This post isn’t as instant as many others’ commentaries on our Second Life adventure (my first life demanded priority today), but I would feel left out if I didn’t add my remarks about our class’s Second Life adventure. First, before the appointed meeting time, I revisited Orientation Island and made it through the whole thing this time—learning how to pick things up, changing camera angles, putting on different outfits, etc. I even got a free outfit from the island, so that was neat. And I customized my avatar to have bright blue hair=awesome!
Then I headed over to the Non-Profit Commons and met up with the few classmates who also arrived early. We stood around and chatted until the others came—and what a bunch we were. The two lizards and the troll were only the beginning. There was also Jade with his piece of land stuck to him, Jbed with his crossed legs (we were informed that this was a step up from having no legs at all), Oscar constantly jumping and landing (SPLAT!) all over the ground, and then, Dr. Brooks, in his eagerness to share his Camp Darfur t-shirt, completely taking it off and standing around shirtless for awhile!
Now, in addition to this comedy (and I assure you, I was laughing out loud quite a lot), I started hearing voices. It was someone talking into a mic asking if anyone could hear him. I attempted talking back to him, but he clearly couldn’t hear me. Then he started swearing some, making comments about people not being able to hear him, and other things I couldn’t make out. I have no idea who it was or what it was all about. I told the others I was hearing voices, but they assured me that there were none and that the area we were in didn’t allow talking anyhow. But I’m telling you—I’m not crazy! I was hearing someone talk!
As our class stood/sat around, we began to discover how to do a bunch of dance moves, how to laugh, cry, and say a few things—but no, not in the same voice I was hearing earlier! After awhile, Dr. Brooks also managed to find a new t-shirt, though Jade and Jbed were still sporting their respective impediments. We decided to go for a walk, a fly actually, but I completely lost everyone in the process. I tried to land on a glass roof, but instead fell through and found a nice waterfall inside of a building. It was lovely, however, I was still quite alone and lost. After some wandering, someone kindly sent me the coordinates to where everyone was and I was able to join the class. We spent the remainder of the time dancing, talking, and figuring out figuring out how to get voice audio to work—which we did accomplish after awhile.
All in all, it was quite a fun experience. I can see how interactions like this, both with people you know and people you don’t know, could be appealing and could be used for all sorts of entertainment, education, recreation, and who knows what else. When we got voice chat to work, Dr. Brooks asked how we thought it compared to the Google+ hangout. I felt like it was more distant—even though I could hear the voices, because I was looking at a totally unreal world, there was a distance not present in Google+. However, I realized thinking about it later, that it felt much more like actually hanging out with people. Google+ is kind of awkward—you’re sitting there looking at each other’s faces and when you run out of things to say…you’re still looking at each other’s faces. In contrast, “hanging out” with the real audio on Second Life felt more relaxed. I didn’t feel the same pressure to come up with something to talk about—if you didn’t have anything to say, you could wander around, jump up and down, or start dancing. Funny as it may seem, this was actually more like real life—you know how it is when you have a decent sized group of people and no set thing to do: people start being silly, talk about pointless things, make each other laugh, or wander off on their own. Though again, there was still that distance there in conversation—in SL, was more likely to talk about something related to this fantasy world than I was to talk about “real life” things (whereas with G+, we really only talked about real life things). One final note—I felt conflicted about whether I should use people’s real names or their avatar names. I think I randomly went back and forth. Did any of you wonder the same thing?