A Portrait of the Avatar as a Young WomanJune 23, 2009
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most as a parent is the opportunity to see the world through new eyes. I don’t have – or want – children in Second Life, but I did start wondering what it would be like to see Second Life as new again. While I still remember my spark of passion being ignited, it certainly isn’t the same as my first months in-world. All of this got me wondering, how does Second Life look like for a new resident?
So I set out to interview who has just started their Second Life experience. I didn’t want to be too picky, but I didn’t want to have the wrong conversation, so I started the quest with a few simple rules. The person had to be fewer than thirty days old, by all appearances was not an alt (although you could never really know, could you?), and seemed like they had been in-world more than once by looking at their profile.
Help Island Public seemed like a good spot where I might meet someone who fit the bill. After a quick teleport, I found myself in the midst of twenty to twenty-five avatars. Now, I’ve been using the GreenLife Emerald Viewer lately and one of my favorite features is a built-in radar. One of the cooler things about this radar is that it not only tells you who is in the sim with you, but it also tells you their age in days. This feature came in very handy for this project. Surprisingly, among the twenty-plus avatars at Help Island Public, there were only three (yes, 3!) avs that were under thirty days old; the remainder were all old enough to no longer be considered new. So I decide to IM one of the younger avatars nearest to me. I quickly introduce myself and ask her if she would mind being interviewed for my blog. Long pause. Long pause continues. I find myself thinking, “This is not going to work.” But to my happiness and surprise, she agrees to be interviewed. We teleported back to my house and proceeded to have a lovely conversation about her impressions of Second Life thus far.
Kyla Riddler was on her eighth day in Second Life when we talked. Like so many of the people I’ve had the pleasure to meet in SL, Kyla proved herself to be a wonderful, interesting and engaging person. Read on after the jump to hear what Kyla had to say about getting adjusted to Second Life, impressions of people in-world and virtual relationships.
Charlanna Beresford: Hey Kyla
Kyla Riddler: Hey
Charlanna Beresford: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. One thing I should have asked you before: Are you really new? Is there any chance you are really an alt?
Kyla Riddler: I really am new. I just started a week or so ago.
Charlanna Beresford: Welcome to Second Life! What made you decide to give it a try?
Kyla Riddler: Oh, I watched the Visions of the Future documentary. Actually, I watched it to see the bits about AI robots. They had a bit on SL, so I downloaded it.
Charlanna Beresford: That sounds interesting! Has it been what you expected so far?
Kyla Riddler: It’s been rather interesting. This whole idea of a “second life” and how some of the avatars here take it very seriously. I’m quite curious about the way they deal with SL. Some don’t like that I have a personal profile pic and have suggested I remove it because its too “personal”. Others, on the other hand have been open about both their SL and RL.
Charlanna Beresford: What were your first impressions of Second Life?
Kyla Riddler: At first, obviously confusing. The whole idea of creating yourself and the default clothes are…shocking. :) You definitely need help when you arrive here.
Charlanna Beresford: It really can be confusing to start!
What made you come back? And keep coming back?
Kyla Riddler: Curiosity and the need to make it work made me come back; I don’t do half jobs. I was lucky and ran into someone who offered me L$’s and showed me where to buy hair/shape/etc. This helped in my quest to “make it work”.
Charlanna Beresford: How did you run into that person? Was it just by luck?
Kyla Riddler: We met on Help Island. Tami – whom I assume takes great pleasure in helping people – approached me.
Charlanna Beresford: There really are wonderful helpful people in Second Life, aren’t there?
Kyla Riddler: Yes. I was surprised by it. The giving of L$’s and other objects. You don’t really have that in RL. Well, it’s hard to come by from complete strangers.
What keeps me coming back? Good question, I guess I am just letting it run its course until it bores me to death – if that ever happens
Charlanna Beresford: What has been your favorite thing about SL thus far?
Kyla Riddler: Honestly, probably the shopping. Despite the fact that I gain nothing from it in RL. Oh, and meeting a handful of really good folks.
Charlanna Beresford: The shopping really is great; it took me a while to get over spending money on digital things that had no RL value, too. Do you have any favorite shops or sims that you’ve found yet?
Kyla Riddler: YES! My new favourite shop is Luxus. I love their outfits. And so far I’m a wanderer but always go back to Help Island.
Charlanna Beresford: And what has been hardest thing for you about SL?
Kyla Riddler: I don’t think there’s really been a “hard” side for me. Besides getting to know and understand the software itself. I have been “online” for many years, so I learned a long time ago to just go with the flow and that some may like you and some may dislike you. But it’s all the same at the end of the day in RL too.
Charlanna Beresford: Absolutely! About the software…lots of people have talked about the challenges of it, especially for new users. What would have made it easier for you?
Kyla Riddler: Things would have been easier if I had read the help pages. But I’m lazy and struggle along on my own usually. You learn easier if you read, though…well I do. What would have made it easier is, I guess, if the pop-ups had extended help options. Such as when you take an object out of your inventory (excuse how I explain it, I don’t know all the terms yet) and open it. You have an option to take it or… there was one other option. If you take it you then have the item TWICE in your inventory! But had I read about SL and the objects, I would probably know this
Charlanna Beresford: There are so many things like that are challenging to pick up. I was pretty helpless my first couple of weeks: I probably wouldn’t have stayed if I didn’t have someone giving me pointers.
If you had to give any suggestions to the Lindens, what would it be?
Kyla Riddler: Mmmm…that’s difficult. I don’t know the ins and outs of virtulization and I haven’t been here long enough to have anything to moan about or find problem with.
Since most newcomers don’t have L$’s, a place to change appearances and rez objects would be nice. And I guess there could be some rule that your account must be no more than 2 months old for you to be able to go there. If that isn’t something that is available already; like I said, I’m too new to say otherwise.
Charlanna Beresford: What has been your most interesting cultural observation of SL? Especially from the people perspective?
Kyla Riddler: The hooking up! It is raaather interesting and makes me wonder how real it actually is. Like to what extent are they really together? Are they together in RL too? And if not, how on earth do they keep it up? Does it have to do with role play? All of this wonders me. You know, people hook up on other chat mediums too but SL takes the cake! People post photos of weddings – the works!
Charlanna Beresford: So you’re wondering about how people approach SLove, not just SLex?
Kyla Riddler: Oh, I hadn’t even wanted to imagine that! And in RL I’m also an artist with an active imagination! Thank you for giving me the pixel sex image.
Charlanna Beresford laughs, “Sorry about that. But people do make a distinction between the two.”
Kyla Riddler: I was in a relationship for many years, which ended very recently. And so far, what I can tell you…is the next man in my life better have the body some of the shapes here offer. But I’m not interested in a relationship in SL. Avatars are appealing, but I desire touch.
Charlanna Beresford: There are many people who feel the same way you do. If someone asked you about Kyla, what would you tell them?
Kyla Riddler: I’m not a natural blonde – I’m a redhead, so I have a temper. I don’t listen to the latest and greatest radio hits – I love my hip-hop, call me ghetto fab. I’m not a secretary/admin clerk/saleswoman – I’m a systems engineer, and I love hardware. I don’t say things to gain approval – I say it like it is, and if you don’t like it, tough. That’s me as Kyla and me in RL.
Charlanna Beresford: Thank you for sharing; it really has been great to meet you, Kyla. Thank you so very much for taking the time to chat with me and I would love to chat with you again in a few months.
Kyla Riddler: You’re most welcome. That sounds great.