I had a late night tonight with a work related event in Modesto. I got home and fired up the old Tivo to watch tonight’s episode of CSI: NY. People might find it a bit strange that I work with computer forensics on a semi regular basis, I am on the High Tech Crimes Investigation Association for Stanislaus County, and I am also a member of the FBI Infragard, and yet I have never watched any of the CSI shows. Tonight I broke that streak to watch the much hyped episode of CSI:NY in Second Life.
I was not aware until watching the show that Cisco was a sponsor. There will be no doubt about this after you enter the virtual CSI Experience, as their logo is everywhere. Interesting thing was in one shot in the conference room of CSI Headquarters there were two, yes two, Microsoft Round Tables sitting there (review of MS Round Table from Engadget) on the conference table. I just saw one of these two weeks ago down at a technology show in Palm Springs. Why you would need two of these 360 degree video conferencing devices in one room is a little beyond me. One thing that caught my eye, and I could not identify, was the wireless keyboard they were using when they detached the keypad and used it to navigate their avatar on a wall sized projected display (now that would be immersive).
It’s too late right now to get into some of the graphic liberties that were taken with some of the animations in-world in the show (Gladiator battles with decapitations, yeah right), but I’ll come back to that subject another day.
There were several commercials during the show advertising the Second Life tie in, with the CBS.com site given for more info. After the show I popped on over to download my OnRez client (download page here). The download went smooth and installation was no pain. The interface is pretty streamlined from the normal SL client, and the building options in the menus can be toggled back on if you desire. The client defaults to a home position on the CSI Islands. I could not seem to kick the interface into full screen, as it was stuck in windowed mode. The other oddity was that if you somehow missed the sign where you get a copy of the CSI HUD, and you don’t attach the HUD, none of the audio or evidence hot spots will work.
When getting your police badge at the end of the special orientation island you are presented with a sign detailing the ‘code of conduct’ for the game islands. Funny how many of these are rules that don’t exist on the main grid as a whole. Instead of teleporting to my first case I decided to fly around outside of the barriers. I stumbled on a CSI store where you can buy virtual props and souvenirs. So there are some definite fan sales waiting in the wings of this experience.
Once you complete your orientation (there are even some tutorial videos at the CBS website here), you can teleport out into the main area of the experience to try out your crime solving skills. After you teleport you get a welcome message and a teleport map of areas where you might find evidence to solve the cases:
From here it’s off to your first crime scene to test out your analytical crime solving skills:
This is as far as I took it tonight, as I do need to get some sleep, and it’s already after midnight now. One thing that was somewhat disturbing is that without the CSI HUD, none of the audio on the signs or evidence areas will work. I missed the sign when I first arrived that was dispensing the HUD. I had to go and find it in my inventory after receiving it so I could wear it. I am not sure if new accounts registered through the CBS site get this HUD pre-installed, but as an existing user of Second Life I did not.
So far I am not overwhelmed by the experience, but then again I am a jaded veteran of these types of games, so it would take a lot to wow me. I am EXTREMELY interested in hearing statistics from this new CSI: NY experience. How many of the new inductees move out to the main grid and remain customers after this first encounter? How many will continue to use the OnRez browser after the show linked experience goes away? These are statistics that I want to see released by Linden Lab after the first week of this experience being online.
I have not checked to see if this OnRez browser will work on the teen grid, again it’s too late at night and I wanted to get this up before heading off to sleep.
I guess it was predictable that this episode would deal with crime in the virtual world. The fact that it focused on virtual relationships was also a very predictable plotline. The whole murder and abduction of a virtual identity (avatar) is pretty farfetched, but makes for good TV. They did go out of their way to explain some of the basic features of Second Life, like what are L$ (Lindens), and other questions a new user might ask. I am sure that those of us with education projects in Second Life are going to have to go back and explain to people that we are on the teen grid, and that the adult themes in tonight’s show really don’t exist on the Teen Grid. This episode also could have the effect of causing parents to ask more questions about projects in Second Life, and might require some additional discussions to assure them that this is only a TV show, and that the themes are pretty farfetched in relation to our ‘real’ first lives.
The ending of the show was left in a cliffhanger, and I heard that this storyline will continue until the crime is solved in February. It will be very interesting to watch where this goes, how the reviews treat this experience, and how many people stay as members after this story arch completes in February.