Friday night at 7:00 SLT, the Diversionarium will host comedy improv games a la “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Come as improvisers or audience; all are welcome! IM Kate Amdahl if you know in advance that you’d like to come improv. 🙂 (Just search for Diversionarium in Places …)
It couldn’t have been more than a week or two after I joined Second Life that I went looking for mermaids. I was never very successful. My friend Grizzy has a mer-avatar, as do friends of hers, but I had long pictured a certain type of very finny mermaid avatar for myself as well as some gathering place where I could see people who lived as mermaids for much of their lives in Second Life.
Yesterday I got most of my wish: Eris and went with our friends Soph and nox (of whom you’ll hear much more in time, I’ll bet) first to outfit ourselves mermishly (at EmeraldEver’s Shop by the Sea, Pyeonghwa 19, 166, 27), then to dance at Sirens (Shamrock 112, 173, 112), a beautiful merperson club.
Soph bought me the mer-aspects of my avatar, which shade in a variety of colors and include an AO (animation override, to make me move differently) and a HUD (a little control panel). You can see the results in this picture (note the wings):
The mermaid movements were an unexpected delight: flips and swishes and an ethereally graceful swimming-through-air movement for flying that looks almost physically possible. At Sirens they have a wonderful mer-dance ball, so we turned off our HUDs and danced to that.
The strangest thing to me was that they had *no water*. In fact, I didn’t even get that they had no water, as they had a watery dance floor with (one supposes) glass over the top of it that we were meant to dance on. I thought it was supposed to be water, so of course I examined it’s properties and asked Akasha, a lovely mermaid owner of the club, if she would make it phantom for us so we could swim-dance in it. She did, and we did, and it was only later when people mentioned swimming in the floor that I realized this wasn’t normally done. Surely there should be water at a mermish club?
I forgot to leave a tip, so I’ll be going back to do that. In the mean time, both the club and EmeraldEver’s are highly recommended!
More fun: my friend Maria showed me, Eris, and my friend Mailia the working subway in the Downtown sim, which also had great shopping that we were barely able to glimpse. We’ll be back. 🙂
^^^\ Kate /^^^
I love Grizzy’s event ideas, since they have themes I never see anywhere else in Second Life, even though because of working on the Diversionarium I haven’t been able to attend one since Evil Twin Night (I ask you, Evil Twin Night!).
Sorry if this feels like a mutual admiration society, but I guess we just like each other’s sense of fun. 🙂
Anyway, Grizzy has a Historical event coming up Tuesday at 6:30 SLT, which she describes this way: “TUESDAY at 6:30pm slt. Anyone who has been in sl for any amount of time has been to some of the period sites in sl such as Caledon and probably has some clothing in their inventory that is around 200 years out of style. Now is your chance to put them on.”
So I’ve been interested in what it’s like to be on Second Life as a different race from the almost uninterrupted sea of white people. Thanks to the knowledgeable people on the LiveJournal second_lifers community (including our friend Soph, whom I guess I should have just asked in the first place!), I finally was able to find the skin I needed to put together a Japanese version of myself (Keiti?). Eris came along with me to Tete a Pied, where we tinkered with new shapes while we waited for skins to rez. (Almost everywhere we went last night was laggy, laggy, laggy until we came back to the Diversionarium.)
After getting new skin, hair, and eyes and changing our shapes, we went through our respective wardrobes, which were more than up to the challenge, and dressed the part. Eris came up with a lovely version of her avi that, to our eyes, looks distinctly Vietnamese. I think my results were less strikingly on-target, but I did come out looking (it seemed to me) passably Japanese.
I’m on the right, in green. I’d never seen
that dress before on Eris, that I recall. Wow. 🙂
Now, my question from here is, will people treat us any differently, or will we experience Second Life differently, in these avatars? Our only experience of strangeness so far was when our friend nox came by and said “I feel like a giant!”, because our new avis are both to normal human scale and smaller than the average Caucasian woman even on that scale. She did look like a giant to us, or we looked like pygmies next to her. Later when I changed back into gaijin Kate, she seemed a perfectly normal size.
And down the road, I’ll try further race bending experiments. While it’s not like being a minority race in First Life, it should still be enlightening.
^^^\ Kate /^^^
We had a wonderful turnout at the opening of the Diversionarium last night, and here (from Eris) are the pictures to illustrate! (For anyone who hasn’t read my earlier posts or heard about it elsewhere, the Diversionarium is Eris Fallon’s and my non-commercial spot for social games and creative play. It has a bunch of activities and games run through scripted objects that use words, ideas, and building talents.) When I say wonderful, I don’t just mean that we had a lot of people show up, although we did, but that the people I met last night were the kind of people I love to run into in Second Life. Many of them were habitues of the second_lifers Livejournal group, and I was delighted to meet them in person.
