Before I started in Second Life, I had never tried any massively-multiplayer environments, and indeed, had done very little multiplayer gaming at all. (Some Halo 2, World Championship Poker, and a few other things on Xbox Live, but that’s about it.) Those who know me know that I’m not even a big user of instant-messaging systems, or chat systems like IRC. (It wasn’t always so. Back in the days of the BIX network, I used to be a big user of the CBIX chat system, which was like a proto-IRC. However, for various reasons which shall not be discussed here, I had to leave, and developed an aversion to chat systems as a result of the whole experience. Even working for Jabber Inc. didn’t completely dispel those demons.) However, the world of SL intrigued me enough, from what I’d read, that I managed to overcome that, though not without a certain trepidation. I won’t say that SL was the prime factor in encouraging me to upgrade my personal system to a state in which it was possible to go in-world, but it was a consideration, to be sure.
I’ve encountered many people, though, who migrated to SL from other environments and MMORPGs, such as There, The Sims Online, the late lamented Uru Live, Star Wars Galaxies, and so forth. Makes me wonder how they decided to make the jump. Probably–though I’m only guessing here because I have no direct experience to draw from–these were the kind of people that saw these games as more than games, and, in the end, wanted them to be more than games. But, faced with the limitations of their platforms, they chose to throw their lot in with LL and become Residents. Those that viewed those environments in strictly game-like terms, on the other hand, would have stayed behind. (There is supposed to be an SL-like world, but, from what I’ve heard, it’s more restrictive, especially on creators. That probably prompted more than a few defections.)
So, for SL to be able to draw in both longtime MMO users such as those and longtime refuseniks such as myself, as well as a whole passel of casual users…it must be something very special indeed. Which of course it is. 🙂