I’m not a technophobe, but I do have a tendency to wait out new arrivals for a year or two before I become a convert. I was a couple of years behind MP3 players (I like my discman!) and a couple of years behind torrent sharing and any fashion trend you can name from the past two decades. So I come about 5 years late to something I feel nervous about in general, Second Life. If you’re like me you’ve heard a little about this alternative world but not really grasped the appeal. So we start where we start with everything we want to learn about now, we go to google and enter “Second Life”.
The top link tells me second life is a 3D virtual world where I can socialise by text or voice. Excellent. Clicking the link takes me to a big screenshot of digitised young cool people with snazzy hair and boobs with a banner welcoming me to my world and my imagination. I’m already reminded of The Sims, which I scoffed at (“Who wants to play a game where they have a nine to five and go home and play games, that’s silly.”) and then got addicted to it until I deleted it from my PC. It wants to recreate my life but better in a virtual world, where I can find friends, fashion, music videos and fun, membership, I am reassured, is free. I’m already a little concerned at this stage, because the last piece of technology that wanted to change my life scared me a lot, also the promise of fun fashion and videos makes me think of MTV, (Which I find pretty offensive.) I’m considering switching the computer off and going to lie down.
For you, dear reader, I plough on. For the record, this is a date I’m having from the comfort of my desk with only my monitor lighting the room, so aside from the tasteful black boxers and slight scent of Jasmine hair oil, I’m wearing nothing except some spilled cheap cider.
OK, so I click JOIN and the first thing to do is pick an avatar. The avatar immediately becomes invisible and the site jumps to a screen claiming to have sent me an email. This seems unlikely since I didn’t enter an address, but I check anyway. Nope, lies. I press the back button and the screen shows me two thirds of the previous section of the joining instructions. Perhaps Second Life doesn’t care for Opera. Switch browsers.
Going better now, I am now a red-headed woman called mrmulluk, nevermind, I can change my appearance later. I’ve been telling myself that for years. It’s vaguely irritating that my security answer has to be 4 characters long. I was born in a city called Ely, and Second Life finds this unacceptable. It has a cathedral and everything. I wonder how many three-lettered cities I could recruit in a letter-writing campaign to the makers of this…what? Sorry, quite right. Not relevant.
I finish off registration by entering the email address I don’t mind receiving heaps and heaps of junk. That being Chris’s. (That explains the registration to Gorilla Fanciers Monthly E-mag then! Chris). I wait patiently for an hour and drink some more cider before I relent and enter my own address. I would register for a premium membership, but for some reason my MultimediaMouth expenses credit card appears to have stopped working. (You know why we stopped it. It’s the same reason you have to register your Gorilla mags to my dang email address! Chris) Free it is. Drink some more cider. While I wait for the download.
The email tells me I can do some cool things in Second Life. I can rent an apartment, go to Japan and attend a job fair. I’ve done those things in another game I played recently. Something else…Life. It’ll come to me. I can also apparently fly a magic carpet, which is the only thing on the above list I haven’t already done. That’s it! REAL Life, that’s what I was thinking of. Not a bad game, but the difficutly curve seems to be broken. Like everyone else on the globe I may have just agreed to take part in brutal surgical experiments for the makers of this software, like you I didn’t read the Ts&Cs.
I appear and a pop up tells me “Your clothes are still downloading, you can proceed as normal and other users will see your avatar as normal.” I am SO using this as an excuse to go to work in my underwear. I am standing in a well lit room facing an identical clone of myself.
[13:05] mrmulluk: You.
[13:05] mrmulluk: Woman
[13:05] mrmulluk: Answer me this instant
[13:06] mrmulluk: i mean you no harm.
[13:06] SusieHaz: I need to find myself first.
[13:06] mrmulluk: That’s deep.
The woman runs off and into the next room. I follow her and she runs into a corner. I chase her into the corner and press the button that makes my avatar silently mime laughing. Repeatedly.
[13:09] mrmulluk: I’m writing an article for a website, what’s your impression of this life so far?
[13:10] SusieHaz: I’ve only been here for about 2 minutes. I’m curious.
[13:10] mrmulluk: Does it count as stalking someone if my strange woman with a handbag follows you around?
[13:10] SusieHaz: I was wondering about that handbag thing. What’s up with that? Is it a divining rod?
[13:11] mrmulluk: I thought it was a handbag. Perhaps it is some kind of weapon!
[13:11] SusieHaz: I don’t know how to walk.
[13:12] mrmulluk: Do you have that problem in your First Life?
[13:13] SusieHaz: No. I have walking down pretty well
More silent laughing and threatening people via the chat box with my handbag (Weapon) and people have stopped talking to me. This is like real life. I have now met a nice Parrott in another mostly white room full of what appear to be giant imacs. The bird strikes up a conversation.
[13:16] Chat Bird: I mostly repeat everything you say.
[13:16] Chat Bird: But if you ask nicely, I’ll give you a kiss.
[13:16] Chat Bird: Just say ‘please give me a kiss’.
