The Scoop: Second Life users rejoice – you now have a dating app! Thundr is the go-to dating HUD for Second Life. The app was created by long-time Second Life residents, who go by Coder and CSR, after recognizing a demand for a dating app in the Second Life community. On Thundr, users can create a profile with only the information they choose from their Second Life profile. Users can make custom avatars and browse tens of thousands of profiles.
Before there was Metaverse and augmented reality goggles that look right out of a sci-fi movie, there was Second Life. And we’re talking long before the Metaverse was first introduced to the masses in 2021. Second Life has been a recognizable name in online virtual reality since its release in 2003.
Today, the site looks a little different than it did when it was first released and has undergone some big changes. Despite all the changes, Second Life still hosts millions of residents who are always working on new ideas to add features to the experience.
Two of those residents are Coder and CSR, who sat down to talk to us about their newest addition to the Second Life Marketplace. The duo created a dating app just for Second Life users, called Thundr.
On Thundr, Second Life residents can meet, chat, and date, all within the familiar interface of virtual reality. Thundr is what’s called a HUD (heads-up display), which is a two-dimensional user interface that controls in-world elements.
Coder and CSR told us about their Second Life Story and why they created the dating app. “CSR and I have been friends for 17 years, and we met in Second Life,” Coder said. “One night we were working on ideas that we could use by coding skills for and our shared passion for Second Life.”
Discover and Create in Second Life
Tracing the history of Second Life is much like tracing the history of the explosion of the internet and the rapid growth of digital technology. When Second Life was released by Linden Labs in 2003, the virtual landscape looked far different than it does today.
Facebook was a brand new app only being tried out in a few colleges across the country. The Google search engine was rudimentary compared to the robust collection of Google features today, and Twitter didn’t even exist. If you used the internet, you were probably using it on a home desktop that was by no means as portable as our phones.
Linden Labs was formed by Philip Rosedale in 1999 with the purpose of creating computer hardware that would allow users to explore and interact with an immersive virtual world. At the beginning of the process, Linden Labs toyed around with the idea of a wearable computer that could visually immerse the user, but the idea was soon scrapped in favor of a software application.
The application, which was named Second Life, would allow users to socialize and interact with task-based games using an avatar of their own creation. By 2008, users, also called residents, had spent over 28 million hours in-world, and an average of 38,000 users were logged in at any given time.
Second Life was a mid-2000s phenomenon, and while its popularity has experienced ebbs and flows throughout its lifespan, the site still has a dedicated user base today. The site is free to download and join and hosts a bustling economy based on the site’s own virtual currency, called Linden dollars.
People use Second Life for a lot of different reasons, but for many users, the site is a safe place where they can be themselves and connect with others authentically. Many users feel it provides a break from the normal distractions and hardships of life. Imaginative and personalized avatars make self-expression easy and creative, and the user-centered basis of the virtual world makes it highly customizable.
Thundr Seamlessly Integrates Dating
Coder and CSR met on Second Life in 2007. If anyone is fit to make a dating app for Second Life, it’s these two. The pair told us about their distinctly digital story and how Thundr came to be as a result. “We met in Second Life, dated in Second Life, and then dated and lived together for a while,” Coder said.
While the two ultimately didn’t stay together, they’re still business partners and close friends. CSR said that the idea for Thundr started when she returned to Second Life in 2020 after some time away. She wanted a feature where users could find each other with more ease. On Second Life, users have to travel to different places within the world to meet different people.
This can make mingling and making new connections difficult, as players in some spaces aren’t as open to meeting or chatting, and not all users are online at the same time. Coder said, “There was this need for something that people could use to communicate with others who were interested in establishing connections.”
Thundr is available for L$1 on the Second Life Marketplace. Coder and CSR said they wanted to make the app so users can swipe through profiles and make easy matches. Thundr has over 10,000 users, meaning that potential matches are not hard to come by.
While Thundr is designed as a dating app, Coder told us that people use it for a variety of reasons. “Looking at the profiles of most of our users, it’s definitely a mix. There’s definitely a lot of people who are looking for love, who see Second Life as a door to the first life.”
Coder continued, “But there are also people who are Second Life only and want relationships strictly within the game.”
Virtual Reality Offers Opportunities for Connection
Virtual reality has been the target of skepticism since its inception. Some people have fears about the dangers of virtual reality and its capability to disconnect humans from the world around them. To skeptics, virtual reality offers an all too easy route to full escapism.
Second Life is no stranger to that skepticism, but its user base speaks for itself. Second Life has been around for 20 years and still has hordes of dedicated residents. Coder and CSR gave us insight into what Second Life means to people and how it’s maintained its appeal despite the hardships. They also clued us into why people may be attracted to Second Life dating on Thundr.
“I know a lot of people who are in situations where they’re stuck at home,” Coder said. “They might be taking care of a sick relative or in a situation where they can’t really have a social life. In that case, this kind of social interaction and dating might be the only thing accessible to them.”
Thundr offers users full control of just how much they want to share on their profile, including whether they wish to be fully anonymous. Coder and CSR said that many of the users are anonymous, even from their Second Life profiles. With this sort of privacy, people are free to express themselves, explore their identities, and meet new people.
Second Life is special to a lot of people. Thundr gives residents the chance to make deeper connections while exploring new things. Coder and CSR said that Second Life was actually a romantic place to meet as a couple.
“It’s so cool to go anywhere and do anything,” CSR said. “Being able to go out with someone and check out new places and explore together, I think that’s what’s amazing about Second Life.”