Welcome to Second Life
Welcome to Second Life, by far the most popular and well-used virtual world. I went in search of the strange and unexpected in Second Life, and I wasn't disappointed. Well, it wasn't me exactly: It was the handsome devil with the mohawk shown here, my Second Life counterpart, or avatar, Motard Putzo.
People do some strange things in the virtual world of Second Life: They build avant-garde structures and environments, they remake themselves with odd faces (or bodies, or clothing), they fly, they get stuck in walls and fall through floors, they role-play, they switch genders, they perform sex acts with other avatars (sorry, not shown here--too strange), they play pranks. They do what they can't do in real life. That's why people go.
Here are some snapshots...
'Mind the Wildlife'
Here's Second Lifer Lilith Ivory being devoured by a dimension-traveling slug with fangs. A bad way to start the day.
Manta Rays and High Heels
I came across this Second Life screen grab randomly on Flickr. Manta rays hanging around, a house that has just fallen from the sky, motion everywhere, and a woman wearing ruby-red high heels planted head-first in what looks like a green lava flow. I'm starting to like this Second Life thing.
A Walk Through the Ceiling
One day Rosie Barthelmess (silver shorts) and her SL buddy Isadora Graves (pants) were teleporting to a new place to visit some friends. But teleportation doesn't always work right. "We both ended up teleporting to the right coordinates, but we were ceiling-high and got trapped in the ceiling," Barthelmess says. "Above the spot where our legs were, our heads were sticking out of the carpet underneath a piece of furniture on the second floor." They teleported back out and tried again, with better results.
Please Don't Pet the Sea Monster
In Second Life you can walk around at the bottom of icy lakes, such as this one in Koreshan Pointe Amusement Park. That's me down there--or rather, Motard Putzo (before he got his mohawk). And, as Motard quickly found out, there's a sea monster down there, too.
Here Come the Greys
Has the apocalypse already happened in Second Life? No...it's more like the servers that run the place are just occasionally a bit slow to render avatars in full, as seen in this screen grab by Joyce Menjou.
A Funny Thing Happened at the Salon Today
Second Lifer Rosie Simca explains what happened that fateful day: "I found a neat nail salon, and thought it a good idea to get my nails done. Then to my amazement this creature comes out of nowhere and breaks through the glass ceiling. I was horrified and frozen to my seat as its giant tentacle arm swooped me up and slammed my body against the wall." Glad she got a screen shot.
Bad Hair Day
More fun with glitches. During my first experience in Second Life, I teleported to a new place and discovered that my hair failed to make the trip with me. No matter--I kinda liked my new look. Second Lifer Rob Danton (I'm pretty sure that's his real-life name) had a similar experience, only he found that his hair had started growing out of his upper face. Danton chalks the problem up to using a slow broadband link to access Second Life. "I wouldn't really blame Linden Labs, as I think I was in Kathmandu at the time, on a 44-kbps connection!" he says.
Second Life Imitates Art
Conceptual artists are thriving in Second Life. The screen above is from a performance-art piece called "ORIENTATION" by Second Lifers Nebulosus Severine (CM Pauluh) and Arahan Claveau (Steve Millar). "ORIENTATION is primarily about conformity, corporate control, and blind consumerism," Pauluh says. "We built the structure and setting, [made] the avatars, and created the soundscape and inner video components for it ourselves." There's a cool YouTube video of ORIENTATION, too.
Day of the 'Griefers'
Some of the strangest sights in Second Life have been caused by "griefers," residents who make a sport of pulling pranks and disrupting in-world events. Griefers often use a type of code that creates self-replicating objects. In this case virtual-real-estate tycoon Anshe Chung was besieged by falling pink phallic objects during a 2006 Second Life event sponsored by CNet.
Night of the Freaks
Employing replication code similar to what the CNet griefers used, someone made it rain zombies in Second Life. Unfortunately Second Life avatars have no real brains to speak of, so the zombies went hungry. Horrible mess to clean up afterward, too.
Impaled on Laser Lights
Here's Second Life resident Fenris Wolfenhaut at the B-Movie Monster Dance at the popular SL destination Carnival of Doom. Fenris needed no costume; that's how he always looks.
Now They're Overhead!
Some of the strangest sights in Second Life--like this one, called "The Far Away"--are created on purpose by artists. The windmill scene is the creation of well-known SL artist AM Radio. The avatars are by Yoa Ogee, and worn by SL-ers Dizzy Banjo and Poid Mahovlich, who provided this screen grab. "We wanted to see how it felt to be 'dressed' in something other than our usual humanoid forms," Mahovlich says. "We felt playful, and the experience of changing character was a good one, like dressing up."
Beneath the Tree That Died
Let's end with another strange vision from SL artist AM Radio--an installation called "Beneath the Tree That Died". Second Lifer Therese Carfagno got an especially nice screen grab of the installation, which resides on SL land owned by the University of Kentucky. "If you go and look under the tree," Carfagno points out, "there is a telegram with a message lying on the road. Intrigued, I (Motard Putzo) teleported over to the exhibit to read the telegram.
SLIDE SHOW: In Pictures: The Strangest Sites in Google Earth
Today's Best Tech Deals
Picked by PCWorld's Editors