Eris and I wore Thai sampot dresses for the occasion
A good turnout
There were Chrysocolla and Mahoro, who tore through clues in our word game, Quoste, like bears tear into bee hives. There was Seven, who in his purple-haired Harry Potter avatar kept half a dozen people or more entertained with his builds in our Mystery Build game (my favorite was “carnival”. It seemed like it took him about 15 seconds to build two carnival tents with little flags on top); and Grizzy Griswold and Gira Bryant, who both took time away from their respective, wonderful venues to visit the Div; and many other fascinating people.
Seven at Mystery Build
We had glitches, certainly. It turned out that our Avisleuth game took great exception to players not filling out their notecards; and Mystery Build refused to deliver challenge tasks, giving only the easier standard tasks…but we made some fixes right in the moment and no one much seemed to mind the occasional scripting hiccup. Conversation galore, certainly.
Devo hats were all the rage …
When I finally got a challenge task out of Mystery Build, it gave me George Washington. In a few minutes, I was to use prims and colors (no textures allowed) to build something that people could recognize as George Washington. It think it was Caliburn who actually guessed it:
Maybe because the teeth, while undefined, appear to be wooden?
Next up, perhaps this coming weekend, will be a Whose Line Is It Anyway? comedy improv event. Eris and I are working on a conversation piece slide show where anyone can submit captioned pictures, and a month or so down the road, we should have fireworks sculpting. If you’d like to be kept up to date on events, please join the Diversionarians group or IM me!
Avisleuth! At left you can see Grizzy and Caliburn.
Me, Gira, her lovely friend Leia, and Eris’s and my friend Chris Luna
After weeks of building and scripting and texturing like madwomen, Eris Fallon and I will officially open the Diversionarium to the public tomorrow, Friday, May 25th, at 7:30 PM SL time (same as Pacific Standard Time). Use the link below, find us in places or events, or IM us to get there.
The Diversionarium is the first and so far only spot in Second Life (and a not-for-profit one at that) with social games and creative play available 24/7. We’re doing our best to make it a place where you can go at practically any time and be able to get into conversations with interesting strangers through fun and creative games with words, building, improvisation, poetry (or doggerel!), and personalities.
For notices about Diversionarium events, join the Diversionarians group through group search or IM Kate Amdahl or Eris Fallon.
We’re looking for volunteer hosts! Ever consider that maybe sometimes you should be the center of attention? Like meeting interesting people? Consider volunteering for brief or long time slots as a Div host.
If you’re curious to hear more, there’s more information and a press release in my Beta Night blog post. 🙂
^^^\ Kate Amdahl /^^^
Well, I was just reading a blog where a Resi was predicting, with a great sense of certainty, that not only was text chat going to shrivel up and die on Second Life, but that avi anonymity would be shriveling up and dying with it. I won’t go into more details about her predictions or even link to her blog, because as far as I could tell she wasn’t going on anything but her own sense of the possible. What I realized, though, is that I need to make my own predictions now. Then in six months, when we’ve seen how things will be with integrated voice in Second Life, you all will understand that I am gifted with the Sight and will heed all of my stock tips. (Cue evil laugh.)
Here’s my prediction in a nutshell: voice will be important. Lots of people will use it. But there will continue to be large numbers of people who don’t use it and large numbers of things you can’t do unless you use text chat. Why? This is why. And as if those weren’t enough reasons, read Caliburn Susanto’s vivid account of actually using voice on the beta grid and it being horrible. (Great post, Caliburn! And not just because some of it illustrates my points!)
Voice means loss of anonymity, not just for avibenders, but for anyone who doesn’t want to mix their Second Life with their first life. It also means sound pollution and lack of Second Life privacy at home and all kinds of other things. Will some people still use it? Sure, lots! Is it neat? Yes! Will it replace text chat as the only major form of communication in Second Life? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Changes in Second Life are driven ultimately by three things. The first one is, of course, the Lindens: they come up with ideas, they do their best to add cool new things, they try to grow the company. The second one is First Life: danger of lawsuits over kiddie porn, economic pressures, media coverage, and so on.
The third one is us, the Resis, along with all the future Resis. What is it we want? What will we actually use? We’re not a particularly powerful force for resisting change, but we are a pretty powerful force for the change making any difference or not. If a lot of Resis don’t use voice because the noise pollution is annoying or because they’re avibending or because they don’t want to wake up the kids, that means that whole population of Resis will continue to contribute to a virtual world based on text chat.
