I finally got a chance to visit the Second Life Las Vegas sim last night, launched not long ago. It’s a fun simulation of the real thing, at least in its current family-friendly incarnation. I.e. lots of opportunities for shopping, theme park rides, and photo ops rather than drinking, whoring and gambling.
My first stop wase the Sl version of the Venetian casino. The real life Venetian Hotel contains an immense simulation of the city of Venice re-conceived as a shopping mall, complete with canals, gondolas with singing gondolieri, a fake sky that changes from day to night, Venetian architecture, and wandering opera singers. The SL version retains much of this, with a canal, gondolas you can ride, and many lovely architectural elements. You will have to sing opera to yourself though.
Finally, I stopped in at the New York, New York casino in SL. The real world New York New York Casino of course is Manhattan re-cast as a theme park. There’s the truncated sky-line including the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and Chrysler Building, which are best viewed from the roller-coaster that runs around the whole fake cityscape. In the RL casino, you run into sanitized versions of Greenwich Village and Times Square, with curious elements like graffittied mailboxes, manhole covers and fire hydrants that I guess are supposed to add versimilitude.
The Second Life New York New York also has a fake skyline with several of the same buildings. There’s a rollercoaster that you can ride for a few Linden dollars, and shops with "urban" appeal.
The whole trip to SL Vegas was another of these meta-experiences that are common for me now. The real Las Vegas itself is already a copy of other actual places: Paris, Venice, New York, etc. So the SL Vegas is a copy of a copy. This is most apparent when visiting the SL New York New York. I.e. last night I was sitting in my downtown Manhattan apartment watching my avatar visting a simulation of a casino / hotel which is a simulation of the actual city of Manhattan! Go grok that for awhile, you philosophy majors.
One aspect of SL Vegas that echoes the RL Vegas: once you get past the strip, its a complete void. To be fair, in the real world Vegas, there is a whole community of Vegas permanent residents who intersect with the casino and hotels of the strip while also living their seperate, mostly normal lives. The same can’t be said of the virtual Vegas, which has no housing developments or other public life beyond the strip.
Here’s a neat video showing how some of the structures in the Vegas sim were created.