Thursday, April 17, 2008

Second Life: First Foray

It's all in the name of academic research. Uh-huh. 8-) I am taking a class, my second one with the wonderful Dr. Deb, in electronic learning course development. Deb has rather a passion for trying out new technologies and incorporating them into the course. So far this semester I've learned how to record and edit audio, contribute to a wiki, create a webquest, and probably a couple of techno-things I've forgotten already! Oh yeah, things like learner analyses, usability testing, all that jazz.

I am also playing in (er, I mean researching) Second Life. Second Life is a virtual reality thingie that you download to your computer and wander around in doing things via an avatar, with other avatars. In environments. With objects. And there's something about money and real estate. It's sort of like Pokemon for grownups. It would be safe to say that anything goes and I can see how it could become really addictive (not for me, oh no! never...right. But I'm already thinking up upgrading my memory so I can walk faster).

Well. my perceptions of Second Life are pretty freaky/funny I decided to journal them so I can look back in a year or so and see what's different then.

Here are some perceptions from my first visit to Orientation Island:

First of all, after creating an avatar I thought would look like Suzy HomeMaker, I showed up on the island completely naked, with gray skin, and standing between two strangers, a female in front of me wearing nothing but a stretchy cap and a dude behind me in jeans and a white T-shirt, with a name I forget but it definitely had "white" and "ass" in there somewhere. I was actually embarassed to be in the middle of this menage-a-avatar sandwich.

My computer apparently doesn't have a lot of spare memory for a smooth cruise in SL because I couldn't even walk away, LOL! Reboot is now my middle name. I can take about 5 steps at a time but usually my Inventory (a library of clothing, gestures, landmarks, objects, etc.) and Searches crash I reboot. Again.

Somehow I ended up flying -- over the ocean. I figured out how to stop flying and then I ended up underwater. It was kind of interesting. In the distance, you can see other people flying, and when someone walks up to you, instead of bumping you they walk right through you. It is sort of a cross between taking acid and having one of those dreams where you forget to wear pants to school.

I managed to walk out of the water, and by this time I'm kind of getting the drift that there are 4 tutorials which you complete to prove you've figured out how to walk, look at a map, chat, and put some damn clothes on. Well actually I somehow ended up with long black hair and a purple stretch top I traded in for chain mail.

The thing is, usually, when I do new software, I like to find a quick guide or keyboard shortcuts or something, but I just went into SL with none of that. So I felt like I should wake up my 12YO to help me get through this place! I was glad to have some clothing although at one point my pants became kind of transparent. And another thing -- you spend a lot of time looking at your own backside. My avatar's backside is considerably better toned than my real one. I don't know if that makes me angry or glad.

That was the first night. In between SL freezing and me wandering around in circles, I got through 2 of the tutorials.

THE END...of the beginning...

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