The SecondLife Cycle

I believe there is a general pattern of experiences and behaviors that many (not all) Second Lifers tend to experience.   I feel like I have been through the entire cycle from beginning through to end, so I am going to share my version of it for you.  Obviously people who find a purpose to the game other than just enjoyment differ from this curve.   For instance designers who make a significant portion of their income or educators using SL as a teaching tool would not follow this pattern.   I do feel though that it does apply to most of us average users.


Stage 1)  Fresh off the boat

  • This phase is learning and adapting to a new world
  • Learning to move, talk, currency, how to change clothes, etc
  • Most time is spent just aimlessly wandering the grid
  • Will have one or two friendships with other noobs who are also fresh off orientation island
  • Spends a good portion of time lurking and watching in sex clubs and other fringe areas of the grid

Stage 2)  Gimme some L’s

  • This phase is discovering you need more than the basic tools you are given to navigate the world
  • Realizes you need to buy some things to differentiate yourself from the other noobs
  • Faced with the conundrum of not wanting to spend any money on a free game but realizing that one must have L’s to survive results in latching onto freebie culture, camping, or even asking people for money
  • Wants to begin to dump the old friendships as it becomes readily apparent that he has zero compatibility with them outside of being noobs, and demonstrates a propensity to be clingy around people he deems to be part of the cool crowd
  • Develops a nesting pattern of hanging out at a favorite hangout – be it a club, gaming site, or just public area.   Will set home somewhere away from the public area.
  • Continues to explore sims or chase green dots to find populated sims with something of interest going on
  • Jumps on his first set of poseballs and begins to go after potential dates
  • If you have a good personality you might find an older more experienced player who will teach you things like basic building, how to work camera controls, and how to align prims on your body

Stage 3)  Finding your groove

  • Overall this stage is characterized as the high energy phase
  • You dabble in lots of things like building, scripting, terraforming, machinima, fashion, role-playing, blogging, djing, gaming until you find one that really calls out to you
  • You want to make some money so depending on your skillset  you might try opening a store, working at a club, opening your own club, building for hire, escort, etc
  • You buy a house and decorate it just the way you want after scouring the grid looking through every place you can find
  • You have a regular group of friends who you hang out with
  • Love is in the air, and you find your first real mate who sucks up more and more of your time as you can’t get enough of each other
  • You see nothing but potential and upside and you find yourself putting a lot of hours into SecondLife

Stage 4)  Bigger is better

  • In this phase your wants outpace your needs and resources
  • Although you will always remember your first house with a certain fondness, you realize that you need at least triple that many prims to even breathe.  You add land and prims to accomodate your “basic” needs.
  • Maybe you make the plunge and figure that your store could sell 500 times what it is selling right now if only you had a full sim
  • You hire staff to help you with your projects
  • You decide that just maybe that new person who has been hanging around you a lot lately, is much cooler than your current mate, and you move on to your next relationship.   Maybe this one is it, or maybe it is just the first of many because you find you are addicted to that infatuation stage.
  • You are getting a “name” around your circle of friends so you are respected for your skills and personality.  Many of you misinterpret that circle of friends as representing the entire grid and you start to get deluded visions of SLebrity status
  • You have a tight group of close friends, and lots of acquaintances, so that whenever you roll into your frequent haunts, people know your name
  • The hours you are spending in world peak out at as much time as you can put in based on your RL situation.
  • Why buy just one color/combination when the fatpack is available?

Stage 5)  Reigning it back in

  • Hello reality as it starts to smack you hard against the face
  • You grow a little more cynical after having been the target of X or Y drama around either your ex or someone who has the wrong opinion of you
  • You realize that you are shelling out a lot more money than you are making, and that you can’t afford the amount of tier you are paying.
  • You realize that you are neglecting your RL world, and you start to rethink your priorities
  • Many of your closest friends start to drift out of the world, and you find that your tight knit group is falling apart as people move on
  • You find yourself bored in world now, and you aren’t sure what to do to entertain yourself.
  • You dabble in other games and social media outlets in an attempt to find that source of fun again.
  • As you read posts, and hear about drama, it begins to sound like a repeat of things you have heard and been through before.

