31 Days of Halloween Illustrated by Freaky SL Screenshots — Including an Amazing Tribute to Beetlejuice
Cajsa Lilliehook covers the best in virtual world screenshot art and digital painting
I featured Grant Valeska’s blog Blond back in February, so under normal circumstances it might be too soon to come back around, however since Grant is devoting their stream entirely to Halloween for the month, I just don’t want you to miss out on this great project. Here is Day One. A spooky gatekeeper into a world of the spooky and spectacular.
More spooktacular pics ahead!
“Buried Alive” is intriguing. The title suggests that a living person is in that plastic wrapped bundle. If so, perhaps the victim will be rescued because it does seem the killer has been caught in the act.
“The Waiting Room” is a hilariously macabre picture inspired by Beetlejuice. I love that each picture includes its inspiration
Be sure to follow Grant Valeska’s 31 Days of Halloween album. You should just follow Grant in the first place because their stream is wonderful, but this project is a don’t-miss project.
“Second Life is a Game” Meme Inevitably Outrages Non-Gaming SLers
Antonio Giano recently wrote and posted this SL variation of the famous defenestration meme on a private Facebook group for Second Life users — and as you probably would have guessed if you read New World Notes on the regular, it provoked a long back and forth of outrage and argument.
Which as Antonio tells me, was what inspired him to make the meme in the first place: “As you can see, people are always fighting a lot on that topic.” In fact the post got so heated, he finally disabled his notifications.
As I observed on the Facebook post, the argument inevitably breaks down between longtime gamers who know Second Life has many similarities to many games — and those for whom SL is the first online game in which they’ve devoted serious time, energy, and emotional investment. Here’s why:
Non-gamer take umbrage at the idea of calling Second Life a game because to them, that implies their activities in SL are unserious or “not real”. Whereas seasoned gamers know that playing online worlds often leads to real life friendships and romantic relationships, not to mention real life careers.
A generational gap is at work, too, between those who grew up on games, and have always seen them as an integral part of their social lives (playing with childhood friends, college dorm mates, and so on) — and those who came upon games relatively late in life, after decades of considering games merely as “something that kids play”.
Yes, Second Life is a Game: The Final Word on a Confusing, Often Misunderstood Topic
“Second Life is not a game!” has been the most polarizing, most debated, most misunderstood –and most ridiculed! — statement about Second Life throughout most of Second Life’s history. Unsurprisingly, it continues to attract much conversation, and frustration among SL users, when so many people still insist on calling Second Life as game. This misunderstanding has also caused the company that owns it, Linden Lab, to make some disastrous strategic mistakes, and ignore obvious opportunities. This post will resolve the controversy once and for all.
TL;DR, this is the correct answer:
Second Life is not a traditional MMORPG. Second Life is best described as an open-ended, user-created online social game.
Why and how is Second Life a game? Before answering that, the best place to start, of course, is by defining what a game is, and I think game designer Raph Koster has the best one:
Playing a game is the act of solving statistically varied challenge situations presented by an opponent who may or may not be algorithmic within a framework that is a defined systemic model. Some see this as a “fundamentalist” approach to the definition. But I use it precisely because it is inclusive. It admits of me turning a toy into a game by imposing my own challenge on it (such as a ball being a toy, but trying to catch it after bouncing it against the wall becoming a game with simple rules that I myself define).
Defined that way, it becomes obvious how Second Life is a game in a most fundamental way:
Pretending that 3D graphics are a “world” and that fellow system users are fantastic “Avatars” within it is in itself a game.
On this view, the statistically varied challenges are baked into the entire Second Life experience. The first core statistically varied challenge is to accept 3D graphics as a “world” in some meaningful way, and to figure out how to navigate successfully within it. The second is to impose that challenge on your avatar (customizing, enhancing, and ultimately mastering it), and then on the avatars of others, pretending that they embody the fantastic, flying, god-like 3D representations they present to you. From that view, you could say that the game of Second Life is competing with others to accept Second Life as a second life — and to demonstrate one’s mastery within it. Indeed, with no traditional MMORPG-type mechanics, Second Life users implicitly compete with each other by showing how well they’re able to use the UI and understand the system.
