Second Life was developed by Linden Lab in San Francisco and was launched on June 23, 2003. It is an online virtual world and has over 900,000 active users as of now. Linden Lab emphasizes that Second Life is not a game.
You can access the virtual world from Linden Lab’s client programs or by third party viewers. The Second Life users are known as Residents; they are virtual representations of their own selves called avatars. They can intermingle with other avatars, objects or places in the virtual world. They can socialize, meet other avatars, build, shop, create, trade virtually and explore their world or grid. The platform mainly structures 3D based user generated content. The virtual world even has its own currency known as Linden Dollar, which can be officially exchanged in with the currency from our real world. You can earn Linden dollars by selling, buying, trading or renting virtual estate in the grid and then exchange them for real currency.
One of the millionaires from Second Life is avatar Anshe Chung or Ailin Graef in the real world. She invested only $9.95 and converted it to one million dollars in two and a half years in the grid and then the real world.
The software is built on a 3D modeling tool which is based on very simple geometric objects which lets the residents virtually craft their own objects. There is a Linden Scripting Language that adds interactivity to the objects in the Second Life. Other things like the gestures, animations, textures for clothing and other objects are created with the help of external software.
You can have one avatar in a single account; however you can change the form of your avatar as many times as you want. You can choose to be anything a human, vegetable, animal, mineral or combination of two things. The avatars communicate through instant messaging and can be used for conversations between two or more, the updated version enables you to send an IM even if the other avatar you wish to speak is offline, through a limited message to the residents email.
Second Life is also sought by people with mobility issues, they can freely explore the world socialize which also has a positive impact on their real lives; they are “happier”. Unlike the real world Second Life’s virtual world lets you be whatever you want to, it is like a dream come true.