Stage 6)  Minimal maintenance

  • Bare basic interaction
  • You find that you only log in to check IM’s or to attend select events that your friend is hosting
  • You move onto other games/social networks
  • Any of your remaining friends are added to things like Messenger or Plurk as a means of keeping up to date with them
  • You find that when  you do log into SL, you don’t have people im’ing you
  • You watch as the new stars rise up to take the stage from you, and realize that you are fading out of the limelight and that if you walk into a club, it would be a shock if someone knows who you are
  • You find that when you do log in, it is only to accomplish some sort of purpose or action (ie I need a pic for this blog post, or I saw this on the feed and I really want to buy it – even though no one will probably ever see me wear it.)

What stage are you in?


18 Responses to “The SecondLife Cycle”

  1. Being in sl for almost 5 years now, I have found that I usually hit stage 6 and then somehow cycle back to 3 and start the whole process over. Interesting post.

  2. Aescula Says:

    I have to agree with Megan. SL is a periodically addictive game. I’ve noticed this with EverQuest II, as well. There’s gotta be some key thing in game design that does that.

  3. Bash Constantine Says:

    /me watches future SL stages flash before his eyes. “Uh-oh.”

  4. I’m very glad that it’s not just me that chases green dots.
    I’ve found that it can lead to some embarassing situations though, like when you discover a green dot is actually two green dots really close together.

    I’m probably flitting between stage 2 and 3 myself.

    Do you think the rate at which people move between stages varies by person?

  5. hawksrock Says:

    I agree that it is possible to become enthused in something and backtrack and start the cycle over – maybe there is a new development (like sculpties or Windlight), you find something changed in your RL situation, or even you find that you miss your old ways and you make a conscious effort to jump back into it again. My guess though is that after going back you move through the cycles faster and reach burnout quicker the second, third, fourth iterations.

    @Marnix – I think we can all tell some sort of green dot jumping experience… lol. I do totally think that the speed depends a lot on the person, their experiences, skill sets, etc…

  6. Wow, depressingly I think I’m somewhere between 5 and 6. With the occasional burst of 4…

  7. 6! totally a 6

  8. Elizabeth Hallstrom Says:

    I’m emotionally in 5 LOL.

  9. I never fully hit 4 before i skipped right on into 5.

  10. I’d say 6.
    Thanks for the interesting read.

  11. I must say, I can not agree with you in 100%, but it’s just my opinion, which could be wrong.
    p.s. You have a very good template for your blog. Where did you find it?

  12. Spot on post IMO…definitely at stage 6 now LOL

  13. Spot on post IMO…definitely at stage 6 now LOL

  14. Eve Petlyakov Says:

    I’m at 6 but now learning Machinma and starting to hang with more SL ‘Artists’ so I have a feeling I’m going back to 3 sometime. Maybe 4.

  15. Distilled1 Says:

    I find I have been in 6 a year and even adding a new alt go from 4-6 in days…

  16. ♥JellyBean♥ Says:

    I’m def in 6 *sigh*

  17. blaubeermund Says:

    I think I’ve hit… somewhere around stage five. Though, that’s what I usually do with games. It’s happened twice for SL now for me…

    Start getting bored, dabble in other games, get distracted with other games.
    Few days to a week later, log in to SL to see what’s new / what a friend’s freaking out about / after being spammed with saved IM/notice emails / out of boredom.
    Waddle around for a few days killing time and exploring (Even though it’s kinda hard to explore TSL when you’ve been to most every sim already), then find something interesting and new to do or something nifty to buy (if latter, show off).
    Spend next month or two enthralled with SL again.
    Hit a snarl (drama, financial hiccup, whatever), and start losing interest in SL.
    Add any new close friends to messenger lists. Complain about messengers not working correctly.
    Dabble in non-SL games, browse blogs, browse youtube, twitter, whatever. Lather rinse repeat.

    Yeah. haha. that’s what happens with me.

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