When I say all this, I’m mindful of my good friend Tom Boellstorff’s argument that “if you say Second Life is a ‘game’ then it’s hard to not classify everything humans do as a ‘game’.” For instance, Tom might argue that on my logic, money is also a game — it’s not really valuable, we just all pretend it is, and we often amass it as a way of keeping score. I believe Tom’s very legitimate point becomes shaky, however, when you consider a couple empirical points:
“Second Life is not a game” was first prominently promoted as part of a marketing campaign by Linden Lab in an attempt to encourage real world, non-game uses of Second Life.
Here’s what happened
In 2005-2006, David Fleck, Linden Lab’s head of marketing at the time, announced in a company-wide e-mail that thenceforth, Second Life would no longer be called a game. (We staffers often did.) Instead, it was from then on to be described as a “platform”, open to varieties of use cases, an attempt to become the “3D web”. Up until that point, Second Life had actually been marketed as a kind of social game, and was considered a direct competitor of The Sims Online. It even launched with player rankings and leader boards. But after Fleck’s ruling, promotion of Second Life as a game ended, and Linden Lab made a concerted effort to foster non-gaming uses and investments in SL.
Which takes us to our next point:
No non-game uses of Second Life have succeeded in a substantial, scalable way.
Fleck’s move seemed strategically sound at the time, because major companies like IBM were indeed acclaiming Second Life as “the 3D web” and were planning to launch a number of non-game applications within SL. (IBM had a whole campus in Second Life, which was subsequently protested by a labor union.) If any of these many attempts had gained traction, the “Second Life is not a game” argument would carry much more weight. Despite marginal examples, however, none of these non-game uses have demonstrated any traction, and instead, only the already-existing user base, who play Second Life as an open-ended social game, remain.
And as I said, mistaking Second Life as something other than a game has caused Linden Lab to make several disastrous moves, chief among them a massive investment in SL as a real world work platform, leading directly in 2010 to a layoff of 30% of its staff:
The Dwight Schrute Echo Chamber are all the people in Linden Lab and in the company’s orbit who’ve repeated Dwight’s mantra [“Second Life is not a game!”] in various forms, until it seemed obviously true, and that a sizable market for real world applications of SL already existed. (As opposed to what it more likely is: a very interesting but numerically small niche.) This flawed assumption is probably why Linden Lab has devoted so much money, labor, and time attempting to turn SL into a platform for real world businesses and organizations.
Beyond the business uses that were tried and failed, advocates of the “it’s not a game” argument will point to the several examples of Second Life activity which seem non-game like — live music, socialization, education, and so on. But that only takes us to our next point:
Every “non-game” use of Second Life also exists in one or more self-defined MMO games.
Several other MMOs enable live music performance; most MMOs also encourage non-game socialization; Minecraft is also used an education tool, as are others, and encourage user-generated content. The MMO Entropia Universe and others allow and encourage real money trading. And so on. Without a non-game use case which is unique to Second Life that other MMOs do not have, it’s simpler and more intuitive to put Second Life within the same category as them.
Which leads to a related realization:
Many or most active Second Life users consider it a game.
If Second Life’s wasn’t a game, few would call it that. Instead, many or most active Second Life users explicitly call it a game, or at minimum, use it for game-like purposes: For virtual fashion, roleplaying, social gaming, mini-MMOs, and more — again, activity comparable to many games on the market.
So now that we’ve definitively established that Second Life is a kind of game, one question looms: So what? A core conclusion is this:
Since Second Life is indeed a game, it should be developed and enhanced by Linden Lab with that awareness in mind, becoming more and more “game-like”, with a return to achievement and ratings systems, for starters. At the same time, realizing that Second Life is a game should help the entire user base better understand what they are doing within it.
