I’ve had people tell me horror stories about their first few hours in Second Life. Here is a composite sketch of the kind of “First Look” experience you’d rather not have…
9:30 AM. Logged in to Second Life for the first time. I seem to be in some sort of welcome area…at least it says “welcome” on the wall. Nobody here, though. I look at the buttons and menus on my screen and try to figure them out.
9:38 AM. There’s a girl on a billboard here who looks like me! Dark hair, red jacket.
Guess I picked a good avatar.
9:42 AM. Someone else is here! Well, maybe. There is this amorphous billowy white cloud, or ball of mist. But it has a name tag over it. Can I talk to it? What should I say, “Take me to your leader?” While I am wondering, it shoves past me and scoots away.
9:50 AM. I figured out how to move my avatar! I wander around a bit, following the direction the white cloud went. There are some arrows on the ground, so I guess I’m going the right way. I see a colorful parrot on a perch. It teaches me how to “chat”. Not much of a conversationalist though, it just repeats whatever I say.
9:55 AM. A big, muscular guy with a bare chest walks into the room. He comes up to me and stands uncomfortably close. Well, actually he bumps into me a little. Oh look, he’s typing something, just like I did with the parrot! “Hey, sexy. RU single?” Oh dear. Well, yes…but…well. I reply, “Yes. I’m new here” He says, “I got 10 in 4U baby” He exposes his private parts to me. Sure enough, he’s got a big, stiff member. Eww, it’s too early in the morning to think about this. I walk away.
9:58 AM. I enter another room. A slender man dressed in black is sitting on a bench near a small fish pond. As I walk past him, a sign appears on my screen: “Drakul879 is offering to bite you.” There are “accept” and “decline” buttons. I decline. Another of the signs appears. I decline. Another. Decline. Decline, decline, decline.
10:04 AM. I come to what appears to be a dead end. There is a sign telling me how to use a “Destination Guide” to go to another place. I open mine. There’s a “Newcomers” category, so I click that. I click on one of the Destinations.
10:05 AM. There is a rush of wind and I am someplace else. OMG, the chat is going crazy. And I can hear people talking, too, out loud through my speakers. So many people! They’re all talking at once. A grossly fat man with an ugly face comes up to me. He is dressed only in white undershorts. He says, “Give me 100L”. I don’t know what a “L” is, but I don’t care for his looks or his tone. I decide to try another category of Destination. Oh, here’s “Shopping”!
10:15 AM. These are pretty neat stores. And I’ve figured out that “L” means the currency used in this game. I don’t have any, though, and I don’t know how to get it. How much IS a “L”, anyway? A pretty girl comes up to me. “Hi,” she says. “You’re new, aren’t you?” I admit that I am. “Well, here’s a free pair of pants for you”. A sign appears on my screen, “Sexaybish29 Resident has offered you inventory.” I click Keep. I see that there is a new item in my inventory, called “Nice Pants”. I’m feeling a little more confident with the controls, so I right click it and select Wear.
OMG! I look hideous! And I’m weaving around like a drunken sailor! Those pants did something to me!! Sexaybish29 is laughing. “ROFL! Noob! Noooo0000B!!”
The hell with this stupid game. I log out and delete the software from my computer.
Now, to be fair, I have to say that as a greeter/mentor/helper of newcomers I have seen a great many newbies who are themselves a mirror image of this. While Second Life is often guilty of showing its uglier side to the new visitor, I have seen plenty of new people who log in for the first time, and start running around and causing all the trouble they can, or asking every girl in sight for sex, or begging for money. Like this fellow…
I am standing at the arrival point in Caledon Oxbridge University. Aha, here comes another new resident! After a few moments looking around himself, he walks up to me. I greet him pleasantly:
“Hello, RonJonesE49. Welcome to Second Life and Caledon Oxbridge University.”
“Wow hun U look hott”
“We have a tutorial here for new residents…”
“I wanna plow your p**sy so bad”
“This is a General area, Ron. There’s no sex here and please watch your language.”
“Make me, b**ch”
“Glad to oblige”. I eject & ban him.
An IM window opens. It’s Ron. “F**kin #$$%$# c*nt! I’ll **%^^&$ your *&^%!”
Sigh. I Mute him and get back to work.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. There is another side to Second Life, and there are plenty of friendly, reasonable people out there who would, I’m sure, find it a fascinating place…and would be a delight to know and an asset to the virtual community. I know this because, every now and again, I meet one. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that YOU are a bright, civilized, genteel person too. So here are some places to visit that will show you the Better Side of Second Life.
Caledon Oxbridge University (Tutorial and help for the new residetnt)
Chakryn Forest (an enchanted forest with puzzles and live Fae roleplayers)
SS Galaxy (A stunning 3-region long cruise ship. A Must-See!)
Pillars of Hercules (Another stunning build. An air of ancient Greece, a touch of fantasy)
The Ivory Tower Library of Primitives (comprehensive hands-on tutorials on building things)
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (Modeled on Spider Robinson's "Callahan's Place" books. Often empty, but merry and pun-filled on Tuesday and Friday nights. Join the group for notices of events)
The Savoy Jazz Club (Formal wear recommended, but not slavishly enforced. Dance to the big bands)
FabFree Station. Free Stuff! Join the group for leads to even more freebies.