A Faire Rez Day Wish

For those that don’t know (why not?) the annual Fantasy Faire of Second Life is fast approaching. This massive annual charity event that spans 21 regions,starts on 22nd April and runs until 9th May.

This year is going to be rather different for me though. On 31st March (Ava’s 8th Rez Day) I was invited to become one of the Official Faire Bloggers! I was and still am, very excited about this opportunity and was a fantastic Rez Day wish come true!

What’s the big deal you might ask. Well the official bloggers (Chroniclers) are allowed into the Faire 24 hours early. This may not sound like much, but given the number of avatars that descend on the Faire when it opens, things can get a little bit busy! If you’re trying to photograph the beautiful regions the talented creators have built, that can be very hard work when the region is crawling with people and slowing everything down.

Last year I saw the Faire from a different perspective as part of The NeoVictoria Project team. I was allowed backstage to donate an item at their store. This year as a Chronicler I have to wait to do my explorations until the 21st,which can not come fast enough.

Outfit:

Ava is wearing the NeoVictoria Medieval Hooded Robe. It will be one of the items available at the NeoVictoria Project booth at Fantasy Faire once it opens to the public on 22nd April.

Preview Vendor AD for NeoVictoria Robe

Let The Bastards Burn!

This outfit was inspired by “Let The Bastards Burn”. It’s a book written by Robert G. Penner who appeared on the Second Life Bookclub on 7th April 2021,under the pen name of William Squirrrell. It doesn’t really relate to the story of the book, mainly just the title, because you can do all kinds of fun stuff with burning and fire in Second Life!

Outfit Credits:

Avatars, Brands and Personas

 

My avatars online persona started with an email address.

This way I could separate SL related, avatar specific, mail from other day to day RL stuff. These days such things can be acquired in just a few minutes for free.

Then I thought it would be fun to tell people about my adventures in SL, so I bought a website domain for a blog, although I didn’t start using it for quite some time. When I actually started using that, a Twitter account to promote it followed  as well as a Flickr account for photos I took inworld.

I was gradually unintentionally building my avatar into a full online persona or psudonym, to the point they have more of an online presence than my RL identity.

But when does a persona become a “brand”? Is it based on the number of people that know of you? Number of “followers” or customer sales if you have an actual product.

To make things more confusing I discovered this term “brand-persona”, where a company creates a persona for their brand, without the actual person part. A fictional figurehead that doesn’t have a person behind it, but a marketing team. Sure we’re aware of these things, but I wasn’t aware there was an actual term for it.

An article I found on this suggested that individuals, while having or being an actual brand, don’t consider themselves as such. Whereas with business it’s completely the opposite,but that’s not surprising.

This lead me to think about these people known as “Social influencers”. Just the term makes me cringe, because it makes me think of “Reality TV” show participants that suddenly achieve “celebrity” by doing not a lot, certainly not anything worth being celebrated. But maybe that’s a misconception.

So what’s a social influencer?

The website Influence Markering Hub describes it as:  “People who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views”.
They go so far as suggesting influcer types from “Mega”  down to “Nano”, based on their follower numbers.

However based on the definition above, I have friends in SL that are probaly influencers, but they don’t consider themselves as such. They’re not the ones that make me cringe, it’s those that identify themselves as such.

Maybe if we follow the suggested numbers, persona becomes brand when you reach a certain “type” of influencer, at X amount of followers. Since the definition of these characters changes frequently, presumably the answer to my query does too.

I really struggled with this idea though, it seemed very  wrong to base value of something or some achievement based on mere statisitcs. To help me try and figure some of this out I asked Draxtor Despres. Undoubtedly an avatar and he certainly influences people, however I’d never want to insult him by calling him a brand.

The questions do overlap but I couldn’t decide which one might get to the point of what I was trying to work out.

Q. At what point does and avatar persona become a brand?

Draxtor: A simple answer to that is if you are on an entrepreneurial path, if you have something to sell. Which is totally fine. The wonder of second life is that you can do a mum and pop type shop or create something and have complete power over how to market to sell it and that’s a wonderful way to do commerce. So I would say an avatar persona becomes a brand when there’s commerce involved.

