An Experienced Second Life User Responds to Facebook/Meta’s Grand Metaverse Ambitions: “We’ve Been There, Done That…Two Decades Ago”

Will Meta trample Second Life? (image source)

I was waiting for somebody with deep roots in Second Life to write a complete, detailed response to Facebook (sorry, Meta) and its ambitious plans to build the metaverse, and lo and behold, Phaylen Fairchild rose to the challenge!

In a Medium post written yesterday, titled Facebook Meta Isn’t New. The Future Started in 2003, Phaylen (who actually was the organizer of Second Life’s sixth birthday celebration, SL6B, way back in 2009), shares her opinions about Meta’s grand plans, informed by her many years of experience in Second Life.

Her longform article is insightful, and I very strongly urge you to go over to her website and read it in full. Best of all, the author assumes that you know nothing about Second Life, which is a common trap those who write about SL for an external audience tend to fall into.

Meta offers some pretty amazing concepts such as Avatar creation, shared virtual spaces, immersive environments and user generated content that will take users far beyond the third person experience of simple status box. Facebook Meta will feature teleportation to other users rooms and customized experiences. From inside, you’re no longer an idle profile picture, but a 3-D representative of yourself. Within this world exists a new social media platform called “Horizon.” It promises detailed and expansive worlds with infinite possibilities and will essentially redefine the way we communicate, collaborate and educate.

Within the Virtual world, you can attend concerts or watch a movie with friends. You will be able to go to parties with thousands of other people around the world or watch a sporting event from the front row, listen to talk shows with your favorite celebrities or buy, sell and trade virtual digital goods. Work from your office 3000 miles away or walk with dinosaurs from 40 million years ago in real time without ever leaving your home.

If this sounds familiar, maybe it’s because you’re a fan or Ready Player One or read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Or maybe… just maybe, you did this all before, if you’ve ever logged into Second Life.

Phalyen also interviews former Linden Lab CEO Rob Humble, and quotes a tweet by Robin Harper, a former Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Linden Lab, to get their perspectives on what’s happening now with Meta.

Phaylen writes:

Facebook’s transitional to Meta appears to expect that, beyond pitching itself in a well-produced video, it can forgo traditional marketing necessities by leveraging an already embedded userbase of nearly 3 billion people. As a cultural staple, literally the most formidable technological asset in the world, it hopes to parlay its simple web-based presence in our daily lives into a 3-D, immersive world, where from inside, you work, socialize, entertain and share your presence beyond a status update. But already, Meta is falling victim to the same issues suffered by those that came before and ultimately failed.

Cartoon-like avatars instead of Second Life’s extraordinary, photo realistic avatars was partly why users of Google Lively disassociated from their in-world activities. They felt like they were playing a character instead of using it as a representative of themselves. Limited content creation and a lack of open world made it feel boxed in- you were literally in a box, and the interface was unintuitive and disruptive to the user instead of fluid. Second Life boasts everything from sprawling landscapes of golden wheat fields and sparkling oceans on which to take a cruise of race sailboats, to massive cityscapes bursting with activities- even traffic. That developers at Lively thought they could follow that by isolating users to a room in outer space was an unfortunate, tone-deaf introduction as a Second Life alternative.

Comparing Meta’s avatars with Second Life avatars (image source)

In her conclusion, Phaylen explains some important differences between what Meta wants to do and what Second Life has already done, and she emphasizes something which I say often on this blog: that SL is the perfect, mature, fully-evolved model of the metaverse which newer platforms would be wise to study, learn from and emulate.

Zuckerberg and the developers of Meta, which claims it is “A long way out,” could use Second Life as a proof of concept, leveraging the best parts of it, researching the mistakes made, and using those established building blocks to bring it into the 2020’s. But everything in the video published around the web by Facebook that revealed Meta already exists- and in many cases, in a better, more satisfactory framework than they propose. In Meta, you’re not building your world, you’re essentially putting your calling card on things that already exist- such as a logo on a wall or a sign. Second Life proved that user content and world-building are key- we’re putting our signature on our space, not just in a space. There was an intimacy, a personality with what we brought in and used to build up that reflected our identity. The day Second Life launched, it was a massive empty space just waiting for Residents to build and create limited only by the boundaries of their imagination- and it was that canvas that led them to push those boundaries, and by virtue of that, inspire others. What it wasn’t was a catalog of pre-made content, copy and paste code or simply a transfer of well known video games into the virtual realm. Most of what Facebook advertised in its reveal for Meta was pre-existing games made compatible with VR headsets such as the Oculus which will be compatible with Meta- but Meta isn’t necessary to play these games in Virtual Realty or 3-D, most have already been ported to a platform where that is possible, such as Playstation of X-Box. Collaborative meetings already exist as well, with Zoom and Webex leading the charge, which begs the question, how does Meta intend to improve upon these applications rather than simply integrate them?

For old Second Life residents, the announcement of Meta wasn’t all that innovative or awe-inducing.

We’ve been there, done that… 2 decades ago.


Thank you to Neobela for the heads up!

