipend eliminates this initial freedom to wander. Sure, a new resident could immediately buy some L$ from the Lindex, but not all may have the means or the inclination. An initial requirement to spend RL cash will surely turn-off some new residents who were drawn to the idea of a free account. It would have stopped me in my tracks right at the beginning. No start-up stipend means a much reduced potential for a middle class; a much reduced potential for a large group of residents who have many small things to offer.

Only a very few residents are highly skilled scripters, designers, or builders; and although I don’t subscribe to the view that there is a FIC, there is certainly a class of content creators who influence a great deal of the activity in SL. Not every resident needs to invent Tringo, but now new “unverified” residents are reduced to begging for money. On a recent episode of SecondCast, Torrid Midnight reported a sudden and dramatic upswing in the number of unsolicited IMs she is receiving simply asking for L$.

The elimination of the start-up stipend creates a second-class citizen, as observed in Pixeleen Mistral’s article in the SL Herald. Perhaps time will even the playing field as she suggests; but there were a great many steps (and misteps) taken from Dicken’s stultifiying London to today’s gleaming metropolis.

SL has just started climbing.

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