[13:16] mrmulluk: give me a kiss or your death shall surely follow at the hands of this handbag.
[13:16] Chat Bird whispers: You didn’t say ‘please’.
[13:16] mrmulluk: please give me a kiss or i shall eviscerate you and spread your innards throughout this land.
[13:16] Chat Bird whispers: Since you asked so nicely, here you go!
[13:17] mrmulluk: how nice.
[13:17] Chat Bird whispers: how nice.
Any single readers who wish to use my chat-up lines can if they wish.
Flying is quite cool, sitting on a bench less so. I choose a different destination and leave beginners island, I am now quite the expert. I have now materialised on a beach, with dancy music playing at me and a stage off near the water. I can’t fly as well as I could previously, this my be something to do with my First Life cider.app.
[13:24] mrmulluk: You people look sinister and the music here is upsetting.
[13:24] BellaBionda96: WOOW
A naked man appears.
[13:24] mrmulluk: sir, you appear to be naked, if the game told you your clothes would appear normal it is lying to you. I suspected as much.
[13:25] mrmulluk: sir!
A woman in purple approaches me.
[13:26] ひさぎ らっくれす: hi
[13:26] mrmulluk: I’m writing an article for a website, I’m new to this place, what does one do
[13:26] MyANIMATION R&B DanceBall base: Starting dance animation.
[13:27] ひさぎ らっくれす: oh
[13:27] ひさぎ らっくれす: it is your 1st day
[13:28] ひさぎ らっくれす: welcome to secondlife 🙂
[13:29] mrmulluk: It is, My woman appears to be having some kind of fit.
[13:30] mrmulluk: So what is fun about this other than making the woman have a fit?
[13:31] ひさぎ らっくれす: it is difficult question
[13:32] ひさぎ らっくれす: but
[13:32] ひさぎ らっくれす: everything is up to you
[13:33] ひさぎ らっくれす: this is free world
[13:33] mrmulluk: How long have you been here?
[13:33] ひさぎ らっくれす: 2years lool
[13:34] ひさぎ らっくれす: if you have any kind of skills
[13:34] ひさぎ らっくれす: you can do anything
[13:34] mrmulluk: What kind of skills are required?
[13:34] ひさぎ らっくれす: you can be anything
[13:34] mrmulluk: Anything at all?
[13:34] ひさぎ らっくれす: i have no skill XD
[13:35] mrmulluk: You seem to be skilled at making the women have fits. I’ve always wanted to be a pro wrestler.
[13:35] ひさぎ らっくれす: yes
[13:35] mrmulluk: How would I go about that?
[13:35] ひさぎ らっくれす: ah
[13:36] ひさぎ らっくれす: the english is too difficult for me
Dancing miles above the earth, I find the woman a little distressing. I can’t stop her dancing. Even as I return to the beach and try and walk around, she is dancing away. Tireless and eternal. It’s almost hypnotic.
I arrive at a new place, it seems cheerful and tranquil, and the music is replaced with American webcammy voices. I am still dancing. Despite me asking, they won’t help me stop dancing, in a panic I have the woman flee and run through the countryside, she finds a nice swing hanging from a beautiful tree. I tell her to sit on it, in the hope she will relax. She sits. She is still dancing. Her movements are stilted and jerky, her limbs flail and twist as if in pain.
I am finding this unspeakably distressing. She is still dancing. I look down at my cider-drenched form and relise that I too am sitting…and dancing. I click Second Life…Force Quit.
SECOND (Life) DATE:
I’m not sure I see the appeal. It’s like going to a really terrible bar full of posturing odd-looking people suffering from epileptic seizures. The music is terrible and there is nothing of substance to eat or drink. It’s like going out in Peterborough, only at home.
I think for the first time in the MFD series, there will be no Second Date for Second Life.
My first date with my wife.
This is a bonus track by way of apology for my absence and thanks to the editorial team here for their very real patience and support for the human behind the First Date character.
It was my third wedding-anniversary a couple of weeks ago, and we celebrated it together on the island of Lanzarote. It was nice to leave England and be somewhere a bit more exotic for a week, despite it being very anglicised. Good to get out and relax though.
My First Date with my wife was nothing like any of the first dates I write about, thankfully. I don’t even remember what underwear I wore. We both lived in Japan, near Kobe and we went to an Izikaya, like a Japanese cross between a family restaurant and a sports bar. Rather than getting meals as such, you just order a selection of starter-sized dishes and share at the table. I like this a lot, we should do it in the UK too. We talked a lot. About university, and home life. We both seemed pretty exotic to each other, and we knew things the other didn’t. You don’t need much else, truth be known. We didn’t dance, we had a lovely evening and connected. She’s been by my side to this day, and she’s a blessing i couldn’t be without.
Despite the ups and downs that life throws at us that caused my absence, and punctuate life in ways you don’t expect; I am very grateful. I think I’ve been dealt a very good hand in life and sometimes you have to just take a little time to see it. Thanks for taking the time to let me acknowledge it.
You can visit Second Life here
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