Second Life Frustration: Video Tutorials, Please?

Confused
My current Second Life Avatar, with neither a name nor appearance she likes, is thoroughly confused by this environment.

Since Second Life, the virtual online world populated with avatars and live events, has become so popular, I decided I should check it out. It seems a natural fit with my work in conversational media, because conversation and interaction are reported to be the lifeblood of that "world."

I’m just getting started, but so far I’m pretty frustrated.

Here’s the issue: I’m not a gamer. That is, I’m not into video games, multi-player or otherwise. I never have been. I never cared for role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons either. It’s just not my thing.

Therefore, I don’t tend to naturally enjoy the process of learning how to navigate a virtual environment. That’s not fun for me, it’s drudgery….

When a newbie lands in Second Life, you do have access to a help system that offers detailed instructions on how to move around, talk to people, get information about what you’re looking at, edit your avatar’s appearance, etc.

The trouble is, those instructions are — at least from my perspective — overwhelming, tedious, and daunting. I really, really don’t want to have to plow through that volume of material just to learn how to get around in that environment.

One thing that surprised me is that I couldn’t find any video tutorials on things like taking your first steps in Second Life. Maybe I missed it, but that sort of help should be available and very obvious from the moment a newbie lands in-world. But I couldn’t find it — and neither could a friend of mine who’s an avid Second Life user.

It just seems to me that video tutorials  — and perhaps some basic games to help you learn and practice skills like walking and talking — would go a long way to making Second Life more friendly to non-gamers like me.

What do you think? Have I missed some very basic helpful resources on Second Life basics that don’t require plowing through volumes of text? Please comment below.

18 thoughts on Second Life Frustration: Video Tutorials, Please?

  1. Amy, There was a great webinar intro to Second Life yesterday, given by the marketing Profs folks. I believe that, for a fee, you can still access it.

    I’m in 100% agreement that it takes too much time to figure out how to use SL. Till it’s easier, or better supported, or both — its potential is limited. How much time does anyone want to spend learning how to use it?

    That said — SL is a harbinger of things to come communications-wise.

    Best, Nancy

    PS More here on an interesting SL model

  2. Alan wrote: “Itâ��s not about learning by watching videos or reading manuals; Second Life is learned to some degree like First Life, via time, patience, and experience.”

    …And I guess that’s just the problem here. I don’t have the patience for such a steep learning curve at this time.

    But I don’t see why there aren’t more tools to make that environment easier to learn. It certainly *could* be much easier to learn, and it probably should be, IMHO

    Anyway, I’ll probably set 2L aside for now. I’ve got enough going on in my life. I thought this would be fun and engaging and educational, but it’s not worth frustration. I’ll just wait until it gets easier to use.

    - Amy Gahran

  3. Amy…I’ve also found myself wickedly frustrated and asking myself “so what?” and “who cares?” about Second Life.

    Clay Shirky wrote this critique of Second Life, which I found in this insightful entry on Henry Jenkins’ blog

    One of Shirky’s main points, and one I have seen since I started following the unfolding of Second Life is they hype around it poured on by some very influential folks–who appear to have invested quite a bit of time and money into it. Which, to me, is usually a red flag that someone’s wanting me to get involved in something for a perhaps less-than-altruistic reason. Furthermore, I’ve been very struck by the number of influential marketers who’ve been touting Second Life. When so many businesses (including journalism) are still having trouble understanding why they need to be interactive at all, I don’t think insisitng they need to build kitscky avatars is going to help…

    I also keep thinking of some experiments Andy Carvin’s done at various times, and some of the things others have found–that people will often socialize with those that are not of certain ethinic bacgrounds and that they rarely socialize with avatars they do not know…as well as bit of creepiness Nick Carr writes about…

    And the fact that you need seriously good broadband to use the thing. Not everybody has that kind of broadband.

    Personally, I was put off when, as my avatar was manifesting, some young male avatar was observing me. Who was this avatar, I don’t know….he never identified himself as friendly or helpful, and his leering it creeped me out.

  4. Its a guide I wrote on making money in SL…it’s more gearing towards money making but it does touch on all the things you can do in SL. Might be helpful.

