Tuesday, April 15, 2008


No, not that born again; this born again is considerably less virtual, though I’ve never been a big fan of virtuality anyway. The fact of the matter is, I’ve been attempting to leave First Life to enter Second Life where I can visit my brother Mick, who as a virtual big wheel spends a lot of time there.

I wasn’t looking forward to learning to walk again, but it couldn’t be harder than the first time. Anyway, I’d checked out Second Life a long time before out of curiosity, joined, downloaded, named my avatar and so forth, but fact was I always rathered spend my time in First Life, which was no surprise; somehow I was born with a preference for actuality. Who can explain such things, maybe it’s virtually genetic.

But then a month or so ago Mick, who flies around SL all the time and has a garageful of avatars, gave me an invite to see the island they were building in there, and the gallery he and others were constructing, as related on the collective blog Post Riders in the Sky. The virtual fotos Mick sent looked pretty impressive, so I girded my actual loins to set forth once more into the pixelian ether and meet Mick there; clicked on the SL logo and was told my software was outdated.

I’m already familiar with outdated existential hardware, i.e., my First-Life avatar, but outdated existential software was new to me. Something like being a Manichaean, perhaps. So I downloaded the new software, which took so much time I left the computer running and went outside to split some firewood. No winter warmth in virtual flames, is there. Then I experienced actual hunger, followed by other editing work to do on the computer. Are there deadlines in Second Life?

A week or so later I had an hour or so to spare and went in again, this time descending from the heaven of here and now into a remodeled newbie circle where I was advised to finalize my avatar. Like I do this all the time. As I was trying back and forth to get my face right - a new problem - and then the hair (the haute couture would come later), I was distracted by events involving a female avatar from England who descended not long after me and was already walking pretty well but was being heavily hassled by a huge white racoon with brown rings, avatar of a guy who I guess spends a lot of his SL time at the newbie port trying to pick up avatar chicks, apparently to no avail. The uncool beast was typing his come-ons furiously at the v-lady while she was busy trying on new hair, he following her around like it was the last minute of happy hour, till at last she brushed him off with a toss of new hair and loped away through the SL portals, leaving him standing there typing insults that hung in the air like fat disappointments. I was still oddfaced, bald and dressed in black. Another timechunk shot.

Work to do in actuality, where yesterday, an actual-task-filled week later (office, freelance, firewood, garden, landscaping etc.) I entered SL again, having in the meanwhile pondered my moves, but they’d changed the visual layout once more. I was instructed to walk, which I did pretty well, to the appointed spot where I was told to pick up my torch, though there wasn’t a torch in sight. Just pick it up, just brush your hand over it the dead menu kept saying, but there was no torch. The instructional format reminded me strongly of Japanese traffic signage, which says things like “Turn left here for Highway #X,” with an oddly implicit (haragei?) “not HERE, the NEXT street”… too late, you’re on the expressway to China. Guidance meant for locals, who don’t need it.

Meanwhile a guy avatar had just descended from Germany and was bouncing around beside me saying “I don’t get it, do you get it? How do you do this? I can’t do this!” but I couldn’t write yet, and anyway had no answers, I could hardly walk. I was trying to focus on picking up a torch that wasn’t there, or maybe turn my shirt red. Anything.

Then a female avatar descended from Sweden right in front of me and within 30 seconds had a torch in her hand. I didn’t see how she did it, it was suddenly just there and she was waving it around like she was the inyerface statue of liberty or something; I have to say I was virtually peeved. Are the instructions clearer in Swedish? The German guy was still jumping around asking questions. I got my shirt 10% red but it wouldn’t get any redder, like so many shirts in my life, so I gave up on that and the hair and face, who cares anyway what I virtually look like, I can’t do much about it in First Life either, though at least I have a completely red shirt here.

To be continued at some point--


Val said...

I never even got that far...well I got a name, and met some male avatar who asked me to follow him, and sit down on a pink mushroom (guys apparently sat on blue mushrooms)

I used to use Activeworlds a lot, which was less commercial and was easy to use. I made good friends there, and we had a group of Brits, and built a world called Librarea where we built libraries and linked them to information websites (in 1999 so years before Second Life)...I guess I ought to do a blog post about it....

Anonymous said...

I played SL for a while. After a brief addiction to creating in-world plants and trees (and paying far too much in real-world dollars for land upon which to arrange them), I finally realized it wasn't quite what I thought it would be. So I returned to a far older addiction - one that I had long ago abandoned. I'm happily growing plants again (at far less cost, of course) in the lovely 2d land of Ultima Online. :)