I survived “Welcome Island” in Second Life (my t-shirt is on order)

Ella Brightside on Rez Day in my newly minted "Rocker Chick" outfit.

Hi, my name is Ella and I survived the welcome provided for me on “Learning Island” in Second Life! This picture on the left and above capture me on Rez Day in my newly minted “Rocker Chick” outfit. The rez day experience was totally unexpected, and only marginally less scary than the hot coals I walked over at one of Anthony Robbins’ epic life changing events. I am telling you this today not to spew vitriol, but because I really like Second Life. I hope that the day-to-day reality of it can be better translated into a safe and fun learning area for new users, so that other people don’t have to experience what I did!

This is nowhere near the size of the baby that accosted me when I first joined Second Life. This lady is also rolling out the welcome mat with her 2 pistols ready to go!

Bienvenido from a pistol packing mamma! This is nowhere near the size of the mountainous baby that accosted me when I first joined Second Life. I went back to document some of what I found on the first go-around. This time I found a few other characters who are not exactly rolling out the welcome mat. There is a lot of noise and confusion thrown at newbies when they first encounter Learning Island.

Day 1: Signed up on March 1st, 2014. It all started so well. I had fun picking a whimsical name (Ella means beautiful fairy) and then chose a female avatar. But as soon as my avatar rezzed, the trouble began! Some miscreants had bunkered down on the welcome island to terrify every new person that rezzed (I later learned that these people are called “griefers” and they like to shake things up by being disruptive). Highlights from my rez day included:

  • A gigantic buddha-fat baby, ten times the size of a regular avatar appeared on my screen. It was surrounded by what appeared to a massive black-hole (a black octagon like shape that surrounded the baby) to which quite a few avatars seemed to be stuck to. These avatars seemed trapped all helter skelter; with limbs and body parts adhered but jutting out of the black hole at various angles.
  • There was a kind of Modern-Warfare-esque thumping electronica playing. Layered over the music was a male voice yelling something like: “2 down, 4 to go!”
  • I felt like this creature was sequentially targeting every new avatar and that any minute I would be next. I was thinking to myself “great, I’ll be taken out by a giant baby on day 1 never to be heard from again!”
  • So after this welcoming incident, I figured I’d change scenery. I quickly walked to another part of the island looking for instructions on what to do next. I couldn’t find any. I typed in my chat window to some of the other people around me asking “Does anyone know where the help instructions are?” Complete tumbleweeds – nobody answered back.
  • I flew around the island a bit, checking out what was there: a deserted dance floor, a lighthouse, some empty platforms, nothing really that interesting.
  • I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I used a lifeline. I used my mobile to call a friend in real life who then sent me a TP and effectively rescued me from the confusion and boredom of Learning Island.
This guy had a really cool avatar, and I enjoyed photographing him... today. But if the first thing I see when I get into Second Life is a guy dressed up with angel wings that are covered with blood and thorns, carrying a placard, I'm not sure I'm going to stick around. Is this the right test for fit in Second Life?

Aloha! This guy had a really cool avatar, and I enjoyed photographing him… today. But if the first thing I see when I get into Second Life is a guy dressed up with angel wings that are covered with blood and thorns, carrying a placard, I’m not sure I’m going to stick around. Is this the right introduction to Second Life?

It appears I’m in good company on this kind of experience. Theia Magic wrote about similar dazed and confused experiences for newcomers in Second Life, and Skyspinner Soulstar recently posted a video commentary on the sorry state of the new avi experience in Second Life. At the most recent weekly Basilique Salon, I heard a story from a lady that spent 3 weeks on Welcome Island (one of the predecessors to Learning Island). It’s funny to think about it and we all laughed at the time, but I can totally see how that could happen.

To date I’ve realised that the early user experience of Second Life is nowhere close to being reflective of the real benefits and fun that avatars routinely experience. This has to change!

This fellow is pretty cute, but I am not clear on why he's here, and who exactly was speaking and saying "f£$% you everybody!" over the stream in the welcome area. Is this the best that we can offer to those seeking to explore a new world?

Willkommen! This fellow is pretty cute, but I am not clear on why he’s here, and who exactly was speaking and saying “F**k you everybody!” over the stream in the welcome area. Is this the best that we can offer to those seeking to explore a new world? (Oh, and the fellow behind him was a jumbled variety of animals with a pineapple jammed up his rear! Funny, yes! Introductory material… no!)

I’m glad I stuck it out to find ways to explore and experience Second Life that made me feel connected and engaged enough to continue on the journey, but I highly doubt I would have, had I not had a real life friend telling me there was a light at the end of the tunnel. This is a user experience you have to ‘work around’, instead of ‘engage and enjoy the experience’. It’s felt more like a battle than a delight. Perhaps that is the market – people that like a challenge, and perhaps there is some pride to be had in being affiliated with other people that are part of this special club of folks that hung on until the day the battle turned delightful. In that case, maybe I’m not meant to be here – perhaps I should have let natural selection take it’s course and not used “life support” to artificially survive. It’s impossible to know now!

I have now been in Second Life for 2 months. I’ve learned a lot and there’s so much more to learn each day! I’ll be exploring some more of my early days in here over the next month to make sense of what I’ve learned so far. If you have any funny or fond memories from your early days in Second Life, it would be great to hear about them in the comments below.

 

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7 thoughts on “I survived “Welcome Island” in Second Life (my t-shirt is on order)

  1. Hi there! I’m sorry to hear that your first experience wasn’t so good but trust me; the rest of SL is much better. I’ve been around since 2006 and I still love it as much now as I did then. And consider yourself lucky; back in the early days, griefers could bring down the entire grid and we’d all be locked out for hours while the Lindens tried to clean up the mess.

    For a much better learning experience try Caledon Oxbridge (type it in Search); they have a great self-paced tutorial on the basics and they also do classes which are really useful. NCI does classes too. I recommend you attend as many as you can manage to fit into your schedule. The Shelter is also a good place to start; its a club geared towards new residents and theres almost always someone around who’s willing to help with questions and problems. Just stay away from Social Island and the Infohubs. They suck.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow..what an unwelcome! Am sorry you had to go through all that on your rezzday! The newcomer experience isnt what is used to be eh…(sighs granny Caity…). But you were lucky to have a RL friend helping you out, not many have that. Love your blog, it’s good for me – an oldbie – to see how new people experience this world I got to love so much and I hope you will get to love it too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Caitlin! Love your blog and have checked out some of the sims you’ve been shooting in. Yes it’s been wonderful having so much support, and I’m sure I will find a space to call my own here – and come to love it, once I get over the awkward phase! 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Advice for Newbies | Virtual Transmission

  4. Pingback: A review of welcome emails for newbies in Second Life: Part 1 | Ella Brightside: A Newbie's Take on Second Life

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