Saturday, August 19, 2017

Does Second Life Exist Outside of Second Life Anymore?






Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don't need a lot of money to be happy--in fact, the opposite. 

Jean Vanier



Recently, I’ve stopped for a moment to catch my breath.  (Significant Other says it’s about time.)

Real Life’s (RL) been busy.  (Don’t ask!)

I haven’t been in Second Life (SL) as much as I usually am and when I am, I’m
running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.  (I’ll ignore Significant Other’s observation about what else is new.)

Not being able to get inworld and wander about as is my usual wont, I looked around in RL for signs of SL. 

I have to say that I was a little disappointed by what I found or more aptly didn’t find.

Let me tell you about it!

I used my usual tools for doing searches on the Internet, Twitter and Google.

On Twitter there wasn’t as much as I expected.

Yes, there were tweets.  Mostly sporadic one offs with no underlying themes were want I came across.  I didn’t see the epic tweet storms that seem to accompany other activities in the Twitterverse.  (Finally got to use that word in a sentence!)

Google was even more disappointing.

Once, I got past the Linden Lab and other official results, and then places like Wikipedia, the  search engine results tended to go back in time pretty quickly.  Again, no big themes or issues.

Overall, there wasn’t as much original work about SL on the Internet as I’d expected
or remembered from years past.  There seems to be a dropping off underway.

Maybe the search algorithms are to blame but something else seems to be afoot.

I know there’s good content out there still from others not to mention myself. But, you have to know where to look for it. 

Could the SL community be circling the wagons and retreating inworld?

I’ve noted before that big builds seem to be going away inworld maybe the same is true of original content on the Web. 

Or, could people just be getting tired?

Could Sansar be distracting people?

I don’t know but the content is missing!

Not to be all doom and gloom, Wagner James Au’s New World Notes, Inara Pey’s Living in a Modem World, and Caroline’s Second Life Advenures (The latter is NSFW so be careful where you access it form!) still post quality stories regularly and are well worth following. 

Please like, reshare, and comment on their work!  (Mine too please should you have a mind to do so!)

Or, how about being a guest blogger yourself?  If the others won’t have you then I will!

If you know of good SL bloggers and I haven’t listed them here then please send their links to me and I’ll help give them a shout out!

Many thanks!

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

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

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

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

            Open roads and kind fires!



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sex and the Single Avatar in Second Life XX – They Write Books about this Stuff!






The vital factor of virtual reality is immersion, the degree to which the user's senses are limited to the simulation and screened from a real world. 

Fjodor Ruzic



Sometimes my life as a blogger about virtual life in Second Life (SL) gets interesting.  Or rather, more so than it is usually is.  (Significant Other’s head shakes and I’m reminded to take out the garbage later when I’m finished writing.) 

Sometimes Real Life (RL) wanders into my SL existence.

Like when a RL author, a published author who actually earns a living from writing, approached me inworld and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing her latest novel.

As my British friends would say, I was gobsmacked.  (Yes, I do have a few although they’ve asked that I not reveal their identities.)

After checking that this author had the right person and not some other struggling wannabe I said, “Yes!”

(Fellow wannabe writers out there know what I’m referring to.  We exist in a demimonde between those who are “real” writers and everyone points to with admiration and those who do the pointing and wonder why we can’t do the same.  Significant Other has always been loyal and stood by my side confident that I’ll never become a “real” writer.  Significant Other is smiling smugly as I write this.)

OK, enough of me and my insecurities!

Let’s talk about this RL author!

Olivia Devon, her pen name in RL and also the name of one of her SL avatars, is the author willing to risk her name and reputation with my blog.  Her tag line is, “I write books. Some of them are naughty. Others are more well behaved.” 

For the record, this book is naughty!  (Ergo, that’s why it’s in the Sex and Single Avatar series.)

Oh, yes, the book’s title!

The book is PLAY [Manhattan Lux] and it’s a fun read about virtual reality, virtual worlds, and, of course, sex!  (Lots of it!)  This is part of the Manhattan Lux series Olivia writes centered around a sex club in Manhattan.  While PLAY is third in this series, reading
the previous books isn’t necessary.  I didn’t but after reading this book, I plan to!

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot or any spoilers but I’ll say a little. 

PLAY is the story of a relationship between a driven, high tech male executive and a smart but hurt female programmer.  They spend much of their time in a virtual world very much akin to SL and using a virtual reality tech that makes Oculus Rift and Sansar look like a coloring book with a box of crayons missing a few colors.  Think teledildonics on steroids.

Olivia understands virtual worlds and virtual reality.  Unlike some books which come across as either overly simplistic or go straight to Star Trek holodecks, she keeps both feet on the ground.  Her writing is a logical extension of current virtual technology.  Honestly, if Linden Lab had had a little more imagination and guts then SL would be more. 

The experiences and scenes based in the book’s virtual world are written by someone who has immersed herself in these worlds and lived among us.  Most importantly, she understands that virtual worlds are more than just a game and that virtual relationships are as very real and can be as painful as RL ones.  You can’t make that up. You have to experience it for yourself.

Her understanding of virtual communities as being more than just a group of avatars just standing around is evident. 

Olivia is also a builder in SL.  One of the principle locations in the book was based on her build inworld.  It’s quite a build and can be seen in this video she prepared for her blog. 

And, she’s got the sex down too!  Enough said there!

Finally, PLAY has great writing and storytelling. 