  5. Hi

    Yeah, I agree. I´m a newbie, I have found video tutorials bout haven´t found out HOW to get into SL yet?
    Duh…

    Sanna

  6. I c an understand what tish writes. That you end up thinking “who cares?” or “what the h*** should i do now?”. And this is understandable. When you sit down and “play” something on your computer, you want to have a goal. Which isnt the easiest part about sl. But.. how easy can it be? You press eaither arrows, or the “w, a, s, d” keys to walk. And you pres enter, then type, and Esc, to finish. Video tutorials? No company in the world would put time or money into making video tutorials when its still fairly easy to get started. There’s already helper islands, and welcome areas in SL. Where loads of community people are ready to help. Dont get me wrong, im not trying to ditch anybody. If you feel its to much, then thats what you feel. Im just saying that, SL is a quite complex game? sure. But it also offers a great deal of help to new players already. Does it require some basic skills in playing 3d games? maybe.. yeah, probably. Will the company make videotutorials that shows how to play a 3d game? not a chance. I think you have to turn to the community of sl for that. Dont know if you’ll find it, but that would be your best shot. Maybe you find something on youtube. Otherwise, try playing it one more time, and hangout in the welcome areas. I’ve helped atleast a couple of new guys and gals myself, and i know there are more people that are willing to help.

    In short, dont get hooked on this video tutorial thing, because that is a long shot i belive. Go play SL some more :) And hopefully you find someone to talk to, that im sure will help you out.

  7. amy – i know exactly what you mean. for some reason i’m stuck on Orientation Island – it doesn’t seem to work properly (won’t award stars even though i’ve done EVERYTHING) so i’m stuck here – and it’s a pretty dull place to be!

    like you i’m not a gamer and maybe i’m missing something soooo obvious, but this is just tedious – and there don’t seem to be any clues or tutorials that help you at this very early stage.

    and while i waste my time hanging around this nowheresville, i have some some pretty wierd behaviour from some slightly creepy people.

    it does make you wonder whether this isn’t all geek and corporate hype. for example, how did you get anyone get introduced to SL? did a good friend, whose opinion you respect tell you how good it was, or did you read about it in the media – possibly in an article talking about how many brands and corporations had established a presence there?

    hmmmmn.

  8. Honestly a video tutorial is the LAST way I would want to learn about anything unless it was accompanied by the same information in a written format which could be saved to a text file and gone over at your leisure even if you were not online or at the least not running the SL program itself. A session of watching one of the few tutorials out there as a video while trying to keep notes I could refer to when I was actually using the program is an exercise in further frustration, requiring a lot of stopping the video and furiously typing what I had found or having to slide the bar back to a point where I had seen or heard something I needed to remember. Not to mention just plain understanding someone’s manner of speech and the absolutely juvenile presentation and attitude of some of the makers. At least the written word is pretty much “unaccented” and decipherable.

    It should be noted that one of the major issues in using SL, that being getting around in the sims, walking and flying most specifically, has not been covered by any tutorial I have found yet. Nor is there any explaination as to why typing is so jerky and slow in this chat interface and what you can do to help counter this, why you have to make your “home” landmark either land you own or a teleport center, why they have History and IM windows cover up part of the chat interface when it is critical that you see things like where your av is moving and what or who is around you and what is being said, why there is no user list which would show who is present and perhaps even where, why they chose to put the landmarks list inside a window that only shows up after you have teleported to your initial default destination and why on the maps which take a horribly long time to load, there are simply general outlines of areas and no place names among other things.

    These are critical chat interface issues for the end users some of which are spending quite a bit of real money to use SL and I do not buy that SL cannot provide a decent how to manual in text format which would address them in one place and even though I prefer a text format guide of some sort, I don’t even buy that they can’t make available a series of clear, adult language and atittude videos which would explain all of the things which you need to simply make the program work for you. Almost every single other program out there has an in program help guide even if the program itself is freeware. Why can’t SL? Expecting the people who use the program to contribute their own “help files” is ludicrous in the extreme. How can you “help” someone with an issue if you also need a help guide on the basics? Oh wait, that’s right, they just came out with a real world book which supposedly addresses the how to’s of SL that you can BUY. Mystery solved.

  9. Good points about accompanying text, DarkStorm

    I find that video tutorials are especially helpful if they are chaptered in some fashion — either split into separate videos by topic and sub-topic, or bookmarked for easy access. For me, that relieves the burden of note-taking

    Also, people have different learning styles. Not everyone who learns well visually prefers to also have text, or to take notes. But for such a strongly visual tool like SL, a video tutorial would probably be a good starting point.

    Apparently now there are several books available on Second Life:
    - http://snipurl.com/1p852

    - Amy Gahran

  10. Is there anywhere I can go for advice on optimum settings on my computer for Second Life to work properly ??? How fast does my broadband have to be ??? If anyone could help I’d be very grateful. I’m sick of crashing everytime I try to move!!!

  11. Pingback: Man with no blog - » Taking Second Life to the Masses

  12. I’ve been wandering around in SL for a little over a week. I do think some of this is more frustrating and difficult than it needs to be. (Hey, they could use some Apple programmers — folks who already know how to do things the easy way.)

    But it didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things. I approached it the same way I approach other things (like learning PhotoShop): “what happens if I do this? what happens if I do that?”

