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Second Life is a 3D online virtual world where users can own virtual property, run virtual shops and interact with each other using customized avatars. While it shares many similarities with online multiplayer games, it is often considered a sandbox virtual world rather than a video game.
Users, referred to as “Residents”, are able to create their own virtual objects using the client’s 3D modeling tool. Avatars can be completely customized as well, with some users making realistic versions of themselves, anthropomophic animals and even inanimate objects as their custom skins. Scripts can be written using the Linden Scripting Language to make various objects interact with other users. The virtual currency is the Linden dollar, which has its own exchange rate for real-world currencies. Basic user accounts are free of charge and a paid premium membership includes additional benefits such as increased technical support and a stipend of 300 Linden dollars per week.
The prototype for Second Life was developed by Philip Rosedale after forming the Internet company Linden Lab in 1999 and launched as an official product on June 23rd, 2003. On September 9th, 2009, Joystiq reported that Second Life’s concurrent active users drastically declined after Linden Lab announced new policies that curbed automated bot use.
On January 8th, 2008, The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced that Second Life had been honored for advancing the development of online sites at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards. On June 9th, 2010, the blog Daily Finance reported that Linden Labs had announced that they would be laying off 30% of their entire workforce.
According to a post published to the official Linden Lab blog on August 13th, 2011, Second Life’s average monthly users, user hours and economic participation remained nearly flat-lined for the second quarter of 2011. The @SecondLife official Twitter account has 26,853 followers and an official Facebook fan page has 199,145 likes as of November 3rd, 2011.
Second Life has an eclectic user base from a variety of subcultures. The official Second Life community page displays the various ways users can connect by using the multiple chat services, group creation, event calendars and official forums. Furries are well represented within Second Life as they are able to customize their personal avatars to represent their anthropomorphic animal “fursona.”
Anshe Chung CNET Interview
On December 18th, 2006, CNET held an interview in a virtual studio within the Second Life world with Linden dollars millionaire Anshe Chung. On December 20th, the comedy website Something Awful  reported that the interview was shut down by griefers who flooded the interview area with virtual phalli.
According to the Unofficial Sion Chicken Blog, Sion chickens are virtual pets created by Second Life Resident Sion Zaius. The first known mention of the chickens was in a post on the Meow Mommy blog from March 5th, 2009. On November 19th, 2009, the Alphaville Herald published an article featuring research by Web Ecology project’s Patrick Davison that explained how the chickens began reproducing at an unmanageable rate. Eventually, it became a sport within the game to hunt and kill the chickens.
all it took was a few too many getting left alone for a little to long, and, the estimates I found put the peak of the chicken population somewhere above… 100,000. And because the chickens are so robustly simulated, get too many of them in the same place, and they start to slow down the sever.
Ralph Pootawn refers to a green troll-like avatar from a series of viral Second Life screenshots where Ralph is apparently watching people have virtual sex without their permission. One of the more notable images features a couple saying “Ralph pls go” to which he replies “no.”
On November 3rd, 2011, Kotaku reported that Second Life had been added to the FBI’s “National Gang Threat Assessment.”
“Second life provides versatility and anonymity and allows for covert communications. Because of its anonymity and versatility, gang members could potentially use second life to recruit, spread propaganda, commit other crimes such as drug trafficking, and receive training for real-world criminal operations.”
Daily Finance – Second Life Owner Linden Lab to Lay Off 30% of Its Workers
Emmy Online – Winners of 59th technology & engineering Emmy Awards
Alphaville Herald – Egghead Studies Second Life Chickens – Clucks To Shocking Conclusion!!!