In Second Life, very little is actually created by the owners of Second Life itself; the world is open to the users to create and build upon. Users can make their own avatars from scratch, including simply different shades of skin, to anthropomorphic animals, to transforming robots, to towering dragons, to even toddler-sized toys. Users can model poses for their characters, as well as furniture to pose upon and decorations to create the setting. Users can manipulate the earth to create oceans, islands, and continents for their buildings, parks, dream homes, or whatever they choose. Users can upload their own sounds, their own textures, or program their own tools and devices. Users can set their own rules in their areas, and travel to other players' lands to explore.
With this said, it can be seen that Second Life is as open-ended a game as the user chooses it to be. Second Life alone is a Massively Multiplayer Online game as well as a virtual world, relating it to other MMO's such as MMORPGs (Role Playing Games) and classic MUDs (text-based Multi-User Dungeons). Like a MUD, Second Life “is not [a] goal-oriented” game, although the user can choose to create or find places that offer quests or rewards (Curtis). Players spend their time usually either building onto the world or communicating with a percentage of the other users in the game. Since players build everything that exists in the game, they carry on their own culture from any standpoint (such as the group of Uru “refugees” who created their own Myst habitat in Second Life). Communication is a huge part of play on Second Life. While many players use it for conversation, many others find ways to use this communication for more devious means. Players who own land can set rules and regulate those in their land, as users around Second Life have been known to do anything from pleasant conversation, to constantly spamming the logs with messages, to having online “sex” in every way or form possible. By allowing owner players to set rules and regulations, the creators of Second Life have avoided allowing players to interact in many ways (besides private messaging) from large distances (for example, Mr. Bungle's voo-doo doll would be useless in the current laws of Second Life [referring to Dibbell's article]). World-wide rules have been implemented to fight griefing (playing to purposefully hinder or disturb other players), thus keeping such events to a minimum but at the same time stopping many forms of emergent gameplay.
With the game's current strategy of letting the users dominate, there is not much that can be done “world-wide” to improve the gameplay without changing the style of the game completely. For example, giving players a set of portable objects and individual skills as well as specific quests, such as in Habitat, would give players set goals to accomplish, but would not work too well in a world where the players control where everything goes.