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Life sucks. May I have seconds?

I was a fool to think I could resist Second Life forever. I’m not made of stone.

I can’t remember when I first heard of Second Life. It bobbled to the surface most recently last month when John Edwards’ virtual campaign headquarters was vandalized by some merry anarchists (Their statement: “We simply did it for the lulz… The fact you were so bent out of shape to make a blog post on the OFFICIAL JOHN EDWARDS BLOG about how some people placed a bunch of shittingdicknipples on your lawn is mighty telling.”)

I’ve played MMORPG‘s before. In fact, I played them before they were massive. Electronic Arts had a very primitive online game platform in the early eighties — I forget what it was called — which included crude modular, build-yourself-yourself avatars.

The current crop are beautiful to look at, but the gameplay tends toward repetitive and boring. Especially if, like me, you don’t particularly want to interact with other people that much. I spent a lot of my Anarchy Online time running across the desert watching the sun rise over fantasy alien landscapes. Cool, but finitely interesting.

SL isn’t that sort of game. Aside from the ground under foot and the basic body shapes, every object there was created by its users. Clothes, buildings, furniture. These can be made, copied (or copy-protected), bought and sold in the local currency, and the local currency can be exchanged in both directions for US greenbacks (though how it goes from Linden dollars to realworld dollars, I have no idea via whatever credit/debit/PayPal you set up with them. Current exchange rate $L1,000 = $US4.04). And Linden Labs has wisely declared that all things created in-world are copyrighted by their creators.

There’s a basic built-in 3D modeler included, and a simple scripting language that goes with. So you can build physical objects and give them behaviors. Yeah, that’s what I’m after. A second life that’s identical to my first. Come home from a long day 3D modeling and Photoshopping and coding to an evening of the same.

I’m not being sarcastic. That sounds really fun.

Basic account is free (you have to pay money if you want to own land apparently, non-paying members can own land, but not on the mainland), so…here we go. Avatar creation first. Initial appearances are grouped in broad classes such as goths or nightclubbers, M and F. My first thought, naturally, was a furry…but then I thought, ugh. Furries. (I have since learned there are many on SL who wear animal costumes that aren’t furverts).

Physical appearances can be changed at any time, so it doesn’t really matter. It’s just fun to play with the buttons and knobs. I decided to start out as a small Japanese woman with no hair. I’m going for a “leave me the hell alone” look. In addition to broad body types and clothing, SL breaks physical features into a number of fine sub-categories that you can play with, too. Arch of the eyebrows, tip of the nose, length of the chin. I wanted something that says “I’m as sexless as the angels” (I really, really don’t like grownup games), so I twiddled the knobs until I realized I was the spitting image of a shaved Michael Jackson. That freaked me out, so I shifted male and bulged my jaw and forehead. Hootie-hoo, Monkeyface! Oh, well. I’ll fix it later.

So, behold! Monkeyface McShavedaperson! Looks like a gray, no? I’m pretty sure that tattoo on my arm says, “I’m a giant dweeb for getting mixed up in this.” Either that, or, “ow! Holy shit! Compound fracture of both arms!”

That’s not really my SL name. That, I’m not telling. I remember on the old EA site, the high experience players in the D&D section waited by the cave entrance to whale on newbies. No shittingdicknipples for this little weasel, thank you!

And thanks very much to Sarah D. for the hotdog ‘n’ stuff.


Comment from gloomferret
Time: March 7, 2007, 2:37 pm

Hootie-hoo, Monkeyface!
I remember a MUD called Shades about 20 years ago…back when modems were 14kbps and the size of a hefty backpack. Them were the days…

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: March 7, 2007, 3:56 pm

I’m not very good at playing First Life. I would probably ultra-suck at Second Life. When I was a kid reading Sci-Fi I used to imagine how we’d all have identities in these two worlds. I also thought that some people would mostly live in the other one and at one time I thought that would be pretty cool. Now, not so much.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 7, 2007, 5:46 pm

I just missed the MUD/MUCK era, ‘ferret. I was online then, but intimidated by the well-entrenched player culture. And it was 300kbps when I got online. I still have a giant Hayes Smartmodem around somewhere.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: March 7, 2007, 11:45 pm

I played around with another av for a bit, but everyone kept complaining about missing me. Guess I’ll just stay as I am.

Weasel, you can exchange your Lindens for $US on the main SL site. It goes directly onto your credit/debit/paypal account.

I’m intrigued by the handicapped people I have met in world. Of course I’m going by what they say, but I tend to believe at least two of them. The woman confined to a wheelchair for the last 20 odd years that was ballroom dancing the other night was pretty cool. She was slightly overwhelmed by the experience. It’s amazing what our minds are capable of.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: March 7, 2007, 11:48 pm

Oh, and you do not have to be a paid subscriber to own land. That holds true for mainland only. Private sims are open to anyone to buy.

Land ownership is complicated and an ongoing controversy though.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 8, 2007, 6:10 am

Ah. Thanks for the clarifications, Sarah D. My hour hasn’t overlapped yours again, so far. Did you go online last night? It was a mess!

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: March 8, 2007, 3:08 pm

I was on late, after spending the day moping about with my sinuses keeping me company. I gathered that it had been an interesting night.

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