Will a frumious gestalt appear and gobble us up? I think not. Will Second Life split into voice areas and text areas? Yes, some of Second Life probably will. But lots of places will allow people to mix voice and text easily, and it won’t matter which you use. If you go to a club to dance with friends or go shopping, who cares if half the people in the room are using voice and half are using chat? Nobody, that’s who.
As for anonymity disappearing, you can have my anonymity when you pry it from my cold, dead inventory. Talking about virtual sex all the time in public is fun and interesting. Talking about virtual sex all the time in public with your First Life identity linked to that talk makes for trouble with your clients and family members and exes. I’m not interested in going that route. A lot of other people aren’t either. And you can’t drag us there kicking and screaming, because we don’t have kick animations and we can’t scream if we’re not using voice. 😉
There’s a caveat, though. Sooner or later, voice morphing technology will get good. Since my last post on voice I’ve had a chance to try some of the voice changing software out there now, and it’s not pretty. The results don’t sound like a real person; they sound more like cartoons–and there’s not much there to change your voice without sounding like a man or a robot or something. But if voice morphing technology gets much better and reliable and widely available and it sounds nice and I can just pick it up and have it disguise my voice to the point where voice printing will be useless, I’ll probably give it a try, and even use voice in Second Life every once in a while. Will it completely wipe out text then? Nope. All the other problems with voice still remain. But it will swing the pendulum further in that direction.
And years in the future, who knows? Maybe the Lindens will come up with such startlingly useful ways to deal with noise pollution and sound leaking into First Life and all the problems will disappear. I’ll be sure to post again if that ever happens. In the mean time, don’t throw away your keyboard: you’ll need it.
^^^\ Kate /^^^
A new world calls for new words, and we certainly have a lot of them from Second Life that at least I’ve never used for those purposes before: avatar, sim, grid, Barbie, griefer … actually, it’s really a fun little vocabulary! 🙂
But of course such things can always be improved, so here are suggestions for badly-needed words and phrases in Second Life, like “death feature” and “lesbiman”. 🙂
I really do know full well that the way terms sneak into language has very little to do with enterprising women, winged or otherwise, posting them, still I feel responsible to offer some lesser-used or wholely original words and phrases for use in Second Life.
(After finishing my list, it turned out that I ended up making up a lot of new ones for things we don’t have words for now. Later note: “Resi”, “First Life”, and “omnisexual” are not original with me, and I can’t guarantee no one’s ever come up with any of the others. 🙂 )
Resi – So useful, yet I hardly ever hear it! Short for “resident,” so someone who is in Second Life.
First Life (or FL, or 1L) – I like this so much better than the term “real life,” because some things in Second Life are real.
‘port – As in “teleport”, with or without the cute little ‘postrophe. Hardly anyone types out “teleport” (except for me: I type everything out), any the common abbreviation is “tp”, which also stands for “toilet paper”. So … “Port me”?
all type and no click – A way to describe someone who exaggerates or doesn’t come through.
vapor love – A romance that burns hot one day and vanishes the next when your lover turns into a furry or stops logging in or decides to become a slave in Gor or confesses to being a grad student just trying to get some information for research.
posemelt – Getting overlapped with another avatar because of a bad pose.
primplosion – An object made with a lot more prims than it should be.
SLove – Romance or commitment that exists mainly on hard drives and Internet connections, and that vanishes when you go back to First Life. Rhymes with “glove”.
death feature – Any enhancement of Second Life that might make you miserable. Voice chat and age verification are good examples (depending on who you are!).
lesbiman – A straight guy in First Life playing a girl in Second Life just for sexual kicks. Not to be used if the person is actually trying to learn something about being a woman!
Barbied – (For women.) Ignored because there are too many pretty avatars in the room.
outBarbie – To get noticed as being pretty even when there are a lot of other pretty avatars in the room.
FLeep and aFLeep – To be unavailable in Second Life because you have things you need to do in First Life. (“Sorry, I missed that…I was aFLeep for a few minutes.”)
avibend – To use an avatar that’s more or less realistic looking but very different from your First Life self (for instance, to bend gender or age or race).
disclosurist – A person who doesn’t want to associate with people who don’t say what they’re like in First Life. Disclosurists sometimes equate avibending with lying.
benderist – A person who thinks people grow and learn from taking on different Second Life personas, even if they don’t disclose avibending.
omnisexual – Willing to be and get romantic with different genders, especially when open to specialized kinds of sexuality like DS and furry sex.
signa-tachment – A kind of item that a person often wears for personal expression, like my wings or my friend Fallie’s fox ears and tail.
inventrash – Items you will never use that you haven’t gotten around to weeding out of your inventory.
realosexual – Not interested in sex or romance in Second Life.
