The Office – SL’s Coach Potato Onslaught Continues

by Alphaville Herald on 30/10/07 at 11:23 am

Metaverse shark jumping is the latest television craze

by Jessica Holyoke

Dwight’s avatar Dwight

Even if you don’t watch CSI:NY, you might have known about their episode dealing with Second Life last week. But you might have missed another television show that went onto the Grid.

The Office, the NBC American Version, also visited the Grid last week. The promotions heavily featured Rainn Wilson’s character, Dwight, going into Second Life as his Second Life avatar, Dwight Shelford. Dwight’s avatar Dwight looks like Dwight and has the same job as Dwight, Assistant to the Regional Manager, although if you follow the show, its not Assistant Regional Manager. Dwight’s Dwight avatar likes to fly around Second Life, which the Director showed twice during the episode. The only other thing Dwight does in Second Life is market his Second Second Life for avatars that are tired of their first Second Life.

The office opponent Jim, played by John Krasinski, decides to follow Dwight’s avatar Dwight into Second Life after this exhange: Dwight: “This is Second Life…there are no points, no winners or losers.” Jim: “Oh, there are losers.” Jim decides to make an avatar as well, named Jim Samtanko. Jim’s avatar Jim plays guitar and is a Philadelphia sportswriter, which is not Jim in his real life.


And that’s why this use of Second Life is interesting. While CSI:NY’s use of SL was more integral to the show, and there were idealized islands and mysteries to solve that took the viewer to places in SL that don’t exist, the Office used SL the way residents use and experience it. The producers of The Office didn’t augment Second Life, making it look like World of Warcraft or a more advanced graphics program that doesn’t have lag, they used it as they found it.

More importantly, the conflict between Dwight and Jim is also a conflict between the augmentists and the immersionists, those who see SL as a way to augment who they are in RL, the flying and the businesses that Dwight did, and those who see SL as a way to be who they aren’t in RL, or the chance to be the sportswriter they want to be instead of the paper salesman that they are, as Jim did. Dwight could have been Assistant Regional Manager, but instead hued to who he was, Assistant to the Regional Manager. The way both characters used Second Life moved their story along. The viewer knows more about Dwight and Jim based on how they used Second Life. Also notice how the cool person, Jim, is an immersionist and Dwight’s cold, socially awkward, serial killer-esque persona is the augmentist.

Dwight takes flight

Yes, CSI:NY has done more to bring people into Second Life, the hundreds and hundreds of them [but how many will stay? - the Editrix]. But The Office showed more about what Second Life truly is as a B storyline than the CSI:NY people did as their A storyline.

11 Responses to “The Office – SL’s Coach Potato Onslaught Continues”

  1. StallionSeven

    Oct 30th, 2007

    I’m so glad that “the Editrix” is there to provide helpful commentary in other people’s stories.

    It must be so fun to be a crappy reporter.

  2. shockwave yareach

    Oct 30th, 2007

    I never thought I’d see the FIAWOL / FIJAGDH argument come to Second Life. If you are in SL, you can be anything or do anything that your creativity can invent. “Your World; Your Imagination” was the promo. So where in SF you had the Lifestylers vs the Realists, here we have the Immersionists vs the Augmentists.

    Unlike the SF argument however, this one can end.

    The Augmentists claim that SL should be a reflection of one’s Real self. Very well then. Such people should have to give proof of their RL ability to fly, teleport, and fall several hundred meters without injury before being allowed those same abilities in SL. Otherwise, they have to walk or ride a vehicle everywhere in Second Life (may the virtual gods have mercy upon you all.)

  3. Maximilian Goldflake

    Oct 30th, 2007

    I’d love to see Dwight become a hated ad-farmer in SL. He’s already a hated beet farmer.

  4. Fromescu Fromage

    Oct 30th, 2007

    How about acknowledging the source of this story? It’s been around the blogosphere for days now – so acknowledgement wuold be nice.

  5. Jessica Holyoke

    Oct 30th, 2007

    The source of this story is me. I decided to “Google The Office Second Life” and found some of the articles dealing with the episode. However, one thing I didn’t see was an article dealing with JIM’s choice of avatar and how he used SL. Everyone focused on Dwight.

    So yes its not a total surprise, but the interesting thing is Jim and Dwight, not just Dwight.

  6. Maria Leveaux

    Oct 30th, 2007

    “Coach Potato”??
    New veggie football league?
    or do you mean “Couch Potato”?


  7. Jessica Holyoke

    Oct 31st, 2007

    darn it all.

    Fromescu, I just re-read your response and I realized what you were saying and then I re-read my response and realized I forgot a few things.

    Take two:

    I knew about the Office episode because of blogs like the Second Life Insider and my in-laws also are Office fans. At the same time, who didn’t report on the story before hand?

    I wrote this article after watching the episode online because I was impressed by the story device of using how the avatars were created to advance both characters and not just Dwight. I Googled “The Office second life” after your comment to see how bloated the blogosphere was with commentary after the fact, and while I did see a few articles, (I read a few of them after you mentioned it) I didn’t see one addressing my point about Jim and Dwight, and not just Dwight.

    @ Maria

    /me waves her hands “its an illusion, it really says couch” *watches as Pixeleen hits the typesetter to change the title.

  8. She's Just Drawn That Way

    Nov 2nd, 2007

    Don’t worry Jessica, pay no attention to the whiners and gripers. Nice article.

    And don’t worry if they think your article is unoriginal. It is so very hard in this day and age to be the first of anything on the internet, but not being first does not mean unoriginal. Two people who are not in contact with each other can have the same idea, and both consider themselves original. Learning you are not the first to have the idea does not make you not imaginative or unoriginal. Its impossible to plaigiarize an idea, because there are so few ideas these days that haven’t been thought of before many times. What distinguishes you from 99.999% of those who have is that you wrote about it to communicate your idea, and what was unique about it.

    Let the rest of them sit passively on their couches. I prefer the attitude of Montrose in re taking action and initiative, and kudos to you for doing so too.

  9. zeomia Freck

    Nov 4th, 2007

    do you know if those characters exist still in SL?

  10. Jessica Holyoke

    Nov 5th, 2007

    There is Dwight, Jim and apparently Pam…

  11. Ziggy Figaro

    Nov 5th, 2007

    Interesting perspective on Dwight the Augmentationalist vs. Jim the Immersionist.

    I had another read on the characters: Dwight’s avatar showed that Dwight the character is exactly who, where, and what he wants to be in life. Or, rather, he was — he’s miserable since he lost Angela.

    Jim’s introducing his avatar also introduced the idea that Jim is rather sad, disillusioned, and downright pitiable — which was quite a twist, because in previous seasons he was the coolest guy in the office. This theme was explored more fully in a subsequent episode (which, alas, had nothing to do with SL).

    I hope they pick up the SL storyline later in the seasn.

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