Thursday, November 3, 2011

there was fire, there was death, there was lying on your breath

Ever think the Cheezburger sites are getting too specific?

More from the last names JIRA, which I started covering in the last entry. First off, NWN also covered the topic (and is also urging people to vote...please, please stop until the Lindens decide they're going to look at votes again)...At any rate, they have what they consider a "definite maybe" from Yet Another Linden I've Never Heard Of (likely TM).

We'll get to that. In the meantime, we're still near the beginning.
Please bring back last names. They were a mark of individuality, and gave scope for many witty and creative names. They were our identity in the new world of Second Life.
And rightly or wrongly, having the last name of Resident just gives that avatar less credibility in many people's eyes.
This seems to be the overwhelming sentiment expressed.

There's also an article linked in the comments that makes multiple excellent points, but I want to pull one in particular out to address:
"I know that the system is already in place, but could you and your team consider setting up a new add on system that rewarded Residents that want to become one with the community that is Second Life. Maybe after they have been here a certain amount of time, say three months, they could choose a permanent name?"
While I admire what she's trying to get across--even going so far as suggesting the Lindens could charge for this!--I think her misconception is that the firstname.lastname system has been disabled, and that's far from the truth. In fact, it's still permanently in place, and that's not likely to change until the Legacy coding is completely removed (which I said in the last entry is not likely to be gutted out any time soon).

So what stops xxName3611xx Resident from being xxNamexx Invertebrate? The Lindens. Only the Lindens. They could add last name options in at any time because the code is still there. The only reason later viewers only show a first name is due to display coding alone; all viewers still track residents as firstname.lastname still.

I can't say for sure it would be an easy fix. But I know for a fact it's far from impossible.
Do something like deal with server issues or customer service or hey maybe when someone files a ticket you deal with that issue.... but last names are vital and part of the experience of SL.
I will freely admit I was cynical enough to laugh out loud when I read this. As long as there is new bright and shiny to deal with, the Lindens will never voluntarily choose to work on grid stability. Hells, in a time when the grid was crashing completely every four days and the Wednesday update was still happening, they decided to implement voice. Which made more of the grid lag terribly, sent more sims offline on a weekly basis, and entrenched the split in thinking between owners of sims who refused to allow voice for anyone, and residents on the grid who wanted to use voice for everything, even business transactions (like, oh, say, virtual real estate), regardless of how cumbersome it was.
Last names made Second Life feel more like a community. I agree that if bringing real "SL" last names into the mix isn't possible, that I'd like to at least see the ability to have spaces in the names users sign up with.
Yeah, totally. Because if I see one more BetsyJohnson Resident...it looks wholly inadequate, and frankly, on the ridiculous side, and again, all that would take is offering that space...but see, therein does like a problem. Remember that firstname.lastname thing I mentioned? Yeah. Giving that hypothetical someone the ability to call herself Betsy Johnson is one thing; but if she had the space in between the first names, then we're talking firstname.middlename.lastname...and trust me, the coding doesn't exist for that.
Personally, I've noticed a distinct seperation between the "Residents" and those of us with a real last name. There's a class issue developing and I don't like it one bit!
No one does, but note her phrasing? The "distinct separation" between "Residents" and avatars with "real" last names. Even she's putting that divide in there, and saying, if only subconsciously, that anyone walking around with "Resident" as their last name isn't real.

Frankly, that kind of thinking is appalling--and note I'm not saying she's appalling for this line of thinking, I'm blaming the Lindens again for this one. They instituted the class division. They allowed Unicode abuse in display names. With two coding strokes, they not only created a forever orphaned class of folks that will only fit in through dint of extreme hard work, but also created options for people to use display names for things other than naming. With no restrictions on display names, paired with the perception of anonymous, easily discarded Resident accounts, they have fostered unrest and suspicion in the grid as a whole.
In a world of our own contrivance, I feel that history and continuity are important components in adding depth and richness to our chosen virtual existence. Amazing sims come and go constantly, but with luck, we avatars have a longer lifespan. The ability to choose a fitting surname means a lot. I also like the legacy system in which names were retired after a span of time.
Admittedly, many didn't like the fact that Legacy names were phased out after a certain length of time, but personally, I felt it added character, and as she noted, that sense of history. I don't run into a lot of Orrs, currently; I'm sure they're out there, but it was never one of the more popular names, and at at least one point in 2007, all the Orrs I knew were a) female and b) strippers or escorts (yes, including me). It sort of gave that odd cachet to the name, that--whether I knew these other women or not--we were all struggling, all striving together in an odd sense to both find our footing on the grid, and bring pleasure to the masses. (Yes, I know, prostitution can have dire consequences, even in virtual spaces, but I always treated it closer to Firefly's Companions than street sluts for hire. Of course, that's also why I'm not in the game anymore...Most guys don't want Companions.)

