by Stone Semyorka

Taking a closer look at books for and about Second Life…

  • Second Life: The Official Guide
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Second Life
  • The Unofficial Tourists’ Guide to Second Life
  • Machinima For Dummies

Second Life: The Official Guide

    by Michael Rymaszewski, Wagner James Au, Mark Wallace, Catherine Winters, Cory Ondrejka, Benjamin Batstone-Cunningham, with a foreward by Philip Rosedale

Island illustration from the book

They don’t call this paperback the “official guide” for nothing.

This full-color handbook is the straight scoop on the sprawling Internet simulation inhabited currently by almost 10 million residents and growing by a million a month. It’s a readable history as well as an ideal kick off for the raw recruit, yet with lots of useful info for people who have been in SL for a year or more.

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world published and maintained by Linden Research Inc., (a.k.a. Linden Lab) of San Francisco. It is built entirely by its residents.

Here’s one important point right off the bat:

  • Second Life is not a game. Anybody who’s been in-world for any time at all can see it’s not. There are no rules, no scoring, no winners, no losers. There are, of course, outcomes of the type you encounter in the game of life.

It’s a handbook…

In Second Life: The Official Guide, you not only will catch the flavor of virtual world, but also learn how to create your avatar, navigate the landscape, explore the most beautiful virtual places anywhere, build the stuff you need and want, go into business and earn real-world profits.

You can walk, jump, fly, ride, swim, drive, teleport, roller skate or even dance. In fact, Second Life: The Official Guide has been called the ultimate travel reference.

In SL, you also can take a course from more than 100 universities and colleges in-world or check out resources from countless virtual libraries.

.…about a pastime

SL is a pastime. You can play all sorts of organized sports and games, use bowling alleys and golf courses, go yachting, scuba diving or skiing.

America’s Cup Anywhere
Yachts docked at Second Life’s America’s Cup Anywhere

You can be entertained at movie theaters, sound stages for music festivals, auditoriums for speakers and concerts, parks and gardens.

You can buy goods from stores that offer all kinds of ordinary merchandise. In fact, the whole of SL is about resident-built things and places for virtually any human activity. For instance, the first thing I built was a large public park with numerous attractions on land next to the ocean.

This handbook not only suggests how to define your virtual existence right now, but also discusses the social, cultural, political and economic impact of Second Life and its future.

What’s in it?

Authored by Second Life experts with contributions from Linden Lab employees and SL residents, the book has three main content areas plus a CD-ROM:

First, Getting a Second Life acquaints new residents with the Second Life world with descriptions of the geography, society, and the written and unwritten standards and practices, vices and virtues, for the community, social etiquette, and the range of behaviors and interactions possible.

Second, Living a Second Life lays out the practical and economic side of Second Life — creating and customizing an avatar, building objects, scripting and making money.

Third, Success in Second Life reveals ways to enjoy it more. It profiles successful SL residents, points out fascinating events in-world, and looks more closely at how some are using SL for business, meetings, teaching and training, and other purposes.

Back matter. There are appendices with a glossary, a quick-reference, and additional resources.

The book’s CD-ROM gives you textures, avatar templates, animation software and sample animations, videos, and access to exclusive in-world content.

Altogether, the book advises you on how to customize your avatar’s look, places to go on a grand tour of stimulating locales, things to do and resident-created in-world events, people to meet on the diverse social scene, things to build from sandals to spaceships, scripts to write to make your stuff move, talk, spin and more, and how you can even get job and turn L$ into US$.

About the authors

Michael Rymaszewski wrote chapters 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10. He has written more than 20 other strategy guides, one of which was named a “Best Computer & Internet Book of 2005” by His works also include reviews, strategy articles, short fiction, coffee table books, and television and movie scripts.

Wagner James Au ( SL avatar: Hamlet Au), is SL’s embedded journalist. He wrote chapters 11 and 12. Au is known for his blog New World Notes. He also has written about gaming technology and popular culture for Wired and Salon magazines, Los Angeles Times, Lingua Franca, and others. He has been written about by the BBC, Washington Post, NPR’s All Things Considered, CNN International, MSNBC, New Scientist, Popular Science, and San Jose Mercury News.

Mark Wallace wrote Chapters 3 and 13. He is the editor of, a blog covering virtual worlds and 3D online technologies. He has written for the New York Times, Financial Times, Wired and GQ. He runs the Second Life Herald, a newspaper covering virtual worlds.

Catherine Winters wrote chapter 7. She is one of the longest-term residents still active in SL. In 2003, she co-founded the LSL Wiki collaborative Second Life programming site. Catherine is an SL resident who has made Second Life her primary source of real-world income. Her blog is Catherine Omega.

Cory Ondrejka wrote chapter 8 with Ben Batstone-Cunningham. Cory is chief technical officer at Linden Lab. He leads the Second Life development team creating technologies such as distributed physical simulation, 3D streaming, and real-time in-world editors. He decided to allow SL users to retain IP rights to their creations, helped craft Linden Lab’s virtual real-estate policy, and created the Linden Scripting Language (LSL).

Ben Batstone-Cunningham also wrote chapter 8. He is a Linden Lab programmer and scripting expert.

Philip Rosedale (SL avatar: Philip Linden) is founder and CEO of Linden Lab.

Expect the second edition of this book in 2008.

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sybex
Publication: December 6, 2006
Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.1 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Language: English
ISBN-10: 047009608X
ISBN-13: 978-0470096086
Amazon price: US$20.99

SE logo breaker 256

A Beginner’s Guide to Second Life
by v3image

Lillyanne Lustre’s award winning flowers
Flowers by master builder Lillyanne Lustre on display with nine other top award winners at the ASL Pavilion in Eson

The writers at v3image intended to provide the new Second Life resident — the newbie — with an easy to follow instructional guide to what she or he needs to know in a manner that would pique their interest in further exploration. They achieved that goal.

