Community Gateways set for a return to Second Life

I hope this works out. I’m convinced that having people help new users understand how things work in SL is essential to retaining them.

Inara Pey: Living in a Modemworld

secondlifeDuring the SL12B “Meet the Lindens” presentations, mention was made a number of times about the new user on-boarding process, and steps the Lab are and would be taking to try to improve the overall experience for those signing-up to Second Life.

There were two aspects mentioned during the talks which piqued my interest. One of them was the Lab’s use of new web landing pages – something I’ll be discussing with Peter Gray, the Lab’s director of global Communications, in an upcoming article.  The other was the potential return of the Community Gateway Programme.

For those unfamiliar with the latter, at one time the Lab ran a programme which allowed communities to connect to the Second Life registration pathway, enabling them to steer incoming users directly to their own orientation / support environment, and thus provide them with assistance and hands-on support in getting started in SL. The programme…

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Limited Views of Second Life

Image Source:  kittycats.biz
Image Source: kittycats.biz

A couple of months ago, I came across an article on Business Insider about Second Life.  The author seemed to surprised to find Second Life was still around, and spent some time exploring.  She had a ‘guide’ – a resident who took her around and showed her some of the things she does in SL.  You can read the original article here.

The reaction to the article from SL residents was mostly negative.  It was argued that her experience with SL was limited, and that she missed out on much of what makes SL ‘great.’  I, too, would argue that the author’s experience was not ‘typical.’  It’s certainly not how I spend my time in SL.  However, I haven’t been a ‘new user’ in quite some time, so perhaps it is my view that needs expanding.

I began to wonder – how do others spend their time in SL?  If you’re a dancer, you spent a lot of your time choreographing, building, and performing.  But what about the rest of the time?  Where do you go?  What do you do?  If you log into SL for an evening of ‘fun,’ what does that look like for you?

Do you wander around beautiful sims taking photographs?  Do you go sailing?  Flying?  Scuba diving?  Do you roleplay?  Do you have a regular group of friends you spend time with or do you spend most of your time in-world alone?

As I was writing this, I came across another article discussing how ‘Adult’ sims have proliferated in SL and questioning how (or if) LL plans to address this issue in their ‘next gen’ platform (or SL2.0, as many refer to it).  Read the original article here.  Be sure to read the comments – they are interesting as well.

It’s worth noting that not all ‘adult’ rated sims exist solely for the purpose of porn/sex.  I’ve been to several dance shows which were located on adult sims (because there was nudity in the show).  However, I wasn’t tripping over people obliviously humping one another in the streets. To those of us who spend our time in SL doing many other things besides cybersex, this assumption seems strange indeed.  It is yet another limited view of SL.

SL has a lot of different communities doing a lot of different things.  I asked in a previous post what the dance community could do to encourage new people to visit and stay.  What do other communities (like RP, tiny, etc.) do to attract new people?

Chime in and let me know what else there is to do in SL.  I’m constantly on the lookout for new experiences.  I’ve never been scuba-diving or sailing or . . .  Show (and/or tell) me what I’m missing!

 

 

Attracting New People

Get Up & Dance!  Image source: virtualneko.com
Get Up & Dance! Image source: virtualneko.com

I came across an interesting article on Virtual Outworlding – Bringing People into Virtual Worlds–We Are Doing It Backwards.  The article is meant to be commentary on the seeming failure of virtual worlds (like Second Life) to bring in new people and keep them coming back.  It’s the second part that seems to get missed.  So, I began to wonder – what do newcomers to the dance community experience?  And how could it be better?  What could I do to help build the dance community?

Dance in SL has changed a lot from when I first came into SL.  Back then (in the good ‘ol days, right?), there were tons of places to go dancing or to watch dancers perform (besides sex/strip clubs).  It seemed like there was a new dance venue opening every week.  Not these days.

Why?  Lots of reasons, I am sure.  Dancing is not an inexpensive proposition in SL.  If you want to perform, there are lots of things you need to know and lots of things you need to buy.  When I first joined a dance troupe, I showed up, perhaps bought an outfit or two, sat on a marker, and let the choreographer do all the work.  And I had fun.  But soon, I wanted do more.  I wanted to choreograph my own routines.  So, I bought a dance HUD.  A cheap one.  And I bought dance animations – transfer ones, because those were cheaper.

I began to choreograph.  Badly, at first.  So I looked around and found people who were offering classes on dancing using a HUD.  I learned the difference between freestyle and sequenced dancing.  I learned about transitions between animations (and how to do them well).  I bought a different HUD – a more expensive one that would let me sequence my routines.  I bought more dance animations – this time the more expensive copyable versions.

I loved performing.  Still do.  But then, I needed to start learning how to build sets.  Sounds easy, right?  Just throw a few props on stage, or a cool backdrop, and off you went.  I started looking around for other places to dance – places where I would have more creative freedom in my routines.  Back then, dancers generally performed at only one venue.  Nowadays, you’ll see the same performer at 5 or 6 different venues.

I found another troupe.  I learned more.  I learned more about building.  I learned about set rezzers.  I discovered newer, better dance HUDs.  I learned about lighting.  I learned about particles and other effects.  That troupe disbanded; I found another.  I began going to different shows around the grid, meeting people, joining groups, and trying to soak in everything I could about how to be a better dancer.  Along the way, I invested more and more Lindens into dance animations, better HUDs, the newest tools.

But if I came into SL right now and wanted to explore the dance scene?  Wanted to become a performer?  I think I would be overwhelmed.  Unless you are independently wealthy (a possibility that gets more and more remote by the day where I live), becoming a performer (or opening a new dance venue) and being successful seems nigh impossible.

So what is available in the dance community to help new dancers enter the world of dance in SL – and stay?  There are tons of nice people who are willing to help.  Lots of them, however, are so busy with their own projects that their time is limited.  There are hundreds of places in SL to take classes to learn various skills.  However, many times the class times are inconvenient and/or not that helpful specifically to dance.

So, would-be dancers, what do you want to see in SL to help you become a (better) performer?  Venue owners – what would you like new (or experienced) dancers to know/be able to do?  Audience members – what would you like to see when you go to a performance?

I’ll be publishing additional posts about these questions, but I would love input from everyone involved in dance in SL, including dancers, choreographers, venue owners, animation makers, HUD makers, and audience members.  Bend my ear, tell me your story, put in your two cents, share your opinions!  Find me here, on Twitter, on Google+, or in-world.