So, I actually have no clear idea, why I joined Second Life (SL) in the first place. I had heard tidbits about it here and there, but not enough to really form an idea of what it was. I had not done online gaming, and I did not buy my laptop with gaming in mind. (This has lead to some technical difficulties, but I am surviving.)
So who am I? Alana Pyara is of course an avatar on Second Life, the virtual gaming space. The person behind the avatar wishes to keep her identity private for a while, just so that it will not influence the experience. I am 33, from Finland, and female, this much I can tell you. I have a background in web design and communication, and I am interested in social medias. This is a personal experiment, though, I am not doing it for an employer.
I think I am most interested in finding people within the game, talking to them, getting to know them. You meet a lot of people online you would never have met otherwise. On SL you can be who you want to be, look the way you want to look etc. I think it is rather important to clarify, that while this is true, these are, nevertheless, real people. How you treat them matters, and you do leave a mark in their lives, even if it's a tiny one. So even though we do separate "Second life" from "real life" (RL), it's all about living, feeling, people.
So, why the blog? I want to write down some of my experiences in this new world I am exploring. Like I say in my "Why this blog?" page, I want to keep my friends, who are not into SL, happy, and do most of the gushing here, for people who share the obsession. You might know the feeling of getting a blank look, when you try to explain, why this is so awesome, to someone who could not care less. I am listing some likeminded people and related sites to my links and followed blogs. I recommend reading more than just my blog. There are many that deal with eEducation options within SL, and other interesting subjects.
I was really lucky, when I started on SL. I found amazing people who have helped me a lot, with everything! I have seen things people probably do not see very soon in the beginning (if at all), and I have gotten insight into the world that would have normally taken a long time to come by.
But before I tell you about the lucky days, here is what happened before that:
My first day was pretty chaotic, I just walked around and tried to get my avatar to work. The help sites and The SLwiki were not easy to navigate when looking for answers to a very precise problem, so it took me more than just one day to get things going.
With an avatar invisible to me and looking terribly messy to others, I *teleported to random places and had people pushing and shoving me, getting annoyed by my clumsiness. I walked into random drama happening in random places. Saw some group doing a scavenger hunt in what looked like a perfect set for X-files. As my avatar finally froze completely, one guys huge Manga wings were hitting me on my "face". So I decided that this was enough for one day.
(* It seems that before you have set a home for yourself, hitting the home button makes you teleport by random. I used that as I did not have any idea about landmarks yet, and found more reasons to leave than to stay, in the places I ended up teleporting to).
On my second day I met a Swedish lady, who was very helpful. She showed me around a bit and gave me some landmarks for freebie shopping. You really need freebies, if you are like me, and wish to not *pay for gaming.
There are also some stores that have games where you can win the stuff they also have on sale. These items are usually of much better quality than freebies. You might see the first letter of your name on a poster, and clicking it, win products shown on the poster. There are also chairs you should sit on if the correct letter is called. In one store we saw a trash can for surprise wins. Another one used rose pettals as markers in a scavenger hunt. One more "old fashioned" game is a "camping chair" where you need to sit the given amount of minutes to win the prize.
(*For money, SL uses Linden dollars. They can be traded for real life currensies).
Ha, see what a girl learns on her second day in a virtual world: where the fashion is! And I am not that into shopping in real life. But all that amazing free stuff! No need to worry about little kids sewing the clothes. Some rush and some annoying people, but you get rid of them by just teleporting away. Bliss! And as one of my SL friends said, RL designers can test their products on SL to see what people like. This is useful especially to independent designers who make special items. Users can find pretty much anything their hearts desire, from fantasy dresses and suits to goth outfits, sportswear etc. Many major brands have their stores on SL as well.
So while shopping for new hair, clothes, shoes etc, I met a bully with an agenda. There was this guy eagerly trying to get me to talk about sex. So as he was surprisingly willing to show me how to deal with the shopping user interface, and to even talk about books, as I would not do the sex talk he wanted, I was obviously suspicious of his attentions. So as I got lost in a huge shopping center, as many n00bs do, he offered to teleport me around, to the good stuff. And after a while, you guessed, he tried to hit me with a teleport to somewhere completely different. Luckily I have not verified my account, so no adult stuff for me. After this (Second-) lifelesson I decided not to do that at all.
