Nearly all MMOs hook players by making them invest in their character’s reputation, and SL is no exception. (Pearce, “Emergent Authorship” p.23) However, where other MMOs define reputation by an achieved experience level- a number- SL has redirected the fervor of leveling-up into the creation of impressive content that attracts attention and reputation. The detail of an SL player’s virtual home and avatar are status symbols that are physical evidence of that player’s technical skill and creativity.
This is a much different reward system as it allows the player to be judged by the community and be rewarded with respect and sales of their created content. This system allows players with talent to eclipse the status of full-time players who have hegemony of status due to an unhealthy number of hours spent online leveling up their numbers. This redirection of effort to user content vastly accelerates to generation of unexpected content and use of that content. The complex object creation tool and content-based reputation are the primordial soup from which the next generation of virtual lives will emerge. Mike Shannahan http://interactive.usc.edu/members/students/2006/05/post_2.php
Second Life is “rezzable”. Everything you see in Second Life has been created by the residents of Second Life. In other words, life in Second Life is defined by what you rez, i.e., how creative you are within the life engendered there through the usage of the objects that you are surrounded by/which you possess. Now, this does not neccesarily have to be personal building, although, being an artist and designer, that is of course, my primary concern. But even if you do no building whatsoever, still all your purchase activity in the metaverse goes towards rezability, and is a form of creative expression. You recreate your appearance thorugh the usage of skins, apparel and hair that you either purchase or find. You make not only gender choices but species choices. Will you be male or female, furry or Neko, human or robot? Are you going to be a solo avatar or will you also have alts? All these go towards not only role-play but self-expression. So, a huge part of your creative activity is very much centered around self-realization, the definiiton of new selves within the self, the development of new personas that may or may not be accurate replications of your real life persona.
But your persona, important as it is, is by no means everything. For residents who are really serious about their Second Lives, establishing an identity which involves possessions as well as activity is paramount. The building and/or aquisition of homes and work spaces, the renting and/or purchasing of land, the presence of vehicles and pets is almost as important as the kitting out of the avatar. And then, of course, comes the building of an identity through activity: Groups which hold meetings of both recreational and professional nature as well as entertainment venues are eagerly sought out and often indeed are initiated. In short a life, an identity; complete with posessions, schedules, appointments and commitments; one as complex as any real life could ever be is built and then propagated.