    Click here. What happens?

    Double click there. What happens?

    Right click here…etc.

    I don’t go to manuals or tutorials unless there’s something I want to do and I repeatedly try what should be obvious and it doesn’t work that way.

    I spent some time being lost. Same way I go about learning a new city: purposely getting lost then finding my way back.

    What helped is that I met someone early on who told me about his favorite hangouts.

    Of course, it does take time. It’s not something you can just spend a few minutes at and voila, there you are.

    But there are rewards.

    Here’s a funny story about how SL (second life) affected my RL (real life) in a positive way:

    There’s a place called “Open Latte,” — a coffee house my guide introduced me to.

    Anyway, I’ve been hanging out at Open Latte a lot. Had/listened in on some interesting conversations. Some not so.

    Friday I decided it might be fun to hang out at my favorite RL coffee house (Spot) while also hanging out at Open Latte (SL).

    So I go to (RL) Spot and take a table next to a guy who looks really interesting. He smiles at me. I smile back of course. Go get my protein shake & sit back down. He smiles again. I smile back.

    But see, I’m just not the sort who will go up to a guy and say hi. Not in RL. In SL, yes. But in RL I’m kinda shy about those things.

    So I “teleport” to Open Latte and start having a conversation with the folks sitting around the fireplace. And I tell them there’s an interesting looking guy sitting next to me at the next RL table, but I’m too shy to introduce myself.

    Anyway, they all encourage me. “Go for it!” they say. We are chatting about this when he looks over at me again. I giggle. Because I’m writing about him at that very minute.

    Ok what the hell.

    I tell everyone at Open Latte I’ll BRB. And I go over to the guy’s table and say “Hi, I’m Georgia. I was just writing about you.”

    He laughs. R. and I start having a RL conversation, getting to know each other.

    Eventually I tell him about Second Life and start showing him the conversation folks are having. I butt in and I tell the SL folks I did in fact meet the RL guy and we are both “there” at Open Latte listening in. And I thanked everyone for encouraging me.

    One of the SL guys says, “So, R., are you two going on a date?”

    R. writes back, “of course.”

    Now, this hadn’t even been a subject of conversation until then.

    At this point the two of us are laughing like crazy, and everyone in the vicinity at Spot is noticing us.

    Anyway, long story short…R. and I went RL dancing Saturday night.

    On a more negative note: I did meet a very creepy guy who wanted to teleport me to a nasty place (there’s lots of cybersex, very VISUAL cybersex, in SL). But unlike RL I could easily get away from him by teleporting myself elsewhere. Or completely quitting out of SL.

    BTW, I haven’t spent a single RL penny to do any of this. And I’m not a video game player.

    Of course, my learning style — jump in and experiment — is very well suited to this environment; whereas folks who need orientation first are at a distinct disadvantage.

  13. Responding to some of DarkStorm’s questions about Second Life…

    It should be noted that one of the major issues in using SL, that being getting around in the sims, walking and flying most specifically, has not been covered by any tutorial I have found yet.
    ******
    That’s because it’s easy. To walk you use your arrow keys. To fly you click on “fly” and use the arrow keys. To stop flying you click on “stop flying.”
    ************
    Nor is there any explaination as to why typing is so jerky and slow in this chat interface and what you can do to help counter this,
    ******
    If your typing is jerky it’s either because your computer/internet connection is too slow or the system has too many users at once, or a server is malfunctioning. Kind of like what happens anywhere on the net. Too obvious to require explanation.
    ************
    why they have History and IM windows cover up part of the chat interface when it is critical that you see things like where your av is moving and what or who is around you and what is being said,
    ******
    You can move those windows out of the way, same way you move windows on your computer. Click, hold, drag.
    ************
    why there is no user list which would show who is present
    Because there are thousands upon thousands of users at any given moment. And because it sims the real world. Need to know who is hanging out at your fav coffee spot? Go there.

    If there are people you want to keep track of, you ask them if you can add them as a friend. If they choose to allow you to do so, you can find them by checking out “friends” in your profile.
    You can also search for people.
    ************

    why on the maps which take a horribly long time to load,
    ******
    Mine don’t take a long time to load. Perhaps it’s your computer/internet connection.
    ************
    … there are simply general outlines of areas and no place names among other things.
    ******
    That’s not true. If you scroll in (magnify — same way you would on a google map), you will get place names. You can also check to see if they are “Mature” or “PG.” And by the green dots you can see where people are.
    ************
    All of this I figured out without a manual and without spending a single penny.

    SL does assume significant computer/internet experience, as well as willingness and time to experiment. No question about that.

  14. Its a guide I wrote on making money in SL…it’s more gearing towards money making but it does touch on all the things you can do in SL. Might be helpful.

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