Saturday, January 21, 2006

Creating a "Home" in Second Life

Riverrun
Riverrun,
originally uploaded by miawb.
This is one of the houses I've built in SL - Riverrun. It is located in a sim called Epirrita, and the information I've given just now is enough for anyone inworld to find this house should they want to.

The car outside the house is mine. It can be driven on the "road" outside my property. This picture is taken at sunrise and the lights on the balcony are about to go off. A script makes sure that this happen. The same script makes the lights go on again at sunset.

Perhaps it is simply a grown-up's playhouse, a place where I can create couches, beds or tables. But it is also a place where I write and test scripts, a place where I try out different designs in a pretty accurate 3D world, and a place where I run into and "talk" to neighbours (who IRL might live on the opposite side of the globe).

The strangest part is really that this house I've created turns into a "home" after a while. It is where we relax and chat. It is the place we return to after some "expedition". It gives us a feeling of privacy, although privacy in the RL sense does not exist. Homes in SL are in many ways like apartments where the walls are too thin, where neighbours hear everything that happens. There is a similar effect in SL. It is actually possible to "hear" other people chat if they are close enough, and it's possible to look inside someone else's house without entering it.

This does not happen without warning though. A green dot on the mini map symbolizes an avatar, and if one appears close to you, you are aware that someone else is close. New codes of conduct appear in this environment.

Entering empty houses to look around and learn things is most of the time considered okay. But unless you have a reason for meeting someone, you usually don't enter that house if you see a green dot there, especially if you don't know the owner of that house. If you see two dots on the map, i.e. two people meeting in a house, your entering is usually considered a violation of privacy.

This means that people, even though it is impossible to guarantee any privacy in a virtual world like SL, still seem to adapt their behaviour voluntarily and create a new type of private sphere. The house they build, their home in SL, becomes the symbol and shows the boundaries of the space they want to claim as their own.

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