Why is it that whatever I say sometimes causes so much fuss? A couple of weeks ago, I compared VRChat‘s avatar grading system to Second Life’s avatar complexity numbering, stating that we should adopt grades instead because it’s simpler for users to understand.
But Second Life likes to play the telephone game with re-quotes and paraphrases. Soon, my suggestion morphed through other mouths and turned into “I want us to pare down our avatars to Ruths”, and that’s not what I said at all. Do people read around here? Do they just like being outraged over things? Make a little cash with clicks in the process?
In an effort to retain my goal of an ultra-chill summer, I took to the seas of the Bellisseria continent to invest in deepwater fishing. And while I’m here, let’s do that “VRChat versus Second Life” comparison. We’ve already gone halfway with it. Why not take the whole kit?
No, They Aren’t The Same
The first thing we need to get out of the way is to establish this fact: VRChat is not the same as Second Life. I’m going to prove this with a few scenarios. But let’s not fool ourselves either, okay? The metaverse is changing, and with it are new grids with new faces, new developers, and new audiences that are ready to buy in to them. All of these players have different things they want, and that’s why they choose the grid they do.
The companies that rely on these free metaverse games are not going to see them necessarily as different, though. Oculus, for example, packages Altspace VR (a social chat world for mainly older users) and Rec Room (all-ages VR world with a focus on sports games like dodgeball and paintball) with their headset store offerings so users can invest in these worlds for their social and minigame needs. In other words, VR headsets use games such as Sansar, Altspace, and RR when other game developers don’t provide the content users are searching for fast enough.
Is there no tennis game in the Oculus Quest store that makes you happy? Well, there’s a tennis world in Rec Room. You can load up Rec Room for free and play there. Now you’re less likely to complain about spending $400 for a headset with “nothing to do on it”. See how this works?
Now that we have this out of the way, we can talk about what VRChat and Second Life are great at doing, and why they honestly aren’t the same game at all.
The Way They Differ
VRChat stands apart from Second Life in its primary use. It hosts free maps that users can claim for their homespace, meaning I can build a house and “live” there if I want to. Their camera is first-person rather than Second Life’s third-person POV. The different shines through in presentation. You experience the map or sim in VRChat, but in Second Life it’s your avatar that is walking around.
But Second Life has an edge that it should latch on to for marketing: simulation. You don’t feel like you’re playing something akin to the sims when you play VRChat. You can play a fishing game on a specific uploaded map, but you can’t have an attachable HUD that travels with you that contains the fishing game like you can in Second Life. And unless you stay in one map forever in VRChat, you aren’t going to be able to raise a dog or take care of an animesh child there. Those are things you can do in Second Life, and that’s SL’s strong point. Second Life is powerful for modders who see the world as a shell and wish to turn it into their own personal GTA or Sims session.
If I were Linden Lab, I would use this to help the game keep its relevance. This is where SL can continue to stand out.
Yes, They’re The Same In A Certain Spirit
There are still other ways the two games are alike, though. The users of VRChat know their game is the “Second Life” of their generation. I have heard this over and over after frequenting the Grand Pug (VRChat’s most popular pub) enough. VRChat already has its own type of avatar that most other users make fun of, too: the cat-eared neko with a ton of tattoos and urban wear, who often has a horrible avatar score. There’s a male and female version of that neko avatar and you see them everywhere. You can compare them to Second Life’s head-too-big-muscleface or gap-leg-frowny-mouth fad. In a way, VRChat isn’t that novel, and it proves that one generation will often repeat the former’s mistakes.
VRChat being referred to as the millenial/Gen Z “Second Life” doesn’t mean it’s replacing it entirely. It means it’s a virtual world people have flocked to and are now growing up in, just as the previous generation has with their own metaverse. One day, another game will come along that will be referred to as (Generation Whatever’s) “VRChat”. The cycle will continue to repeat from here.
I’m hoping this is the last time I go over the two games in comparison, because my main message throughout has been about what Second Life can learn and use from VRChat. Attacking people blindly for saying this is silly. Surely you can find more dramatic things to get up in arms about, right?
Let’s Talk About Fishing
After diving into GDS’s fishing system and cooking to my heart’s content, I’ve pulled back a little to invest in rezzing less on my land. My interests for growing anything has turned to keeping a Teeglepet horse instead. I’ve even entered races with my horse and won prizes! If you like that sort of thing, check out the V-Steed group in-world. They have racing days where you can enter to race other horses by brands (Jinx centaurs, Water Horse horses, Teeglepet, etc).
My new favorite chill game of the moment? Northern Operations Fishing. It’s a grid-wide game with a fishing server script within its fishing rods, so you don’t need to buy bait or a server object to play on. People compete weekly to catch the most fish. Every Sunday, the player who has caught the most fish over the week gets a trophy! You can also host fishing competitions grid-wide for free.
There are many times when I’ve wanted to just hang out on an SL ocean and fish idly, but other fishing games wouldn’t let me do that without rezzing bait or the fish I caught. Northern’s fishing system is just wear and go! If you have 100L to spend on this and love fishing, give this a shot. It’s very fun.
What I’m Wearing:
Raven Bell – Umbriel Hair
Neve – Tuesday Stripe shirt
Neve – Artist Frayed jeans
What Next – Wearable Row Boat (gacha, “fishy business” variety)
Note: The barracuda in the picture is what I actually caught playing the game!
Music: Justice – Chorus (live)