I am relatively new to the MUVE Second Life. I have been actively participating in-world since early September 2007. I am not a landowner and I have not spent or earned any Lindens, the in-world currency, but I have done quite a bit of exploration.
At first I was a skeptic and thought that Second Life was just another online video game, and a waste of time and money. But, I have changed my mind on that front, although I am still unsure of the value of Second Life as more than just entertainment.
There are many articles on the application of Second Life as a business and communication tool in theory it makes sense, but in practice, at least in my limited practice with the MUVE as a tool, it does not live up to the hype.
I have found that the platform to be unstable that requires a new and fast machine with a lot of RAM, and a really fast Internet connection to access it. In addition to the technical hurdles, there is also some serious usability hurdles.
The audio capabilities are limited in that they don’t work consistently, and when they do it is tough to engage in a discussion with more than two people with out talking over each other. Without the voice capabilities communication is not much easier. Unless you type very well, and I do not, it is very hard to have a long term and well paced discussion. Your fingers get very tired.
I will say that Second Life is fun to use. It’s cool to fly around, change your appearance, and there is a ton of strange things out there. My son thinks it’s the coolest thing online, although when I was taking him through the virtual world, I was constantly on the lookout for pornographic images and animations that are literally everywhere. Not very kid friendly, but maybe it’s not supposed to be.