That Second Life is a game does not make it trivial, useless, or ridiculous — quite the opposite. It means that Second Life is among the many games (both online and off) where people come together from all backgrounds to find meaning and commonalities to share with each other, hopefully enhancing their life outside its magic circle.
Now that the American Chopper meme is my favorite new meme, I couldn’t resist. Warning — contains salty muttonchop biker language:
Thanks to New World Notes and Wagner James Au for this 3 article Mashup.
Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands
Watch: Carmen King Keeps Streaming Second Life — And Has Advice for Players of The Sims In Giving SL a Second Chance
WARNING THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS STRONG ADULT LANGUAGE. Viewer discretion is advised.
In the latest hilariously ribald video from Ms. Carmen King, YouTube gaming doyenne and unofficial queen of Second Life, we find her searching for a mansion to buy in Second Life as only Carmen can. (NSFW of course, unless I guess you work at a tattoo gallery.)
“[My SL] apartment is beautiful,” she announces at the start, “but I am grown, and I am ready to have a grown bitch’s house.” Then actually goes and finds and actual (virtual) real estate agent. (That’s a thing in SL? TIL there are actual ass real estate agents in SL.)
While her videos are gaining popularity among the SL community, I notice that a lot of her endemic subscribers are leery to try Second Life, either because they were overwhelmed by the UX (can’t blame them there), or they tried it once and got overwhelmed.
So for all of them them, you’re in luck: I reached out to this queen named King and asked for her own personal tips for people thinking of trying out SL now — especially those coming to it after playing The Sims:
“There are a lot of differences between the two games, but the main differences are creativity and community,” Carmen tells me. “The Sims is a limited game where new content is available through DLC’s and updates… which take a while. A lot of the time I’ll get super excited about upcoming releases but quickly get discouraged once I see the title’s theme.
“In Second Life, other players make content for EVERYONE. I was shocked at how many things there were to do and still discover new things daily. You can also connect with the community directly in Second Life, whereas in The Sims you are stuck interacting with the same NPC’s and your own creations. It’s fun to be able to visit friend’s houses instead of just seeing pictures of what it looks like!”
And for gamers just trying out SL for the first time, her tips: “Explore the game slowly, watch a lot of tutorials, bring some friends, and keep an eye out for events going down!”
So yeah. And don’t forget, as they always say, to subscribe.
Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands.
WARNING THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS STRONG ADULT LANGUAGE. Viewer discretion is advised.
This means there is swearing and adult subject matter. But I don’t think you would get the full effect if we censored the content.
Watch: Celebrity You Tuber Bored With The Sims Quickly Becomes Queen of Second Life, Basically
Ms. Carmen King is a gaming YouTube celebrity with nearly 1 million subscribers, and earlier this month, an amazing thing happened.
“If you’ve watching my channel lately,” she announces, “I’ve been talking about how bland the Sims 4 has been getting — that Star Wars pack did not make it any better, bitch.”
But rather than switch to a recent game, she reaches all the way back 17 years to launch Second Life:
“I’m not here to troll or make enemies or anything I like that,” she begins, in a nod to YouTube’s many a-hole SL trolls, “I genuinely want to do stuff in SL like create myself in Second Life, go shopping, find me a man, go to a strip club, get pregnant — and I’m not even kidding, you can literally get pregnant in Second Life and literally deliver a baby, like straight out your cootchie deliver, I’m not even joking,”
… which should give you a taste of her girl gamer-meets-Cardi B charm and NSFW Rabelaisian patois. What follows is more or less the “WAP” of game streaming, adventures in avatar enhancement, apartment hunting, and later on, road rage in a diamond pink car. Yes:
Maybe you thought Second Life was conceived as a virtual Burning Man or the birth of the Metaverse. Whatever we once thought, it’s Carmen King’s world now, and we just live in it.
Have a great week From all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands.