Q. Is whether an avatar becomes a brand related to the number of followers they may have on social media platforms?

Draxtor: Follows has absolutely nothing to do with anything, the idea of followers to measure the importance of what you do in terms of success in a measurable binary sense is total bullshit. That’s the capitalist paradigm. The capitalist paradigm is trying to equate number of sales to the importance and to the validity and to the greatness of a product and that’s just total bullshit.

Q. Do you think using an avatar name outside Second Life as name of blog or social channel make it a brand?

Draxtor:  I would totally do that just for consistency. If you talked to somebody who studied marketing in college would probably say I’m talking about branding, probably I am but I just don’t like the word because the word to me is clouded and soiled frankly by the nefarious agenda to sell bullshit to people for monetary gain of a small elite.

So it would appear Draxtors thoughts on the subject, matched pretty well to my own. His assertion that quite a lot of it was bullshit resonates with my thoughts that it felt so wrong to place value or worth on something or someone based on popularity or how many people know or approve of them.

On the subject of influencers however he had this to say:

I do Linden Lab contracting work where I produce weekly videos highlighting destinations, creations and creative individuals in personal profile style videos. In that sense you could see me as influencer, since I am on the payroll of Linden Lab AND showcasing the best of the platform. I don’t have a problem with that classification (influencer)however I would like to add that with my specific contract I have tremendous freedom to choose topics and the way I visually present them.
It is maybe a bit like working for the local tourism agency of country XYZ where you LOVE all the stuff the locals do and you tell stories how they do it!

That now looks like a contradiction, since I said people that identify themselves as influencers make me cringe. The difference being here is that Drax hypes imagination and creativity in the virtual world, not things for sale.

But is it that simple? Throw in money and you go from a persona to a brand? I thought maybe I need some more input, a contrary view.
I asked someone that I thought fitted this description, that receives money via sponsored ads on their social media content. I asked if they felt they considered themselves a brand and if so, at what point they thought an avatar becomes a brand.

“I think our social media foot print is kind of like a brand. Any time you are blogging or vlogging you are branding your self, your image, etc”.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a reply to a follow up question for any clarification but thier response does match up with the finance argument Drax makes. Their money comes in through their social media postigs, because they charge for ad space, which therfore makes them a brand just by posting.

So maybe it is that simple after all.

Edit:
Coincedentally just hours after I posted this article Isabelle Cheren posted a spoof video called “That Cringe Social Influencer” which depicts very well the type of person I talk about above, give it a watch.

I’d love to hear any thoughts readers may have on this, so do please put your thoughts in the comments. (While you’re there, read the comment by Drax where he clarifies some points.)


This post was featured on the Second Life Community Blogon 7th April 2021.

Insilico – Buddha Bowl & Beyond

The arrival point looked a little confusing at first, just loads of hovering stuff everywhere. After accidentally clicking on one and ending up I don’t know where, I came back and took a proper look. It’s a rather cool map and with the place covering 4 Regions I think it’ll come in handy!

I clicked on the closest map point labelled “07 Buddah Bowl” and sure enough that’s where I arrived and found it’s a rather cool looking bar.

Buddah Bowl

This area is rather huge and empty feeling, so was good to have some compay on this exploration.

On this particular visit I’m accompanied by my dear friend Joyouous Destiny.

Not knowing where to go next, it seemed sensible to take the only direction sign in sight, which got us nowhere. However  I think this because it lead to a rental. There’s a number of these doors dotted about the place and some of them clearly residences.

We saw a couple of shops as we walked, but they weren’t interactive, just scenery.

Then we came to somewhere that did sound much more iteresting, a place called “Cyber Doc”.

In here was all kinds of intersting but rather creepy equipment.

Coming out the “Doctors” there’s a few intruiging places I will have to come back to explore, since Joy was tempted by a lift.

This brought us up onto an extensive network of suspended gangways to explore, that reminded me very much of those found in the Cyberpunk varieties of Drune.

