I got this email today:

Dear Aenea Nori,
We hope you’re enjoying your Second Life.  This is a reminder that your Second Life Premium Annual Plan will be renewed on October 23, 2007, at which time you’ll be charged $72.00(USD).  You don’t need to do anything; renewal and billing are automatic.
To review or modify your account details, or to change or cancel your Membership Plan, visit https://secondlife.com/account.

Best Wishes,
Linden Lab and the Second Life Team
http://www.secondlife.com

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Yes, I love Second Life. But my initial motivation for becoming a Premium account was the First Land offer. That was my first and last relationship with the Mainland, tyvm, and I made a tidy profit on that little transaction at the time (gracias Nadir!!). Since then, my tier has been donated to the Bluffs to support the upkeep of ZeroOne’s project. So in essence, I gain very little from the 512m tier associated with the account. I now own land in Pinswang from the Otherland Group with which I’m very happy, and for which I don’t need tier.

The other benefit of the Premium account is the stipend. While not as lucky as others (as the stipend rate has declined over time), I managed to lock in a L$500 stipend level when I signed up. So on a purely financial level, on the Lindex US$72 will buy me L$19,000, while in stipends I will receive L$26,000. This one’s a no-brainer, although my real linden burn rate is much higher than that:/

So it comes down to this: Do I plan to stay another whole year here? Can I imagine myself having spent another year of my life devoting so much time (~20-30 hours a week) to this game? Can I continue to spend that much time here faced with the increasing demands on my RL time (I thought toddlerhood would demand less of me than babyhood, but boy, was I wrong๐Ÿ˜‰ )

I read recently that the net result of seriously playing games like SL is that we *make* time for them, one way or another, even when we claim we have no free time available. So that means there must be some 500,000 sleep-deprived SL users who take time out of sleep in order to invest it in their second lives. (There are also always the cautionary articles about those who choose instead to take it out of work or out of their real lives… I’m looking at *you*, Wired Magazine.)

I guess I can afford the 72 bucks (plus what I’m paying monthly for Pinswang). I can’t really foresee what I’ll be doing in a year, but I know that I still love the people, experiences and skills that I have here. I know that I’m sacrificing real time for this — time for my son; for my husband; for exercise; time for me, even. I understand that I *will* go through phases (like now), where it’s more or less important to me, or where I take time for other activities, or where I just choose to sleep for a while to stave off the feeling of accumulated exhaustion.

But this has become my hobby, and many of my ancillary interests revolve around it. It tweaks the receptors in my brain that savor social interaction, that crave the mental challenge of learning and dominating something new, that frolic in the new experiences and that rejoice in a good conversation with interesting people. I don’t get these stimuli in RL nearly as often as I’d like, so at the moment, I see no suitable substitute for this addiction.

Seventy-two dollars is cheap in that sense. /me antes up again.