A lot of the content on Hello Hypergrid focuses on answering the “How” and “What” kinds of questions, but this time I want to spend a little bit of time addressing a big question that I don’t think gets a good answer often: Why?
Why use Opensim, an open source virtual world platform with no major financial investment behind it, no hard focus on any one use-case, no flashy marketing, based off technology which isn’t the newest and greatest?
Because that’s exactly why.
Opensim is the perfect platform for the hundreds of small uses for virtual worlds that aren’t big enough or flashy enough to warrant millions of dollars of tech investment money. The lack of focus on a single profitable game loop makes it a fantastic palette for virtual collaboration. Its tools make it easy for anyone to participate and improve the world, virtual and real.
Its open-source federated nature makes it perfect for communities looking for a safe space to call home, and it’s able to be run from pretty much anywhere in the world. I’ve run Opensim worlds off of thumb drives, and visited a world hosted on a Rasberry Pi.
The fact that Opensim’s technology isn’t the latest is also a kind of benefit. Not only is it well tested, it’s widely available. You don’t need an incredible computer to use the platform. Anyone can chip in to improve the software, and they have for over a decade.
It’s easy to knock Opensim for its clunky interface, to get scared off by the fact that it’s not the shiniest, glamorous platform. I know, I’ve done it to myself several times. What keeps me coming back is the fact that the fate of the platform is in the hands of its user community, not just a company looking to maximize its bottom line. I can help improve the platform, and so can anyone else.
Why use Opensim? Because it’s a tool for building better worlds, together.