From up here you can see a lot of the city and other spots to visit, as well as some unusual artwork.

Below one of the walkways is a small oasis of greenery among all the steel and glass. I just had to go down and explore.

At the bottom of another set of stairs I found a bar, with a very cool looking animated android serving the drinks.

This is just one small peek at Insilico, there’s lots more city to explore down below, I’ll have to go back and do that soon. Definitely a place any sci-fi fan should take a trip to visit.

Landing point: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/INSILICO/33/182/522

Website: https://www.insilico.online/

Credits:

Joy..with Joy!

Today I was working on my next exploration blog post, which can be rather long, so I took a break to finish tomorrow. SL however is primarily for fun (and/or joy..) in my opinion, so when my friend Joy texted to ask if I wanted to come party, how could I say no?

 

The Time Machine

Relaxing in the balcony lounge of the Old Caladar club she ponders on recent events. There’s been a lot of visitors in outlandish or just plain strange garb lately in the City. Not that she can talk, her attire for attending the club tonight was perhaps better suited to a performer than an customer, but the management didn’t object so long as she kept buying drinks. She wonders where all these strangers come from and where they go to afterwards, not many of them seem dressed for travelling a great distance. Has some mad professor actually managed to make some kind of time travel device? Maybe it’s not so reliable, since the visitors have been seen to vanish into thin air, as if sucked out of existence..or back to their own time perhaps?

Location: The Old Caladar , Drune Diesel

Credits:

Items From Engine Room

  • Hair: Raven Bell – Celeste
  • Hat: Insomnia Angel . steampunk top hat
  • Gloves:..Silvery K..:*SteamDiva Bento Glove
  • Shorts& Blouse: *:..Silvery K..:*SteamExplorer

Others:

 

Drune – Diesel City

Another Drune installation is here and what a difference it is! A mix of Steampunk but with some newer tech thrown in. Just looking at the vehicles parked on the streets it’s quite a range from the Batmobile to worn out hovercars. It feels like your walking through multiple genres and time periods at once, but it really works.

The landing point is very appropriately located in an airship, I had an explore of the docking area building before takig the elevator down to the ground level.

Arrival in Airship bar

Like other Drune builds there are lots of lights everywhere, but not this time the neon of the cyberpunk styles of the past incarnations. There’s lots of shiny metal everywhere that reflects the light and making the place feel brighter, but then darker in the shadowy areas. Lots of the buildings are accessible and not just facades, as we’ve come to expect form a Drune build, attention to detail.

When you step out the tunnel from the elevator, you come to the first of many vehicles lining the streets. I did my usual routine of making a circuit of the streets to get my bearings and found some surprises.

By the time I reached the garae I was only about a quarter of the way around the block. I see some steps and explore and it’s here that I find there appears to be two levels of roads, since I found myself back on tarmac at the top.

Then I started seeing how many doors would actually open, as expected of Drune build, plenty.

Radio station – City Radio

Cinema

Private investigator – Deckard & Associates

Pub – The Garrison

Club – Old Calabar

Hotel – Cortez

One thing I did notice was absence of an aerial walkway area that have been included in the last two cyberpunk builds. Maybe simply because it wouldn’t have been appropriate in 1940’s era, but then neither would hovercars. Overall another fantastic build that anyone should visit and explore, whatever genre you’re into.

One last note a quiet little waterfront spot I found for those that enjoy misty sunsets, if you can find your way there (when using Region Shared Environment).

Landing Point: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Blissful%20Summer/204/123/2835

Credits:

Usually I like to wear something in-theme when exploring places, I really wasn’t sure what would class as DieselPunk. So it’s even more of a mix and match than normal this time!

Thoughts on Emotional connections, Real and Virtual lives.

A few things recently have set me thinking about the nature of virtual vs physical realities.

The first of those came out in my post about Virtual Hugs, which seemed to be very positively received. In that piece I talked about the importance of emotional attachment to your avatar.

