First steps – October 2017 to January 2018
I’ve never actually wished I was another person, although have occasionally wondered, “what if?” so the idea of Second Life website has always interested me, even though I hadn’t looked at it before reading Project/Exercise 4:1. See my post here where I summarise my initial reading and research. My tutor approved my suggestion that I have a deeper look into the experience of a virtual second life and so, now armed with what I though was sufficient information, I joined Second Life, deciding to limit myself to no more than one hour a day. After choosing an avatar I wasn’t quite sure about, I left the orientation area too soon probably because I was so excited at learning to fly! I did choose somewhere on the map to teleport to but ended up wandering around and feeling lost although I did take my first snapshot.
“Time to go back to my ‘real’ home”, I thought.
Once back in my real life I looked at You Tube videos showing how to change Avatar and decided to take out a premium subscription so that I would have an SL Linden ‘home’ – where I could go to use my inventory items in private and have my own space to return to. You can buy land there, build your own house, even buy an island from private owners.
In addition to a ‘home’ the subscription includes a monthly amount of Linden dollars to spend on shops on the Island so off I went back there; changed my Avatar and went shopping. At first it seemed a wonderful idea – being able to decorate and furnish exactly how I wanted without having to compromise with someone else’s choices. I could buy furniture, clothes, even a new more sophisticated Avatar. It didn’t turn out like that though because I got so confused at the extent of choice not to mention feeling very nervous at the technology involved in ‘unpacking’ purchases. I actually ended up with a lamp stuck to my hand and it took ages to find out how to unstick it. My house was still empty!
I only found one book to begin with, Second Life: The Official Guide (2008) which I found quite hard to make sense of at first with words like ‘prims’. ‘sims’ and ‘rezzing”. ’Prims’ are objects of all kinds that have been created from solids (3D geometric shapes) which can be linked together and then made to do things by a script written in LSL – Second Life’s scripting language – for example a dog that runs and barks (2008:08). When you create a ‘prim’ you ‘rezz’ it (not slang but an official term in Second Life. Second Life is also divided into areas that can include any number of regions governed by a given set of rules which can vary by region (often referred to by residents as ‘sims’ – short for simulators). What this means in practice is that when you teleport to any region you have to look at the information about it to see what you can and cannot do – important as well if you want to take snapshots or create video (‘machinima’). You are allowed to take snapshots and film on land you actually own and in public areas of the site owned by Linden Labs, but not private areas unless a particular region grants general permission or you have requested and been given it. The Second Life site provides a list of privately owned regions where machinima are allowed; I have attempted to teleport to most of those but, unfortunately, only a few are still in existence.
It proved similarly difficult to travel to sites mentioned in academic papers. For example, I found a transcript of a presentation Where in Plato’s Cave is Second Life (Janick /Zabel 2009) which combined a lecture, open discussion and ‘field trip’ to a 3D virtual representation created by Gary Zabel (Avatar) and his team at one of the Caerleon sims on Second Life owned by Georg Janick (aka Gary Zabel) I wanted to visit this Cave so I could stand there and think about Plato’s work and how it relates to Second Life which of course, it does – Second Life itself appears to have a reality when you’re there but it’s a shadow a reflection of ordinary experience for the most extent. I was disappointed though as there is no longer a representation of Plato’s Cave.
How am I doing now?
I feel a little more confident exploring Second Life even though I still haven’t worked out how to ‘unpack’ furniture. I will though.
I bought another book Second Life for Dummies (Robbins & Bell 2008) which I’m finding easier to understand. I’ve taken more snapshots and videos using Snagit Screen Capture Software and have just begun to process videos with Filmora video editing software which seems to offer more tools than iMovie yet is less complicated than Adobe Premiere Pro which I have yet to learn. I also think I have more of an understanding of 3D character animation and have downloaded some more Adobe programs. When I looked at my improved version of my Second Life avatar I realised that she reminded me of a more grown-up version of the doll I used for a project in my first OCA Module so I must have been chanelling her for all this time!
My ambition would be to build a 3D character myself that would resemble both the doll and my current Avatar.
Below is a contact sheet of some of my Second Life snapshots plus two short videos I have processed so far.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/252865042″>Should I say hello?</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/cblearninglog”>Catherine Banks</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
The videos are short and I know I need a lot more practice, particularly with the transitions which are less smooth than I would have wished; in fact less smooth than on iMovie. I’ve added music for now as I didn’t want them to be silent.
I have also kept a brief diary of visits and thoughts and, if I decide to extend this project into Assignment 5, I will utilise this into some kind of pictorial account. At present I’m playing around with the idea of a grid-based blog.
Robbins, S & Bell, M (2008) Second Life for Dummies. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing Inc.
Rymaszewski, M. et al (2008) Second Life: The Official Guide (2nd ed). Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing Inc