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To explore the 3D world of Second Life, you'll need to create a 3D "you" that can walk around, socialize and interact with things. Your virtual self is called your avatar.
It can look like anything you want- male, female, robot or rabbit. Some users create avatars that look just like them, while others like to look completely different.
Your avatar can have as many different looks as you want- you can change from a business suit into a suit of armor with the click of a button.
Enter Second Life as a generic, "default" avatar, and adjust your appearance immediately using the Avatar Creation Tools. Create a lanky blonde-haired avatar or a stocky brunette. You can tweak your look a million ways.
Personalize your appearance even further by shopping for clothing, accessories, vehicles, or even a brand new body. There are thousands of shops inside Second Life that are easy to find using the Search function.
If you rent land, you can buy a mansion as your new home, trees for your gardens, a dinosaur for your backyard- absolutely anything to help you create your virtual paradise.
There's no limit to how much content you can have in Second Life. All of your items get placed in a private storage area called your Inventory. You can keep any or all of your items hidden in Inventory when you're not using them.
Second Life has its very own virtual currency, called the Linden dollar, or L$. Although the exchange rate is subject to change, one US Dollar is typically about 250-300 Linden dollars.
There are many ways to get Linden dollars in Second Life -- you can buy them directly from Linden Lab, or roll up your sleeves and earn them inside Second Life.
Yes, just like in the real world, you can earn a living in Second Life. Except in Second Life it tends to be a lot more fun.
Create items in Second Life and sell them, or do what many residents do - find a virtual job. Some of the most popular jobs in Second Life are DJing, modeling, performing music, and designing clothing, houses or avatars.
Now that you're in Second Life with a few Linden dollars, what will you do next? It's time to find a place to shop, and in Second Life, you have a lot of options.
We've listed some of our favorite shops in the Showcase section of the website. If you're inside Second Life, click on the Search tab and type out whatever you're looking for- "Suits," "Homes" or "Avatars," for example. There are thousands of items to choose from- all of which were designed and created by other members of Second Life! The results will be in order of popularity- and clicking Teleport will take you to whatever shop you choose.
You can also shop for Second Life items from the comfort of your web browser. Visit SL Marketplace, the official web-based marketplace for Second Life, buy any item and it will be sent to your account/avatar.
You don't have to spend L$ to have fun in Second Life- a lot of stuff is given away for free. Having fun with friends is free, as are most of the events, groups and places in Second Life.
There are also plenty of merchants who offer free clothes and gear, and even more who offer just about anything for L$1.
Everyone who enters Second Life also gets a hefty starter pack full of free goodies. Everything from shirts and skirts to a starting house, a vehicle you can drive, and plenty of furnishings for your virtual home.