The online universe of Second Life allows you to take on a completely new persona and lifestyle. You can socialize, build real estate, fly on the back of a dragon, attend church, and anything else you can imagine in this alternate universe. If you want to join this virtual world, here is a guide on how to get started with Second Life.
Create an account
Before you begin anything, you will have to go through all the boilerplate of creating an account and obtaining a username. You will first be asked to select a preliminary avatar, which is essentially your virtual body. The website provides a limited choice when you sign up, but you can customize the appearance later.
After filling out your personal contact details and selecting a username, you can choose between a free or premium (paid) account. If this is your first time, you may want to start with the free account; you can always upgrade later. Second Life requires you to download software that helps your computer process the program's intricate graphics. Once you have downloaded the software, you are really ready to get started.
Arrive on Welcome Island
When you first enter Second Life, you will land in an orientation setting called Welcome Island. This low-key section of the world allows you to explore and play around with the controls. You can change your avatar's appearance, learn how to text or voice chat with other users, view other people's profiles and find cool places to visit.
Welcome Island is a great place to learn how to move through Second Life. Since this is an alternate universe, you can walk or fly. You can also practice sitting, standing and interacting with objects. Eventually you will encounter other forms of transportation, such as space rockets, hot air balloons or dragons.
Design your avatar
Your avatar is how you will appear to others in Second Life. Avatars come in all shapes and sizes, and you can be a humanoid, animal, robot or even vehicle. You can easily customize your avatar's clothing and body parts. For example, if you decide to look like a human with a cat's tail, you can alter your clothes and the color of your fur. Some people design avatars that are true to life, while others prefer to create elaborate and imaginative characters. Decide on what works best for you, and remember that you can always redesign your image later.
Explore the universe
Second Life is bursting with incredible places and fun events. Destinations range from the earthbound to the fantastical. For more realistic trips, you can visit the virtual version of existing world wonders like the Grand Canyon or stop by a museum, such as the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum. If you seek more fantastic fare, visit an enchanted forest with elven homes and luminescent plant life. From art museums to zombie neighborhoods, you have ever-growing places to explore.
This universe provides nearly every imaginable activity, and if you cannot find what you like, simply start it yourself. Enjoy a Brazilian dance club or learn about Shakespeare at a real university lecture. Second Life also has one-time events occurring at any given moment. In a single Second Life day, you can attend a charity walk in the morning then watch a fashion show at night.
Joining group events is a great way to engage with the Second Life community that makes up the backbone of the entire universe. Members create the worlds and organize the events that make Second Life a spectacular virtual experience.