Wednesday, December 2, 2009

if I ever get my break, for God's sake, I'm gonna make my break clean

Still no nibbles on the parcel for sale in Penzance; I reduced the price (Des may say it's a recovering land economy but even he admits Caledon is far from full, and we still have a lousy RL economy), but it's looking somewhat grim.

In the meantime I am pledged to pick up a new parcel, which I can't easily afford, but hey, it spurs incentive to get hired someplace not decrepit or sleazy beyond all reason. Because I admit this now, I have been wallowing, and detaching again, and pulling away from people, and...gods, I never realized losing a goddamned job would be the equivalent of a breakup.

So, time and more than time to get out there and get things moving. Which includes financial things!

Ill Clan put together a new machinima to pimp SL; it's notable for what it doesn't feature, more than what it does.

"Millions of real people have joined," it begins, but I'm left thinking we still haven't broken eighty thousand in world at one time; we haven't even approached seventy-five thousand without crippling lag, service loss, and sims crashing left and right.

One of the reasons mentioned behind so many people joining SL? "To connect," they say. How very Facebook. And so far, I haven't seen one one fur, one Tiny, or anything non-human. (For the record, I won't, either.)

Another reason given? "To talk," yet I know many, many communities who don't even have voice enabled on their land; it's still this huge divide for many people. Not to mention it's still easier for many people to "speak" in text, rather than "speak" in voice. While I have a blind friend who's still very happy voice was developed, there are many folks who play characters who don't approve. I know deaf people who are acutely resentful; one of those actually lists that on the front page of his profile--if people speak in voice, he won't hear them. He keeps voice turned off.

"There are real events to attend," they go on, and I'll agree there, but they mention musical events only. They gloss over theatre--the Second Shakespeare Company, I think it is, and their production of The Tempest, more than a year ago--but they don't mention art, activism, town meetings, ice skating, education (both college-level and in-world instruction)...maybe I'm expecting too much, but it just seems curiously limited. For a world where Linden Labs trumpets at every opportunity how unlimited Second Life put out something this restricted jars.

"Thousands of groups to join," it continues, and there's the first--and only--non-human seen, save it's very clearly a robot suit that contains a human inside. And "thousands" of groups to join? Sure, but you have to pick twenty-five at a time. You can't have more. The Labs won't allow it.

And what does the video end with? Five young urban professionals in business wear and holding briefcases, standing on the SL logo.

What a young office-worker might take away from this might be the impression they want to give, yes--a place for stressed people to relax, play, hear live music and dance. Which is fine, a lot of that goes on in SL.

But by ignoring the rest of it, they're effectively saying to me, and to many others: We don't want you here, unless you're human. We don't want you here unless you use voice. We don't want you here unless you look and act like everyone else.

In short, what I really take from that machinima? We don't want you here.

Runes of Magic is having another holiday contest. This one seems a little more involved, in a way. Go to sections of their site, and...well...that's where it gets odd. You can look at screenshots, concept art, and wallpaper, but you can't seemingly download any of it, so it's confusing just what we're supposed to do.

The end goal: redecorate your Twitter homepage to reflect a holiday Runes of Magic theme. I looked about their screenshots, and their wallpaper, and liked rather a lot of it...but as I couldn't download it, I decided to go into the game and take my own shots.

Runes of Magic,winter,holiday,Taborea,virtual worlds

I started off in the Ystra Highlands, of course--home of snow crabs, winter spiders, floating fae ferrets, and snow bears. Dodging them wasn't easy, and yes, at least once, I clicked the wrong thing and ended up drowning in winter spiders, literally--four of them killed me.

I wasn't too thrilled about that.

Runes of Magic,winter,holiday,Taborea,virtual worlds

So, the next shot I took at the resurrection point. It still wasn't right, though. It lacked...majesty. It used a trope that only the people in the game would get, and to be fair, barring Scrooge, death and the holidays are uneasy partners at best.

Runes of Magic,winter,holiday,Taborea,virtual worlds

I walked to the skeleton of one of the great dragons--throughout Ystra, Harf, and the Dwarven Stronghold, ancient dragon bones litter the landscape like ruins--watching with a wary eye the blackmane foxes yipping and snarling just a stone's throw away.

Runes of Magic,winter,holiday,Taborea,virtual worlds

I found the shattered remnants of a glowing yew tree, and thought that might be a good image. And while I adore the image, it didn't speak holidays to me as well; and really, as the land darkened to night, it didn't speak 'winter' to me as easily.

holiday,winter,Taborea,Runes of Magic,virtual worlds

Finally, I went to the grand gates of the Khalara Watchtower, frozen and serene. I wanted to include them, but the look as I stood with my back to them was...pretty, and sweeping, and understandable in terms of a holiday shot. So that's my current Twitter background for the contest.

