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"Second Life": What You Need to Know Before Getting Started

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"Second Life" logo

"Second Life" logo

For the Newbies

I've been a resident of Second Life since 2008, and in this length of time, I've realized that there's definitely a learning curve for newbies trying to get started. So, before you sign up for an account, I want to point out a few things about Second Life that you'll need to know. I'll also tell you what to expect in your first months while in-world.

Types of Accounts

Signing up for an account is free. However, if you will want to own a house or land, then you'll need to sign up for the Premium account, which is $72 a year. I've outlined the differences between the two accounts below:

Basic (Free) Account

  • It's free.
  • Restricted access to certain areas.
  • No land and no house.
  • No weekly bonuses (also referred to as a stipend).
  • Slower response to tickets filed for tech support or in-world issues.
  • No ability to set a “home” location (unless you join a group that owns land).
  • No access to Linden games. (Linden games are themed games in Second Life where you can play alone or with friends. Some games have even paid out real money for completing quests or achieving goals in-game.)

Premium Account

  • $72 annual fee.
  • You can set your account to have “full access” to go anywhere in-world.
  • You can join an already established community and get a “ready to move in” piece of land with a house already set up on it. All you have to do is add some furniture. (You also have other land options, which I will talk about in another article.)
  • Receive a weekly bonus (also referred to as a stipend). You can use this bonus to buy whatever you want: clothes, a house, furniture, a car, etc. You can even save the stipend up and cash it out through Paypal at the end of the year.
  • Support tickets are moved up the list ahead of Basic accounts.
  • Ability to set a location as your “home”. Sort of like a “home” bookmark on your web browser. This feature comes in handy at times when you want or need to leave an area and return to your home base.
  • Access to play Linden games.
  • Premium gifts. From time to time, Second Life will give out gifts, and these are only for Premium Members. (Gifts are given at random and some past gifts have been a sailboat, airplane, and furniture for your Second Life home.)

As listed above, you can use Second Life for free (lots of people do). However, if you sign up and really like it, I highly suggest getting a Premium account. You can do so much more with a Premium account; plus, you'll have your own house to hang out with your friends.

Now, you might think, “Why would I want my own house? It sounds kind of ridiculous.” I thought the same thing, too, when I first signed up. After you use Second Life for a while, you start to feel the need to express yourself more and have a nice space that's yours to show off to your friends. Simply put, a Premium account allows you to do that.

The Tahoe Springs Community in "Second Life" for Premium members

The Tahoe Springs Community in "Second Life" for Premium members

Age Restrictions and Rules

  • Teens - Users 16 and 17. If you are at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age, then you may only access areas rated "General" and "Moderate" in accordance with the Maturity Ratings.
  • Adults - Users 18 and Over. If you are at least 18 years of age, then you may access areas of the service that are rated "General", as well as "Moderate" and "Adult". (Your Account may be suspended or terminated immediately without warning, refund, or other compensation if Second Life believes you are under 18 years of age and you represent yourself as 18 or older, or if Second Life believes you are over 18 and represent yourself as under 18.)
  • Adults: Age Verification for Adults. In order to access Second Life regions or listings designated as "Adult", which content may be explicitly sexual, intensely violent, or otherwise designated as Adult under the Maturity Ratings ("Adult Only Content"), you affirm that you are at least 18 years of age, or the age of legal majority where you reside if that jurisdiction has an older age of majority.

    You further agree that as a condition to accessing Adult Only Second Life, you will submit to account verification as required by Linden Lab, and provide only true and accurate identification documentation to Linden Lab or its third-party service providers to verify your age. You further acknowledge that you will comply with the Maturity Ratings and conduct any activities that Second Life has defined as Adult only within regions designated as Adult.

Okay, I Want to Sign Up. What Should I Expect?

The first few months in Second Life will be a learning experience for you.

When you first sign up, you are taken to a Tutorial Area where you learn to use all your basic controls, such as walking, flying (yes, you can fly!), sending friend requests, etc. After you feel comfortable with what you’ve learned there, you can leave the tutorial area and start to explore - but this isn’t the end of the learning process. The “guide” function stays on and shows you new ways to interact and use Second Life until you have mastered all of the basic skills. (You can also view a Quick Start tutorial here.)

Also, as with any game where you are playing in a real-time environment, there are bullies called “griefers”. These people prey on others by harassing or attempting to humiliate them. This is when the “Home” feature comes in handy, as I mentioned above. For instance, if you are being griefed by someone, all you have to do is hit the “Home” button, and you’re sent back to your home location. This removes you from the abuse and lets you calm down long enough to gather your thoughts and file an Abuse Report against the person.

Computer Requirements

You will need to download some software to use Second Life. So before you sign up, you'll need to make sure your computer meets the system requirements. Here's a quick overview:

  • If you have a computer that was manufactured in the past three years and has an NVIDIA or ATI graphics card, you should be able to run it. If in doubt, download the client software anyway. If it runs, you should be set to go. If it doesn't run ... it may be time to upgrade your computer!
  • If you'll be using a laptop, make sure that you have an external mouse to plug in and use. A touchpad mouse isn't very useful in SL.
  • Make sure you're using a mouse that has a scroll wheel.

For a complete list of the System Requirements, go here.

(Note: This link says that you can't run SL on a satellite connection, but I know people that do. So, if you have a satellite, try it anyway!)

Ready to Sign Up?

When you are ready to sign up, go here to get started.


  • Linden Lab, "Second Life Terms and Conditions",, Accessed 9/30/18
  • Second Life, "Maturity ratings",, Accessed 9/30/18
  • Second Life,, Accessed 9/30/18
  • Second Life, "System Requirements",, Accessed 9/30/18

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