Sunday, May 6, 2012

One Year in Second Life

The best things always happened unexpectedly when traveling.  The trick was to keep planning to a minimum and allow plenty of time and opportunity for random encounters, happenstance, and the pursuing of sudden whims. 

Richard Grant

Depending on one’s viewpoint, one year is either a very long time off in the future or it has been the blink of an eye.

For me, since I posted my first blog about my travels and experiences in Second Life (SL) the time has been the blink of an eye.  Something also tells me that the next year, while now seems a long way off, will go by just as quickly as I continue my journeys inworld. 

I thought having just past my first anniversary of blogging about my adventures inworld this would be a good time to stop and reflect about how I’ve spent my time inworld so far.  (Warning, this blog will resemble one of those flashback episodes on television that we all hate so.  However, there may also be teasers about future episodes, er, I mean journeys.  So, dear reader, you decide whether to read on or not. I’m awful aren’t I?)

I began writing because I wanted to share with a larger audience my wanderings about the grid.  Why was I even on the grid in the first place?  Well, traveling about in Real Life (RL) is not an option for me as it once was.  (Significant Other expects me home on a regular basis and quite rightly insists on a forwarding address those few times that I do get about these days.)  Also, I’d read the blog of Bunky Snowbear who had tried to walk across the SL grid before giving up.  I thought to myself, “Why not?”

SL was only meant to be the first step on a journey across the entire Metaverse itself.  But, SL offered opportunities and challenges to me.  How do I even get in?  How do I make myself look presentable?  Then, the big one which has driven away so many noobies, what do I do once I’m inworld?  Can I get a job and cover my costs?

Next thing I know, I own a house in Nowaki and I have many friends whom I’ve met as I’ve crossed and recrossed the grid. 

After figuring out how to exit SL’s arrival center, my next challenge was what should I look like?  I wanted to do this on the cheap (A virtue of mine in RL as well.  Significant Other has another word for it.)  Fortunately, there are many diverse and free options here inworld. Despite the raised eyebrows (Quite a trick inworld.) of some of my SL friends, I created a new look for myself.  My red eyes always draw comments.  (Yes, I know it’s a cheap trick but I couldn’t rely on my personality.) 

So, after finally getting my looks sorted out (Some might say that they still aren’t.  They’re just jealous.), I decided to go out and meet people.  Where to start?  I wanted to investigate the various communities inworld.  I started with nekos, vampires, and steampunks.  Tried to meet goths but that didn’t go anywhere.   I just went out onto the highways and byways of SL, stopped the people I met along the way, and started up conversations.

What I found was a terrific sense of community among those whom I did meet.  I spent considerable time with the vampires of Nulli Secundus.  I even attended a vampire wedding.   

From this starting point, I encountered the cultural life within SL.  I met particle dance performers, musicians, and writers.  Then there is the whole world of fashion.  I met models and designers. 

All of these people opened up their SL lives for me and took the time to tell me about their worlds.  Few ever rejected my request for an interview and in fairness, those that did said they either were too new to SL or didn’t speak English well enough to be able to help.  No one has been rude. 

I found people helping other people.  Fund raisers for RL causes and for SL residents who have issues in RL.  This is more than a game. This is a community that is coming together and becoming something more than World of Warcraft. 

I came across the 1920’s Berlin sim where Frau Jo Yardley and her friends have built an incredible recreation of Weimar Berlin before the madness descended.  Here too is a rich cultural community which I plan to return to in the next year. 

My time inworld has given me a chance to see and think about some of the things that could adversely affect SL.  The first of these was the Great Recession of 2008.  I spent some time trying to gauge its impact on SL.  The clues were all the blogs that seemed to stop at about that time, residents whom nobody had seen in years, and large inworld builds that appeared to be ghost towns where work had just stopped and everyone walked away never to return.  If people continue to leave then eventually the plug’s going to be pulled.  But, then they need a reason to stay, don’t they?  Which leads me to my next topic. 

The other major potential for trouble inworld is Linden Lab (LL) itself.  SL is coming on ten years old soon.  The infrastructure is aging.  What could have been a vibrant virtual economy is moribund.  New mobile technologies like smart phones and tablets are ignored.  Most telling of all, for all the time I’ve spent inworld, I’ve never met a Linden.  For late arrivals like myself, they are the stuff of legend.  Recently, someone told me that a Linden’s appearance inworld is denoted by a blue dot on the maps.  I have never seen a blue dot.  Finally, all the residents I’ve met complain about their tier fees.  This is the company that once graced the cover of Businessweek. 

For myself, I’ve had a few “events” along the way.  When CNN iReports did a technical overhaul last November I lost many of the features which I needed so I’ve been at Blogger ever since. Ironically, the only iReporters meeting that I went to inworld was their last one when they shut the place down.  (Story of my life.)

Next was my Twenty-four Hours in SL series of blogs where I actually spent an entire day inworld.  That was a lot of fun.  I had a chance to reconnect with many friends and revisit a few places that I hadn’t seen in a while.  I also made new friends and went to new place.  That’s the attraction of SL, one can never see it all.  Unfortunately, my one day inworld may have led to the third big event of this past year. 

My third big happening of my year in SL was the crashing of my laptop’s hard drive.  While inworld, I could hear that it was running hard during my twenty-four hour stint.  A RL friend (I do have some.) later said that hard drives can burn if played too hard and too long in an intense simulation like SL.  OK, I learned something.  While waiting for a replacement to appear, I went into the SL Diaspora in the Metaverse and was able to keep blogging until I could get back inworld.  I was impressed by all who helped me during this time and sent me their messages of support to me. 

But what about the future?  I’ve been writing so much about the past, what do the next twelve months look like.  There will be changes.  (At least I hope there will be!)  I will go back and revisit old friends whom I haven’t seen since I last wrote about them.  While I am a wanderer, I feel bad that I don’t return often enough to those who have helped me along the way.  Hence, be warned, I’m coming back. 

I will push the edges of the envelope more.  Recently, I was at a nudist function in 1920’s Berlin  and I’ve also been spending time with the BDSM community inworld.   I see opportunities for more blogs in those veins.  Don’t worry, I won’t become That Kind of Blog as Glorf Bulmer would say.  Although, who knows?  Maybe there could be Another Blog of That Kind?

The frequency of posts will increase.  I can’t commit to a number yet but there will be more.  I will also be using more social media to attract more readers.

I will try to use my blog to help across the broader community inworld such as the Occupy SL movement.  Much can be done to help residents with their RL issues. 

Finally, I will continue to seek out new places and new friends inworld and bring these experiences to my readers.  One of these topics will be SL relationships that crossed over into RL.  I also want to track down Bunky and talk with him. 

I want to thank all those who have helped me and guided me along my way over the course of the last twelve months.  The list is too long to write but I thank each and every one of you.  What I am truly grateful for is how each of you opened yourselves up and gave me something which I could share with the broader group. 

As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.


The Man at the Pub said...

Hi Webspelunker! Great blog. It's good to see someone so keen to explore SL and all its possibilities. Looking forward to meeting you inworld soon :)

Bunky Snowbear said...

Oops! The Man at the Pub is actually Bunky Snowbear. I was signed in to the wrong account o.O

webspelunker said...

Bunky, Thank you for your feedback! Looking forward to meeting with you soon and telling your story to my readers! TC