The seven people you meet in Second Life

If you read blogs, twitter feeds, watch the news, or really are connected in anyway to mainstream society, chances are you have heard of Second Life.  It was even a topic of an Office Episode as well as CSI: wherever they were that week a few years ago.  I did an interview once in Second Life.  This wasn’t a job interview, in fact, I blogged about it, way back then.  Well after a few years of wandering around, flying, teleporting, accepting freebies and trying to make an avatar that looked remotely like me (I was never successful), I finally reached a verdict.  This place is stealing time just like youtube, facebook, twitter, espn.com, etc.  You sit down, start doing some exploring and then next thing you know, you have grown a beard and your kids are graduating from college.  Are you any wiser?  Maybe you learned how to build something that resembles a piece of wood.  Or you figured out how to emote (make it look like your avatar is showing emotion not talking).  Perhaps you found a fake pet that circled around you and barked or meowed or wanted to eat virtual food.  Big deal though right?  Can’t you got to Home Depot and get a piece of plywood?  Can’t you get a pet (my house being the exception since the answer here is still “no”) and aren’t emoticons enough?  Okay, don’t answer that last question.    I will say that while I’d like to bill Linden Labs back for time served, I did meet some rather interesting people.  So I present to you, the seven people you will meet should you ever venture in to Second Life.  Why Seven?  Cause Mitch Albom wouldn’t return my calls to see if he has a copyright on the whole “five people you meet” thing.

Harry Helper:  This person hangs out exclusively in information hubs.  These are the places newbies (people who are new to Second Life) go after they have created their online persona.  Since most new people have yet to establish residence (buy land, build a house, rent…yes you can do all that there), they often will use these places as their “home” for when they log on.  Harry is here.  Always.  You can login at any time day or night and there’s Harry.  Most likely, Harry will have a very strange looking avatar with something floating around his head.  He’ll be typing and talking and handing out advice like “your face light is too bright” or “perhaps you should get some clothes that fit”.  In real life, Harry is a 19 year old boy who dropped out of college when he discovered Second Life and sees helping people as his life’s purpose.  At least until his parents kick him out.

Suzie Stripper:  Let’s face it; real life (or RL as they call it in Second Life) isn’t all roses and churches.  There may be a club or two in your city where people pay other people to remove articles of clothing.  Well, the same thing happens in SL except that since you can create your look, there are not those limitations that you have to have legs of a certain length or other body parts of a specific volume.  Suzie most likely is “employed” at a few places and dances for tips.  She goes out and recruits people to come see her by dressing provocatively and heading to hubs to get your attention and teleport you to the club where she is performing.  She will then remind you that her tip jar is next to her dance pole while pointing at it with her stiletto clad foot.  She might also ask you to join her group to announce where she’ll be dancing next.  In most cases, she’ll have another avatar (you can have quite a few) that is her normal one that gets the money she makes and buys things like hair, skin, body shapes, houses, land, etc.  In real life, this woman who on your screen looks 6 foot tall, 42-24-36 is actually 5 and a half feet tall and weighs 280 pounds.  Oh, and she’s a man.

Gerald Griefer:  This guy completely sucks.  His entire purpose in second life is to bother people.  He is either a bully in real life who figured out how to use a computer, or he’s someone who was bullied way too much when he was younger and is exacting his revenge.  Either way, his MO is to fly around from area to area and wreak havoc.  He may stand in an info hub and try to shoot you or come at you with a sword.  He may swear constantly until you feel the urge to leave.  He may throw out pictures from his avatar that gives you nightmares for weeks.  If this guy is around and you are sitting in a multi-position chair, he’ll move you from sitting comfortably to somehow standing on your head.  If you are jet skiing, he’ll ram you with a power boat.  I’m not sure why this guy exists, but he does.  In real life, he drinks Zima that he saved from 1998.

Nelson Newbie:  Way back when I first started in Second Life, you really didn’t have that many options on how your first person would look.  You were either a man or woman (you got to chose that).  When you first appeared you had a generic look and could make changes.  Once you have been “in world” for a while, you will receive or purchase clothing, hair, skin and shapes that can make you look less like the new guy.  Of course, now you have the option of around 20 character looks for your starting avatar.  Still, you will inevitably run into someone who looks exactly like you because neither of you have bothered to change your look.  Nelson is in one of those people.  Oh, and he can’t move very well and talks in local chat even when he’s just trying to talk to one person, and he might be missing a shoe.  In real life, he has created accounts in Second Life, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online and gmail and can’t remember any of his user names or passwords. 

Clarence Corporate:  Clarence works for a company, probably a fairly large company.  He was hired a few years ago into the research group and went to a few conventions where he heard about what other corporations are doing in Second Life.  Clarence is a bright person who immediately set up a business plan and convinced his management to invest in an island or two for their corporation.  He then recruited other people inside the company to join him on the island for meetings and brainstorming.  These people then went to their management who asked them to figure out how they were going to make money in this area where they were spending time.  When the answer was, “we’re not really sure, but it is a great place to meet and talk with customers….” Deaf ears meet with the rest of the statements and Clarence is left to watch his team disappear one person at a time.  In real life, Clarence will be just fine, he’s a researcher, all he needs is another idea to look into and he’ll find funding. 

Amelia Addict:  Remember when you were in college and your roommate had a Nintendo with Tetris and you found yourself playing it during breaks and before going to class in the morning and late in the afternoon and drawing the blocks on your notebooks and trying to work strategy in your head while lying in bed trying to sleep?  Right, I don’t remember that either.  Well, Amelia logs in to Second Life in the morning while her coffee is brewing.  She’ll check in after the shower before heading to work.  Depending on where she works, she might check in during a break or lunch.  In some cases, if she works at home, she might even stay online and just tell her friends she is away from her keyboard if she needs to do something like eat, drink, or talk on the phone.  She’ll be on before making dinner and tell everyone what she’s making and then will stay on late, falling asleep at the keyboard.  She is very quick to share personal information about her unhappy single life or how she has partnered in SL twice already and it didn’t go well.  She wants you to talk with her if you are online, even if you are not in the same area and will complain if you do not reply to an instant message.  She has described her self in RL as short and petite and in her early thirties.  In reality, she is short, not so petite and in her mid forties.  Oh, and she’s a man.

Lorraine Lonely:  Lorraine and Amelia are close, but Lorraine will declare that Amelia is too obsessed with SL, unlike her.  Lorraine retired a few years ago from RL work and spends her day running a business in SL because she doesn’t really need to make money in RL any more.  She divorced twice in RL and has a live in boyfriend, or that’s what she will tell you the third time you meet.  Lorraine, much like Suzie, has three or four avatars.  Two of those are partnered (the equivalent of marriage in SL except lets face it, it’s not really the same thing) and if she’s crafty, neither partner will know she runs both avatars.  Lorraine has tried everything in SL and is a great source of information for someone like Nelson, or even Clarence.  She has reported more than one Gerald to Linden Labs and tried to partner with Harry when she first joined SL.  She has been here for three years already and will be there when they close the servers down for the last time or when they shut off her internet access.  I have to guess she is not a man, but this is SL, so who knows.

Seven people you will meet in Second Life.  Well, when it isn’t crashing.  Let me know who I forgot.

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