I am not that happy about how the bad aspects of sex, like obsessing over it or treating others badly because of it, seem to have taken over most fun things you find online. I do not have anything against people wanting to find erotic experiences in SL. I do however have a lot against someone trying to force you or trick you into doing what you have clearly expressed you do not wish to do. The guy IM'd me asking, why I had not teleported, and when he found out I was not going to verify my account, he dissappeared. I actually felt mostly giddy, because I had ended up using him to learn how to shop. That's how you treat bullies, use them for gain. But it does worry me that there are people who are so eager to treat others like trash and manipulate them into something they are against. Targeting beginners is a cruel way to get customers or to find people for your vampire/sex group, what ever it is.
While looking at the things in the next hallway, I met a guy who introduced himself as a reformed vampire, fighting agains the evil vampires. He shared stories about how vampires invite new players to be bitten and to join their groups without telling them this makes them a vampire. This gentleman gave me a garlic necklace for my protection and saved me from inside the floor, twice, as the game started lagging for me and my character got stuck.
Vampires and sex fiends are not the only problem in SL. As I was shopping, I noticed that a lot of people were apparently hired guns, paid to invite people to other shops, against the rules of the place we were currently at. Some of the stores offer a price for telling them who is advertizing against their rules on their territory. My second day was very "fashion world gone wild wild west ", I mused.
(I recommend this WikiGuide for safe shopping on SL)
But as the Swedish lady and the vampire fighting reformed vampire showed me, there are nice people everywhere. One of the first people I met on SL was a very cute 23 years old boy from Argentina, who has some RL friends in Finland. We talked for a moment and exchanged tips on where to find the best freebies. He was really well behaved and nice and I felt much better after talking to him. I even gave him the location of a light saber kit I had just found. I love geeks.
So coming back to how lucky I have been, I have met the Swedish lady several times since her first kind words. She has accompanied me to nice shops and invited me to a fun dance off with random people who had happened upon a club with a real dj. The music was amazing and we had tonz of fun. As I did not know that I needed to turn off all the AO's to join in on the group dance, I was showing off some weird dance moves of my own. That's freebie boxes for you, the one with dance moves I found, made me look like a mad zombie. Luckily zombies are cool, I thought to myself.
And while I was fixing my avatar again, I was looking for a peaceful place where I could do that. If you happen to have similar problems, what ultimately fixed my problem was editing all the aspects in my outfit once. After that I could see myself. Not a happy sight. Try dressing up with your eyes closed in someone elses closet. No idea what to wear. And in SL you also edit your features and your body. I looked like a n00bie for sure.
(What are n00bs/n00bies, you ask? They are newbies who keep messing up, clumsy beginners.)
So standing there looking desperately helpless, I saw a very pretty lady, who addressed me after watching me from afar. She had not been very impressed by the other new players complaining and arguing close by, so she decided to talk to the shy looking girl, she later told me. Lucky me. This American lady has now shown me so many amazing places in SL. She has found me clothes, skins, shapes, hair etc. She has introduced me to new people, taken me to her own group and let me stay at her guest house. As I am not a premium user, I do not have my own house on SL. She has been so patient with me and I am lucky to know her as a person too. And I met a girl from UK who is also rather new on SL, and we have done some treasure hunts of our own.
This group is probably going to show in my pictures a lot for a while. I got the idea of taking screenshots when they took us to this amazing place with volcanos, a breathtaking view to the sea, gorgeous flowers etc. We went flying and scavenger hunting. I walked at the bottom of an ocean and found a secret hall inside the volcano. We went to a maze and flew in the air looking at the sights. Just wonderful.
So what I would tell someone who is a beginner on Second life is this: Remember that even if you end up running into some bullies and drama queens, there are really lovely, amazing, people there too. And the way you treat others has a lot to do with how you end up experiencing the game.
Not all my posts are going to be this long and some of them are going to be mostly about the pictures. I will add links to my posts and to the link lists. Let me know what you think. Please comment!
If you are on SL, IM me or comment and I will IM you. If you have not tried SL and want advice, I can try to help you. I am not very good yet, I am only ten days or so old in the game world. But let's explore together.