My point being that names "aging" as time passed allowed people to capture certain eras, be part of a moment in time, and--in a subdued sense--be part of virtual evolution. I mean, sure, it's a leap from "Therian" to "GossipGirl" but it's still progression, even sidewise. With everyone named "Resident" and no chance of anything else, there's no evolution, no sense of progression, no sense of fixed moments in time at all.
I do not at all feel that the display names are a good substitute for the last names. As several others have said, they've always added to community. I love beeing able to see a last name and tell by that approximatly how old the avatar is. Now, the "Residents" almost end up in a perma-noob state in a lot of people minds.
Echoing what I've been saying.
Please bring back last names for all those poor new avatars who have to tack on numbers to their desired names.
and
So much of SL is about identity formation, too. [...] Bring back options for last names, and you bring back a key part of identity formation.
Absolutely. But the struggle for comprehension continues:
Voted. Bring them back please!
WATCH, do not VOTE...WAAAAATCH.
Yes bring them back please and also a option for the resident avatars to switch to a normal name like the older residents in game
Again, note the terminology: "normal name". "Real name". More avatars in SL than the Lindens might think separate "real" people, aka, people with last names from the Legacy system, from the unreal, aka, those with the last name of Resident. Residents aren't "real", in the same sense, to a lot of SL. Again, fostering this kind of separation--essentially, creating one set of described avatars that are discriminated against from their first moments in the world--is a bad idea. Wasn't that actually part of what Second Life was founded to prevent? To give everyone an equal playing field--regardless of their skin color, religion, personal beliefs, relationship status, ability or disability, or weight?

Now we have a class of people we treat very prejudiciously, people we discriminate against, and we're not even once thinking about why. They are Other by their very existence: not to be dealt with, spoken with, instructed, purchased from...Resident last names are people who are treated with suspicion, dislike, resignation, repugnance, and on occasion, fear, hatred and loathing. Is this what the founders of Second Life wanted to happen?

And keep in mind, this is an easy fix, because the code never left. They could revert back to Legacy names AT ANY TIME.
I have to admit that I do feel separate from new people with 'just' Resident as a last name. I hate to be a snob but we ARE different. I have a real first & last name. I am a person with a life on the grid; not a player with a list of letters & numbers attached to a cartoon that I made.
Again, note the use of "real" in her words. "Real" versus fake; "real person" versus someone with Resident for a last name. This is telling, in how often this phrasing turns up.
I think perhaps people might've taken more readily to Display Names had they not been wrapped up in that bitter pill which is V2.
And, while this post is not about the difficulties of SL 2.0, I agree whole-heartedly with this statement as well.
Please PLEASE return the old naming system. I can't imagine how disheartening it would be if you saw this fantastical world you wanted to enter, saw the blogs/machinima/art created by long term SLers and then tried to join them... only to be turned back by the fact that the first 57 names you attempt to join with have all been taken. No one wants to be Anakin26655897V.
And while I agree, again, why, if you're choosing a name for a virtual world, are you going to name yourself Anakin (or Akira or BritneySpears or InuYasha or Shinji...I mean, really, don't you have a personality of your own?) at all?

(Of course, I'm saying this knowing many, many people who chose fictional characters to represent, on and off the grid, and knowing my most well-known handle before Emilly was entirely lifted from a book I favored some years back. Pot, meet kettle. How's the wife and kids?)
The issue is the loss of having a real firstname/last name identity, just as we do in RL, thus creating a second class of citizens in SL that are looked down upon through lack of a last name. And the ensuing difficulties in even creating a new name without sounding like some griefer newb.
Again--though this is implied, not directly stated--the association of "Resident" last names with griefers. Again, that distinct linguistic separation of the classes.
Please make this change and many of the others that users are asking for. Also remember that a large number of SLer's don't pay the premium because they can't see what good it does.
This also brings up an interesting point. While I abandoned my premium account-holder status over the complete cack-handed catastrophe that was the homestead/openspace sim issue--and told the Lindens that in my final "Why are you leaving?" essay question the Lindens provided on downgrading at that time--I've still only seen one good reason to go back to premium: the sandboxen reserved for premium members. Lindenhomes never interested me; offerings of gifts never interested me; and access to Concierge service I generally don't need as I'm not renting an entire sim (or owning one).

But that's another good point. How many new premium members would the Lindens gain by returning to last name options? Granted, with people like me, who were originally premium members when the weekly stipend was higher, my monthly fee would still be canceled out by the stipend payments...but with new people? New people who were never bound by the stipend system? Wouldn't that strictly be money in the coffers, directly, that would benefit the Lindens?

More later, when I have the time.

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