Tuesday, December 5, 2006

My Second Life Begins

Written 24 November, 2006

My Second Life Begins

I was born on the 24th of October, 2006 at about ten in the morning. That’s when I downloaded the Second Life client and clicked Connect. Happily, my hardware had enough horsepower to get me to SL, where I found myself spawned, in generic form, on Help Island. I spent a few minutes gaining rudimentary control of my movement and camera controls and learning the various menus, whereupon I teleported to a second, larger island, where I polished my skills while accumulating notecards giving me information on comportment, owning land, and making objects. In less than an hour, I had taken the one-way trip to the welcome area on the mainland, where I read even more signs and accumulated even more notecards.

My first mainland teleport brought me to the Ahern welcome area, a place which tends to attract sound spammers, cagers, nonsense talkers, giant blimp avatars, and other crazy—er, perhaps I should say eccentric—Second Lifers. I sat myself on a bench and watched the weirdness unfold about me until my bizarreness limit had been surpassed. Then I set out exploring.

An Aside About Controls

Mastering the controls and menus is an essential part of Second Life. You must be able to move your avatar around in three dimensions while simultaneously engaging in Chat (which is visible to all avatars in the vicinity) and Instant Messages, which are private between (or among, if more than two are involved) avatars. This becomes much easier when you learn camera control, which allows you to take any viewpoint and zoom in and out and tilt and pan and rotate. With good camera control, you can take a close look at objects and other avatars while standing quietly or sitting in a chair. And for the vain-- not that I’m including myself in that category-- you can take a good close look at yourself.

Ladies, it’s possible for other avatars to look right up your skirt; for that reason, I always wear panties.


My initial experience outside the welcome area was bizarre and a bit intimidating. Flying out of Ahern, a cityscape unfolded before me. I passed a burning motorcycle, then something that looked suspiciously like a nuclear power plant, and then toggled a landing when I spotted some avatars standing in a street lined with tall buildings. I was talking with another new citizen, comparing our initial SL experiences, when we were suddenly caged—my first negative experience on SL . We managed to escape from the cage, but then anvils started to fall, whistling, from the sky—big heavy, shiny metal anvils. At first, they fell harmlessly on the street and disappeared, but then four in a row fell with a thud on my companion’s head, thud, thud, thud, thud. He was knocked down, but, to my surprise, he wasn’t flattened.

“Are you okay?” I asked, glaring across the street, where two male avs—Jon Racecourse and Darrick Racecourse by name--- were busting a gut.

“I don’t seem to be damaged,” he said.

Later, when I read the police blotter on the SL website, I learned Darrick had been suspended from SL for repeated caging.


I soon found my way to the Wingo welcome area, where I found a hangout at the trivia lounge. While the questions are often abysmal and the answers are sometimes misspelled, the music is nice and the backchatter can be a lot of fun. The trivia players tend to be intelligent and interesting, so it’s a good way to make friends. I still hang out there, and I’m often on the scoreboard at the end of the day.

By the end of the first day, I had made some new friends, had learned to teleport, could fly without bumping into things all the time, and I was able to search the SL world and the contents of my inventory. I was still a newbie, but no longer a new newbie. Then, while sitting in Ahern watching the craziness unfold, a very nice lady with a ponytail hairdo gave me a skin, hair, and an outfit that let me put together my initial look.


Photo: Chey, in blue, camping in chair to make $3L/10min. She barely made it through to the first payout, and hasn't been in a camping chair since.

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