You can joke all you want about Second Life fanatics never going outside, but it’s a lot less funny when they don’t have any other choice.

We’ve all heard the stories about Second Life, that it’s like some digital Mos Eisely, packed to its virtual rafters with scum and villainy. But in issue 273 of The Escapist, Catie Osborn tells the story of how she was ready to write the whole thing off a hangout for weirdos and losers, until she met someone in there who had nowhere else to go.

When I originally heard about Second Life, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. A couple of friends introduced me to the idea of living vicariously through online avatars, and, after a little research, I was amazed to see the impact these virtual lives had on real-life profit margins. I declared Second Life a giant rip-off and dismissed it as a waste of both time and money. My friend suggested that before I judge, I might experience it myself.

I spent ten minutes wandering from place to place, trying to understand what exactly was going on. Everywhere I looked, people were milling around, interacting and buying stuff from stores that all looked the same to me. It was in one of these giant stores that I was approached by two characters who greeted me warmly and welcomed me to Second Life.

“W” introduced himself first. His avatar was a tall, lean gentleman decked out handsomely in the latest Edwardian fashions, complete with frock coat and black lace cuffs. The second was “K,” whose female avatar was scantily clad in a daring black and pink ensemble that ended in a pair of 5-inch heels.

It wasn’t long before Osborn learned that there was more to the pair’s relationship than she could ever have guessed, forcing her to rethink her attitude towards the people she met online. You can read more about it in her article, “Second Real Life.”

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