Saturday, September 11, 2004

Newbie 2 Newbie – Second Life Social Protocols

By ROSE KARUNA
SecondLIFE Magazine

So, imagine that you are standing on your Second Life front porch torturing prims, when a giant skunk shows up and begins to rez beautiful furniture on your front lawn at the same time that a shirtless, tattooed, pierced guy drops by to discuss Rene Decartes and hyperbolic doubt. Then suddenly, a guy in an orange jump suit wearing handcuffs and the numbers 666 runs into your house.

If your anything like me, you might be wondering … what the heck is the social protocol for this? Hey if I knew the answer to that – this game would begin to bore me.

Nevertheless, I have learned that there are social protocols to be followed, even in Second Life. I discovered this when I was caught working nakies in the garden of my beloved "Land for the Landless" by my sweet but easily embarrassed neighbor, who kindly reminded me that I was in a PG sim. No, I was NOT trying to show off new body parts, things were just really slow and laggy and I wanted to continue building rather than dress. Honest -- although some of the attachments that I have found are pretty cool, but that’s another story for another issue.

Back to social protocols – "bare" in mind, as you walk the paths of the Second Life world, that there are both PG and Mature Sims. The type of Sim that you are in is noted at the top of your screen along with the indicators of what is allowed on the land you are in, such as building, scripting or safety.

Walking naked in either Mature or PG sim is not allowed. Showing up naked and displaying newly purchased body parts (no matter how proud you are of them) at public events, is a violation of the "Terms of Service" agreement and an invitation to be quickly "tossed" from Second Life. If you think that your just going to DIE if you can’t show someone your newly purchased penis immediately, I recommend that you teleport to one of the many clubs that allow this on a mature sim. Just be advised that unwarranted poking anywhere with said body part is in violation and you will probably be tossed if that person reports you. On this note – guys that walk around with their body parts on all the time, loosen the pants! Sheesh!

Another difference between a PG and a Mature sim is the language that you are allowed to use publicly. Just make sure that if you’re having hot Avatar sex you are in IM and not in Chat mode. If not, the entire area will hear your sexual escapades and most likely, you will be tossed. Personally, I’m offended by it simply because usually I’m laughing so hard that I can’t type. Really interferes with my building.

Speaking of big guns – or not, we move on to "safe" and "unsafe" areas in Second Life. When an area is unsafe (meaning that your avatar can be injured or die, a red heart (health indicator) will show at the top of your screen. If your inclination is to jump right into Second Life and on your first day shoot something, well I have just the sim for you. I recommend that you immediately teleport to Jessie (38.145). If you want to experience Avatar death without putting up a fight, I recommend that you teleport to Pomponio (64, 208), either way, you’ll wind up being teleported home sooner or later. Every Avatar should experience death at least once in their Second Life.

That said, please realize that safe land is just that - "safe" and shooting is not allowed. People in Second Life who hold events put a great deal of time, effort and often their own Linden dollars into them and it is the height of rudeness is to show up at an event and shoot the patrons. In addition, it causes a great deal of lag in the area and is disrupting. I should note here that you also risk being suspended or tossed from Second Life for this type of behavior.

The same principal applies for classes that are being held. Mentors and instructors in Second Life dedicate an enormous amount of time to training new people on how to build and script. Shooting, rezing large objects or poking people with your big guns at events which are essentially being held for you (the newbie) are not only rude, but will also get you suspended or tossed. My recommendation is that you holster the newbie gun and hunker down for a class to learn how to build a bigger and better gun and teleport to Jessie, where shooting is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.

Last but not Least, keep Second Life beautiful and remember to clean up after yourself. If you rez an object on land that is not your own, before leaving the premises, pick up the object and put it in your inventory or in the trash. If you crash a vehicle, don’t just walk away, take your wrecked, sorry vehicle with you. Land in Second Life is owned either by the Lindens or individual Second Life Residents. There is no such thing as a "homestead". If you feel the urge to build, do it on sanctioned land (such as a "Sand Box") or with the permission of the owner.

There are a thousand ways that you can offend someone, but hate, murder, theft, liter and mature activity in a non-mature sim seem to be the biggies. My best advice is to think before you act (yes I’m sure you’ve heard it before). Never forget that there is a real person behind the Avatar that you are standing in front of and act accordingly. In other words, "do unto others as you would have done unto you". It’s a good rule – and it works in both lives.

Next Column: Down and Out in Second Life – How to Live in Second Life on a Linden Dollar a Day.

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