So you’re a beginner in Second Life or just thinking of trying it for the first time? Perhaps you’ve heard about the explorable universes and 3D graphics? Could it be that you’ve heard that you can chat in Second Life to people all over the world? Maybe you have never heard of Second Life and I should back up a bit?
What’s the point?
For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, I’ll do my best to explain. Second Life is an online experience, where you create, explore and chat in a 3D environment. You can’t really call it a game, as much to the confusion of many a new user, there is no clear, achievable end goal. There’s no prize or points system, however, if that is what you crave then Second Life has you covered there too.
Confused? Second Life is what you make of it. Many of us use it just to connect with others. We congregate in places to chat, share stories, exchange recipes, talk films, obsess over music, talk nonsense and generally support each other. Good news and bad, it all gets shared. Others explore, find new places to go and take photos. Some role-play where they can be anything they please. There are even environments, or Worlds as they are called in Second Life which have points based systems. You can do battle with others for points or glory in such Worlds. The possibilities are almost endless.
Simply go to the main website and create an account with a valid email address to get started. There’s no need to pay for anything at this point, nor should you need to, so you can choose to use Second Life for free. Anyone who would normally select a female avatar might want to consider using a male one for their first few visits. Female avatars can find themselves bombarded with unwanted attention, which can be very annoying, to say the least. After choosing your username, downloading the official program (called a viewer), you will need to pick a starter avatar. The first place you will find yourself then teleported to is a beginner island, which is designed to teach you all you need to know in order to get started. There are guides here which will teach you basics such as movement and other important Second Life related lessons. Many of the beginner’s lessons seem a bit obvious, but it really is worth going through them all.
Where do I go?
Obviously, one of the first places I’d suggest visiting is NCI. They have a few locations and you can read all about all the wonderful events they hold and other news over on their blog. You will find freebies, changing rooms, helpful advice and people to chat with, all in one place. Anything that causes you confusion or concern with regards to Second Life, this is the place and people to ask. NCI is moderated safe space. So no adult language, nor adult themes, no bullying and generally no behaving like a troll fool is tolerated here.
Another place worth checking out when you first arrive is Caledon which is a Steampunk inspired community with helpful guides and many free classes. They have a beautifully designed campus, that I highly recommend exploring for the views alone. The rules here are similar to those in place at NCI. Each world has its own rules, but as a rule of thumb, if the place has not got an adult rating I recommend using 1980s style PG style language. The kind of stuff you would be happy to say in front of kids.
Portal Park is a stunning large area filled with portals to lots of different words, just find one that intrigues you and walk on through. I personally love how this place looks and will often go there just to look around.
There’s also a list of locations that Second Life displays on start-up. The list changes frequently and is a handy way of finding out about events. Start making bookmarks of the locations you like, so you can easily return later to explore further.
My avatar looks like a n00b!
So you’ve probably grabbed a few items in your inventory, some clothes, perhaps a couple of hairstyles. You’re anxious to try them out right? It is all too easy to make a mistake, end up naked and in trouble, especially since many Worlds frown upon nude avatars. For this reason, it’s best not to try stuff on there in the shop. Avoid this common newcomer trauma by using changing rooms, after all, that is what they are for. The NCI changing rooms are split into avatar genders. Therefore, you should pay close attention to the signs outside. This avoids any embarrassment caused by going into the wrong changing room. Of course, you’ll need to know how to unpack boxes and try stuff on in order to use the rooms. In the event that you’ve already forgotten, there’s signs and helpful people to ask downstairs at NCI.
There are many places that you can pick up items to customise your avatar for free. To do a search, try typing “freebie” into the search engine on your Second Life viewer you will find lots of places worth exploring. Note that not all items in freebie places are free, some cost a low amount of money. For this reason, I advise checking the price of an item, by hovering over it with your mouse pointer.
Congratulations! You’re now a citizen of Second Life, now go forth, make friends and explore. Show off that avatar you’ve spent forever adjusting in a changing room and most importantly of all – have fun.