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Randall Ahren

What Keeps You Coming Back to SL?

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I read an interesting article in The Atlantic that discussed what makes a game a game. The key for something to be a game is that unlike RL, it must provide some constraints such as "a board, field, pitch, court, area, table, ring or other enclosure that bounds the action in space; clocks that bound it in time; and rules that restrict the space of allowable moves."

The constraints are what make games mentally satisfying. Without the constraints, we suffer from "the anxiety of freedom." Humans crave structure because there is so little of it in RL. It is too difficult for us to decide on our own if we "have a healthy romantic relationship" or "are making a lasting contribution to something bigger" like the "community:" Games in contrast provide that structure via "obvious, well-defined goals, they save us from having to define success; and with points, leaderboards, heads-up displays, indicators, badges, etc., they tell us exactly when we've achieved it."

What is interesting, is that SL does none of that. There are no obvious, well defined goals. It is up to everyone individually to decide if they are a success or not at SL. If the article is correct, than what makes SL work?

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If that's how you're going to define a game, then SL isn't a game. There are many who will disagree, but I've never really thought it was a game, anyway.

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Interesting article.... Second Life does have a bit of that, it does share some game-like constraints. There is a board, the set of tiles that compose a sim for example. There is a restriction of allowable moves as your avatar can't walk up to any tree, pick any leaf off at random in hand. You can't spraypaint a mural on a wall. You can't dig up a little soil where there is grass and let the dirt crumble from your hand. There is only so much depth of detail and options.

However, the lack of freedom to your choices is enjoyable in a well-designed sim with some fun built in interactions.

The environment of SL does offer some of the same set of limitations but I agree with you that it does have a much wider degree of freedom than most games - mostly cause there is no score or time limit!

I keep coming back to Second Life because my sim is a place me & my partner made together & it is fun to enjoy structures which you created yourself and its not just in your imagination or sketched on paper anymore... it exists everyday. I also keep coming back in SL because there is always new things to see & new places to go & in virtuality there is no costs to travelling around ever. Teleporting is free & my avatar never gets tired of walking.

That's some real life game constraints which Second Life removes :matte-motes-whistle:

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First, sl isn't a game. It has never been pitched as such by anyone with even an iota of common sense. Even linden labs has the good sense to not call it a game, lol(which speaks volumes about them since, well, yeah I often doubt their common sense). Because it does not fit within the constraints a "game" has, period. Games exist within sl, of course, but sl is *not a game. Even the folks I know who call it such, know the difference-or at least they seem to, they simply call sl a game for lack of better termI suppose. If you call it a virtual world, or platform, to folks who aren't aware, they likely have no clue what you're talking about. If you call it a game, it very well may peak their interest long enough to actually talk about it. I think that's often where the word game, gets mixed up with the words Second Life. I honestly don't think anyone intentionally calls it that and *really feels it is "just a game". Although it's a phrase we hear/see a lot.

Sl is a virtual world, a platform, an ever growing community. That's what makes sl work. Each of our own individual definitions aren't what makes sl work. But the combined efforts of all our definitions, does. People use sl for a myriad of things. Just about anything is possible in sl. This too, is why sl works. The glue that keeps this virtual world together is, us, those who partake-past, present and future. I'm not just talking financially here-I think that's pretty obvious. I am talking about experiences. We use sl for whatever our hearts desire(for the most part). And we will always remain the glue that holds sl together. When one of us leaves, as we all know happens, someone else comes in to take their place, so to speak anyway. It would take something drastic to knock sl off the web permanently. Even given everything that has happened and gone wrong over the years, I don't think we'll see anything like that anytime soon. Difficult times aside, we all have reasons we stay in sl, come back to sl, and bring others into sl. They're as different and diverse as you and I. Kinda like real life. ;)

I don't often ponder why sl works, or what keeps it together. At least no more than I ponder why the earth works and what holds it together. It just...does.

