Having read a lot about Second Life, the limitless virtual world created by Linden Labs, I decided it was time to see what all the fuss is about. I downloaded the software, created a virtual me (also known as an avatar), went through the orientation, gave myself a hideous makeover, and transported myself to the mainland where I was free to wander through virtual homes, gardens, and attractions owned and created by regular Second Lifers.
After wasting more hours than I care to count wandering around, poking my head into buildings, I decided that my First Life was just fine.
I could never seem to get download times fast enough in the Linden Universe to make the experience seamless, and several times while visiting I was required to download huge new upgrades to deal with issues of security and expanded capability. The latest update, downloaded last week, took about 28 minutes to pull down and install.
There is also a massive investment in time and energy to learn all of the ins and outs of Second Life, and there can be a sizeable investment in money as well if you want to buy land and build on it, get a set of functioning genitals (yes, there’s a lot of sex in Second Life), or gain access to the coolest places and events. You can also use Linden bucks to get into live musical concerts, and purchase virtual art and toys like cars and motorcycles. As well, there are virtual stores where you can shop for actual products that will be delivered to your actual home/basement.
That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to do for free. With all the top companies rushing to create virtual headquarters in Second Life as a way to communicate with more than half a million tech savvy Second Lifers (actual number of users is hotly debated), it’s safe to say you can spend weeks there just walking around, chatting to people, and seeing just how outlandish you can get your avatar to look.
The place to start is www.secondlife.com , where you can download the software. After installing the software follow the prompts as you pick your name and a basic avatar which you’ll get to customize a little later. Spend as much time getting orientated as possible to ensure you’ll be able to get the most out of your visit to the mainland.
Once you’ve gone through the first self-guided tour you can transport yourself to orientation island where you’ll get a more in-depth explanation of Second Life. Do not buy in just yet — make sure you’re at least somewhat interested before you spend any money on land, clothes or other features of the program.