Returning to Second Life in 2020 – How to get started from scratch
So, I’ve been away for some time. Work and circumstance brought me to the real world for a few years. But it is now a new decade, almost exactly a decade since I first entered Second Life, so I thought I would create a new avatar and start from scratch, just to see how life is for a newbie in 2020.
For this excursion, I will have voluntary amnesia. That is to say, I will willfully forget everything I know about Second Life. Quite easily done, as I haven’t been there for over 3 years and I am starting with a new avatar with no attachments at all and so much have changed.
First up is the registration. Very straight forward. Go to the site and click “Sign Up”. Very much like Facebook, give some rudimentary information about yourself, like email and age and your preferences for your starting avatar, then you’re on your way. It gives you a link to download the official Second Life Viewer.
The Second Life Viewer looks sleek and has a very self-explanatory design. None of the buttons has labels, instead, they opted for icons. Some of them might be hard to understand for newcomers, but if you hover over them, a label will appear in the language you selected. Very hard to break things, so just click about if you’re unsure.
First time logging in, I ended up in some form of a training area, showing me how to operate the controls and interact with the environment. I had picked the option for “non-binary gender” as a starting avatar, just to see what that would be, as I have seen both the starter male and female before. Not sure what I expected… Did not expect a clearly female avatar in a bowler hat though. Linden Lab dropped the ball with this one, I think, but luckily for everyone out there who describe themselves as such, in Second Life, your looks are only limited by your own imagination.
At the end of the tutorial, you get to the Map Dome, which shows you a map of the entire Mainland, the interconnected landmass of Second Life that comprises the majority of the virtual world. A teleporter takes you to Social Island, so I guess that is where I’m heading next.
Arriving at Social Island, a hud immediately attached itself to my screen, offering more tutorials. This time about how to earn cash prizes. Another hud attached itself displaying my current cash prize balance of 0L$. I was both worried and intrigued, so I followed the siren’s call down the steps. As soon as I entered the next tutorial area, the HUD let me know that the shops on the island only accepted “Tutorial L$, not ‘real’ L$”, and I understood what the “game” was about. I looked around to get an overview of what they offered but quickly moved on.
The tutorials taught a lot of good things I already knew from before, and you could get some good basic avatar customization items as rewards, but I did not feel like going through all that for some hair and a pair of shoes. For the purposes of time, I pretended I had gone through the tutorials and ignored them. Wanderlust got the better of me and I wanted to get off this island.
After ending up going in circles around the island, which felt like a maze at times, I ended up in a literal maze. Using the camera tools to zoom out, I accidentally stumbled on the Portal Area, which is the actual way out. Once you know it is there, it is hard to miss, but since everything looks the same and there is no way point and no signage and no instructions, you end up running in circles. Anyway, this concluded our introduction to the world of Second Life, now we’re prepared to take on the world. So now we can see if we can gear up.
I jumped into the portal marked Newcomer Friendly and suddenly I was on the Mainland in a place called Caledon Oxbridge. It is a university in the heart of Caledon and it has not changed a bit since we last wrote about it. It was still the lovely place I remember. But it only reiterated the things I already knew from Social Island, so I headed towards the more populated area and asked around for help.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time near the newcomer friendly areas of Second Life knows this is an invitation for immediate spam of the best kind possible. Within minutes, I was well equipped with landmarks, note cards and tips. My newcomer avatar was now up to speed with my decade-old Morphman avatar when it comes to knowledge, and it only took about 30 minutes from the account creation. Let’s see if we can get there in terms of fashion as well.
I started at the Marketplace, the Second Life official website for creators to sell their wares online. It is hard to find good quality free items there since the archive stretches back through the entire history of the platform and the filters leave a lot to wish for. And it does not help that many people do use some rather shady tactics to get you to click on their items. Another thing that makes it even harder for freebie hunters is that there is no section for demos, so demo items are strewn in with all other items.
But I have a trick for that: you can set the filter to “up to 0L$” and the results to “96 items per page”, then search in your browser for “demo”. That will highlight all the demo items, and you can quickly see which items are not demos.
