Ever’s Age: 1 day
L$ Balance: L$617
Note: I likely won’t continue with the trend of Day X titles, as I know I won’t be able to be in-world frequently enough for perfectly chronological posts, and there will likely be some off-topic (but still SL-centric) themes I’d like to explore. So I’m dabbling with adding my avatar age and Linden balance to the top of these “day in the life” style posts instead. If you have any preferences or suggestions, please let me know in the comments!
My first day reemerging into Second Life was fascinating. I promptly fell out of the sky onto another resident’s head, watched myself slowly morph from a reddish cloud into a generic mesh avatar (I passionately dislike these things already), and stood quietly as I observed a slow stream of newbies flying into cliffs and falling into the water as they awkwardly learned how to get around. (So many feels!) Within the first minute or so of rezzing, a pop-up asked if a script could animate my avatar, direct me around, and so on. When I allowed it, a small white box attached in the manner of a HUD – and then promptly disappeared. It faded in and out of view a few times as I maneuvered around the island, but it was always blank and never provided any kind of guidance. The lack of signage (understandable, given the many and varied languages SL residents speak), and the seemingly useless HUD meant that the cliff-hugging arrow markers were the only means of communication to be found.
Backside view (aww, yeah) of Learning Island 2 in Second Life. (Please click for a full-size image.)
“So I guess we just follow the arrows?” a new resident asked in Local Chat. I had just finished writing a quick intro with my website link in my profile, and I responded to him in the affirmative. A few minutes later, he sent me an IM.
“I like your blog!” he wrote. And I like you already, I thought with a smile.
We had a friendly chat as I awkwardly posed myself on the picturesque but non-functional sailboat that greets residents as they wind their way around the island. He too was a returning resident, having spent a month or so in Second Life years back and finding it tricky to find people to connect with.
“I’ve made a better start this time,” he confided. “I’m a lot more confident about chatting to people now.”
I was amazed at the parallels in our respective journeys back to the metaverse, but then I realized that we probably weren’t so unique after all. I’ve read comments on forums and blogs from people who needed a few restarts before they truly clicked with Second Life, and I’ve understood their struggles all too well. I sent my partner-in-newbie-crime a virtual high five, and asked if I could add him to my contacts list. Thank you kindly to Bee for being my first reader and my first new friend in SL!
For all its quirks, Learning Island 2 (is there a Learning Island 1, I wonder?) is quite small. It was immediately obvious which new residents were alts, as they took to the skies like a bolt and zoomed off to the portal area without a backwards glance. I ambled along the pathway and arrived at the apex hastily, but I paused at the portal and considered that I’d never be able to get back to this place (on this account, at least). And to be honest, the whole thing was rather disappointing. I haven’t had the new resident experience for nearly 10 years, but with the active member numbers steadily dwindling and Linden Labs trying to reignite interest in their platform by launching their next-gen Second Life project, I had hoped there would be more in this initial rez zone to help new residents feel welcomed. Maybe something in the style of those Smart Bots that some SL business owners place at their sims to answer basic questions and offer general information. Ahhh, well. Missed opportunity, LL!
I suspect that beyond the portal lies one of the infamous “Help Island” style infohubs where griefers congregate with the common goal of scaring off or scandalizing new members – but that remains to be seen. When I’d reached my final Learning Island destination, I was mostly saddened by the sheer emptiness of it all. New residents shuffled by once in a while at random intervals, but I imagined a time when the initial new members area would have been a flurry of activity, lag-induced stutter, and anxious curiosity. Such nostalgia, much memory-making.
We’ll see what lies on the road ahead. :)