Saturday, May 31, 2008

Second Life and EVE Online: to game or not to game

Second Life is a social, virtual 3D world, as most of you undoubtedly know. It offers a means to act out your creativity and fantasies - within certain (legal or ethical) boundaries, these days. If you want to, you can be yourself, but you can also assume a role and become part of a role playing game in Second Life. There's a lot of RPG's going on in SL: steampunk, 19th century pilots, medieval midgets, greenies, but also musicians (imitating real world bands), clubs, Gorean, raunchy stuff most of us wouldn't probably want to do in real life - and much, much more. It's all possible in Second Life: "Your world, your imagination", Linden Labs used to say.

This means that Second Life is, in itself, not a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game); there's no plot, no central gameplay. It's a platform that can be used to do RPG, and even MMORPG, but it certainly isn't one in itself.

For some people that's exactly what makes Second Life difficult to grasp. You log on, enter Second Life, and then what, they ask? Well, what do you want to do, who do you want to be? It's up to you!

Eve Online on the other hand is definitely an MMORPG. Even though it has a Second Life like freedom to choose your own direction, profession, activities and targets, it has an overarching gameplay and is, as such, governed by a set of principles that guide most in world activities. I can't imagine EVE Online as a venue for music, or a business meeting for instance! In this regard, EVE Online is a much more limited environment, which also requires a lot less fantasy or creativity from the players. If the SciFi setting or the gameplay do not appeal to you, there's really no reason to be there.

In short: Second Life is a platform, EVE Online is a game - that sums it up quite nicely.

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