You don’t have to wait for Facebook’s metaverse to experience a virtual world separate from the real world. Because Second Life has been around since 2003.
While it doesn’t offer a VR experience, Second Life does offer lots of places to explore and thriving communities you can join. And in this article, we’ll show you how to get started in Second Life.
Who knows? Perhaps you’ll find your virtual tribe.
What Is Second Life?
Second Life is a 3D virtual reality world, an online community, a playground, a role playing game, and so much more. And people still play Second Life now, despite its age.
People in Second Life (AKA SL) have relationships and families, while others make a living creating content for the platform, just like in real life (AKA RL), and many players spend real money. However, you can use Second Life entirely for free.
You can do almost anything you can imagine in Second Life, as long as it’s legal. Curious? Let’s find out how you can enjoy this virtual world.
How to Get Started in Second Life
Getting started in Second Life takes some time and patience. The initial learning curve may appear steep, but with a bit of dedication you’ll be up and running in no time. The following Second Life step-by-step how-to guide should help.
1. Join Second Life and Install the Client
First things first, you should head over to the Second Life join page and create an account. Second Life will immediately try to upsell you to a premium account, but select Go Basic for now, as you can always upgrade later. You’ll then have to download and install the latest Second Life client to enter the virtual world.
Note that there is only one official Second Life client, but you might want to try out third-party clients for a different experience or in case the official client doesn’t run well on your computer.
2. Log Into Second Life and Practice the Controls
When you first log in, you’ll have to agree to the Second Life Terms and Conditions.
Next, you’ll be dropped off at a Welcome Island. It might take a moment until everything around you and your own avatar have loaded.
While you’re waiting, have a look at the guidebook that’s open on the left side of your screen and familiarize yourself with the controls. Note that the Shift key won’t do anything on Welcome Island, since flying isn’t permitted here.
When you’re done with the guidebook, find the menu bar at the bottom of your Second Life viewer and click the Guidebook button to close it.
Welcome Island is a safe space to explore and hang out until you feel comfortable to enter the real Second Life. Take your time and go through all the tutorials to get familiar with the software. It will help you tremendously in your future Second Life experience.
While you’re there, don’t hesitate to chat with other newbies or ask for help from a mentor. You never know, you might meet your first Second Life companion right here.
3. Drop the New Second Life User Look
Everyone starts out in Second Life looking more or less the same. There are different female and male avatars you can choose from when signing up. These avatars and outfits are good for your first couple of days, but they’re frowned upon by longtime residents.
To blend in, demonstrate your individuality and shape an original character.
Start by editing your appearance and sculpting your avatar until you like what you see. You’ll find a few basic outfits in Second Life’s public Library, accessible via the suitcase icon in the menu on the left. You can also switch between the default avatars via the Library. The Guidebook will teach you how to add items to your inventory and use them.
Later, we will show you where to find more free stuff, including shapes, skins, hair, shoes, and clothes.
4. Work on Your Second Life Profile
Your profile gives everyone an impression of who you are. It’s part of your character. Leaving it empty doesn’t make you mysterious, it makes you look like the new Second Life user you are.
When in Second Life, click on Me in the top left and select View Profile > Edit Profile. Go through the different fields and fill in some details about yourself. To view the profile of another avatar, just right-click on their body or name-tag and select Profile.
Note that you can keep notes about another Second Life player right in their profile.
5. Start Exploring Second Life
When you’re ready to leave Welcome Island, click the Destinations button in the menu bar at the bottom of your screen and pick a place. Click Teleport to whiz off. Take some time to explore and find adventures. Walk, run, and fly, collect impressions of land and people, and don’t worry too much about still looking like a newbie.
Should you land in a place with annoying chatter, noise, or music, use the sound controls in the top right to selectively turn off a sound channel or mute all of Second Life. Clicking the button will mute everything, hovering lets you select specific channels.
If you ever want to go back to a place, click the globe icon in the left-hand menu to open the Places menu, and switch to the Visited tab.
You can add places to your Landmarks by going to Places > Landmarks, clicking the + icon in the top right, and selecting Landmark current location. You can also create folders to organize your landmarks.
Whenever you add a landmark, add notes to help you remember what you liked about the place or whom you met while there. Finally, you can maintain a separate list of Favorites, which are just your favorite landmarks.
