[‘Letters from the Metaverse’ is a regular weekly column by Mathew Kumar about his adventures in the massively multiplayer online world of Second Life. This week’s column covers some 'newbie' areas.]

Teleporting For Fun, Profit

Well, after buying myself some sweet duds last week I was actually at loss for what to do. And as a newbie in the world, this is a pretty easy situation to find yourself in – you get yourself all dressed up and have no idea where to go.

2006_07_18_castle.jpgThe first idea to get out of your head is the most obvious one – to just randomly teleport places and see what happens. This probably isn’t such a good idea, as you’re just asking for trouble.

Making that decision I found myself on more than one island of ill-repute, and I don’t think I’m quite ready to talk about the trauma I experienced teleporting somewhere only to find myself trapped in a cage by a huge muscular goth. Let me just say I’d noticed he was already dragging around two naked slaves on a chain and I decided he didn’t need a third.

A Different Kind Of Orienting

As a newbie, it’s much safer to stick to areas where people are going to be a bit friendlier to you. The first thing I found, actually, on my quite random travels, was an area advertising Orientation Castle, which is worth stopping by if you’ve managed to forget how to do anything in the world. It’s not particularly clearer than Orientation Island (and frankly, probably less helpful to navigate) but at least it’s there, and wonderfully under populated. It’ll send you off to a Help Island, too. But if you are (as I am) past trying to find out how to do things and you’re looking for things to do, one excellent place to start off is The Shelter.

2006_07_18_dancing.jpgGimme Shelter!

A fairly well known area in the world of Second Life, it’s the first ‘club’ in the world I decided to visit. Now, as a Scot, clubbing to me means drinking too much alcohol while standing in a dark room full of people where music blares too loud for anyone to hear anyone else, before buying a kebab and then making a quick stop off in an alleyway to sick up said kebab and alcohol.

Naturally this isn’t an experience that can be easily replicated in the world of Second Life. For one, no matter how loud you turn the music up you can still ‘hear’ what everyone’s saying.

You could recreate the real club experience by getting really drunk at home, I guess, which makes your typing worse, but despite not really feeling like a club the shelter is a nice example of a clean, friendly area in Second Life, though, it is in a Mature plot of land, which means, as per usual, there’s a ‘Sexoporium’ about two doors away.

When I arrived people were just dancing away and chatting, and who was I not to join in? There are also piles of free stuff at the door, there are regular events, and if you want to learn of other places to go or people to see, plenty of people are willing to help.

Yadni's Hunks Of Stuff

It’s there that I learned of Yadni’s Junkyard, for example, which is absolutely chock a block with free stuff (or stuff which costs only $1 Linden, which is nothing, really). This is a nice place to go to pick up either new clothes, new stuff to have fun with (Weapons! Vehicles!)

Or, indeed, plenty of free builder tools if you’ve decided you want to take an active role in creating new objects, animations or clothes. Personally I’m too lazy to even work out how to switch my animations from ‘jerky cripple’ to something half decent, but to each his own!

NEXT WEEK: I get banned for using my free watermelon gun to fire watermelons at passers by, because I’m too scared to go to any areas where people might fire back (or force me into BSDM servitude).

[Mathew Kumar is a freelance journalist who’s dabbled in MMORPGs, but is too cheap/strong willed to play past a free trial. He got his break with Insert Credit, and his work has been featured in publications as diverse as The Globe and Mail, Twitch Film, and Eurogamer.]