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The questions are almost religious. Why are we here in SL? What provides meaning for your SL existence? Why log in to something that causes anxiety from too much freedom? Are we just really bored? Do we have some deep seated need for teh sects? I guess we all have own reasons and when we no longer have a reason for being here, our SL existence flickers out.

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Perhaps we need to ask ourselves... is our RL being structured and constrained to the point where we wanted to just 'run' away from it? What makes SL appeals to about 30K concurrent users and not the rest of 7 billion people on this earth?

Maybe there are just to many restrictions, dos and donts, peer pressures, expectations from the people who could make a deep impact in your Real Life that you imagined yourself what would it be like 'if' .......

That's where SL comes in... your answer to 'if' ... and the best part of it, 'if' can be done in variety of ways that the only limitation you will have is your imagination.

 

(VERY interesting topic... see, I'm not kidding when I said you have a briliant mind!)

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do i believe SL is a game in itself? No its more of an online world or even a chat program.kinda like a 3d version of skype as some has put it.

if you are a roleplayer then yeah i can see how it is used as a game, because you can do more here in an online roleplay rather than one such at WoW or Rift even.

as far as what keeps me coming back to SL, its my friends that i have made on here. and my life that i lead in SL. its a place where i can be me.

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I just thought of an idea for a SL product. It's going to be a shirt that says on the front and back:

 

What the heck am I doing here?

 

Except I will replace "heck" with a four letter word substitute, which means of course that it will be a mature product. I'll wear the shirt at a boring infohub where all the avatars are just standing around silently and pass out notecards explaining why they feel compelled to be here. I just need a good explanation to put on the notecard. Does somebody have a good one?

Edit: I thought of a good explanation to put on the notecard: "You are here for teh sects." Or maybe that should go on the back of the shirt and the question on the front?

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Like I said, the reasons for why people remain in sl are as diverse as the people who hold those opinions. There is not right, wrong, or even "the majorty says" sort of answer to that question.

I come to sl because I absolutely love doing so. Every minute, good bad or indifferent. I absolutely love sl. I love being able to chat with folks all around the world. Yes that's something you can get elsewhere on the net, it just happens to be one of many reasons sl is awesome for me. I love creating new things. I'm not always that good at it, in fact sometimes I am downright terrible, but I still love that I get the chance to explore my own creativity and test myself. I love helping other people out-which I do in real life as well. I love the vast possibilities that sl affords me. I love spending time with friends and family. I love learning new things. I love watching others' creativity take hold. In sl you can literally watch the world around you grow and expand as it's created. Something that also fascinates me in real life(cities growing, populations growing, medical advances growing.. etc.. etc..). I enjoy exploring the world around me in real life just as much as I enjoy exploring the world within sl. I'm not so bored with rl that I *need* these things. But I do thoroughly enjoy them, so why not? Why should it have to be that my real life is lacking something, for me to enjoy this platform? Do avid readers lack something in their lives that drives them to read book after book with a myriad of different subjects/topics?(and let's face it, often times books that intrgue us don't really have a whole lot in them relevant to our lives). I don't have a deep seeded need for intimate relations , that's for sure, lol.(though yes I do enjoy it, much like most humans, lol). But even folks who *are looking for that, can find it in sl. I happen to think that's pretty darn awesome.(not saying pixel relations is a replacement for real relations here, lol). There are a lot of things I can do in sl that I cannot in rl. I know a lot of other people who feel the same, actually. People who cannot have a real life business often open one up in sl. Many times those businesses are successful. Some folks use the money they make off sl businesses to supliment(replace even in some cases) their rl income(s). I know I've done that myself with my sl earnings, too.Some people use sl to gain more knowledge that will better their real lives in all sorts of ways.