I’m not debating whether virtual spaces, activities or experiences are “Real”. We interact within them, do things and have experiences within them. So from that perspective, the fact the “place” is computer generated is irrelevant, its Real. They’re just a slightly different kind of real, but you can’t deny the interactions happened.

Shortly after my blog post about hugs, a thread started on Twitter by Loki Eliot (@Demonkid) about how virtual experiences may have affected the physical reality, set me thinking more.

He posed the question of how much of our virtual lives (whichever space that may be in) pervades into our physical lives to shape our perception of it. I would say that it may well be quite a lot. Or possibly more accurately it could be proportionate to the amount of time you spent on these spaces. I’ll start by sharing my responses:

“Belief whether something is real is exactly that, belief, which is something you feel. If something happens in a virtual setting it’s no different to your mind than a physical world [..]”

“Perhaps those that mocked you may see their error now they can’t go out, but you can still do all your regular recreational things. Re-creation being the perfect word. It’s all recreation of a type of Real but better and how we want it. “

Emotional connection to your avatar and feeling part of the virtual environment are sometimes known as embodiment and immersion respectively. Whichever terms you use these things are important to get the most out of these worlds, to feel connected.

Some people can spend years in Second Life and not develop this connection. I have a friend that was in SL for years, until it finally happened. I said something like “Welcome to the Real Second Life” playing on the line from The Matrix. Others including myself form the connection quickly, it’s different for everyone.

Some people that don’t understand the idea of places or environments like SecondLife say things like:

“Just log off and forget about it”

It doesn’t work like that though. The thing that bridges the Physical and Virtual worlds is yourself. Your mind that experiences both places, you can’t switch your thoughts off. If you have an argument with someone online, particularly if they’re a friend, if they say something nasty it hurts you emotionally. It hurts in exactly the same way as if a friend in the physical world did the same.

So you would probably log out, but those feelings are still there and the exchange could rattle around inside your head for quite a long time. Note I said “online” above, because these things aren’t limited to 3D worlds, people are always getting into arguments on social media too. It can also happen in the Physical world, something that upset you at work for example. This is something the “just log off” brigade don’t realise, it’s the same emotional triggers as when they have a squabble on social media,it can hurt.

Does that mean Virtual Worlds are “Social Networks”? Perhaps in a way, we socialise and we network with our friends and make more friends. That’s where the similarity ends I think. In SL there is much less tolerance for disruptive behaviour I believe. We (Second Life residents) have a simple all-encompassing term we apply to it, “drama”. If you start any, you’re likely to be removed (ejected) from the place/group fairly promptly.

Perhaps where the virtual overlaps into the physical, is how we deal with people. We may have fewer physical interactions right now, but for those that inhabit virtual spaces, life continues as it did before or maybe even more frequently.

We may even go as far to say that interactions in Virtual Worlds are more like the Physical world than things on social media. People have jobs they go to, places they socialise at and favourite stores they like to shop in.

Imagine you ran into an old friend unexpectedly while you were out, that friendship may be refreshed, you’ll have a catch-up chat and may arrange to meet again. That kind of thing doesn’t happen on social media, because they’re flat, 2D, boring.

It’s  exactly what happened to me recently, as opposed to the hypothetical situations mentioned earlier. I went to a club to hang out with a friend and by pure chance there were a number of people there I hadn’t seen for over a year, many years in one case.

So those overlapping emotions can be positive as well as negative. I’m now looking forward to a catch-up chat, a shopping trip and another event I was invited to,  with the various different people I met.

All from the comfort of my home in the physical world.

Featured on the Second Life Community Blog on 24th March 2021.

What’s different about Second Life Gor Roleplay (from other RP)

As I mention on my About Ava page, my introduction to SL Roleplay was via the community of groups and locations collectively referred to as “Gor” in Second Life. Maybe this wasn’t the best introduction I could have had to SL Roleplay, but it’s what I got.

There are lots of criticisms of the books written by John Norman set on the fictional mirror-Earth planet called Gor, on which these locations are based. Criticisms include bigotry and sexism to just start with, but I’m not talking about that here. Lots of others have debated and discussed these issues better and at greater length than I would.

