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So what is Second Life? It's not a game, as it has no real purpose, or goals. I think of it in two ways, firstly as IRC in 3D, and secondly as a creative outlet. If you're unfamiliar with IRC, it is basically a protocol for chat. Upon connecting to any number of IRC servers, you would join a chat room, usually based around the topic or name, and talk to people about that topic. In Second Life, you can talk to anyone in your vicinity, in the same way you can in a chat room. Groups of people huddled together talking about a topic, are not uncommon. Just like IRC, you might meet in the same places every night to see regular people, and you might hunt out different locations, to chat about different topics.
One such place I frequented was a typical English pub called The Three Lions, where just like a real pub I saw the same faces time and time again while we listened to 80's music. I also stopped by a rock club, called Sanctuary Rock where people were very friendly – if a little odd looking. One night, the DJ was taking requests - often when I make requests in real clubs, I get strange looks as I suggest bands they have never heard of. This DJ went out of his way to download the songs I specified and played them! I'm unsure of the legality of this, but having uncommon requests getting played in any club always puts a smile on my face.
This is just one example of how strong the community spirit is in Second Life. After adjusting my initial look (which changes two or three times throughout this article), I ventured towards the Holly Kai Golf Club. This is the first Golf Club in Second Life, and I was really impressed. For L$150 (Linden dollars), which is around 50 cents, I played golf for 30 minutes. Afterwards, the very friendly woman who was showing me around the course, gave me a bicycle after I told her about my love for cycling. It was very basic, but a great start.
Objects in Second Life have certain properties that stop people from modifying or copying them. These are useful if as a creator you don't want people to change or make profit from your creation. However, many objects are completely free and can be copied as many times as you'd like. If you hunt around, you'll find you can get a free version of almost anything – from houses and cars, to clothing and body parts.
Wandering around with my bike certainly caught people's attention – especially when you are dancing in a club with it still attached to your pelvis. However, this “Safety Bicycle” was little more than a show piece with no real use. By wearing my bike out and about though, someone noticed it and gave me a copy of a BMX they happened to have. This had scripting behind it, to allow for a number of basic tricks such as back flips, G-turns and rear wheel spins.
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