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Second Life (abbreviated as SL) is an Internet-based virtual world launched in 2003, developed by Linden Research, Inc (commonly referred to as Linden Lab), which came to international attention via mainstream news media in late 2006 and early 2007. A downloadable client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called "Residents", to interact with each other through motional avatars, providing an advanced level of a social network service combined with general aspects of a metaverse. Residents can explore, meet other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, create and trade items (virtual property) and services from one another.

Second Life is one of several virtual worlds that have been inspired by the cyberpunk literary movement, and particularly by Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash. The stated goal of Linden Lab is to create a world like the Metaverse described by Stephenson, a user-defined world in which people can interact, play, do business, and otherwise communicate. Second Life's virtual currency is the Linden Dollar (Linden, or L$) and is exchangeable for real world currencies in a resident to resident marketplace facilitated by Linden Lab. There is no fee for registering an account or participating in Second Life, however registration of "payment information" (i.e. a credit card) is mandatory in order to participate in some functions, such as owning land or islands, as well as to access certain support features such as Second Life's support portal and online forums.

While Second Life is sometimes referred to as a game, this description does not fit the standard definition. It does not have points, scores, winners or losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games. There are, however, several games within Second Life, e.g., international football (soccer) matches.

In all, approximately 13 million accounts have been registered, although a large percentage of these are inactive, some Residents have multiple accounts, and there are no reliable figures for actual long term consistent usage. Despite its prominence, Second Life has notable competitors, including IMVU, There, Active Worlds, Kaneva, and the erotic-oriented Red Light Center. (Credit: Wikipedia).

 

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