To find something more specific, use Search. In the menu at the top, go to World > Search (or press Ctrl + F or the search icon on the left) and narrow down your search by making a few selections. World > Events (or Ctrl + E) will help you find activities to participate in.
6. Make SL Friends Through Groups
Second Life is more fun with other people. But connecting with random strangers is difficult, even in a virtual world. What works in real life (RL), however, also works in Second Life, and that’s joining a group of like-minded people to chat about things you enjoy and build friendships through shared experiences.
In Second Life, you can find groups through the Search menu (Ctrl + F or left-hand icon). Check the Groups option, uncheck all of the other options, enter your keywords, and browse the results.
While you can pull up More Info about a group, there’s no way to tell how many members are in a group until you join. So you might end up joining a dozen groups until you find one that’s reasonably busy. In the window that pops up after clicking More Info, click the JOIN NOW! button. Note that as a free member, you can join a total of 42 groups.
Once you’ve joined a group, you can check out Roles & Members to see how many people are in it. You’ll also start getting messages from that group. To see all your groups, go to People (bottom menu) > Groups. To message a group, double-click it from your groups list and its chat window will open. From here, it’s all up to you.
7. Collect Free Stuff in Second Life
Now that you know how to get around and are starting to make friends, you might want to hit up one of the many events that are happening at all hours of the day. This is the time to upgrade your look. We’ll do this using free stuff.
Here are three ways you can find free stuff in Second Life:
- Go to Search > Classified ads, from the Category drop-down select Shopping, and search for “free.” Many Second Life stores have special offers for newbies 30 days old or younger. This is your chance to lay your hands on high quality apparel and body parts for free. So watch out and take advantage of this opportunity. You can try searching for “newbie” or “noob” to find those places, too.
- In Search > Groups search for “lucky chairs” or “dumpster diving” to find groups dedicated to sharing places where you can pick up free stuff. Then join those groups.
- Join the FreebieQueens SL Discord channel and browse their regularly updated finds.
8. Collect Linden Dollars, Second Life’s Currency
Unfortunately, not everything in Second Life is free. The currency in Second Life is called Linden Dollars (L$). You can buy L$ for real money on the LindeX, or you can find ways to collect L$s for free.
Second Life used to have money trees, stocked by seasoned residents, that gave out L$s to new residents 30 days old or younger. However, people taking advantage of the offerings meant that money trees disappeared a few years ago.
The best way to collect L$s now is to find newbie-friendly games or activities that pay a small reward. Head to Search > Classifieds and try your luck with a search for “make money” or “free linden.”
If you’re serious about succeeding in Second Life, you could even get a job. Sooner or later, you’ll meet someone who’ll offer you a job, but if you don’t want to wait, go to Search > Classifieds, select Employment from the Category drop-down menu, and search for skills you have or try finding “newbie” jobs if you’re not sure what to do.
9. Join the Party (or Other Second Life Event)
There’s always an event happening in Second LIfe. As with most other things, you can find Events via the Search menu. Once you teleport to a new destination, you usually arrive in a slightly remote landing spot. To find where everyone’s hanging out, pull up the Map from the menu at the bottom of your screen and look for green dots, i.e. other avatars, then move towards them.
Some places allow you to teleport by double-clicking on a location on the map, others will only let you walk within their grid. You can see which restrictions apply in the information bar that lists your current location in the top. Click one of the icons listed next to the location to find out what it means.
10. Get Involved With All Areas of Second Life
Second Life has a steep learning curve and so much to discover. It could take you years to figure out all the things and discover all the cool places. You’ll have more fun doing it if you can share the experience with others.
As you’re roaming around, be sure to chat with people around you. You never know who you’ll run into. They might be fellow noobs that are just as lost as you are and happy to make a new friend. Or you might get some great advice from more experienced residents. If you’re really lucky, you might find a Second Life mentor to show you the ins and outs of the game.
To see all people in a space, open the People menu from the menu bar at the bottom. You can double-click on someone’s name to open a direct message window.
Welcome to Your New Second Life
And that’s it, so welcome to Second Life!
Your first visit might be overwhelming, but if you stick with it, you’ll soon find your footing, your tribe, and your calling within Second Life.
Then, when you’re ready for new challenges, start building things, try a third-party Second Life viewer, or start your own Second Life business. And never stop chatting with other players and trying new things. After all, Second Life is all about exploration. You quite literally create your own adventure.
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