Sl doesn't *have to be an escape from rl, in order for people to enjoy it. Although it very well may be for some people. That's pretty darn cool too. I am sure in our lifetimes we have all had to find *something to relieve us of some of the stress we feel in rl. Stress can be inevitable in life. Second life, for some folks, might be that outlet they need to diminish that stress. The world of sl is so vast, so uninhibited in many ways, it's so complex and yet simple at the same time. Sl is whatever you want it to be, and then some. Sl is just something that fascinates me, time and time again. No matter how long you've been here(there?), there is always more to see, more to do, more to learn. It's pretty darn cool-at least to me it is. Sl can come with it's own stressors that's for sure, but I think it's pretty obvious that if sl *truly bothered/annoyed/frustrated/stressed people as often as some say, we'd have way less people in sl than we do. Concurrency may be down, but it's not dead. So something *must be going right, if so many of us stay(or, perhaps can leave for a short time here and there, but always return).

It's hard to answer a question that asks why, when there really *isn't one definitive answer.

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Your anxiaty of freedom thing...well, lets just say we need the "Loss of Anxieety By tasking our minds to distract them from Anxious things" and basically SL works because it is a community of people and it has communication, tasking you can either make for you or find, and a few other things that keep parts of your brain busy.

And to the thinking of Anxiety of Freedom....people LIKE looking at nature scenes. They dislike roadway scenes. There is context to look at here! Nature has many pains that roads, buildings and other structures negate or have removed. Yet, we seem calm? My hypothesis is that we do not have anxiety to nature because we don't live in it! If we lived in it maybe we would LOVE a parthanon or a sqaure with a thinker talign philosophy in to distract us from the worry we will die in the wilds!

SO, I imagine the Anxiety of Freedom is not something that is so simple as to be applied to what a game is and also be applied to life. But, this is a notice of a percieved thinking pattern that dicators bring less pain ='s Dicatators can do no wrong. I hate to say it, but anxiety comes in many forms and they seem to be ralated to common things and this usage seems to NOT understand that we are simply distracting ourselves and our minds doing tasks to engage our mind to avoid anxiety over what those brain parts are made to deal with....we might even have such a unatural life in the modern day we have anxiety our ancestors never did! So, when we view roads....maybe it is simply because we only see obstacles to stuff that looks like food and green hillsides and trees look like food is abundant? So, our brain releases chemicals to make use feel good about that place, it wants us to go there! Games do the same thing. We play a game, feel less chemicals and this becomes a coping mechanism. But wait....SL? You are saying why does SL "work" and I say....it doesn't!

Many games outsell SL to the tune of millions AND they are NOT free at all! People buy these games for almost as much as a premium accounts costs and they buy them almost like everymonth...although, I am NOT using stats on this...just a little notice of family, freinds and online communications. So, I am sorry no stats or figures, no studies ect. But, you see best sellers "outselling" the accounts on SL each year AND those games go into the used market, are loned to freinds, sometimes rented by many people and then rippers copy them and distribute them!!!! So why does it work? It is a creation platform. You can create things! What are your constraints? Well, if you wish to create a character with a life, an ensamble and shedule, a virtual garden ect. you are restricted by the following:

1. Prim limits.

2. What is available on the market, what you can hunt out and what your contacts can make or lead you to.

3. Time, you have other tasks to do.

4. Linden Dollars.

If you are interested in creating things for the marketplace you are restricted by:

1. Money.

2. What prim limits you have to display.

3. Time.

4. Upload limited by money (if non beta grid fun).

5. LSL limits.

6. Animation Limits.

7. Texture Limits.

8. Skils.

9. Software.

Maybe there are a few more, I am rushing this lol. OK, maybe you are a landlord! You choose many things and it is complex as it involves employees and sales people, rental systems and legal issues ect. You see what I mean?

We are looking for entertainment, SL has this available. Users make thier own content, provide companionship or social type communication and so on. But, games for gaming platfrom boxes provide much much more. SL is a platform and not like a game product. The games for a game console are like the assets available in SL. SL is like the hardware...sort of. In fact, that is sort of what LL sells mostly! They host the land, and even worked on a way to teleport avatars back and forth between grids that are non LL grids! IBM, OpenSim and others worked on this!

