Why Do We Do What We Do?

In my previous article, a reader commented about the realism of SL aviation in general, and the point of concerning ourselves with aviation lighting or any other operating rule for that matter in Second Life. Indeed, SL aviation cannot be 100% realistic from a practical standpoint for several reasons:

  • The scaling is all wrong. It would take five sims to realistically launch a 737.
  • Realistic speed across region boundaries cannot be achieved.
  • Passenger loads appropriate for larger sized aircraft are not possible.
  • There are no penalties or consequences (other than possible reputation) for accidents.

So why do we bother?

This question goes beyond the limits of aviation in SL, and in fact goes to the very heart of SL itself. More examples:

Why does a large element of SL focus on virtual sex? After all, it’s just pixels on a screen. In the end any “real gratification” must be self motivated. Sometimes you don’t even know for sure if the person driving the avatar on the other end is the same gender as the avatar. Some don’t care. And if that’s all you want, why not just create another avatar and log them both in?

Why does HD make fire trucks and strive for realism at every aspect? Do they expect them to sit idle in an airport hangar or fire house and look pretty? Most of them probably do just that, but more on that later.

Why do plane makers like Tig, Carly, Kelly, DSA, Dani, Javatar, Erick, Cubey and many others do what they do, and make enough lindens to fill a virtual 747 doing so? And why do they strive so hard to make them realistic? Kelly Shergood even went so far as to create an airworthiness certificate for her new yet to be released Sikorsky helicopter. A small thing that adds an impressive touch.

Finally, why do many aviation enthusiasts choose the less than realistic SL model for aviation rather than the more realistic environment of FSX?

The answer to all of these questions rolls up into one word: interaction. SL would be a lonely place if you could not interact with others. Even Microsoft had to recognize that with Flight Simulator as aviation enthusiasts using FS developed their own ways of interacting with each other (VATSIM, IVAO, etc.).

At the end of the day, of course real aviation would trump pretend aviation, just as real sex feels better than the virtual kind, real food tastes better than the virtual kind and real fires burn more than the virtual kind. But not everyone can have the above. A virtual plane crash or fire doesn’t kill anyone. Virtual food doesn’t feed anyone and virtual sex doesn’t pass STDs or get women pregnant.

The previous comment pointed out that there is no responsibility to FAA or any other regulatory body. But there is no reason why there could NOT be a role played version of such operations, given players willing to participate. There is, after all, several virtual versions of Fire Departments, Coast Guards, Marines, Police, airlines, space aliens, talking animals and pretty much every other thing you can imagine.

The point is, the SL experience is whatever you wish it to be and choose to make it. No, you don’t have to turn on your strobe lights, or concern yourself with whether you get a 95 point landing score if you don’t want to. If you crash your plane, you don’t have to wait to be rescued. You can just derez it and teleport back to the airport and try again. That takes us to another point to ponder:

How real do YOU strive to make SL for fellow players?

Consider how enthused you would be about flying passenger planes, if there was no Passengers of SL group where you could announce flights and invite them to board your plane? How enthused would you be about flying combat planes if you didn’t have something to shoot at? And as mentioned above, how gratifying would the virtual sex be if that other avatar was just you running another SL client?

As players who rely on others to improve our experience, we must also consider doing so for others. Some ideas to consider:

  • If you crash your plane, you can certainly derez it and just head back to the airport. But could you also get on gridtalkie channel 16 and call for help? Of course you don’t really need any help. But in playing it out, you create an experience for someone else that at some point you rely on others to help create for you.
  • If your plane starts acting funny because of SL troubles, do you just derez it and go home, telling your passengers if you have any that it’s too rough to fly? Or might you declare a mayday and again call out for help.
  • And why NOT have an SL NTSB that would investigate that plane crash? I suspect there are players interested in doing so.

While I am not really proposing a lot of willful staged accidents, certainly when something real goes wrong, why not turn it into an opportunity. The borked plane scenario above actually happened to me with several passengers on board. I called out for help and limped the plane back to the airport where we were greeted by fire trucks. The passengers and the ground crew loved it and it was totally unstaged.

Much of what we do in Second Life involves some kind of role play. And role play is not done in a vacuum, alone. That is why we are here, instead of in FSX flying alone, or on Sims 4 “interacting” with computer controlled avatars.

Make it what you want it to be, as simple as you want it to be or as complex as suits you. But above all, enjoy it.

Blue Skies

12 thoughts on “Why Do We Do What We Do?

  1. That was very well said! It certainly would add a more interesting element to the game to have crashes require emergency services. The key now is to get everyone onboard 🙂 Perhaps co-ordinate with the airports to update their “rules” to include information about emergency services. My sister is planning on joining the SL Coast Guard. I would certainly think about signing up if the whole thing was a lot more interesting than just flying from airport to airport over and over again.

    On another note, or possibly an idea; I use MS Simulator a lot. They have a complete voice interface (have for a few years) and its a very realistic sense of landing and taking off from place to place. The people who act as controllers have their game down and its very cool to be handed off to the next tower. It would fascinating, if instead of all the typing that goes on, to have an SL voice channel with live controllers instead of bots. I wouldn’t get rid of the bots mind you. Everyone needs a choice in SL. But it would be a next level for the pilots who want a bit more realism.

    Brilliant article. Thanks for what you do!


    1. Several years ago the SLCG was very active in just that. Few things happened, primarily of which the sim boarders got better (i know gasp how could they be much worse) and i think the popularity of such rp kind of dropped for a while as the curisiers took overl, but perhaps it’s time we have a return to operations so to speak. I know there have been a few people playing SAR and CSAR in the gulf picking up people who have been sunk in the warship fights. I don’t see why we couldn’t expand upon that in both the gulf and elsewhere.


