Second Life's Popularity Rests On Breadth Of Activities

Here's a quick guide to what goes on in Second Life, a lively virtual world full of music, dance, travel, games, and cybersex.

Mitch Wagner, California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

September 17, 2008

4 Min Read

The Second Life phenom could not have happened without the many in-world avenues for users, or residents, to express themselves, often through through collaborative play and performance.

As the company tries for a second act under a new CEO and targets new markets, users are busy doing what they've always done in Second Life.

What is there to do in Second Life? Finding your way around and learning about what to do there can be tricky for newcomers. Here is some information to help you get started.

Research shows that Second Life users identify with their avatars, and are more willing to take risks.

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Second Life is frequently host to live music concerts, with performers who play in real life, and stream the audio into Second Life. Because of the illusion of a virtual world, the experience is more vivid than just listening to streaming Internet audio. Linden Lab has more information on its home page.

Second Life bluesman Von Johin recently got a real-life recording contract after performing in Second Life. Grace McDunnough is a popular Second Life musician who performs folk-rock.

Similarly, Second Life has many dance clubs, where your avatar can move to live music and DJs. You can find dance clubs in Second Life by searching on "dance" or "DJ" in the search tool built into the Second Life client.

Second Life roleplaying is popular. It's kind of a mix between World of Warcraft, improv comedy, and live theater. Users create characters and then improvise scenes involving those characters.

Warren Ellis wrote about the Second Life roleplay scene for Reuters in February, 2007.

Popular roleplay communities include Roma, based on ancient Rome; the Road to Deadwood, based on the historical cowboy town of Deadwood, South Dakota; the Independent State of Caledon, based on Victorian Britain with a Jules Verne flair; and the vampires-and-monsters-themed City of Lost Angels.

Cybersex is popular.

Simulated surfing, and sailing are fun activities.

You can shop for virtual clothing, furniture and buildings. Second Life also provides tools for creating that kind of content, and you can go into business to sell your creations, or partner or get a job working for someone else selling their handiwork.

Sightseeing is very popular; Second Life travel blogs, where you can learn about new Second Life places to see and things to do, include Ambling in Second Life, Not Possible IRL, SL Things to Do, and SLWTF. SL Things to Do, for example, recently had a write-up on people training for real-life triathlons in Second Life.

Second Life provides newcomers with places and communities to get acclimated. Two of the best are run by Second Life users: New Citizens (SLURL) and Shelter (SLURL).

The preceding links are to Second Life URLS. They link to specific locations in Second Life, the same way that regular URLs link to Web pages. To use them, you need to have a Second Life account, and the client software installed on your PC.

New Citizens and the Shelter offer parties as well as classes in Second Life basics. I like to stop by there myself every now and then, the people are friendly and I often get into fun conversations.

If you have questions you can just ask a friend -- or if you haven't made any friends yet in Second Life, just ask a random stranger. People who've been in Second Life for a while like to help newcomers out, it's part of the culture.

If that's not working, go to the public Help Island (SLURL) and find someone with a "Second Life Mentor" tag floating above their head; they're volunteers who help newcomers to Second Life.

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

Mitch Wagner is California bureau chief for Light Reading.

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