The thinking that SL is a virtual world and is all owned by LL is sort of a way of thinking about it. But I think that OPenSIm make it much more NOT a world that we log into when we log into Agni, but more of a country that is simply NOT enabling intercontinental travel as of present....you could say there are no ports or landing strips...though the airplanes or teleporters are being worked on. BUT, if you RP then a sim is based on a world with different rules and so on...SO, maybe SL is a "Virtual Dimension" or a "Virtual Brane", if we are to get into like string theory comparisons lol. I figure the word "Platform" to sum it up in a simple way. But, a longer name is maybe needed and maybe there is simply no real world comparison...I mean, maybe our "continents" don't compare because we don't just flip a switch or 100 and make one, they are just thier. SO, the continent is not what is offered as it can be easily taken away and still LL would have a product. So, we are left only with them being a Entertainment and Communications Platform Hosting and Software Company. This defintion eplains OpenSim and the viewer. It explains the hosting of sims. It explains the reason the platform exists and also explains the phone service they offered. It almost covers it all...I think.

BUT, the tools they use are all gaming platform....well, aside from the phone stuff....oh, and all the chat and group stuff....oh, yeah....not to mention the games and prize based stuff with linden dollar tokens they run now and then...Ok, I am stumped. All I can get is the same definition: LL is a Entertainment and Communications Platform Hosting and Software Company and SL is the Entertainment and communications Platfrom they run.

So, SL is an Entertainment and Communications Platform that is server over the internet.

 

Ok, I am out of thinking...what where we talking about?

 

EDIT: OH, I remember and saw the title again.. "What keeps you coming back to SL?" Um...I like to make stuff and like 3D. Not only that, the world is neat to see. The user generated "world" that is...but should I say "worlds" because some are not the same and have a defined way of life ect. and defined time and place that is not the same as the common continant areas....0_o brain is starting to think to much again...ok, bye for now.

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Put my vote down in the "SL is not a game" column... certainly not in the traditional sense or as described by the article.

That said, SL does 'challenge' me just like the Sudoku puzzles I used to do before bed until I found myself 'playing' SL.  My challenge now isn't lining up numbers needlessly as a relaxation trick like with the puzzles, but it's making animations do their thing just right for builders or photographers etc.  So my 'challenge' is can I make the little people move just like the big RL people would like.  A game of sorts I'll admit, but now I win if someone else is happy with my effort if that makes sense.

So to me SL isn't really a game, but for the builders and other folks I work with there are certainly challenges with rewards (good grief, will I convince myself that it's a game?)  What keeps me coming back is the fun and pride of finishing something that other 'Real' people enjoy and have their own fun and grins with.

Truly the 'Real' people are the most important reason I come back... I remember fooling around with the Sims several years ago and I enjoyed that 'game' and it's challenges for about a week, but the little people weren't 'real' and real people are so much more fun, unpredictable, demanding, understanding, weird, clever, frisky, friendly, mean, load, shy, annoying, wonderful and everything in between and beyond.

SL, to me, is no more a game than RL which seems to be several other folk's thought so far.

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I prefer to tell people that SL is a simulator, but that it includes game elements, just as RL includes game elements.

Eventually, though, these kinds of distinctions will probably become totally unimportant, if not because of changes to SL, then because of changes to RL.

Suggested viewing/listening (listening is free):

http://longnow.org/seminars/02010/jul/27/visions-gamepocalypse/

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Josh Susanto wrote:

I prefer to tell people that SL is a simulator, but that it includes game elements, just as RL includes game elements.

Some people say SL is more than a game.  I disagree.  It is less than a game.  Everything that makes it more is "us", and where ever we go we take "us" with us.  The more than a game element is human interaction.  That is not SL.  That is "us".

I like to say that SL is a phone.  While you can play games with it, SL is not a game.  It is less than a game.  It is a tool and nothing more. All the life and activity in SL is all because of the people.  We are people talking to each other just like we would on a phone.  We play pretend roles like we could with a phone.  We listen to music like we do with our phones.  We play constructed games like we do with the apps on our phone.  SL is a no more a game than a pencil is a crossword puzzle. 