This book is very recommendable. A Beginner’s Guide to Second Life also will be valuable to residents who have been in Second Life for a year or more.

I like this book and think it is loaded with useful information. For that reason, I’m hoping a future second edition of this title will move from toilet-paper stock to something a little less pulp-like. The artwork could be be upgraded to a more professional graphic design, also.

It was troubling to see the publisher’s publicity refer to Second Life as “the fastest growing 3D game on the Internet.” I wish the uninitiated would ask someone who has been inside about that. Second Life is not a game. Anybody who’s been in-world for any time at all can see it’s not. There are no rules, no scoring, no winners, no losers. As I said above, there are outcomes of the type you encounter in the game of life.

It’s obvious from the text that Tara Anna of v3image has been in-world a great deal. ArcheBooks is merely the publisher of her excellent manuscript.

Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: ArcheBooks Publishing
Publication: March 20, 2007
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595071903
ISBN-13: 978-1595071903
Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.2 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 14.4 ounces
Amazon price: US$24.99

SE logo breaker 256

The Unofficial Tourists’ Guide to Second Life
by Paul Carr and Graham Pond

Spaceport Alpha
Spaceport Alpha in Second Life

Imagine an expansive, breathtaking world to explore, where mountains reach into the clouds and glowing starfish bury themselves in the ocean depths, where land can be bought for a dollar and new structures are limited only by your imagination.

An online tourist destination where you can shop for virtual designer clothes in a shopping mall atop a live volcano, teleport to an underwater gig by U2, and invite a friend back to your personal spaceship for a cuppa. You get the idea?

The Unofficial Tourists’ Guide to Second Life is a fast read, a fun guidebook that points first-time visitors — newbies — to the endless, exciting wonders of this delightful world.

Much of the best of Second Life is here, including:

Essentials — what to wear, when and where, and how to behave.

People — finding like minded souls or even soul mates.

Major Destinations — must-see tourist spots, hot shows, gorgeous parks and overflowing shops.

Shopping and Nightlife — the lively virtual shopping scene, and all manner of wild gatherings.

Entrepreneurs — buy land and start a cozy boutique.

So what’s not to like about this little volume? Hmmm. I couldn’t find Stone’s Point Park anywhere in the book. 🙂

Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication: April 17, 2007
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312376480
ISBN-13: 978-0312376482
Dimensions: 6.9 x 5 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 4 ounces
Amazon price: US$$9.95

SE logo breaker 256

Machinima For Dummies
by Hugh Hancock and Johnnie Ingram

Prepare Yourself machinima stills
Stills from Prepare Yourself, an excellent machinima from the Second Life collection of videos

What’s wrong with the publisher of this Machinima For Dummies book?

Imagine coming out in September 2007 with a book that features The Sims 2, World Of Warcraft, Medieval 2 and MovieStorm when Second Life is where all of the excitement is today.

The publisher must have known for at least a year that Second Life was sweeping those virtual worlds off the shelf. It’s approaching 10 million and growing by a million a month. The others are stagnating. How much trouble would it have been to feature Second Life?

Anyway, the book introduces Machinima production, including live filming and the creation of sets, props and characters, as well as the basics of cinematography, storytelling and design.

Machinima is short for machine cinema. It’s about production of animated video films through the rendering of computer-generated imagery (CGI) using the real-time, interactive 3D engines found in online worlds such as Second Life. It’s not about high-end, complex 3D animation software used by professionals.

Second Life examples can be found on the Linden Lab Community Media page. If you think machinima isn’t serious stuff in Second Life, check out this New World Notes report on HBO buying rights to a series of SL machinima and entering it into the Academy Awards competition.

Hancock owns Strange Company, which claims to be the world’s longest-running Machinima production company. Ingram was site editor for

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: For Dummies division of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Publication: September 4, 2007
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0470096918
ISBN-13: 978-0470096918
Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.4 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Amazon price: US$19.79

SE logo breaker 256

Designing Your Second Life
by Rebecca Tapley

Stoneflower Gallery at sunset
Stoneflower Gallery in Taerae region of the mainland at sunset

Designing Your Second Life is a quick read and an easy source of insights into good ways to judge an avatar’s skin, spiff up your clothing, erect a house amd hotel, or organize your life and the community around you for greater functionality and usability.

This handy volume by Rebecca Tapley, whose avatar inside SL is Mera Luan, encourages you to design the things you need and want, enables you to improve your appearance, and extends the range of things you can do. It encourages user-friendliness, accessibility, convenience.

What about lifestyles? Tapley goes deep with guidance on what it means to be an in-world friend. She expounds on local customs, good manners and proper etiquette among the sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, socio-cultural realities of this perplexing new world. These are things you need to know even before you teleport away from Orientation Island to a welcome area on the mainland.

Tapley levitates heavy real-world topics such as urban planning, color theory, interior design, landscaping and user experience. Stick with her — not hard to do really –and come away from this three-day book knowing how to spot the best skin, hair, clothing, architecture, construction or land for sale.

By the way, the quality of this printed publication picks up where A Beginner’s Guide to Second Life left ff. Better paper quality and nice color photos.

Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: New Riders Press
Published: July 16, 2007
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0321503015
ISBN-13: 978-0321503015
Dimensions: 9 x 7.4 x 0.5 inches
Weight: 14.4 ounces
Amazon price: $19.79

One Response to Books

  1. Mike says:

    Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Making Money $150 An Hour

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: