*Trapped* in Second Life

I finally took a few hours to explore Second Life, about which I’ve attended many conference sessions over the last several months. I have learned that innovative instructors teach classes in this virtual world, and are turning it into a true VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). There are spaces like EduIsland, and people like Corwin Carillon (Nick Noakes‘ “in world” name) and Lyr Lobo (Cynthia Calongne) from New Media Consortium. Colleges are recreated entire campuses in SL, complete with student services.

So I wanted to get in and look around. Keep in mind I am NOT a gamer! I don’t even like games. The learning curve was high for me, since I am not at all attuned to virtual 3-D environments. A few weeks ago, I needed help from other people just to get my avatar looking like me (yes, other people walk around with tails and fox ears, but I wanted to be me — Lane is a last name in SL, so I got to be LisaM Lane). Yesterday I went to the NMC campus in SL to look around. It was a TRIP.

It was a combination of being a baby with a big brain, and taking some sort of drug where you’re not sure of the side effects. I had to learn how to walk, and turn my head, even after I went through the orientation. I fell down stairs, I learned to fly, I went parachuting without a parachute.

But then, I went into a building, to a meeting room, and managed to sit down in a chair (you right-click on the chair and click “Sit here” on the menu). When I tried to get up (“Stand up”), I got stuck in the chair. My legs were embedded in the seat and I could not moved forward or backward. It took me ten minutes, and finally I got out by sitting somewhere else.

How embarrassing! No one was in the room, thank goodness. Can you imagine me going into SL to meet like-minded tech-savvy professionals and getting STUCK IN A CHAIR? What if I had done what I read you must never do (choose “Take off…” thinking you will fly and accidentally click “clothing”, making you naked)? I would be in a professional environment, with professional colleagues, naked and stuck inside the furniture. Oh, the humiliation….

I did manage to do other things, like lie on the beach, jet ski, and ride a shark. These thrills did not erase the experience of being stuck in the chair, or of walking into walls, or zig-zagging up a staircase like my avatar was drunk, or sitting down in a boat only to have it instantly sink. I don’t know yet how to change clothes or find a class to take (or maybe I should say, “sit in on”!).

I felt like Alice through the looking class, but thanked my lucky stars there was no White Queen there, with her shawl flying and telling me, “Dear, you really should get out of that chair — you look quite foolish.” Of course, she claimed to be able to do six impossible things before breakfast. Maybe I can too.