  2. I am one that would be totally on board with a voice based ATC system in SL. SL Voice is not the answer though as it is horribly unreliable and can add to sim crossing issues. It would not be totally impossible to facilitate though. There are other voice options. If pilots utilized the Shergood aviation transponder and controllers relied on the Shergood ATC map, it could be done.

    The primary push back would be from the vast number of SL players that refuse to do voice. There is and probably always will be strong resistance to voice for many reasons.


  3. I hear all the comments on SL Aviation about who does what wrong and I have to say that I came to to the aviation side of SL by pure accident. I saw airports only in passing during my 7 years here, but when someone told me about the community and I started flying as a passenger, I realized how awesome the whole thing was. Then, when I was given the courage to try to fly on my own, I never left!

    It is saddening when I see airport owners and other aviators criticize others for not following rules. There is a good chance it’s because they didn’t know any existed. I wish those heavy handed “aviators” could be more understanding and help or teach, rather than criticize and ban.

    For the most part, my experience in SL has been wonderful, yet there is this tiny aspect of it that makes a little less-so – and that is the assumption that we must follow rules to fly.

    Perhaps LL need to regulate the sale of aircraft to licensed pilots then ~ how’s that for realism (>.<)!


    1. There really aren’t that many rules the airports have. The only reason people even worry about the landing lights is they are obnoxious glowy prim beams on some of the aircraft and there’s no reason to blind people with them. Does it really take any more effort to wait till you get onto the runway to turn on the landing beams? Using the other lights in a realistic way isn’t any more difficult either, but those don’t affect anyone else.

      Otherwise, the main issues I have had as a manager of an airport are people who refuse to follow clearly marked taxiways and get in the way of other aircraft that are trying to follow them correctly, or rez airliners at gates clearly not set up for aircraft of that size (once again interfering with others trying to use the airport.) For airports with multiple runways, it’s expected you’ll land and take off on the proper runways which are usually marked pretty well. If you don’t know, ask. I really do try to be nice when I have to correct somebody and I do let them know the proper way to do it. A number of them told me they actually hadn’t known about whatever it was and were glad to learn the right way. The very few who’ve gotten defensive were simply reminded that their use of a sim they weren’t paying for was a privilege and not a right.


  4. As a scripter i get this question posed to me a lot by people who aren’t used to the dynamic flight operations. Why bother if sl will never be that great etc. it’s funny how many people here utilize this platform and don’t get exactly this. I often find me getting a blank or confused response when i tell them it’s because 1. you don’t get the communities in FSX and other such things like you do in SL, 2. the freedom aloted to us in sl is staggering, you can be flying one moment sailing the next and then walking on the moon shooting space zombies the next day. and 3. it’s fun, there’s a challenge to pushing the limits of the physics engine and doing that which hasn’t been done prior in sl. One would think it would be obvious to people but it amazes me how many just don’t understand it even after you’ve explained it to them.

    also on a side note, anyone who has trained for their rl instrument raiting will be sick of FSX lol


    1. well to be perfectly fair all international operations in aviation are conducted in English in rl if you’re going to realism


  5. I am taking the risk of being mistaken for someone who lacks modesty, but I am a bit done with being overlooked in every mention of plane constructors.
    I would like to remind everybody that the first ATC that was established was signed Loboféo and EG …
    The first to offer a GPS ? EG
    The first real “international” airport with two runways and the possibility of RP ? EG
    The first aircraft with flight script “dynamic” ? EG
    The first aircraft type “Airliner” ? EG
    The first civilian aircraft to be crashing on error of the pilot ? EG
    And recently, the first aircraft equipped for air hostess ? EG
    So when I see that EG is not mentioned in your list (or any list lately), it’s pretty frustrating.
    Of course, before the arrival of mesh it was much more complicated to make a beautiful aircraft, today it is much easier, but that’s not a reason to forget the historical builders.
    You can look at this in any way you want, I am one of the builders that tries to achive realism the most, and I always have.
    So thank you to respect my work for the aviation community since 2008.


    1. Erick, thanks for your post. I presume you are speaking in general regarding lack of acknowledgement, as I have only twice made any list references to aircraft builders. The first article was directed toward makers of planes that are delivered with modifiable airframes so of course you would not have made that list.

      In appreciation for your comments I added you to this list. It was just an “off the top of my head” list. Heck I had not even included the likely father of aviation in Second LIfe (Cubey Terra). I added him too :).


    2. You were the first with several features Erick. I actually wish more aircraft would crash and burn when nose wheel landed. It would teach pilots not to do that.

      As for your airliners, you were first. I seem to recall the ATR was pretty popular. It was also only one of two reasonably priced aircraft at the time that could use jetways. I never even considered the DC-10 or Concorde because of their price. You did pioneer some great aircraft.

      If you hadn’t been so stubborn about the LOD issue and making them paintable, I’d likely own several more of your planes than I do. The former is the only reason I didn’t buy your Ju-52. I’d have happily flown that with it’s stock livery. As it is, I bought the Comet and Fokker anyway because even with their flaws, they are wonderful aircraft. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish for an LOD fix on both of them. You know how at this point. The ATX proves it.

      The bottom line is you are an incredibly talented modeller and you make some really well done flight scripts when they are properly beta tested. The ATX was somewhat marred by that. It’s current version is what should have been the release version. I’ve talked to a number of people who flew the original once or twice and mothballed it as unflyable. Your relevance in the aviation community as an aircraft builder is very much “What have you released lately?” Lately is in like the last 2-3 months anymore. Publish or perish.


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