Some heavy scrolling later and I got myself a bento-enabled mesh body and a biker outfit. Now I need myself some hair, better skin and some shoes. Let’s hit those freebie and Midnight Mania groups. Just searching for “freebies for men” and “midnight mania” in groups should yield plenty of groups to join for free. But we don’t just wait. The right offer might not pop up for a long time, so we search in Places for “Lucky Chair for Men” and hop around the stores listed to see if we can snag a freebie or two while waiting.
After about an hour of combined effort between searching and looking out for group messages, I had managed to find enough Midnight Mania boards, group gifts and lucky chairs with my letter on it to get myself a half-decent avatar. It has a Bento Mesh body with baked skin, mesh hair and mesh clothing and a customizable animation override, just like the top-of-the-range paid-for avatars of 2020 does.
It might not look like the prettiest avatars do, but it looks a lot better than I expected, and miles better than even the top-range avatars did when I was a newbie the first time around.
All in all, being new in Second Life in 2020 is not that jarring of an experience if you get some guidance. Luckily, there are plenty of helpful people there, and then you got sites like The Torch: Entertainment Guide to help out if those people are not around. We have a wide backlog of articles on the subject to help you through those trialing first steps, especially if you are on a tight budget, or just don’t want to spend any money before you know what it is all about.
Linden Lab is pleased to announce the Second Life Endowment for the Arts (SLEA), a new community arts initiative developed in partnership with Tansee and Hannington Xeltentat.
What is the SLEA? SLEA is the spiritual successor to the former Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA), a decade-long partnership with the arts community that aimed to help new artists, cultivate art in SL, and foster innovation, collaboration and education. Due to open to the public in January 2021, the new SLEA is a multi-region experience that aims to provide opportunities to further fuel interest in and spotlight the work of both established and emerging artists in Second Life.
It is hoped that the creations and art featured in SLEA will help draw attention to the overall arts community in Second Life including driving both traffic and awareness to many of the established artists and exhibits found across Second Life. In addition, SLEA would like to reach out to new residents of SL and help them to discover the arts in SL and all the creative tools that are offered so that a new generation of creativity will unfold.
Pictured: A map of the seven-region SLEA experience including central hub and related art regions and sandbox. (Image courtesy of Tansee and Hannington).
Since LEA ended in late 2019, many members of the community have expressed an interest in reviving the idea of establishing another official showcase hub for the arts in Second Life. In particular, both Tansee and Hannington led a grassroots effort to revive LEA that resulted in the formation of the Hannington Endowment for the Arts in late 2019. That initiative, which has drawn the interest, respect and participation of many artists in SL, proved the concept and the demand from the arts community in Second Life. SLEA promises even more access to engaging events, exhibitions and experiences in the arts for the Second Life community. It is anticipated that the HEA will continue as a separate entity for those who wish to participate in its activities
At the heart of the SLEA presence in Second Life will be a new central landing and information hub featuring a teleport station that will help visitors easily discover current exhibitions, as well as a public park, “art challenge corner,” arts education center and SLEA Theater.
Here’s a peek at the work-in-progress layout:
Image courtesy of Tansee and Hannington.
How can artists and creators participate? Specific details of how the community can get involved in SLEA will be revealed in the near future. Keep an eye out for the application where artists and creators can apply for consideration for use of full or partial regions at SLEA. There is also a new SLEA group inworld that interested parties can join, too. To learn even more about SLEA, tune in next week to a special episode of “Designing Worlds” for an insightful interview with Tansee, Hannington and Linden Lab execs Patch and Brett Linden.
Image courtesy of Tansee and Hannington.
Note: Linden Lab and the SLEA wish to express our deep gratitude to all in the community who have supported and promoted the arts in Second Life over the years. In particular, we want to express thanks to the many volunteers who contributed to the original Linden Endowment for the Arts during its almost decade-long run from 2010-2019. We are grateful for your ongoing passion and support — and we can’t wait to see what the new year brings with SLEA in 2021.
Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands.