Every now and then, someone pops onto the Second Life subReddit and exclaims, “I’m new and I have no idea what to do in SL!” Have comfort, my friend. I’ve had an avatar for over 13 years and I have no idea either. Sometimes I just play mah jongg solitaire in my virtual living room. You read that correctly: I sit at a desk and sign into a virtual world where my avatar sits at a table and plays a game. Meta.
Don’t get me wrong: I love this crazy place. People have declared SL dead for the past 10 years and it’s not even close. Though it can seem vacant because it’s so big, your next teleport might take you somewhere marvelous. I have a counter at my house that shows the number of people in-world and it’s usually over 40k. Even with a significant number of bots and alts, the place isn’t empty.
Some of the basic navigational tools are poorly maintained, however. The Destination Guide is a fast train to disappointment: many of the areas listed there are long gone. The event listing inside the interface is mostly adult places and dance clubs. (Not that I object to adult content; I’ll choose an adult area before a club where hostesses fling annoying emotes while people move in sync like laggy flash mobs, but many of the “events” are adult AND annoying club combined. Nope.) I’ve been trying to find live performances. I can frequently find music, but theater, dance, or other creative performances are scarce and the venues often seem abandoned.
The people I know who are the most engaged are part of SL communities. They build or create, they roleplay, they teach, they run businesses/organizations/websites, they hang out with friends or self-built families. I’m an explorer — I like to observe and experience — so I find places on the map that have a few people and I jump, look around, take a few photos, maybe chat a bit.
I’ve signed up to volunteer at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference again this year and I’m thinking about creating my own performance or helping out at an interesting venue. Since I have a full-time day job, my availability is limited but I’d like to do something creative and/or useful. Any suggestions?