Remember Second Life? The virtual world where users can do and create just about anything they want, especially if it has something to do with penises? So powerful was the allure of its futuristic digital spaces and the service’s potential as a tool for education, that in 2008, its creators claimed more than 300 universities around the world had begun teaching classes or performing research inside of it. While Second Life is no longer as ubiquitous and touted as it once was, it’s still running and has a passionate following. As for the digital campuses those universities created during the service’s glory days? Well, you can visit the ones that still exist, but as Fusion’s Patrick Hogan found out when he toured several Second Life colleges, there’s a chance they’ve been abandoned and left standing in all their weird academic ghost-town glory.
As Hogan points out, these campuses exist as “islands” within Second Life, parcels of land that these colleges ostensibly paid to purchase and are still paying to keep alive. Yet Hogan didn’t come across a single other Second Lifer during his virtual campus tours. He did, however, find and chronicle plenty of oddities that have been left behind, like Northern Virginia Community College’s wooded chill-out zone, where several sofas compel visitors to “get comfy,” and some sort of spiky demonic sphere that fled the bowels of Doom to take up residence at Arkansas State University.