Olivia writes under various pen names in RL and has been a longstanding resident in SL.  (And, no, she won’t give me any of these various identities.  Significant Other says she’s a prudent woman.)  She’s a gamer and I suspect a closet Whovian. 

Olivia makes being a geek sexy! 

I recommend PLAY to all who enjoy a good story and especially to those who enjoy one based in a virtual world without having their intelligence insulted.  Well worth the money and time spent reading it!

Also, I hope to have an interview with Olivia in my blog shortly so keep an eye out for it! 

I’d like to thank Olivia for inviting me to review her book and for writing it in the first place.

Check out PLAY and Olivia’s other writings!

I know I’ll be!

Full disclosure, I received a free review copy to prepare this story.  Although, I did later buy an ebook copy so I could mark it up. 

PLAY is available at most ebook vendors and can be found here at Amazon.

More information about Olivia and her books can be found here.

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

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

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

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

            Open roads and kind fires!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

California Dreamin’ in Second Life






California, still a magical vanity fair. 

Eileen Granfors





A call from my old Second Life (SL) friend, Perryn Peterson is always a happy moment for me!

(BTW When I say “old,” I don’t mean chronologically.  Despite recently celebrating his eleventh rez day inworld, Perryn still speaks with the joy and wonder of youth!)

Usually, these unannounced summons from Perryn signal something new and different inworld at Mieville.

This time is no different!

Perryn told me about the latest extravaganza planned for Mieville, California Dreamin’!

This is a look back to how California was back in the day in the Fifties and Sixties as Hollywood’s Golden Age was ending but before the gods of Silicon Valley had arisen.

Miss Mattie Puss ran the build and oversaw the project with Perryn adding several personal touches. What they’ve done is to give us a wonderful look back at a California that is receding into memory or at least as much as can be squeezed into a sim!

Let’s take a look!

Rezzing into California Dreamin’ one arrives in a bus station evocative of a time gone by.  An old style Coke vending machine, a cigarette dispenser, and period lighting fixtures
contribute to the feeling.  And, why shouldn’t the visit begin in a bus station?  After all, so many hopefuls and wannabes arrived via bus back in the day. 

Walking outside, one can almost feel the beautiful California climate.  (As I write this, I’m sweltering through a Real Life (RL) heat wave.  Significant Other suggests we visit California soon.  Just, not by bus.)  A large cruising bus waits outside for the passengers who will never arrive.  It sits there reminding us of what once was.  (Significant Other asks if I can be more upbeat in this story.) 

Strolling  up the street, a visitor finds themselves in Hollywood.  The big sign looming overhead on the hillside is the first clue.  Another clue is the Walk of Fame at the visitor’s feet.  Looking closely, one will see the names of famous Mievillians instead of RL actors and
actresses. (This is SL after all!) 

Other semantic sleight of hand transforms Olvera Street into LOLvera Street.  (When in Rome…)  Miss CaraCali of Botanica has set up this marvelous area. 

A little bit further along the street and we’re in San Francisco!

(Another one of the advantages of SL!  Makes Star Trek’s teleporter almost look passe!)

One strolls among the hills, seeing Painted Ladies, cable cars, and Chinatown. Coit Tower looms in the distance. 

Continuing along, one comes to the Big Sur.  Maybe not quite as breathtaking as in RL but still impressive for SL!  The requisite drive-ins are nearby.  The stroll then takes one to the Boardwalk with its rides, arcades, and merchants.  (Purists may gripe that this Boardwalk is not exactly over the water but compromises are necessary inworld.  Quit complaining and enjoy your cotton candy!)

Also, on the beaches, the sand sculptures of Ktahdn Vesuvino can be seen.  He builds sand sculptures in RL (He actually lives in LA!) and takes pictures of them and other beachy things turning them into live action works of art inworld. 

Along the way, the farms that feed America can be visited in all their ready to harvest splendor. 

And, what recreation of California would be complete without a redwoods forest?  Perryn has added one and it’s inspiring.  Reminding one of these majestic trees, many of which have been alive in RL since before Europeans arrived on the continent.  (One might
say that they are alive despite the arrival of the Europeans!  Before anyone complains, I’m of direct European descent myself so I can make the jokes!)
The hippie encampment is a touch added by Miss Mattie.  Check the attention to detail! 

For the fans of Perryn and his gang who are worried about where all the usual attractions of a Mieville event are, not to worry!  They’re there!

Merchants with fantastic products, gachas, and entertainments are everywhere in California Dreamin’!

Would Perryn ever disappoint?

Never!

Of course, despite the team’s best efforts, not every aspect of California’s Golden Age could be squeezed in.  Unfortunately, they had to leave out San Diego, its world famous zoo, or Balboa Park. As Perryn said to me, “Well, it's a big state.” 

(Maybe if Perryn gets enough requests there could be a California Dreamin’ II sometime soon.  After all, California is the home of sequels!) 

California Dreamin’ captures the feel of a California that is long gone by for many of
us.  Perryn and his merry band made clever use of the sim to show depth and distance.  Too many other sims are just flat squares.  This is without a doubt one of Mieville’s finest achievements and is well worth visiting! 

California Dreamin” runs from August 5th to August 20th and can be located here. 

I’d like to thank Perryn Peterson for giving a tour of California Dreamin’ as it was being readied. 

I’d also like to thank him and Miss Mattie Puss for their efforts in creating this superb memorial to an important part of our history and culture!

See you in LA! 

Additional pictures from my visit can be found on this flickr page. 

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

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

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

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

            Open roads and kind fires!