I think it didn't come out too badly.


Peter Stindberg said...

The Facebookization of SL - not the first time I hear this. Even Hamlet on NWN said SL needs to become more like facebook.

Emilly Orr said...

Then Hamlet is wrong.

SL starts to resemble Facebook in any major way, I--and a lot of others--leave. Most of us aren't on Facebook for that reason--it feels cheap, tawdry, it's full of spam, it's lacking the vibrancy and yes, the reality of actual community.

If that's where SL's heading, I don't want to go there. And I think they'd be making a grave mistake wanting to push it that way.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Sheesh. Do they do a lot of RP in Facebook? Character development? Because, let's face it, the requirement to have (1) a unique name that (2) is limited by LL's selection of last names means that almost no one is here under a RL name. And - except possibly for you, Miss Orr, as I'm guessing a shapeshifter can look however she wants - we don't look like we do on the other side of the computer screen.

Socializing? Talking? That's fine, except that it's socializing and talking with characters. I'm mystified.

Dio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dio said...

I think it rather nicely reflected what I see as the biggest problem with LL--their inability and/or unwillingness to try to understand the real diversity of the resident population.

I found considerable irony in their inclusion of a snippet of "The Tempest" in the piece. After all, they rejected Ina Centaur's application to include something about her Shakespeare in SL project in the SL birthday hoopla. Apparently, new and innovative means of presenting Shakespeare didn't fit with their vision about the future of SL.

So what is their vision of the future of the platform? Judging from this promo, it's to be a wallowing of young, shallow, conformist sheep-tards, doing shallow, conformist, and essentially passive activities.

Was there anything in there about build, create and express yourself? I may have missed it.

I think you're right Emilly--they seem to be saying they don't want us here. The diversity of the resident population now seems to make them uncomfortable--which is probably why they haven't made a serious effort to comprehend what people are actually doing, or what they need and want.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson--I only know two people who look like their avatars, in RL--Hank Rucker (who's made every conceivable attempt to look as close to his RL self as he can), and Serenity Semple (and yes, the white-furred violet-haired kitten matches her RL self, because her RL self wears a fursuit.

Even that should tell LL something about the users of SL--because it's important to her that she look like her RL self. And her SL self couldn't do that in a world of humans.

The really sad thing is? Not a lot of RP on Facebook, that's true. But on Gaia--the so-called "child-friendly" game--the forums are FULL of BDSM action, the giving and accepting of collars (with the same meaning SL has), and everything-but-penetrative sexual scenarios. So much for 'kid safe'.

LL, meanwhile, pushes all their adult activity off the main continent, strip clubs suddenly have to worry on how to retain their Mature rating, and dance clubs start going out of business right and left because the money of the so-called 'hip young crowd' went off to Zindra--or left the game.

Emilly Orr said...


I think I am right, and I'm very sad to be right--SL used to be about promise and interaction and meeting people and finding our group (or groups); now, it's all about advertising and playing it safe. Y'know, they gained--and held--more premium accounts than when they flipped out and went corporate.

I also saw the irony in their use of footage from "The Tempest". Not only because it was so long ago--and yet, still memorable!--but because they did reject the Shakespeare in SL project. You'd think--trumpeting educational opportunities like they do--that they would have embraced her work, put it on the main page, tossed up links on the blog--but no.

The diversity of the resident population, I am beginning to think, scares them to death. And I think they're quietly debating on how best to get rid of anything that can't be corporatized and sanitized, both. Which is going to make the next few months very uneasy for anyone who's not playing a banker, lawyer, stockbroker--or whose whole perception of SL is 'one big vacation'.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

No RP on Facebook? Are you both BLIND? I mean how many "join my vampire clan" invites does it take for a comparison to Bloodlines?

What about storming the castle in Knight? Or getting your Bling on in Mafia Wars (which I think sounds like Toxia without the magic aspects).

Then of course there are the numerous illegal accounts that people have set up under their SL account names (It's worth repeating that it's against Facebook TOS to have an account in a name other than your real one).

Well OK not quite indepth RP but it's on a level with some of the so called RP in SL :-)

Emilly Orr said...

(It's worth repeating that it's against Facebook TOS to have an account in a name other than your real one.

Which is just another reason why I don't like Facebook. If I can't set up an account under any (reasonable) name I want, I don't want to be there.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Mr. Pearse, whether or not Facebook users engage in RP - and, judging from stories of sexual exploits on Facebook pages, poor judgment and great exaggeration seem to be rife - it's all rumor to me, as I have never had a Facebook account.