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How to start using Second Life

Posted on Saturday, July 21, 2012 in Other

I thought I’d do a post about how to start using Second Life. There are other 3D worlds (for instance InWorldz) and I’ve actually used another too, OSGrid, but that was a few years ago, and I never got very far there. At the time, it was very much like SL but far less evolved. So this will be about joining SL (becoming a ‘resident’).

Signing up is quite easy. You just visit the Second Life homepage and click the Join Now link. There’s also a link to click to get more info.

I think that these days you need to provide ‘payment info’ but that doesn’t mean you have to pay anything. The basic level of Second Life membership is free and you can do enough without ever having to pay for the upgrade to a Premium account. However, if you do, you’ll get some of your money back as ‘pocket money’ every week.

Once you’ve signed up and downloaded the viewer (sort of like a web browser, except it’s in 3D, there’s the official SL viewer as well as a couple of others that you can use instead if you prefer), you need to start creating your avatar (which is a 3D version of yourself if you like and in any case, it’s your alter ego inside the 3D environment).

If you think it’s difficult to customize your avatar you can start out with one of the ready made avatars included in your inventory. There are actually quite a few to choose between, both male and female, realistic or more fantasy like. For instance, you can be a vampire or an elf/fairy, or a gladiator. There are also some ‘future’ and steampunk people.

In fact, if you want to spend money in SL you could be anything you like, such as a famous actor, a robot, a pony, teddy bear or even a plant. Anything goes. Even if you’re not interested in upgrading or putting real money into your SL account, you can mix and match the several different items of clothing, hair, skin and shapes that come with each avatar to create your own unique avatar.

There are also several freebie places to teleport to (that’s how you get around in SL – from region to region – in SL regions are called sims). The freebies are usually of quite low quality, unlike the things included in your basic avatars.

After you’ve finished creating your avatar, you might want to go to a ‘newbie’ or ‘noob’ orientation place. There are several different ones, and you probably end up in one of them right away. That will be your first ‘home’ (the place you always return to and log in to). If you upgrade and buy land you can have your own home, but some sims allow you to join their group and then set home there. For instance, the communal SL Botanical Gardens is one such place that allows ordinary residents to set home in their sim.

After that you can just start exploring, socializing, listening to music or maybe even building things. Some people make buildings, others furniture. You can also focus on trees and other things to put in your garden. Then again, you could learn to make clothing and other items for avatars, including hair (which is quite a complex process, I believe). Building or creating items is one good way to make money inside SL.

You can also use real money and exchange them for Linden dollars (the SL currency). There’s actually an exchange rate. The good news is that one L is not worth much. I think it’s less than a cent/penny. So if you do decide to splash out on some fancier items a little real money goes a very long way.

Finally, I’ll just mention the different groups. The majority of groups are really no fun at all, from my point of view. They’re just a way of marketing items for sale, even though supposedly, you as a member will get good offers. There are also specialized groups such as ones for veg*ans or music lovers. If you join a music group, you’ll get notifications about upcoming music events. Sometimes real life famous artists come and perform in SL, and sometimes you get really great ‘amateur’ performers as well. There are all kinds of different types of music, from medieval and baroque to jazz, rock and pop, so there’s something for everyone. The events I mentioned above are actually live events. Someone is singing and/or playing music at their homes, sometimes in real studios and you get to listen to them in SL, using your avatar and the viewer interface.

If you’d like to take a look at some sims in SL, you’re welcome to visit this Tumblr. There are plenty of images from different sims in SL and you get to see some adapted basic avatars as well.

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