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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Stumbling through a Second Life

by Ken Newquist / April 15, 2008

Jumping into Second Life is like jumping into a void, albeit one populated with the remnants of a half million flea markets. Moving around is awkward, and not just because your avatar inevitably looks like its been nailed to a set of wooden planks. The world's interface makes it difficult to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B, and once you've stumbled upon how to make the jump, more often than not Point B wasn't worth the effort in the first place.

And then you dig a little deeper and start finding more interesting things. Like a hidden Stargate network joining dozens of regions together. Or a community of Firefly afficidoes who's raised their own town. Or people attending virtual church services. Or biker bars with live rock music.

There are tantalizing potentials lurking to Second Life, but finding them, and exploiting them, well, that's the challenge.

Introducing Second Life

  • Everyone starts at Help Island, which has a handful of tutorials explaining how to interact with the world. Once you've learned the basics, you can move to the mainland, or elsewhere.
  • Moving around is straightforward, using the directional keys. Getting from region to region can be done in one of two ways:
    • Do a global search, based on keyword.
    • Use the Map tool to enter a region, and then coordinates.

Finding People

The single biggest problem with Second Life is finding people to talk to. Although the services averages about 500k active users a month, the virtual world is huge and those users are spreadout.

Unlike World of Warcraft, it's possible to spend hours in Second Life without coming across another soul ... unless you go looking for them.

Your best bet is to visit one of the following three kinds of places:

  • Newbie-friendly Regions: Word gets around about these locations, and there are plenty of people (although they may not be up for talking just yet, as many are still trying to figure out how to avoid walking into walls.
  • Group & Event Specific Regions: There are a multitude of groups and organizations in SL, many of which have some sort of regular meeting schedule or special events.
  • Social Destinations: Just like in the real world, clubs (particularly those with music), casinos, and shopping malls are natural aggregation points for people.

Newbie Destinations

The first task for new arrivals is to shed their generic persona; fortunately there are a few regions that are able to help with that.

  • The Shelter: A newbie-centric hangout. Lots of lost people trying to figure out how to find their way through SL.
  • New Citizens Incorporated: Classrooms teaching social skills, weapon use, scripting, and much more.
  • The Free Dove: A jumbled flea market of free stuff, the idea being that peopel can try out a variety of products before spending some virtual money.

Group & Event Desinations

Social Destinations

Tracking crowds is made easier by keeping up with the SL blogging community, which report on happenings within the community, as well as upcomign events.

There are also a few good articles highlighting specific destinations within SL:

And here are a few locations I found that harbored clusters of citizens:

  • The Edge: One of the oldest clubs in Second Life.
  • Frank's Place: A heavily trafficked jazz bar, but I suspect you need formalware for you avatar.
  • Midnight City: One of the most famous shopping malls within SL. The thing is, because everything's automated, there aren't necessarily going to be a huge number of people there, but you never know.
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Comments

One other idea is to check Community > Events on the main SL website each time before you login. See what's happening while you are going to be in world. You pretty quickly learn to sift out the commercial hype and find some things that might be interesting to you.

Thanks -- I checked out Events. It's definitely helpful for figuring out what's happening when (although filtering by type appears to be broken in Firefox/Safari on the Mac; I haven't tried it on the PC yet).

I can't recall a time - if ever - I entered coordinates on the Map. I just open it and double-click where the green dots are. Insta-teleport.

If I know a region name, I'll enter that and then again go looking for green dots. Personally, I'd advise noobs to forget coordinates. You don't use them in real life; don't really need them in Second Life.

Then how do you get to specific locations in Second Life (for example, a specific club, event or attraction?) or are regions small enough that if you have the region name, you can just assume that the greatest congregation of dots is where you want to be?

Yes. Regions are relatively small. Once inside a region you can use the mini-map to find the concentration of dots. If it's a store or location found in Search or through someone's Picks or whatever, well, I just use the "Teleport" to that location button.

The only time I bother with coordinates is when I'm searching for a location unlikely to have significant traffic/dots and which I didn't find via Search or Picks or something; all I know is the region/coordinates. For example, someone provides a Sim name/coordinates on a forum post. In those rare cases, I tp to the region and just watch the changing coordinates at the top of the screen as I fly around until I find it. Usually there'll be some kind of signage to look out for.

Is it the most efficient way? Probably not. But it works fine, especially if the location has other avatars.