Saturday, April 26, 2008

First time in Second Life—let the awkward interactions begin

Carolyn and I decided to take the leap into Second Life together this afternoon. We used my avatar and started out our journey in Paris. After arriving no one was around so we looked wandered around for a few minutes and chose a different location. Neither of us really had any idea what we should be doing while in second life. We just wandered around hoping we could find people we could talk to. While we were in Paris we got an invite to go the some ‘free sex empire’ and having no idea what this meant we accepted and were immediately teleported to some room where pretty much everyone was walking around naked. I somewhat expected something like this to be in second life, and this was one of the reasons that I have had no previous interest in joining any type of online community like this. I feel like so many people use online communities for ways to make up for a lack of a real life outside of the internet. If people did have satisfying lives then why would they feel the need to be online 5+ hours a day.
No one really talked to us while we were in the sex empire. We tried making conversation with some guy staring at the wall but he ignored us. Carolyn and I are not familiar with the etiquette in second life when it comes to walking up to strangers and talking to them, so we were pretty hesitant at first. It was after seeing multiple avatars having ‘sex’ in front of us and having to hear some of the raunchy conversations they were having with one another, that we decided to leave.
After realizing the sex empire was not where we really want to spend our time while in second life, we siphoned through the list of areas where we could teleport to. We chose another big city where we thought people might be wandering around, Seattle. However Seattle wasn’t any better than Paris. It took us a few minutes to find someone to talk to, and even then they didn’t talk to us after we said hi. While standing in one of the buildings this little dog, which I guess was someone’s avatar, whispered hello to us then proceeded to go to sleep. I didn’t realize you could whisper in second life. Carolyn and I had a hard mastering our gestures and how to manage our conversations. I thought you could have private conversations with people but we weren’t really sure how to do this. It looks like we’ll have to spend a lot more time fidgeting with all of the possibilities there are on second life before we can really understand how to interact with other people.
Since, once again, no one was really responding to any of our attempts at having a conversation, we teleported to a new area called ‘sexy beach’. It at least sounded like it could be entertaining, and maybe there would be more people that we could talk to. We were interested in getting information about how long people had been on second life and what they did during their time spent as their avatar, since we were failing miserably at making any progress with our avatars. When we arrived at Sexy Beach, no one was really around, so we wandered over to what looked like a bar on the beach. MrBob Merryman was the only person around when we arrived at the bar. He was the first person that actually responded to our comments and questions whereas everyone else had pretty much ignored us up until then. He told us he’s been playing on second life for 6 months and he usually hangs out at the bar where we were standing. Following is a clip of the first part of our conversation:
MrBob Merryman: Hello Kimberly
You: where is everyone
MrBob Merryman: not here
MrBob Merryman: IDK
You: so does it get crowded at night
MrBob Merryman: some times its packed other times just a few of us
You: whens a good time to come?
MrBob Merryman: usually in a bout an hour and then arounf 10sl time
MrBob Merryman: 8sl time
You: so how long have you been playing on second life?
MrBob Merryman: 1/2 year
You: wow. this is my first time
MrBob Merryman: youll mate friends and find a favoriye place
You: so is this where you hang out mostly?
MrBob Merryman: mostly

In class Julianne had told us to alter our appearances to see how people would react so we decided to used the de-clothe option and took off our avatar’s shirt. Since we both had absolutely no imagination at the time and we had just spent a very long five minutes in that crazy Sex empire taking the avatars clothes off sounded like a good idea at the time. MrBob just took it in stride. We did tell him we were new though so that could have covered for our interesting behavior. I know if the situation had been reversed and MrBob had taken any article of clothing off Carolyn and I probably would’ve been a bit put off and left the conversation. We were actually kind of disappointed that we didn’t get more of a reaction out of him.

After talking for a few minutes we noticed the yellow balls hovering above each of the seats at the bar. After fiddling with the tools for a little bit we were able to sit down at the bar while still talking to MrBob. Two other people showed up during our conversation who seemed to know MrBob. Like he had told us earlier, you find different friends and places like you like to hang out at that’s where you can go while in second life. This was proven true when the three avatars starting talking with eachother like they had known one another for awhile. They were also discussing things which were way over Carolyn’s and my head like property management in second life and how someone was banned from sexy beach. It was really hard to follow the conversation because those three were talking amongst one another but still talking to me every other posts about things that were irrelevant to the other conversation:
You: do you guys come here often?
MrBob Merryman: no its been pretty dead here
Xandria Nightfire: we are all over the place kim
mick Parnall: we thinking of buying this place mr,have ya heard
MrBob Merryman: no i didnt here that is it for sale ?
You: This is my first time in second life and I'm not really sure what to do or where to go
mick Parnall: wang gave us link to sl site
mick Parnall: doesnt say for sale here tho
Xandria Nightfire: you can do all kinds of stuff in sl kim
MrBob Merryman: Mick check tha banded list
mick Parnall: hahaha,he banned her too
mick Parnall: from his place
Xandria Nightfire: they banned wang?
mick Parnall: wonder whats gone off
MrBob Merryman: he was walking around here yesterday
mick Parnall: i noticed today he banned her
MrBob Merryman: thats funny
Xandria Nightfire: wonder what happened
mick Parnall: hmmm
mick Parnall: maybe its a thing when ya take over tho
mick Parnall: wang banned elvis from here
MrBob Merryman: Wang was giving out landmark cards
That’s just a small sample of the conversation where Carolyn and I really had no idea what was going on. It also doesn’t help that they use a lot of abbreviations that I’m never really sure what they mean, which really makes the conversations hard to follow. But they were pretty helpful when we had any questions about what they were talking about, we just felt bad interrupting their conversation so much. In the middle of their conversation, all of a sudden the second guy at the bar starting ‘spanking’ the girl at the bar, which was a little weird so Carolyn and I decided to leave.
We teleported to LA and walked around Venice beach. At first we didn’t really see anyone around. We tried to ride a few motorcycles on the street but the computer would always tell us it was owned by someone else and only the owner could ride it. Where was the fun in that? After thinking this whole second life thing was even more a waste of time because we could never really seem to find anyone we could talk to, we spotted some guy riding around on his skateboard. So we called him over and finally we had a positive response. He came right on over and we were able to actually have a nice conversation with him about what second life is to him. He also gave us a few pointers about what to do and where we could go. It wasn’t until after this conversation that Carolyn and I really felt we were successful in meeting someone in second life that was genuinely interested in talking. I’m still not open to the idea of going into second life when I’m bored, but I may be able to somewhat understand the appeal that some people see that pulls them into the virtual world.

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