My double Second Life

I joined Second Life last Saturday as ‘MollyBloom7’. It was an isolating and unsettling experience. I found ‘myself’/my avatar on a virtual beach, the sound of waves was unexpected, as was the presence of other avatars around me. I was reminded of ‘Lost’.

The interface was confusing at first and I didn’t know what to do or how to interact with the ‘Others’ on the shore. It was not a pleasant birth; I would have preferred to have been born into a closed white space where I could have learned how to interact before deciding to go out and join my Second Life.

Via Moodle, I followed the link to Holyrood Park/Vue South and felt immediately different. There was nobody there but that was fine. The space felt structured and familiar; the virtual (v.) objects helped: there was a v.noticeboard, a v.bench, a v.fountain: familiar items which suggested civilisation and which connoted safe public places. The sound of the fountain was also calming, much more so than the waves on a bleak beach. There was a cat there too – Nora.  Given my own Joycean name choice, this felt reassuring and serendipitous. A gift had also been left for me – a welcome pack: I put on the t-shirt which was in it. This was an agreeable and ordered place to ‘be’.

Noticeboard_001
Molly Bloom in Holyrood Park

Before the orientation session the following day, I decided to change my avatar; having read about harassment in SL, I decided that I wanted to adopt a gender-neutral name and a male avatar. Like others in the group, I was also underwhelmed by the limited, limiting and sexualised range of female avatars.

second life sexism

So Ariel McBloom was – almost – born. Unfortunately, he appeared only as red mist which wouldn’t form or bake. So I spent the session – somewhat appropriately – as a disembodied swirl of crimson cloud.

The orientation was such good fun. I was genuinely excited to see the others from the course arrive: a ragbag collection of monsters and weirdly adapted avatars: ‘misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!’*

6

We learned to fly, to take photos, to interact and to use the maps. Some others also went on to learn how to dance to. I found it an engaging, playful experience: I was fully present within the virtual arena. I was ‘there’.

This playfulness of SL is what has captivated me this week; I was surprised that some others didn’t respond in the same way:

What's the point

But a number of us did:

fun

It will be interesting to see if we actually learn through play: I suspect that the ice-cream van full of treats which has arrived in Holyrood Park will have something to do with that:

Visit_002

*Romeo and Juliet, I.i.169

 

One Reply to “My double Second Life”

  1. Hi Helen,

    Glad you found the playfulness appealing even if some aspects of SL are quite annoying. It will be interesting to see what learning it enables for this group.

    Best,

    Velda

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