Second Life, it seems, is getting a second lease on life. In a video today, Linden Labs announced a revamp of the now decade-old open world, which has quietly maintained a solid fanbase even as a bout of mid-2000s hype died down. The graphics seem to have gotten a notable update — you won't find the uncanny photorealism of a next-generation shooter, but the chunky solid colors of old avatars have given way to more detailed textures and better lighting. Linden Labs is also promising to make the site friendlier for first-time visitors, and it's added simpler chat and shopping functions and the option to share notes and pictures to Facebook.
But the real surprise comes towards the end of the video, when Linden Labs shows a Second Lifer exploring the world through an Oculus Rift. Virtual reality, it promises, is "coming soon." It's essentially promising the dream of the Holodeck: an all-consuming world that's a bit like real life, only freer and more glamorous (if this video is any indication, tile-floored nightclubs are the height of excitement.) It's not clear how the mostly first-person Rift will jibe with one of Second Life's apparent pleasures, the joy of seeing your avatar dressed up and posed, but it's at the very least an interesting experiment.