Normally, I pay more attention to when my virtual career as an online
journalist began. But this month marked a certain
milestone: the anniversary of when I came into Second Life, or
"Rezzday." It was fifteen years ago when I first stepped into Second Life.
I had gotten my start into going online with America Online, and stuck
with them for a long time, partially because of the easy to remember
email address I had. This meant that I was stuck with dial-up. Some
online friends were starting to talk about online gaming, notably "World
of Warcraft." But one mentioned a place known as Second Life, a virtual
world that allowed one to build all kinds of places there. And also to
design one's own avatar. My friend would show me the screenshots of
their avatar: an anthro lioness whom was dressed up in everything from a
Victorian dress to a harem girl outfit.
Finally I signed up with a fast speed service that allowed me to keep my
existing email address. I could finally check out the two places my
friends were talking about so much. In World of Warcraft, I joined two
friends there with Horde accounts, setting up a Tauren druid. But I also
decided to give Second Life a try. So on December 17, 2006, I went to
secondlife.com, downloaded the client software for the computer I had,
then set up an account.
decisions I had were the name and the starting appearance. Thinking a
bit, I remembered a favorite character from the roleplaying games I did
with real-life friends: Bixyl. "Shuftan" was close to the old
character's last name, so that's what I used. As for appearance, there
were several styles of clothes and hair style and color among several
human avatars, and one non-human avatar: the "Furry." As a
science-fiction nut, I close the latter.
And with that, I turned the viewer on, pressed the button to log in, and
what I saw was a sea of gray and shapes. As the seconds ticked on, the
shapes gradually took form and slowly went from grey to color. My avatar
took shape before me, and I saw I was on a piece of land with grass,
trees, and signs and walkways. The sign near me had blurry words for a
while, but after some moments they became clear, "Welcome to Orientation
Island," with an arrow showing which way to proceed. Taking a look at
the controls, I found those for movement, then for sound and music. The
music button when pressed, I began hearing smooth gentle background
music, as if in an elevator, with the occasional line, "If you open up
your mind, you can build a whole new wor-ld."
Progress through the beginners course was slow. I didn't know the term
"lag" at the time, though I was thinking molasses. I came across
directions on avatar appearance, chatting, and others, but walking from
point to point was slow, taking some minutes, and the viewer was prone
to crashing. There were others on the course. Some stuck around long
enough to rezz, others remained gray as they walked on ahead of me. At
one point, events in real life needed my attention, and I had to turn
off the viewer for a while. But I would later return to finish things.
Eventually I would finish the course, but it took me a while, probably
over two hours to cover the amount of territory the same place would
take just five minutes to cover when I did a few days ago to take the
pictures for this article. There was a teleport to Help Island at the
end. But I didn't linger there for additional directions. I went out to
explore a few random locations.
A couple days later, my friend and I chatted briefly in an AOL chatroom
and we decided to meet up inworld. After I logged in, she
Instant-messaged me there, and explaining what a teleport request was,
sent me one. Meeting up, she explained a few things and showed me more
pictures of scenes acrosss Second Life, the most memorable was of a
prank a busty girl played on a guy whom was slouched forward from being
away-from-keyboard. She also gave me a thousand Linden dollars to get
another avatar later on, "It's no big deal getting a buddy a four dollar
cheeseburger in real life." Among the things she herself was proud of
was finding a niche in the Second Life clothing market, Victorian
dresses, and being able to take full advantage of it. She was making the
equivalent of several hundred real dollars a year, after virtual land
rental and other expenses. Not enough to quit her day job, but a nice
Soon after, my friend would tell me she'd gotten a position of
leadership in her home community. So that meant less time for us to
chat. I didn't know anyone else here, and my friends in World of
Warcraft had no such distractions. So for a few months I didn't get on
Second Life much, having fun with my friends in the Massive Multiplayer
Online Game. The objectives there were more easily defined, and my
friends there were often around to chat with and often meet up with for
So what would have better kept my attention here in these early days?
More friends for one. But I wasn't sure what to do as random exploring
was just showing garishly-decorated residential areas. If I had done an
Internet search for Second Life websites, it hadn't resulted in anything
at the time. There was no Destination Guide of interesting places.
Hamlet Au would later invite readers to give their own newcomer
Several months later, my Second Life friend would get my attention
again. The Relay for Life was having their "Relay Walk" with lots of
things to see. So I went over, and was impressed with the exhibits I was
seeing. I think I saw some of the enthusiasm for the event as well.
My interest once again piqued, I began to look up more about the virtual
world after the Relay Weekend was over. I found out about Luskwood, and
headed there. The place being a bustling area of people after many sims
of little but quiet, it took me a little time to get the gist of how
people interacted. But it became my first real hangout in the virtual
world, hearing about other places to explore.
Although I had gotten a bushier tail, I was still wearing the starter
avatar. Not having a steady income in Second Life, and not wanting to
put money in yet, I felt I had to be careful, feeling what I chose would
be my appearance for a long time. After a great deal of thought, I
settled on the Luskwood Red Fox as my appearance, buying the avatar at
After having had the starter furry for months, it felt like I had
finally shed my "baby fur." The Lusk Fox would remain my everyday look until recently, despite
suggestions over the years that I get a more recently made one. I've
sometimes commented, "several weeks of thought, several years of use."
In October, I caught a lucky break, winning several thousand Linden
dollars at a Luskwood anniversary party. With this windfall, I got a
second avatar for Halloween: vampire bat. It was fun flying around, but
after a while it was back to foxy.
Meeting up with people at Luskwood, I made friends as Lomgren Smalls,
Caelia Bailey, Hervy, and Kara Nakamori. Lomgren and Caelia, the latter
under another name, I would stay friends with to this day. Kara and I
would become close friends for the next several months. She would
introduce me to another group of friends, notably Blarion and Keli, whom
hung around at a less populated, and less laggy place: the Student
Travel Association sims, or STA. My adventures with Kara can be read
about in their own article written in March 2011.
Looking up websites about Second Life, I eventually came across the
Second Life Newspaper. They asked for Reader Submissions, and giving
them a few, I was offered a job there. I was thrilled and happy. I now
had a steady income doing something I liked, writing, and an office as
So one year later, December 2007, I was doing pretty good. I had a
circle of friends, a steady income, and a couple places to hang out.
Life, or in this case virtual life, was good.
Since then, quite a bit has happened. Much of it has been documented in
my stories for the Second Life. I would end up living or hanging out a few communities before ending up at the Sunweavers in Spring 2010, and a few months later going from writing for the Second Life Newspaper to Second Life Newser. Some things however have been given little or no
attention in my writings. Sometimes I go about exploring, and other times I'm just relaxing with friends. I've met many new friends. Sadly, I've had to say goodbye to a number. Such is life, virtual and otherwise.
People come here for different reasons, to see the creations others have
made, to roleplay in a way simple tabletop gaming doesn't allow, for
music and art, to interact with other creative souls like themselves,
and more. The result has been a virtual world unlike any other place
online. While some individuals have had their time here and departed,
others have been coming here to take their place. Perhaps the day-old
newcomer you come across today will a year later be a highly successful
fashionista, live musician, Relay for Life team leader, or maybe online
It's your, and my, Second Life. Let's make the most of each of ours.
"If you open up your mind, you can build a whole new wor-ld."
Reprinted (mostly) from 2015 article