What I’m talking about is the actual style of how roleplay interactions happen in SL,how people communicate. Regardless of which variant of SL Gor you play, GE(Gor Evolved) or BTB(By The Book), whether there is much difference is debatable. Either way my experience was of a casual un-structured dialogue.

It wasn’t until I left Gor and started RPing elsewhere that I came across “Post Order”. I talked about this briefly before in a previous post, but it basically means taking turns. Sounds sensible, polite thing to do right? Actually it can be infuriatingly tedious. This is where I think my 18 months in Gor was probably a bad introduction to roleplay.

I just responded straightaway to someone, like you would when having a regular conversation. Nobody said “that’s not how we do it” or “wait your turn” once. If I’d had to stick to post order over those 18 months, I probably wouldn’t have lasted a week.

Does this make Gor players rude or lazy? I’m not sure, there are no doubt some people that may think so. But when I was playing there, it certainly wasn’t tedious and stories moved at a decent pace. Instead of sometimes having to wait as long as 40 minutes for everyone else present to make their posts,which makes advancing a story very slow indeed! (I was once actually able to go make my dinner, eat and do the dishes before it was my turn to reply in a post-order roleplay location.)

So while Gor has a bad reputation, it’s this casual and easy way of playing that makes it so easy to slip (fall?) back into it again with little difficulty. But it can be a bit like a trap too, it makes you think in a rather odd way, which I really can’t describe. A friend recently said:

“All ex-Gor roleplayers need a form of cult deprogramming.”

I actually agree with this, the early posts of this blog were exactly that for me, getting it out my system.

It occurs to me that a reason post-order is rarely used in Gor is combat. There is quite a lot of fighting that goes on using weapons and damage meters, not a situation where you’d take turns. I did my best to avoid combat if at all possible, being very bad at it.

This is one of the things that gives SL Gor a bad reputation I think. There are some groups that are only interested in doing combat activities, these become derogatorily known as “pew-pew” players rather than RP with storyline.

I had in mind lots of website references I used to use while playing there that I would link here. But not surprisingly a lot of them have vanished now. Not surprising because the words people were saying even when I started there in 2016 “SL Gor is dying”. Well if you keep saying it, don’t be surprised if it does. But it’s not dead yet,though it definitely shrunk. The region (private island) that I spent most of my time on disappeared not long after I left.

A few days ago I received a message via group notice from one of the old groups I was in, to say they had moved. This isn’t surprising either, this particular band has moved 5 times now in my memory. As a result of regions closing and having to find a new home. I usually go visit them when this happens to go say hi and have a catch-up. This time around its what led me to write this, because I slipped so easily back into character it was almost scary. Which is precisely my point.

You can certainly drop into any roleplay situation in SL, you’d just get added into the post-order and in most cases be welcomed. However it’s not conducive to a relaxed conversation,because it takes so long to say anything and relay an in-character update while still responding to the others present. That is what’s different about Gor Roleplay.

To demonstrate that there is still some life in Gor I was able to find a couple of blogs that are still active and current, telling stories of roleplays that have taken place. I’m sure somewhere there maybe more, based on the length of the list of active grups linked below.

  • Gazette of Gor – Written in part by players that I was involved with.
  • The Good Gorean – Which features a recent list of all the active Gor GE groups and locations.

 

Engine Room 2020 Recap

Since the latest round of Engine Room is opening today (20th March,12pm SLT) I thought I’d put together some of the items I collected from last year.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get in and show you some of my purchases from this round!

Event location: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Syndicate/198/154/25

Website (with item previews)

Discord

Photo Location: NeoLondon, NeoVictoria.

Credits:

Engine Room 2020:

  • Hat: Insomnia Angel . steampunk top hat [wine]
  • Neckpeice: Silvery K..:*SteamDiva Neck Corset
  • Gloves: Silvery K..:*SteamDiva_BentoGlove(Red)
  • Ears: -[TWC]- Diesel Ears
  • Mask: Wicca’s Originals – Adeline Mask
  • Hair: Raven Belle – Luxe Hair

The Rest: