Lauren's Place 2 (2009)

Second Life Lauren's Place 2

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For some Second Life is an extension of tools like Facebook where they meet their friends in an immersive 3D environment which is much richer and colourful than a web page and from a psychological perspective the immersive metaverse experience brings a remarkable increase in engagement at any meeting.

Earlier technologies like video conferencing attempted for decades to encourage a greater sense of presence but never found an enthusuastic audience, by contrast the use of a surrogate - an avatar, makes any meeting less based on real world appearance and more on character and personality plus a frequently added sense of humour when a colleague turns up in wolf's clothing.

In other words meetings in Second Life encourage social levelling. In particular those disadvantaged in real life now find themselves empowered by the use of their avatar because Second Life offers them an equality denied to them in first life.

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Second Life (7 May 2009) – Liam Netizen a 26-year-old man who lives outside Nottingham, England was named the best avatar male in a heated competition for Mr. Virtual World 2009, held in Second Life,

"Winning Mr. Virtual World has truly humbled me,” Netizen said. “I have never had anything like this happen to me in real life or Second Life. I wanted to win, but I never in my dreams imagined I would. This is humbling and exciting, and I hope to use my title well to make everyone that supported me proud."

Netizen was born with Usher’s Syndrome, which has left him profoundly deaf and visually impaired. As a result, he copes with a form of tunnel vision which also challenges his sense of balance. But the virtual world allows Netizen to have the freedom of movement and communication he desires.

“Second Life has made me very happy,” he said, “because it makes it possible for me to communicate. It is very different from my real life.”

Best of SL Magazine (June 2009)