Within a 'massive multiplayer game' like Second Life we may not automatically think of there being other games to play, aside from exploring the virtual world itself. However, by all accounts Second Life is a free-roaming virtual space which means that users can actually create and do whatever they want.
As a result, just like open spaces and locations in the real world, many users create mini-games to bring new people together to socialize. To provide an outsiders perspective of what social activities one might find in Second Life, I've gathered together some examples of the typical types of in-world multiplayer games one will encounter and a quick introduction to the rules of each.
Live Action Roleplaying Games (LARP)
These kind of games require you to turn up at a specific location and act out being your character in the game with other players. There are a wide variety of these -- ranging from the casual to the serious and innocent to adult themed -- but the most popular are the ones centered around the vampire games.
The advantage of these types of games is the social element of actually interacting with your fellow players directly. There are too many LARP games in Second Life to list, but Bloodlines, a vampire themed game, is one of the more popular ones.
Head Up Display (HUD) Games
A HUD is the display on your screen, like your chat and inventory windows in Second Life. The game HUD is a window of its own that you place somewhere easily accessible on your screen.
The games are turn based usually and will alert you when a turn happens. On each turn you are able to make actions or resolve options offered to you depending on the game.
Tiny Empires 3000
Tiny Empires 3000 is based in the far future. The game is very casual and works in turns that are a few minutes long but signify a passing of 1 month.
At the beginning of most turns you will be presented with things to do. These actions can vary from buying a ship, voting on a proposed law or even solving a puzzle or riddle.
You have to join a guild, but if you don't know anyone currently laying the game then you need not worry because the game will randomly choose a guild and offer it to you to join.
You can gain money also from recruiting others to be your subordinates. When someone is your subordinate they pay part of their profits to you.
The game isn't hard to understand once you get going and can either be paid attention to regularly or you can just dip in and out of it casually. Also if the science fiction world isn't your thing, you could play its predecessor, Tiny Empires, which is in a medieval setting, but has the same gameplay. Personally, I like that there's no major commitment in this type of game, so I can just play it whenever I feel like it.
This game is closer to being an actual strategy game. The genre is science fiction and based in the far future.
Your goal is to build up your base and your space fleet. You can interact with other players in three ways: transfers, attacks and trade.
Essentially, you dig resources to build factories to build ships to go out into space. Unlike Tiny Empires 3000, it isn't turn based though. Instead your actions take a certain amount of time in order to happen.
Unlike Tiny Empires 3000, I wouldn't consider this to be a casual game and it helps to get tips from an experienced player to get maximum enjoyment.
These are games in only the very loosest sense. A store owner will have a pond or lake of some sort that will be populated with special fish. Usually these fish contain items from the owner's store, often in bits. So in order to get a whole dress, for example, you'll need to fish for every piece of the dress.
Usually you will find a small kiosk that contains fishing rods of varying types and optional bait depending which rod you have chosen. Once you have your rod you just need to equip it by right clicking it in your inventory and select wear. Once it's in your hands and you're standing at the pool of water click the rod and a little pop-up will appear and you select cast.
Now you just sit there and wait for the rod to catch a fish, then once it has you cast again and again and again and again. This kind of game is ludicrously simplistic -- "point, click and wait" that it is more of a test of patience than anything else. Some people enjoy it... I don't.
Clubs and venues will often hold events that will have an overall theme. The idea is basically to hold a a masquerade and dress up according to the theme -- you are limited only by your imagination and can interpret the theme as you please. These themes can range from something fairly vague such as "the colour purple" to something specific like "Alice in Wonderland."
An event might typically go like this: you dress up and arrive at the event. Usually there's a DJ or some form of music involved, which means dancing and likely a lot of chatting. Someone at the venue there will be a contest board that you just click the 'Join Contest' button on it and your name appears on the board.
At this point it's all about the event and usually talking with other people attending and just enjoying yourself. At some point in the evening the host, or hostess, will open the voting on the contest board. At this point everyone will vote for who they thought best represented the theme, (although more often than not people just vote for their friends), by clicking on their name on the contest board.
Once voting is done the host, or hostess, will close voting, count the votes and announce the winner. Prizes very often are money, but could be anything chosen by the event organizer. One of the most common non-monetary prizes are gift cards for a favorite shop.
One of my favorite past times in Second Life is wandering around places I've not been before. Naturally, when wandering around random places you're bound to stumble across random things.
You can find a lot of Real World games floating around in Second Life. I usually favor the board games, like chess and backgammon. It can be a fun incentive to drag friends to locations that they've never been just to play a board game. After all, playing chess on your own isn't much fun.