As a Second Life resident, I was both excited and worried about the recent episode of "CSI:New York" that was to include Second Life as a plot device. Other shows, even other CSI episodes, had used virtual worlds and online games to show us as either a bunch of sociopathic killers, weird perverts, or as fat nerds living in our mom’s basement.
While this show certainly had its flaws, it actually went much further than any other show in depicting what life in the virtual world is like, including:
- Realistic depictions of what residents really do in Second Life: make friends, shop, play, flirt, create businesses, etc.
- Use of Second Life terms and references: "TP," notecards, the copybot!
- A non-pejorative use of a furry character! (Which I think was a reference to the white rabbit in Rainbows End by V. Vinge)
- Residents shown as integrating their real lives and their virtual ones (i.e. the guy who ran an auto-body shop and a virtual clothing store)
There were a couple of moments in the episode that really rang true for me. The first was when the character Mac first navigates his avatar around in-world. All around him, strange avatars are walking around him, speaking in other languages and doing weird stuff. His reaction is along the lines of, "Where the hell am I?" which was exactly my own reaction when I first logged in.
The second was when Mac discovers the secret kill room of Venus, which genuinely creeped me out.
The only annoying part is that we have to wait several months for the next CSI:NY in Second Life. Of course, in the meantime, I can play with the Virtual CSI:NY that Electric Sheep created.