With all that stated, I do like this tool and everything I can do with this tool.  I am exposed daily to cultures flung all over the world.  I get to talk with people and understand what it is that makes them different and what they hope to achieve with their diversity.  I also get to dress up and take pictures.  I like to program little helpful devices.  There is a lot I can do with this tool.  I love my tool.  But it is just a tool.  Everything we love about SL is what we have made with that tool.

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If it's not a game, then why is "scoring" so much fun?  rofl2.gif

Seriously though, the reasons each person is here in SL are as diverse as the people themselves. I wouldn't even attempt to try pinning it down to a broad generalization, because whatever generalized reason you choose you'll be incorrect more then you'd be right. Me personally, it's the creative aspect as well as the whole social "battle of the sexes / battle of wits" thing that keeps me coming back.

I think it IS the freedom, and the vast spectrum of what's IN SL that makes SL work... because with it, each person can customize and mold their personal part in it to become their own favorite passtime.. whatever that may be. The differences between addicting gameplay and addicting play seems to be that freedom and multitude of choice.

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Randall Ahren wrote:

 

I read an interesting article in
that discussed what makes a game a game. The key for something to be a game is that unlike RL, it must provide some constraints such as "a board, field, pitch, court, area, table, ring or other enclosure that bounds the action in space; clocks that bound it in time; and rules that restrict the space of allowable moves."

The constraints are what make games mentally satisfying. Without the constraints, we suffer from "
." Humans crave structure because there is so little of it in RL. It is too difficult for us to decide on our own if we "have a healthy romantic relationship" or "are making a lasting contribution to something bigger" like the "community:" Games in contrast provide that structure via "obvious, well-defined goals, they save us from having to define success; and with points, leaderboards, heads-up displays, indicators, badges, etc., they tell us exactly when we've achieved it."

What is interesting, is that SL does none of that. There are no obvious, well defined goals. It is up to everyone individually to decide if they are a success or not at SL. If the article is correct, than what makes SL work?

I do not think of Second Life as a game,  nor do I feel it needs any of the things that define a game.  It is a virtual world,  for those who like to create things,  socialize,  and/or explore. 

I keep coming back for the amazing builds I see when I explore,  the awesome people I've met so far that make me laugh when we hang out,  and the potential to sit on the beach at my house and watch my virtual dolphin swim as the sun sets on the horizon.  :-)

 

 

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For me it's the freeform nature of SL that makes it appealing. I like that there are no "rules" or predefined things I have to accomplish in order to "succeed." My RL is full enough of goals and objectives and measures of success. In SL, I can just hang out with my friends, go where I want, and do what I want. But to answer the specific question in the title of this thread, the thing that keeps me coming back to SL is the people I have met here. They are really the ones who make my SL experience fun and fulfilling. Without these good friends to share it with, I don't think I'd still be spending much time inworld.

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Randall Ahren wrote:

 

I read an interesting article in
that discussed what makes a game a game. The key for something to be a game is that unlike RL, it must provide some constraints such as "a board, field, pitch, court, area, table, ring or other enclosure that bounds the action in space; clocks that bound it in time; and rules that restrict the space of allowable moves."

The constraints are what make games mentally satisfying. Without the constraints, we suffer from "
." Humans crave structure because there is so little of it in RL. It is too difficult for us to decide on our own if we "have a healthy romantic relationship" or "are making a lasting contribution to something bigger" like the "community:" Games in contrast provide that structure via "obvious, well-defined goals, they save us from having to define success; and with points, leaderboards, heads-up displays, indicators, badges, etc., they tell us exactly when we've achieved it."

What is interesting, is that SL does none of that. There are no obvious, well defined goals. It is up to everyone individually to decide if they are a success or not at SL. If the article is correct, than what makes SL work?

 

Hah! What a silly question! What keeps me coming back to SL? It's the...well.....................

