Tuesday, November 4, 2008

mid sweet-talk, newspaper word cut-outs

Interesting entry on lighting for pics Miss Sphynx Soleil found for me. Sounds worth doing...maybe. (I still have dread of banana-yellow skies.)

Let's talk economics for a moment. I've heard far too many people of late saying they're going to sell off their properties and walk away from Second Life. The whole "that'll teach 'em" attitude.

I don't, in theory, disagree with the concept, but my big question is: where to? Where is enough like Second Life, without being Second Life, to compete?

Worlds like There, VMTV and a host of others just don't live up to the hype. Many flee to World of Warcraft, but it lacks much in the way of user-supported content, free action, plus has a subscription fee just to walk in the door; something Second Life (premium accounts and tier payments aside) doesn't have. (City of Heroes and City of Villains are much the same way; you have to pay to get in, and keep paying if you want to stay.)

There are several up-and-coming virtual worlds (StarGate Worlds, currently in beta, springs instantly to mind), but all of them face major issues of lag, incoherent input, and technology setbacks to date.

IMVU, NeoPets and Gaia Online are all designed for children. Frankly, if I (and others with the same mindset) wanted to play with children, we'd have had our own. I don't think it's too much to ask for adult playspaces, and by that, I don't simply mean sex and nudity. I mean issues and interaction on a level that the average nine-to-thirteen year old just fails utterly to comprehend (see 2D 'chat worlds' like Shinobi Legends, GothDragon and others, all based on the original browser-based game Legend of the Green Dragon, for more information on kidthink). And Google's Lively couldn't suck more if it tried.

So where does that leave us? Essentially, to a certain extent, Linden Labs is dealing with a captive audience--there's still nothing quite like SL, including such ventures as OpenWorlds and OSGrid, part of the OpenSim project. By that same extension, though, if one has a product that refuses to perform up to even basic specifications, has down-time of up to 48 hours in some cases, has a high wait time for successful use, and causes loss of acquired goods...well, anywhere else, they'd have been reported to the Better Business Bureau by now. As it is, an overwhelming majority of us have registered protests, then done nothing further.

Why? Why aren't we setting up successful protests? Why aren't we holding no-log-in days? (And don't tell me you just had one, because really--Halloween?? You wanted October 31st to be your big protest day? Half the grid's users didn't come in anyway on Halloween, and of those that did, they certainly weren't thinking, I should log right out again, my goodness, people are protesting SL...because that just was bound to fail.) For that matter, why aren't we holding no-log-in weeks?

I grant you, I'd be twitching too, but avatars who aren't in world, by and large, aren't supporting the Labs or Second Life in general. Avatars who aren't in world aren't buying Lindens, buying land, paying tier, paying rent, or building or buying user-created content, some of which in turn goes back to those makers payments of tier, rent, land fees...all of which translates into real, tangible, monetary loss. To Linden Labs directly.

"And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is 'cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if you're in a situation like that, there's only one thing you can do, and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in and say, "Shrink, you can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant." And walk out.

You know, if one person, just one person does it, they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And if three people do it, three, can you imagine? Three people walking in singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day, walkin' in, singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. Friends, they may thinks it's a movement."

Arlo Guthrie sang that, far too long ago, but it's not the worst idea. If one person logs out, well, they're just having connection difficulties. If two people log out, well, they're likely RL partners and the net went down. If three people log out, well, maybe it's a router issue, it'll get fixed eventually.

What if one thousand people log out? Two thousand? Fifty thousand? Even for a day. Even for one hour. What if eighty thousand people stayed out of world two hours of every night in protest?

How hard is that? Go to a movie. Go wander a park. Read a book. Sleep. How hard is that? We could call it reality intervention. Save our souls from the Labs.

And it might, just might, convince the Labs that we're tired of putting up with shoddy excuses, shoddier service, and an eternal parade of new shiny toys when the basic infrastructure is decaying. And that if we tried, we could come up with an endless parade of other uses for our time, uses that don't involve paying tier, being in world, and feeling hopelessly cut off from any sense of support or communication.

What if? What if? What if the numbers suddenly drop, in a way they're not expecting? What if they crash--58,739 users in world to 5? What if they crash consistently? What if the economy just stops moving at all, because the bodies aren't in world to support it?

What would the Labs do then?

How soon would they scramble to fix what's wrong?


Rhianon Jameson said...

"Frankly, if [we] wanted to play with children, we'd have had our own." That comment generated uncontrolled giggles, Miss Orr! (It's a line I wish I had thought of myself.) And, of course, even those with children whom they love dearly may want to interact with adults, rather than complete strangers' thirteen-year-olds.

Christine McAllister Pearse said...

I think getting in touch with RL is a wonderful idea. My typist has not been in world as much since April, partly due to her work but also because she decided for her own mental health (and the betterment of her children's lives and her community as a whole) she was going to have to bring some of what makes her SL so rich and enjoyable to her RL.

Granted, it's been a struggle and a test. You can't just tp away or log out in RL when things go badly. But...there's no lag in RL (not counting stop lights of course), her graphics card works wonderfully to see the sky and she's found that making cakes/clothes/whatever in RL brings enjoyment to not just herself.

I do believe that if LL is ever going to sit up and listen, it'll be because someone hit them where their heart is...in their accounting department. Being logged off for a week wouldn't be a hardship...I'm sure I can keep in touch with those I want to, or find out how to contact those I don't have info for through other means. :-)

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson: I will admit something: on occasion, I play on Gaia, because one of my (supposedly adult) friends nagged me until I made an account. And invariably I want to run away screaming--the parade of little "Princess_Darkheart"s, "1badazz"s and "Vampire_luvr"s (or variations thereon) streaming by the screen, spelling things badly and asking basic questions like "um how do i play thx" just...irks me, on a deep and fundamental level. I don't think it's too much to insist on, at least a fifth-grade reading comprehension level, at least a sixth-grade spelling level...hells, I'm not even asking for high school graduate levels, here, why is this hard?

Emilly Orr said...

Lady Pearse: I won't lie, even with all its staggering flaws, I still like SL, I still want to play it. And for me, there is lag in SL on occasion, there are occasional visual difficulties, and there's no dearth of argument speaking face to face and voice to voice, over avatar to avatar via text.

On the other hand, there is no one I truly value I can't find a way to keep in touch with, even if just by email. There are things I'd deeply miss, of course, but if pushed--and the Labs seem determined to keep pushing--there's going to come a point at which what I value in SL will take a back seat to sanity.

I don't think it's in their best interests to push their supporters off their own grid. But it seems to be what they're trying to do...