It was four years ago this month in which I started writing about the Grid as a Second Life reporter. It had been just weeks since my time as a newcomer had come to an end, having taken a greater interest in the virtual world, logging on more frequently, finding a hangout and making friends, and ditching the newbie ringtail in favor of the Lusk red foxboy. I wanted to learn more, so began searching the ‘net for websites related to Second Life. It was this search that led me to Second Life Newspaper, run by founder JamesT Juno and Editor Dana Vanmoer, and began reading it daily. I took pride in keeping up with real-life news, so felt keeping up with it here would only help.
In October 2007, I came across a notice calling for “Reader Submitted” articles and pictures. I responded by sending some amusing screenshots along with noteworthy personal accounts. It wasn’t long before James and Dana called me to their office for an interview, and offered me a job. Needless to say, it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I would do more than just read the news, I would take part in reporting it.
And the rest, as they say, is history. With my first payment, got a trenchcoat and hat to look the part of a “Fox Reporter,” standing out in the SL Newspaper staff. I continued to produce at least one article a week, along with at least one picture for a cartoon, which added a little humor to the paper. Although some writers specialize in one field, such as music, I preferred to cover a variety of topics, reporting on the various people, places, and events across Second Life. Sadly, real life caught up with James and Dana, and SL Newspaper closed. In response, Second Life Newser was created for most of the remaining staff to keep reporting on the news. But I now had a new role: editor.
Second Life has changed quite a bit since I began writing on it. Back then, it was still somewhat new, and it was being talked about warmly. In the BBC News website at the time, one reporter was describing his experiences of creating an avatar, getting past Help Island, and going about the Grid. Politicians such as Newt Gingrich appeared via an avatar to make a speech before residents. It even made network TV a few times, most notably in an episode of CSI that was a cooperation with Second Life. Viewers saw the police track down a killer in the virtual world, and on the grid residents got a chance to play a CSI game. Companies from Honda, to Circuit City, and most notably IBM appeared on the Grid.
As the years went by, Second Life didn’t make real-life news so much. It has gotten a little attention for veterans getting help there recently. But unfortunately people seem to know of it more through someone getting in trouble through a love affair on the Grid. Talking about it with real-life friends and co-workers, most have a hard time understanding what it is. One guy kept calling it a “porn site.” Another I talked to was interested only in it’s seedier aspects. People have been much more familiar with World of Warcraft, and especially Facebook.
My own personal experiences in Second Life have also changed over time. When first writing about the Grid, I had only recently found a couple hangouts and a group of friends. Over time, I’ve lived in a few estates, taken part in a few communities, become part of a combat RP, helping run a few virtual clubs, taken part in the Relay for Life, and gotten to know many friends and talented individuals. People like Pooky Amsterdam and Delinda Dyrssen have made a name for themselves showing what one can do with Second Life. Other talented individuals, such as Lomgren Smalls and Alleara Snoodle, prefer to work more quietly behind the scenes, such as at eh Relay for Life.
And of course there’s the people I’ve been writing with. I’ve had a number of interesting people I worked alongside with at SL Newspaper, some of whom I had the fortune of joining up with me at the Newser such as Gemma Cleanslate and Grey Lupindo. I’ve had a number of interesting people on the team along the way, and more recent arrivals such as Netera Landar and Xymbers Slade show there are still more people interested in writing about the Grid.
Writing about Second Life has been no small challenge, but it’s been an experience well worth it. And I’ll continue for as long as I can.