Second Life: My Social Experiment

Good excuse if I ever saw one, for a trip into an immersive MMORPG.

Yes, it can stand for Mostly Making Only Really Pretty Girls, -true that, haven’t seen an ugly one yet, unless you count furries, and those are kind of cute… (if you are into them.. which I am not)(yet) -MMORPG stands for Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Game, and Second Life sure fits that bill, with some notable differences. As the Second Life FAQs explain-

“Second Life provides near unlimited freedom to its Residents. This world really is whatever you make it, and your experience is what you want out of it. If you want to hang out with your friends in a garden or nightclub, you can. If you want to go shopping or fight dragons, you can. If you want to start a business, create a game or build a skyscraper you can. It’s up to you.”

My question is, if there are 50 to 60,000 people online in Second Life at any given time, where the Heck are they? On Gor? I read all those books many years ago… John Norman was quite a guy, that’s all I can say. I enjoyed his rich world, but can’t say I agree with his philosophy. I still may check out Gor, just to see how it matches my memories of the books, and maybe get a chance to tame and ride a wild tarn…but that worry of getting kidnapped and collared kind of puts a damper on the exploration idea. We’ll see.

In Second Life, I have created myself pretty much as I am in my first life, and my interests are the same, -interesting conversation, networking, good music, relaxation. I could have used this opportunity to do as many do, and create the crazy fantasy life that I couldn’t have in reality, but this is what I like. Books, tech, music and idea exchange.

Because my interests may be boring and tame compared to the craziness available, I have to admit that it has been a bit of a challenge finding places to go, and people to hang out with.

I did get to a great lecture/book talk at the SLiterary Events Center with Emily Giffin and won her new book, which is on its way to me via snail mail.

How did I get started?

Go to SecondLife.com and sign up, pick a name from the available last names, then download Second Life.
Click the desktop icon, and start your Second Life. Hopefully, your computer specs agree with the program (it will let you know when you first run it)
You appear on Orientation Island, and go through a series of tutorials to get you used to the controls and options, such as appearance modification.
You can go to Help Island, and go through more tutorials. Note: Once you leave Help Island, there is no going back, so make sure you are good to go.
Now what? This is the point where things can falter, unless you have a plan.

I suggest shopping. (Hey, I *am* a girl.) This can get your avatar geared up to look more typical, instead of the instantly recognizable Newbie avs. -No crime to be a newb, but it is such fun to buy hair, shoes, and accessories!

Make use of that wonderful Search Box in the upper right corner, and type whatever kind of clothing you would like to find. Jeans, Dresses, business suits, Couture, Bling…
If you don’t want to buy some Linden$ right off to get some really great hair and clothes ($2000 Linden costs me about $8 USD…spending $2000 in SL shopping is every bit as fun as spending that much in a mall, believe me. Not that I have ever dropped 2 grand in a mall…) you can hit the “Popular Places” tab in the search history box, and go to one of the places that advertise Freebies.
You can also earn $L by “camping” (staying in a camping spot to increase the numbers for that place, raising the relevance for it on search results) and hitting up money trees etc.
Note: Visit a lot of the better hair and clothing spots, you will be surprised to find quality freebies, or offerings of “freebies” that are just $1L.
Note: Freebie places can be confusing and very CPU demanding, due to the number of avatars that are attracted, and the resources required to render it all, so don’t let that craziness and lag influence you against the rest of the world.
After you get yourself outfitted with clothes, maybe a new skin (shaded and more realistic, including..non-Barbie like colouring/parts and makeup if required) new eyes, and flexi-hair that moves when you walk, you can begin to explore the worlds. More searching, -I check events for discussions, upcoming classes in SL design and newbie tutorial classes.

When you teleport to a world, you are usually given a TP card, so you can find it in your “Maps” directory. There are many well known educational institutions, historic sites, and SL creations that mirror real life places to visit. Search for whatever interests you. I recently found the interactive virtual replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, created for those who can’t visit the real world site.

Second Life is a unique and interesting place, -after a brief orientation you will feel more at ease, and begin to enjoy the vast knowledge and scope of entertainment/history/travel that is waiting for you.

It does take some work and commitment to stick it out and find some places and friends that you will feel comfortable with, but it is worth it. Don’t give up. I almost did, then I found a great reggae club, a classic rock pub, and a discussion spot worth revisiting. I shall give linkage and details of my ongoing adventures in future posts.

If you would like to connect in-world, my SL name is Isle Lunasea, and you will likely find me shopping, dancing or sitting in on a talk. Add me, or IM me with questions, I will certainly be glad to lend a hand.

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