Second Life: The First Hour Should Be Shared With A Friend Or They’re Never Coming Back

A few years ago I started a new user avatar for a published author for an appearance at Lackamas Hall Reading Room in Pini – sponsored by Jackson Street Books. During the process at that time, I passed a number of brand-new potential Residents who seemed unable to figure out how to get OUT of the orientation area or off the island. Many were pretty much like this guy:

Inara Pey started a discussion about Linden Lab’s new Destination Islands (welcome areas for new users) that quickly got a lot of people talking. I posted a long comment only to see that several others posted better (and shorter comments) while I was still slogging through mine. My response was mostly to this section of Inara’s post:

In fairness to the Lab, providing a means of supporting new users is no easy task. As we all tend to point out, SL cannot be taught in a day, and when one goes from talking about the “first hour experience” to the “first five hours experience” – as Mark Kingdon famously did – then something, somewhere is going more than a little pear-shaped when considering new users. At the same time LL have been presented with ample evidence that help centres that rely on direct user / user interaction don’t always work.

However, there is also a risk in going too far in the other direction as well and simply providing too little help and support – and this is the issue one tends to have with the new Destination Islands; they are minimalist in approach, both in terms of appearance and information, to the point of being mere way-stations that direct people elsewhere in SL without doing anything to help them understand where they are or what they might be doing.

How much better might it be if, rather than trying to deal with the “new user experience” without actually addressing it, LL were to seek to collaborate with the user community to provide a means by which new users entering Second Life for the first time are faced with an immersive, engaging experience that helps them understand the basic mechanisms in using the Viewer and the nuances of performing basic tasks SL before passing on elsewhere.

via New users: the shared experience | Living in the Modem World

Daniel Voyager also has a bunch of images up from his recent exploration of the new Destination Islands.

Very quickly it was pointed out that these collaborative entry points were once called Community Gateways, and some still exist and are continuously being updated (such as the excellent Caledon Oxbridge Gateway). I spend a fair amount of time there (I still take classes there to brush on skills I skimped over) and had noticed how many brand new people still materialize there, even though the official Gateway link is no longer on the Second Life sign up page.

Of course, if people interested are given a heads-up, or Google for “Caledon Oxbridge” and follow a Maps/Second Life link, they get this:

As described at a website for virtual-worlds educators,

As I mentioned in the conference call, here is the URL for a good orientation in Second Life (SL) using the new viewer: . Just open the web page, then click on “Join Now, it’s free!” and follow the instructions for creating an account and avatar for Second Life. Once you’ve downloaded the viewer, your avatar should rez (materialize) at the Caledon Oxbridge Orientation Area. I suggest you go through the orientation presented, reading all of the signs and completing all of the activities. It should take one-two hours. As you complete the orientation, you’ll find some free stuff you can take for your avatar.

The original poster there helpfully gives his SL avatar name and invites anyone who cares to try Second Life to send him an IM so that he can “friend” them, thus immediately personalizing their experience (just as soon as they can figure out HOW to send an IM, that is). This must be why so many new people found their way to Caledon Oxbridge, sometimes only moments old, even after the Gateway link was removed.

I checked the SLurl, and the Join Now link is still there. So anyone joining via that link, downloading and entering MAY be taken to Caledon Oxbridge, or at least they were before these new Destination Islands came on. Will it still work? Someone would have to try it and see.

Riven Homewood (/me waves HI!) noted how some educators from the recent VWBPE conference (also covered by Daniel Voyager recently) were given a “noob’s whirlwind tour” of Worlds of Warfare that she describes as “awesome.” When you consider WoW’s retention compared to Second Life’s retention, well, there could be a reason for that aside from weapons and armor and mayhem.

Trinity Dejavu hit it on the head though – no matter how the new Welcome Area or Destination Island is designed, “on your first day, SL is SOCIAL.”

Ironically, my author friend never came back to try Second Life for fun after his appearance; part of it was that he just did not have the time, although I pointed out he could do more book chats and reach people in places he’d never get to via conventional real-world travel. Underpowered hardware and Internet access was a factor, too.

The main part of it, even with all the extra help and friendly welcome he received was that Second Life was just too hard to grasp quickly, even with a friend. We did our best to put him in an immersive, familiar space (an author appearance) but he still found it difficult to take in.

Keith Thomson appearance March 13 2010 in Lackamas Hall, Pini

Lackamas Hall - KeithThomson SecretSpy speaks

Everybody was very well behaved, and several wore their T-shirts in support of the book, Once A Spy (Keith has since published Twice A Spy).

Was it the bunneh?

Bunneh looks for a suitable seat at the author reading

Bunneh looks for seat

No, he thought she was cute; that was about when he started to run out of things to say about his book and started to take in his surroundings.

Scripting Your World author Vex Street shows up to support a fellow writer

Scripting Your World author Vex Street shows up to support a fellow writer

Then Vex Streeter showed up in his Na’Vi incarnation – he’s a published author too (of Scripting Your World).

Maybe Keith was intimidated by Vex’s script writing chops, or by his sculpted blue abs; either way, he hasn’t returned (although I’d love to get him back inworld anytime he wants to do another book thing, I know there’s a lot of literary events).


Second Life: The First Hour Should Be Shared With A Friend Or They’re Never Coming Back — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: WHAT IS THIS CRAP? » At sixes and sevens with you….

  2. I should point out (again) I’m aware of the Community Gateway programme – and the fact the LL pulled the plug on it to a great degree (and am regretting the fact I removed a section of the post dealing with the programme as I felt it off-topic to the subject of Destination Islands).

    The point of my article was really that it seemed like the DI approach was potentially a missed opportunity for engagement – or perhaps I should say re-engagement – between LL and the community, particularly as it appears the DI regions are LL’s own, so financial exposure for those involved is removed. Given the process suggested is either a competition or RFP approach, it also means those who do feel themselves burned as a result of the Community Gateway programme can simply avoid responding if they are more comfortable.

    The real irony is that after running the article, it now appears that the Destination Islands are a collaboration between LL and at least one user – but it’s been set-up on the QT, and details aren’t available for dissemination….

  3. Yes, the comments went up so fast on your excellent post that most of the good stuff had already been said by the time I got mine up. Thank you for the clarification, I figured you were perfectly aware of the former Gateway program. It will be interesting to see how the new Destination Islands progress now that it appears there’s some background work being done. Until then, I feel more than a little sorry for new users and hope they land on their feet somewhere good. It would still be better if they had someone to greet them on the other side (ACK. Sounds like somebody died or something).

    I’d still like to know if someone signing up via a specific SLurl (in my preferred scenario, via the Oxbridge link) end up at that point after going through the current process.

  4. Pingback: Destination … Unknown « Prim Perfect

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