Second Life™ is often referred to as a free online virtual game. I suppose it can be, but those that have been around will tell you Second Life isn’t a game, but there are numerous games within it. Unlike Steam or Desura the virtual world of Second Life takes you into a massive user created world rather than a list of games. This is the largest and best virtual world going, at least as of 2014.
I’ll give a brief description of what is possible in Second Life and what it is about. But, no matter how much I write I won’t be able to describe it all. It is like trying to describe everything in Disneyland. There is too much and like in life you have to make things happen and search for the good and fun stuff.
What is Second Life?
Imagine you are a space alien that has just arrived on Earth. What are all the people doing? When you enter Second Life you are faced with a similar situation. For practical purposes we can do more things in Second Life’s world than we can in real life (RL). That can make for an amazing adventure. Only your imagination can hold you back.
Just like real life the world in Second Life is built by the users. Very little of the content is made by the world operators, Linden Lab. Similar to life those building things are selling them and making real life money.
Others are creating art. There is a Linden Endowment for Arts (LEA). There are some amazing exhibits that pass through the gallery. Rather than just pictures or a sculpture whole landscapes are sculpted into amazing places with structures and creates that could never exist in the physical world. They range from the visually stunning to the emotionally surprising and some are just funny and fun to explore.
Second Life is what you make it.
Multiplayer Online Games
Second Life (SL) has numerous games within it. There is a wide range of game types. I am pretty sure no one knows how many are there. As I write this there are 48 listed as games, but that is misleading. That category covers games like Golf, Go, Fishing, Bowling and more that are easily classed as games. But if we get into role playing games, which are not mostly listed as games, there are another 147 games listed. Second Life is a deep and complex virtual world. Look past the simple answers.
Is a dance club with your favorite music and people dancing a social experience or a game?
In real life finding things can be a challenge. Linden Lab, the creator and operator of SL, has made it as easy to find the things you are looking for as is possible, but it is still a challenge, just as in real life.
To find an adventure game use the Second Life Destination Guide. If you have installed the ‘viewer’, the software you need to enter Second Life, there is a version of the Destination Guide in the viewer.
Not only are there games listed there, you will find groups listed. So, if you are into vampires there are groups of people with similar interests. Pick any interest and you will find people will similar interests that have formed a group. The participants in Second Life come from all over the world.
There are numerous events going on in Second Life. New ones popup all the time. The Destination Guide lists those that make it in. The in-world groups advise of more events. They range from famous musicians to unknown DJ’s, to karaoke, fashion, beach parties, strip clubs, and just about anything you can imagine.
Dating Simulation Game
Second Life has one of what I consider the most unique environments for dating simulation. Whether you consider it a game or an education experience depends on how you define a game.
Second Life is big on privacy. So, you are free to be male or female. For dating this can safely give you perspective you could never get in real life. You can be a gorgeous or ugly woman and learn how men and women react to you. As a male playing a woman you can hear the horrible pick-up lines guys try. You can be a male avatar and as a player see how women react. As a woman playing a man you can escape male attention and a new level of male acceptance not possible in some countries.
You can be gay/lesbian or straight and safely experiment with those roles. The simulation is in your appearance. The players are real people will real reactions, biases, preconceptions, and reactions.
Race can be simulated. How racist are people? You can be white, black, yellow, red or an elf, robot, or vampire. You can change as often as you want.
There are more free virtual rpg games than you’ll have time to participate in. There are virtual combat games ranging from WWII re-enactments to post-apocalyptic science fiction. You’ll find Star Trek™, Dr. Who™, Babylon V™, and others.
Virtual pets are popular in Second Life. Imaginary animals and more realistic ones are available in the world.
If you have ever wanted to be a fashion designer or runway model, you can do that in this virtual world. You can learn most of the real life situations fashion designers face without all the risk. You can be super model without the dieting. Need to lose 5lbs, there is a slider setting for that. But, you’ll also soon realize it is not all glamour, but a lot of work.
Oculus Rift Games
Second Life is probably the most interesting virtual world available for use with the Oculus Rift and HMD devices. The world of Second Life was mostly built before the idea of the Rift/HMD was around. Only recently (late 2013) have those of us building the world started to build for the Rift, meaning getting scale and proportions correct.
