Years ago I wrote a blog post that didn’t put Second Life — the free online game that lets you create your own avatar and visit various multiple worlds — in the best of light. Well for all of you that got upset about the post, I am now officially retracting that post.
My previous opinion on Second Life was this: It’s unhealthy to live in a virtual reality. I don’t care what your reasons for doing so are, just don’t do it. But I’ve been playing the game in my downtime and wow, there are a number of benefits the game has for people disabilities. Check out my favorites below!
Be someone else in a big way
Second Life has every option in regards to how you want your avatar to look. You can even make yourself look exactly how you look in real life, disability and all. There are shops in the game that let you buy wheelchairs and avatars with missing limbs. Personally, I’m all about not being disabled in the game. It’s nice being treated like everyone else, if only online.
You don’t even have to be human. You can go really crazy and be something supernatural — vampires, fairies, mermaids — or even an animal. The point is that the game lets you be whatever you want and I believe this aspect of the game is incredibly cathartic for people with disabilities.
Explore far off cities
You can visit cities in Second Life that are made to be exact replicas of their real-life counterparts. Downtown Toronto, Inverness, Moulin Rouge circa 1905, the main drag in Puerto Vallarta, a public beach in Miami, even an authentic Japanese hot spring you can soak your avatar in.
Many of these sims are outstanding works of art, and there are thousands upon thousands to explore (perfect for when you’re stuck in bed or nursing a wound). When you can’t afford a plane ticket, Second Life is the next best thing.
Meet new disabled friends at “Virtual Ability”
For people with disabilities who have difficulty using computers, there is a sim in Second Life called Virtual Ability where you can learn how to use Second Life and make it as accessible to you as possible, from voice activation to easy ways to move your avatar. The sim itself is run by a woman with multiple sclerosis. Through her sim, she has helped many people disabilities through learn real world skills. Watch her story:
Do the impossible. No, really …
I can’t forget to mention all the things, the physical things, you can do in Second Life that are pretty difficult if you have a mobility impairment. Surfing a giant wave in Oahu, ballroom dancing with people from all over the world, riding a motorcycle with other bad-asses across virtual freeways, the opportunities are endless. What do you feel like doing today?
Get your zen on
One of my favorite things to do in Second Life is meditate. There are hundreds of beautiful, lush nature sims outfitted with zen spots replete with chimes, flowing creeks, a comfy pillow for your avatar to sit on and what are known as “pose bubbles” that allow your avatar to get into downward dog or other cool moves. When the real world is stressing you out, try checking out Japanese Tempura Island in SL. I promise your mind will be blown.
So there you have it, an absolutely free game that is nothing but awesome. It may seem creepy to you, like it did to me all those years ago, but give a try. You just may be pleasantly surprised.
Have you tried Second Life? What do you like about it?