In the iconic words sung by Maria in The Sound of Music: “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”
There are a few parameters that I want to place on my quest to rediscover Second Life as a fresh-baked newbie. For advice, I revisited a site whose pages pepper my bookmarks: Across the Grid with Lindal Kidd, which is a fantastic blog for new residents of SL. And it’s no wonder: Lindal is a devoted mentor who spends her time at Caledon Oxbridge University helping new members get acquainted with the metaverse. In all my years in Second Life, I’ve never been to Caledon; I was always intimidated by the idea of areas dedicated to role play, but from the descriptions I’ve read, it’s much more about your conduct and the suggestion of themed attire, rather than a requirement. So I’m very much looking forward to checking out the University and perhaps meeting the lovely writer herself!
Lindal has made mention of alts a few times, and notes that it’s often easy to spot a veteran who has signed up a new account, versus a true blue newbie. And she’s right: there’s knowledge and know-how that would be difficult, if not impossible, not to rely upon when you start a new account. I don’t need to learn to use the viewer, or figure out movement controls, for example – and to pretend that I did would be both deceptive and make for a pretty stressful ongoing charade. So I’m going to state right in my profile that I’m an alt, link back to my blog, and invite people to share any suggestions, destinations, or landmarks that they may have. For all that I’m familiar with SL in general, I honestly have no idea where to go or what to engage in these days – so meeting other residents who can nudge me in interesting directions will be awesome.
So deception is out, and transparency is in. But I do love a bit of mystique, and I’ve decided that I won’t be mentioning the name or any specifics about my main account, since I really do see her as being completely separate from Ever. Chances are, I may not even have reason to log in on that account much anymore – with a few notable exceptions.
Show me the money!
Big decision time: would I venture bravely into the new/old world with only my cunning and a few SLURLs to freebie places as guidance, or would I transfer Lindens over to my new account? Honestly, the former option was much more appealing! But while it’s often very easy to find quality avatar clothing and accessories for free on the Marketplace, in Hunts, and via Group Gifts, a little preliminary searching has revealed that there will be a couple of sticking points when it comes to taking Ever from Newbie to Beauty: skins, hair, and animation overrides. Where hair is concerned, I have a couple of designers in mind whose groups have a low, well-worth-it joining fee. For animations, my go-to brand is really inexpensive and offers many options. But quality skins may be a challenge, so having some funds to work with may really make a difference.
On a lark, I checked the Lindex page on the SL site and found out that the minimum buy amount to add Lindens to your account is $2.50 USD, which the current exchange rate translates to $617L. I’ve seen people in blogs and on the SL forums suggesting that one needs in the realm of 3000, 4000, even 5000 Linden dollars to craft an attractive avie, but I just don’t see it. I don’t need a mesh body or body parts right from the start, and indeed many people never invest in them at all. So I genuinely think that $617L be more than enough to get me started, and yet give me a low enough balance that taking the time to pursue free gifts, hunts, and in-world employment will be worthwhile.
Ever Afterr vs. Never Beforre
Lastly, I want to do all the things I loved when I first joined Second Life nearly a decade ago. I want to explore, to experience, to indulge, to wonder at, and to appreciate this place to its fullest. SL’s residents are some of the most intelligent, creative, and visionary people you can ever hope to meet, and when you’re in-world, the evidence is all around you. In the past, I’ve spent far too much time holed up in a skybox sorting my inventory instead of discovering new places; having an IM conversation instead of exploring the grid with that person; reading blogs and poking around the Destination Guide instead of actively seeing and doing. I’m an introvert at heart, but something many of us forget is that our real lives don’t necessarily have to be a reflection upon our second lives. It’s the difference between what Lindal and others call being an “Immersionist” versus seeing SL as a type of RL placeholder, much like one does on social media. There’s room for all styles of interaction and immersion, but when given the opportunity to reinvent and rediscover yourself in a virtual environment, why not enjoy it for all it’s worth?
So here’s to the interesting, intriguing, and immersive adventure to come. Can’t wait!