Before graduate school I had only heard of Second Life from a Law & Order: SVU episode. When I told my boyfriend I had to play it for an assignment he asked me if I was going to hold anyone captive like the pedophile in that SVU episode did. I defended Second Life and told him how companies like IBM and universities are using this program as a means to communication and with that my Second Life experience began.
When I first joined Second Life I was excited to pick out my avatar. I played Sims when I was younger and I always liked being able to make my Sim look like me. I wanted to have an integrated self in Second Life too but I could only choose predesigned avatars in the free version. I ended up choosing a goth looking girl for my initial avatar. After a few minutes in the game I found some more avatar designs and I changed to a Victorian girl who reminded me of Disney’s Belle. I thought she looked really pretty which I think determined my outlook for my Second Life experience. I imagined I was in a Disney film as Princess Belle!
I caught on pretty quickly with how to walk but flying was the most fun, not because it is an easy way to move around but because I loved the way my avatar’s dress looked when I was flying. Because life is a fashion show (and in Second Life it’s not different) I chose to fly everywhere and show off my avatar’s dress. I don’t think anyone else in the first world I visited really cared about me or my dress so I just kept flying around minding my own business until I found a portal!
When I walked through the portal I got put into a nightclub. My first impressions of the club: the music is cool, people are dancing, how do I do that!? This is where my first conversations in Second Life occurred. A bunch of people started saying hello to me in different languages! I eventually found someone who spoke English and I asked the gentleman how I could dance. He told me to “click on the disco ball.” Well…I couldn’t find the disco ball and didn’t want to look like a loser just standing there in a room full of people dancing so I decided to fly around. Eventually I found another portal and decided to where it took me. I ended up back where I started!
I wouldn’t say I had a bad experience in Second Life. I don’t know if I logged on at a high traffic time (Monday around 8pm) but the program was very slow on my computer which made conversing with others really hard. Every time I would try and type something it would take my sentence about ten seconds to appear. It got annoying and eventually lead me to just not want to talk to people.
I can see why people join Second Life. It is a way of escapism and helps others connect and make new friends. While many establishments have integrated this program into their work life I am glad I have not had to join Second Life to communicate with others; I don’t think it is for me. I really enjoy the Sakai program my graduate school uses. I interact with my classmates and professors regularly and have connected with many of them outside of Sakai on social media.