Currently one of more realistic places is the 1920’s Berlin Project. (SLURL*) If you have a Rift, find Berlin. But, be warned, they have a 1920’s dress code. So, this probably should only be place you visit after you know how to dress your avatar beyond the default clothes.
More places are being built that focus on getting perspective and scale correct. To find those places look in the Destination Guide under Exceptional with Oculus Rift.
Free to Play Virtual
It is free to get into Second Life and to play most of the games inside it. There is a premium membership that has certain advantages, like land ownership. Since you can rent land or get by without any land you and visit, play, and explore indefinitely for free.
But… like many other online games the better stuff costs money. However, there is lots of good stuff for free.
Second Life Money
Like other virtual world games you can spend money. In this world the money is called Linden Dollars or just Lindens (L$). The exchange rate averages about L$250 to US$1.
The exceptional part is the monthly economy in Second Life is several million US dollars per month. There are people that take US$20k to several hundred thousand per year out of Second Life. One can make a living from Second Life. It is a bit risky, but with talent and persistence you can create an income for no other investment than your time.
The world has shopping malls and whole shopping islands. Much like in real life if you wonder around that is what you’ll come across.
Second Life How To Tutorial
Like any online virtual game you sign up and pick a player name. Download the viewer (software), install, and login. Then you are faced with a world of infinite verity and a piece of software as complex as AutoCAD or Photoshop. Avoid being intimidated. It is basically easy to use. It only becomes complex when you decide to build content or engage in advanced games.
There is a huge SL Wiki. If you use Chrome you’ll find the menus and search links have slid to the bottom of the page. You’ll have to scroll down to see them. But, the wiki tells one everything technical that there is to know about SL.
A more formal approach is to take a university class on Second Life… sound intimidating? Don’t be a wuss. The advantage to the university class is the fact it was created by professional educators. This class is the probably the most efficient use of your time… more knowledge transfer per minute. The University of Western Australia (UWA) created the class I link to and the video earlier in this page.
Visit: Second Life Basics. It is free. There is a guest login button, so you don’t even have to sign up. The classes typically take 2 to 3 hours to complete. They are in small chunks. So, you can invest as little as 15 to 20 minutes taking a section of the class.
The classes introduce you to the Firestorm Viewer, which is software used to see the Second Life world. There are a number of different brands of viewers, Firestorm is one. The standard or basic viewer is made by the makers of Second Life, Linden Lab. Firestorm is made by a third party. The advantage of using Firestorm is they have the best in-world (chat) support team. You can have more than one viewer installed and it is a good idea. One of your installed viewers should be the official Linden Lab viewer, as it is needed for troubleshooting problems that come up.
Once you are in-world and leave the welcome areas you’ll meet other players. You can look at their profile to see how long they have been in SL (we consider it your age), their interests, the groups they participate in, and more. (Right click on their avatar)
You’ll usually find people willing to help you, if you ask for help.
Yes, like real life there is sex in Second Life and in about the same proportion as in real life. If you stay out of the seedy side of the cities you visit in real life, you’ll find you can do the same in Second Life. The viewer allows various settings to filter out adult content.
Just as there are red light districts in real life there are the same in Second Life. The environment of Second Life is intended for adults 18+. For those 18 and up Second Life is as safe as any online community. I personally believe no one under 18 should be in world without a parent overseeing them.
The range of sexual interests is diverse. People experiment with different lifestyles and preferences. There are large communities of people with similar preferences. Look around and you’ll find one or two that suit you… or avoid this part of Second Life.
Virtual World Politics
Politics is here too. I find the majority of people here are liberal leaning. But, a significant portion are conservative.
At election time you often find political parties from real life campaigning here.
I write this blog, Nalates’ Things & Stuff, as a news blog for Second Life. Knowing what is going on is a challenge for most of us. Second Life is technically advancing. Almost every week the servers get an update and about twice a month the viewer is updated. Follow this blog to keep up on those changes.
Have fun and enjoy Second Life, Nalates. Check back here for news and tutorials.
*SLURL – SL URL – these are web addresses that, once the Second Life Viewer (download) is installed will take you to a location inside the Second Life World. Otherwise they typically take you to the Second Life Maps.