 

A little help here? :matte-motes-confused:

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Kascha Matova wrote:

 

Randall Ahren wrote:

 

I read an interesting article in
that discussed what makes a game a game. The key for something to be a game is that unlike RL, it must provide some constraints such as "a board, field, pitch, court, area, table, ring or other enclosure that bounds the action in space; clocks that bound it in time; and rules that restrict the space of allowable moves."

The constraints are what make games mentally satisfying. Without the constraints, we suffer from "
." Humans crave structure because there is so little of it in RL. It is too difficult for us to decide on our own if we "have a healthy romantic relationship" or "are making a lasting contribution to something bigger" like the "community:" Games in contrast provide that structure via "obvious, well-defined goals, they save us from having to define success; and with points, leaderboards, heads-up displays, indicators, badges, etc., they tell us exactly when we've achieved it."

What is interesting, is that SL does none of that. There are no obvious, well defined goals. It is up to everyone individually to decide if they are a success or not at SL. If the article is correct, than what makes SL work?

 

Hah! What a silly question! What keeps me coming back to SL? It's the...well.....................

 

A little help here? :matte-motes-confused:


Masocistic addiction?  :D

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Rhonda Huntress wrote:


Kascha Matova wrote:

 

Randall Ahren wrote:

 

I read an interesting article in
that discussed what makes a game a game. The key for something to be a game is that unlike RL, it must provide some constraints such as "a board, field, pitch, court, area, table, ring or other enclosure that bounds the action in space; clocks that bound it in time; and rules that restrict the space of allowable moves."

The constraints are what make games mentally satisfying. Without the constraints, we suffer from "
." Humans crave structure because there is so little of it in RL. It is too difficult for us to decide on our own if we "have a healthy romantic relationship" or "are making a lasting contribution to something bigger" like the "community:" Games in contrast provide that structure via "obvious, well-defined goals, they save us from having to define success; and with points, leaderboards, heads-up displays, indicators, badges, etc., they tell us exactly when we've achieved it."

What is interesting, is that SL does none of that. There are no obvious, well defined goals. It is up to everyone individually to decide if they are a success or not at SL. If the article is correct, than what makes SL work?

 

Hah! What a silly question! What keeps me coming back to SL? It's the...well.....................

 

A little help here? :matte-motes-confused:


Masocistic addiction? 
:D

Yes. That just feels right rolling off the tongue doesn't it? Beats what I had! :smileyvery-happy:

 

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Quinn Morani wrote:

For me it's the freeform nature of SL that makes it appealing. I like that there are no "rules" or predefined things I have to accomplish in order to "succeed." My RL is full enough of goals and objectives and measures of success. In SL, I can just hang out with my friends, go where I want, and do what I want. But to answer the specific question in the title of this thread, the thing that keeps me coming back to SL is the people I have met here. They are really the ones who make my SL experience fun and fulfilling. Without these good friends to share it with, I don't think I'd still be spending much time inworld.

I very much agree with what you said.  :)  

 

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From the replies, there are evidently two broad categories that people fall into for why they continue to log in to SL. The first is for the company of friends and acquaintances. Sort of like a 3D Facebook. 

The second is that they find or make a game out of SL. They find Bloodlines or Amaretto horses and that gives them a reason to keep coming back. The breeders are playing a kind of ranchville game similar to the Farmville of Facebook.

Someone mentioned the appeal of starting a business in SL because it is easier than starting one in RL. A SL business is a kind of game and has definite rewards. If the owners do things right, their L$ account balance is rewarded with a surplus.

When it comes to teh sect, someone mentioned scoring. Instead of collecting souls as in Bloodlines, they're collecting virtual notches on a bedpost, which is also a type of game. I wish I could come up with a good SL game. That's probably the road to riches in SL. 

 

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I see SL as a social utility; ultra-high end party-chat (as in party phones) with nice visuals .

It's "fun" because of additional activities that the user can engage in in-between chats or in tandem with chats (exploring , playing games, obtaining objects , creating objects ).

As with all chat (or internet use period) the user has the choice of engaging from a "real word" perspective or an "idealised" perspective.

Why do it? (shrugs) Nothing good on TV? lol

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