Create an Avatar in Second Life

From Gerald R. Lucas
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In this assignment, you will experience cyberspace first-hand by creating your own avatar and socializing on the (in)famous Second Life.

Secondlife 1.jpg

There are several steps to getting into Second Life for the first time. This assignment will guide you through them. At the end of this assignment you will have a Second Life avatar and be able to navigate it around the Second Life environment. The first step is to sign up for a Second Life account where you’ll create your avatar. This avatar will be your representation in Second Life.

You should not at any point need to pay any money or enter any credit card information. You should sign up for a Second Life Basic Membership which is FREE. When you are asked whether you would like to choose a fancier, more expensive membership, I suggest that you turn down that option and stick with the Basic Membership, at least for now.

Sign Up for an Avatar

  1. You’ll be asked whether you want to sign up for a community. Choose “skip this step.”
  2. Your Second Life name is a big decision. Once you choose it, you can’t change it. You cannot choose your own last name (unless it happens to be on the dropdown list). Some people find it very disconcerting not to be able to have their own name. Since you can’t have your own name, feel free to be creative with your choice! Enter a birthdate (which does not really have to be your true one) and a valid email address to which you have access. Note that if you want, you can create an email address specifically for this purpose. Choose a real name, not an AIM handle, as SL is more of a virtual reality than it is a chat session. Having characters other than letters in your avatar’s name will be awkward after a while.
  3. Choose a beginning look for your avatar. You will be modifying this look once you enter Second Life, so don’t worry too much about this choice.
  4. You may enter your real name if you choose, but they will never know if you don’t. Remember the password that you choose because you will need it and it will be difficult to recover if you lose it. You have to agree to the Terms of Service.
  5. You do not need a premium account. Skip this step.
  6. Finally, download the free Second Life software and install it on your computer.

What Next

Spend some time customizing your avatar. Take advantage of freebies, found all over Second Life: from clothes to skin, eyes to footwear, there’s no limit to how you can make your avatar yours. You can continue to work on that throughout the semester.

If you haven’t already, you should begin to interact with the citizens of SL. Meet some people; get comfortable chatting. When you have met someone (or multiple someones) that you feel comfortable talking with, do an informal interview.

First, explain that you are a student and ask them if you can use their name for a brief interview for class. Be sure you have their permission! Take a snapshot of her/him.

Next, ask the avatar about their personal appearance and how and why they chose that look. What does their appearance say? What story does it tell about their avatar’s personality? What role are they playing?

Ask them if they have any tips on improving your look. Then, set about doing just that.

Consider your look carefully. What does your avatar’s appearance tell about it? That is: what story do you wish to portray, and how are you going about it with your appearance? Get new clothes. Work with textures; manipulate your appearance. What sort of reactions are you hoping to get? How will you be successful.

When finished — when you are happy with your avatar’s look, take a photo of your avatar. Save the following to your computer:

  • Your avatar’s photo
  • the photo of the SL citizen you spoke with
  • a summary of your interview
  • an analysis of your avatar’s final appearance

Discuss your experiences on your blog or journal. Post your photos, too.