DRAMA ALERT! Adult Virtual World 3DX Chat Fractures into Four Separate, Copycat, Warring Worlds

PLEASE NOTE: All the links in this blogpost are safe for work, but obviously, I have no control over what you see once you leave my blog for the greater internet! Consider yourself forewarned 😉

I am endlessly bemused that my few blogposts about adult content in virtual worlds get so much traffic! In fact, my blogpost about hidden adult content in VRChat (far and away the most visited post on the RyanSchultz.com blog) gets anywhere between 120 and 220 views per day, probably because it is the top search result when you search Google for “vrchat adult”. (I need to rent out advertising space on that post!)

3DX Chat (please note, the website is NOT SAFE FOR WORK!)

In October of 2018, I wrote up a review of an adult/sex-based virtual world called 3DX Chat, titled 3DX Chat: A Brief Introduction (and the Biggest Problem with Most Adult Virtual Worlds). It is another perennially popular post on my blog, and in it, I wrote:

Before we get started, I want to make it clear that I am not going to get into the habit of covering adult/sex-based virtual worlds. There are literally dozens of them out there, and frankly, I find them boring as hell.

So, why am I writing about 3DX Chat? Well, as you will learn, I discovered that they have a free-to-access test version available for a limited time, so I decided to check it out. 

And, as promised, I have largely refrained from writing about adult/sex-based virtual worlds on this blog (other than speculating what would happen if one of the more popular social VR platforms were to break from the pack and start offering adult content). I still find them boring as hell, and therefore I’m going to leave the reporting on news and events in such worlds to other people (with this post a rare exception to the rule).

However, I had a friend in a Clubhouse chatroom about the metaverse mention a new, adult platform called Meredian (yes, that’s how it’s spelled, and no, I’m NOT going to link to it; be forewarned that the website is one of the sketchiest I’ve ever seen!!!). Taking a look at the avatars pictured on that website, they reminded me so strongly of the 3DX Chat avatars, that I was prompted to go do a little exploring, and like Alice in Wonderland, I fell down the rabbit hole!

As it turns out, Meredian is a copy of 3DX Chat—and that’s not all. I learned that there are now three separate, copycat versions of the original 3DX Chat out there!

PLEASE NOTE: I have blurred out the URL in this tweet, as it links to the NSFW 3DX Chat website! You have been warned.

I learned today that there are now three 3DX Chat rip-offs out there in public. 3DX Chat Meridian, Zona 3DX and 3DX Union are NOT legal. Please play and pay for the original 3DX Chat, thank you!

So, I did a little more sleuthing on the internet, and according to a lengthy thread on this adult games discussion forum, there has been no shortage of drama (including a trojan horse program found in the Meredian client software):

USER #1: The last post in the thread said you would examine the game for anything suspicious, and there was talk of malware, viruses etc… Did you find anything like that? 

FORUM MODERATOR: We didn’t look into it, we decided that the game should not be allowed, so there’s no point in investigating…The ban was not related to any supposed malware, the fact is that the game is online and that’s against our rules, although the fact that such accusation exists at all is a prime example of why we don’t allow online games in the forum. We have tolerated the game for a long because it was added before we tightened the rules, and because an offline version exited, but the increasing toxicity and shitfest in that thread make it very hard to justify having it in the forum.

USER #2: FYI – the newest version from [the Meredian website] really does have a trojan in the .DLL [file]

USER #3: I agree. The only reason I ever tested out Meredian was more out of curiosity then anything else and to have an alternative platform to go out dancing on with the lady I’m partnered / married to on Second Life. Since we game out side of SL it was basically just another thing for us to check out together. When all that drama hit we didn’t bother to update the client because of people having virus issues and stuff. Plus when their mods started cracking it on everyone for no real valid reasons that was pretty much my off ramp mate. There is definitely some bad blood between them and the people running [a competing platform]. The DDOS situation that went down as I said before looked very odd given the time frames and all. It was enough for me to stay clear of it. I did join their Discord and ask some questions to certain people running it, but to be honest mate they really couldn’t answer any of my questions to my satisfaction which sent up red flags considering they were relatively simple questions. Actually some of them went unanswered even. lol So ya I gave them a miss too.

Which is where I issue my standard warning: beware of any adult virtual world software! In the case of 3DX and its many copycat programs, it would appear that the best course of action would be to steer clear of them completely (or at least run a thorough virus scan on any client software you download and install on your hard drive).

I have no idea what happened behind the scenes at 3DX Chat, or how pirate copies of the code came to be. There appears to be some sort of rivalry between the platforms, who are trying to steal users from each other by offering ever-lower subscription prices for their services—sort of a race to the bottom. It’s somewhat fascinating to behold.

3DX Chat has even slashed its subscription fees in half, in a desperate attempt to keep its users from leaving for the copycat platforms

Meredian even has what RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K. alumni Tayce the drag queen calls “the cheek, the nerve, the gall, the audacity, and the gumption” to deem itself the “Official 3DX Game”:

However, I must confess that, for the sheer entertainment value alone, Auntie Ryan is clutching her pearls, and absolutely living for the messy drama! 😉 And, you must admit, how often do you see a virtual world splinter into warring factions like this?