Second Life is a game which has become something of a cult classic despite being around for less than 3 years. In fact when you take into account the glitches and the growing pains which they had in their first 6 months or so, it’s mighty impressive that they have managed to achieve what they have in such a short space of time. When the creators brought this game about they were banking on people creating a reality on the game and then living it in their real life, or at least hoping to replicate it, but the reality has actually been art imitating life and Second Life has become scarily accurate in that regard.
With every update and every creative idea the game gets better and more accurate and we are even seeing a possible use for the game in terms of politics, which could certainly provide a healthy kick up the butt for democracy.
Presidential candidate and the governor for Virginia Mark Warner is going to be the first political ever to use this game for what he calls a ‘virtual town hall of politics’ set to go live later in the year. Speaking on the subject the governor had this to say:
“In Second Life,distances and time differences vanish. It will allow us to reach people through a whole new medium. Social technologies can be great tools for political change, and virtual worlds like Second Life might be the next tool for engaging people in the real world democratic process. We want to use Second Life to continue the conversation about the direction of our country. My avatar is also pretty funny looking. That alone makes it worth checking out.”
The key point which I want to pick out from what the governor has said is the word ‘engaging’ and this is desperately what young voters need, they have to become engaged. In my view we have lost what our parents once had in terms of that real passion for politics and voting and have fallen into that trap of ‘why vote, all the same blah blah blah’. If however we are able to get a presidential candidate to jump on a virtual reality game like this and bring politics to the people rather than expecting the people to come to politics, then engagement is exactly what they are going to get.
Second Life does not just create a false world, it also creates a false society, now this can be viewed positively or negatively but for my money this is the perfect ground zero to start a new way of thinking about politics, especially given the age range of those who play the game. Used in the right way, and by people on both sides of the aisle, I think that this could be a wonderful way to get more and more young people inspired and engaged to get involved in politics, fair play to you Mark Warner.