Trying out Second Life: Flying practice, kind tour guides and ocean-view pools

This week’s grad school adventures took me to Second Life, a 3D world where people create avatars to interact with each other and build homes, other buildings and fantasy environments. I’ve played my fair share of video games, but I’ve never been a PC gamer, so it took me some time to get adjusted to changing from flying to walking to running using my computer’s keyboard.

The first thing I did was pick an avatar. I played with the custom clothes for at least an hour before getting frustrated and choosing an already-put-together avatar that at least shared a few of my own characteristics — brown hair and the most normal looking clothes I could find.

Then, I was ready to explore. When looking at destinations, I chose a category that claimed it was beginner-friendly — a good thing since I was still occasionally running into walls.

second life school

One of the places included this Second Life schoolhouse, which had dozens of these informational boards laying out the basics of Second Life and explaining some of the lingo.

Then I practiced my flying around this zoo.

second life zoo

After I felt I had my movements pretty much under control, I headed over to another beginner-friendly place that actually had other people in it so I could make some new friends.

But I must have still looked pretty awkward, because the first person I got to talk back to me immediately asked if I was new. I told him I was, and he offered to show me around a bit. Here’s how he introduced the virtual world: “Basically in this life, you can do anything that we can do in real life.”

My new friend had been a Second Life resident (what the program’s users are called) since 2006. He had a premium account, which allows you to own land and build your own house, and he said he had actually built two. We teleported to one of his homes, which overlooked a beach and had a pool and very nice virtual furniture inside. My friend was a designer in Second Life who actually sells his virtual goods to make real money. He told me that I could do this, too, with some practice. I told him that he greatly overestimated my Second Life skills.

I don’t see myself spending a lot of time in Second Life, but my experience this week was not an unpleasant one. The people I met were either as clueless as I was (probably because I was mostly hanging out in the newbie spaces) or very kind, like my temporary tour guide. And as we’re facing another round of wintry weather here in Alabama, at least some version of me got to swim in this pool!

second life pool


6 thoughts on “Trying out Second Life: Flying practice, kind tour guides and ocean-view pools”

  1. Hey Julie. 🙂

    It seems like you had an adventure or two in 2L. The idea of selling property in 2L to increase your financial prosperity in 1L peaked my interest.

    I read in the Nov 26, 2006 edition of Bloomberg Businessweek that Anshe Chung, a virtual land baroness, was the first millionaire in 2L. Her real-world persona, Ailin Graef, based her net worth on her land holdings, cash in “Linden dollars,” which can be converted to real cash, as well as virtual shopping malls, store chains, and even virtual stock-market investments in 2L businesses. How cool is that Julie? 🙂

  2. Hi Julie,

    You definitely had much more fund than I did! And you were lucky you were able to connect with someone who not only spoke the language, but also was willing to show you around. The business aspect of the game is interesting though, but I think you would have to be really into the game and understand those who take part in the game to try and come with something that will make you money.

    On another note, I find it really interesting how people tend to be more trusting and lenient in a virtual reality world. It’s interesting how in a virtual world, going to his “home” as soon as you met him was not a big deal, because you know it’s just a game. I’m sure that would definitely not translate to real life! But this also raises a concern with regards to children that might be using the game, and what they might learn or be exposed to.

    1. Haha! Yeah, I would definitely not go to a random person’s house in real life unless I was starring in an episode of Law & Order. I honestly felt a little weird accepting his invitation to see his house. My stranger danger alerts were initially going off. But I mean, really — what harm could come of that in the virtual world? I do agree that children using the game makes me a little worried. While I didn’t see anything too crazy there, some of the examples of SL activities mentioned in our readings are probably not kid appropriate.

  3. Hey Julie!
    The idea of making real life money in Second Life is definitely appealing to me. (I’m guessing that creating the goods involves using programming and coding skills?) But between my super busy job and our studies, I don’t think now would be the time for me to try and do that. I agree with Pat that it’s interesting how we are/have to be trusting of people while in SL. If some guy we never met came up to us in real life and said “hey come back to my oceanfront house with a pool,” we would be a little suspicious of him. However in the “game,” I found myself having to rely on the kindness of strangers too just to figure out how to orient myself with this new world.

    1. I don’t know exactly how one creates and sells virtual goods, but I’m sure it requires some intermediate to advanced skills. I’m not looking at starting my own business in addition to work and school any time soon either! I think most of our plates are pretty full!

      I definitely had to rely on the kindness of strangers. As this guy was showing me around SL and giving me tips, I kept wondering, why is he doing this? What reason does he have to spend 30 minutes or more (I can’t remember exactly how long) explaining SL to a newbie? But I guess maybe he just likes sharing his expertise with others.

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