From Harry E. Pence, “The homeless professor in Second Life,” Journal of Educational Technology Systems, Vol. 26, 2 (2007): 171-177.
Some people try to classify Second Life as a game. If Second life is a game, it is a most unusual game, since it does not define goals for winning nor is there any method for keeping score. Each resident is responsible for defining his or her personal goals. Setting goals is just as important in Second life as it is in real life. The failure to regonize this fact may explain why many people drop out in frustration after only a short time in Second life. The confusion about goals has probably also contributed to the various articles in the popular press that focus on the sexual aspects of SL; pornographers have established a robust business model by preying upon those who are confused about what to do.
I love this idea of thinking about goals. Reading this paragraph gave me a mini-ephiphany. Unlike traditional game spaces, the system doesn’t give you goals; you need to come in with them, or develop them as you go. If you’re not prepared to provide your own internal motivation and structure, Second Life will indeed seem pointless.