Second Life Newbie Guides, 2016

After the Second Life boom passed, there have been fewer and fewer up-to-date posts catered for beginners. I just joined recently and it was overwhelming! Here are some useful pieces of advice and blog posts for newbies.

The 2016 newbie experience

There is an information overload for beginners starting in 2016 – I felt like I was left out of a loop that spanned 13 years.

Revenge of the strings!

SL had developed its own culture in-game (“on the grid”) and I was thrown in the deep end of it, with my only tools being an intensely unhelpful user interface and Google searches that yielded ancient blog posts.

It was a bit of a rough start, but here are a few basics for the 2016 newbie.

What is the point of Second Life?

On the surface it feels like it ought to be a MMO, but it actually functions more like social media. This means the platform itself does not give you goals; there is no level cap or a quest line to follow, no highscore leaderboards to climb. It’s a place to socialise.

Second Life Furries

Nobody hops onto Facebook or Twitter expecting boss monster fights – they join because they want to share their thoughts and connect with others.

On the grid, you can do just that. What’s more, you can do that in expansive user-built worlds of almost every description. You can do that using an avatar that allows you to tweak exactly how it looks. It’s like playing the biggest game of “imagine if…” with tens of thousands of other people.


Key information

You can’t really do anything “wrong” in Second Life, but there are definitely some things you can do to make your budding adventure on the grid easier.

  1. Pick a good username.
    You can change your display name later, but your username will still sometimes be visible alongside it, and is permanent.
  2. Don’t forget about your profile.
    Customising your avatar is a good start, but that’s not the end of it. If people see an empty profile, they may be put off from interacting with you.
  3. Know about off-site communities.
    Not 100% of SL action goes on within the grid. A lot of it is on blog and photo communities, so don’t pass up the chance to connect with residents on those platforms.
  4. Be prepared to spend $5 every now and then.
    There is no Pay 2 Win aspect to SL, but sometimes freebies just aren’t enough for what you have in mind. Furry items on the Marketplace tend to sell for lower than human counterparts, so some coffee money can go a long way.
  5. Find your fun & make friends.
    SL is no fun if you constantly feel like you’re missing the point; it’s best to find something you enjoy doing. There are so many things to try, and there’s no need to do them alone. Don’t feel pressured to find your true SL calling immediately.


Some useful resources

I have sifted through pages upon pages of links and produced this compact list of 5 useful blog posts for beginners. They are all viable for SL in 2016, but I have added dates as a reference for the curious.


  • 30 (and more) things every newbie should know before starting Second Life – Mar (2009)
    • An assortment of little pieces of advice, including how to improve your user experience, what to expect from SL, and some tips on culture & etiquette.
  • Beginner’s Guide to Second Life – Gwyneth Llewelyn (2014) – ignore the post’s timestamp. This guide was revamped for its 10 year anniversary.
    • A paragraph-based introduction to SL, explaining common SL acronyms, the money and land systems, as well as a short section on “in-game jobs”.
  • Introduction to Second Life – Strawberry Singh (2016)
    • A detailed from-scratch tutorial, from signing up to customising your avatar and photography. The material is shown in the format of video commentary.


  • Starting your Second Life – Jo Yardley (2012)
    • This is not an informational guide of how to SL, but rather an opinion piece with some remarks on newbie integration from an experienced resident.
  • Starting your Second Life is still not easy – Jo Yardley (2013)
    • A revisitation of the first article. I highly recommend giving these a read for some insight into the meta behind SL.

Explore, explore, explore

Your Second Life experience is what you make it. SL does not push content to you in the same way MMO’s or social media do – you have to consciously be proactive.

My closing advice: explore locations, events, groups, off-site communities, everything. Find something that interests you.

Kayaking...SO MUCH FUN!

Up next – the next entry will detail some of my findings about furry avatars on the SL Marketplace.

What I’m wearing…


Exact same outfit as last time! Click here to check.

Location: Insilico


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Axmur says:

    Tacking this on as a comment instead of an edit, since it’s not really related: the original URL of this post ended in “trashed” because I had accidentally deleted this post at some point!

    All fixed now, phew.


  2. Thanks for mentioning my old guide 🙂 Aye, you’re right, there are still people coming freshly to Second Life, 13 years after it has been launched. And no wonder: it’s perhaps the last social virtual world with user-generated content that is still around (granted, IMVU is almost as old, and it’s still around as well, even though it’s based on ‘rooms’ and not a contiguous world) — while we all await what Facebook will bring us (and no, the videos of the status-of-the-art aren’t really impressive… so far).


    1. Axmur says:

      And thanks to you for writing the guide up all those years ago 🙂 it was very helpful for me and, I’m sure, many others besides.

      You’re right about the niche nature of SL bringing in new people – there’s nothing else quite like it except for maybe Minecraft, and there are still differences there, too.


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