The first time I went onto Second Life was before our first online lecture, to make sure that I was prepared to show up to class having familiarised myself with the way that Second Life worked. I first set up an avatar, which I chose from one of the presets, but I did explore a little the kind of creation tools they have available to create avatars, and it was very detailed. I think it’s interesting that the creators put so much effort into making sure that users would be able to customise their avatars down to the tiniest details, and I think that even though I only used a preset for class, if I were a person who actually did spend long periods of time on Second Life I would definitely be making use of this feature to customise my avatar in more detail than I currently have. I also think this feature must draw people to Second Life, since you can feasibly create any persona you want that looks any way you want it to look.
The first place I went in Second Life, after the initial tutorial, was to the lecture theatre in the DIT Second Life Campus, for class. Afterwards I was very interested to know if other colleges had similar things, and spent a while exploring other college campuses, most of which are grouped together in a particular part of the Second Life map. I did find that most of these campuses are private, which means that only students can get into them to go to lectures, which is probably to make sure that nobody uninvited interrupts lectures. I don’t think that DIT has the same sort of system, which I did find a little surprising and I wondered why this was.
I picked a few places at random to venture to after I was done looking at other college campuses and what their buildings all look like. Firstly I went to Japan, an area in Second Life apparently modelled after Japan, but having been to Japan I can’t say I saw many similarities. I did notice that in Second Life there is often a lot of audio playing at the same time, when I was in this location there were approx. three radio stations playing at the same time, depending on where I was, and eventually I had to turn my background music slider all the way down just to avoid this problem.
There weren’t many people in the Japan area of Second Life, and when I clicked on the mini-map that tells you where people are in relation to yourself, I only counted about fifteen. I did wonder if this was typical of most areas on Second Life, or if that seemed to be the normal amount of people in any one place.
The next place I went to explore was also chosen at random, and ended up being a sort of housing estate, with all the buildings modelled on Japanese-style houses. There was nobody in this area too, even though this area seems as though it was meant to be quite heavily populated. I thought this because most of the buildings had signs on them saying they were for rent, which presumably means that at one time or another the people who created this area thought that there would be the market for that kind of thing, even though there clearly isn’t now.
That was my main impression of Second Life from my first time exploring it: that it was clearly meant for more people than are currently populating it. Everywhere in Second Life has an odd feel to it, no matter how many people are there, as though it used to have a lot of people there but has since been abandoned. I would be more interested to find out why Second Life declined the way it has, because from what I have heard I think a lot more people did use to use it than currently do. I can’t think why its user-base has declined so much over the years, possibly it might be something to do with the outdated graphics that Second Life has, which probably once would have been considered sophisticated but now look very clunky and blocky. I also think that Second Life as a platform definitely has its issues; in the time that I’ve been using it it’s already crashed twice, and I had an issue with my voice during the lecture that meant that I couldn’t speak or hear the lecturer when he was talking.