SLex – Virtual sex, expressed concisely in just four letters!
So, Eris and I have been working on the Diversionarium for several weeks. Last night, we had a houseful of friends over to try everything out. And it was great! I took a few pictures (below), and Eris took more, which I’ll post later. We’ll post more after opening night.
Shirley Marquez sculpting for Mystery Build
So as to our success, don’t get me wrong: not everything worked. Some scripts weren’t in root prims where they needed to be (if you build an object out of more than one primitive shape, one is always the root, or main, prim, and that’s the one that usually should have the programming in it). The Avisleuth game ate most of its question cards once, and the Improvistation was refusing to hand out improvs. But all of the games and activities worked, and most things worked with no trouble. Everyone seemed to be having fun, and conversation sprang up effortlessly. This is the kind of place we wanted to build!
Eric, Stormy, Eris and me writing limericks with Limeruckus
And several of our friends had improvements to suggest, like making some wing-friendly chairs and having the audience guess the premise for the improvs to get more audience participation.
The improv area
We still have details to take care of and things to fix, but we’ll be ready and eager to play this coming Friday at 7:30 SLT when we have our grand opening. Our next event after that, we expect, will be a “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” night on our improv stage. And after that, who knows?
^^^\ Kate /^^^
Avisleuth, the match-the-answers-to-the-avatar game
PS – Here’s a press release we wrote up for the event. If you know anyone who might be interested or might be interested in posting it on your blog or know of an organization that might want to see it, please copy it and pass it around! Thanks!
Quoste, the quote-guessing game
New Second Life Venue Aims to Get Strangers Talking
Kate Amdahl and Eris Fallon, known to friends as the Sylphs, will open a new kind of Second Life venue they call the Diversionarium, or “the Div” on May 25th. The Div will be dedicated to word games, social games, and creative play.
“There’s no place I know of to go in Second Life where you can depend on getting in a conversation with new, interesting people,” says Amdahl. “There are lots of places where interesting people go, but those people aren’t always going out to socialize. We decided to create a venue for people who want to play with words and humor and personalities and creativity, a place where the activities actually *require* conversation.”
The Div will host Div-only activities run from objects devised and scripted by the Sylphs: comedic improvs done by audience volunteers; a game where groups work together to solve clues to words that form a quotation; a “prim charades”-style game in which a builder tries to get other players to guess a word by building within a time limit; group-written limericks; and Avisleuth, in which players are given anonymous notecards with other players’ answers to unusual questions and try to sleuth out whose notecard they have.
Amdahl says that in addition to these 24/7 scripted activities, the Div will host periodic creative and playful events, and that they expect to add more scripted activities down the road. Visitors will be encouraged to submit more material to be incorporated into the existing games, such as quotes for the quote game and tasks for the prim building game.
Amdahl says that the Div will not offer dancing, gambling, fighting, sex, shopping, “or any of the other things you can already do at other fun spots in Second Life.”
The Diversionarium is a free, not-for-profit venue, although the Sylphs say they’ll make a donation box available to help defray costs. Notices are available through the “Diversionarians” group, which can be joined through a groups search or by IMing Eris Fallon or Kate Amdahl. Opening night is scheduled for Friday, May 25th, at 7:30 PM SL time.
The Diversionarium, Noul, (26, 14, 402)
The big, important, exciting, fun, new, wonderful thing about Second Life for me is that it’s a world. I know that sounds completely obvious, but let me explain.
When you log into Second Life for the first time, after going through New Avi Plastic Surgery and Boot Camp, you’re just standing there. You don’t know anyone unless you have a real world connection to someone else who’s in Second Life, you don’t have a place to live, you don’t have any money, you don’t own anything, nobody’s expecting you anywhere and (the occasional griefer aside) no one’s trying to blow you up. A lot of Second Life has to do with deciding what you feel like doing and then finding someplace to do it and someone to do it with. If you decide to do something else, either at the same time or instead, you do that. There are no points, and nobody’s telling you where you have to go next or what cool thing you have to do or what’s on. We’re all just making everything up. Just like life.
So the thing that hadn’t really clicked for me until today is that the other virtual worlds that exist out there, like There.com and World of Warcraft and this new one called Kaneva that’s trying to be YouTube-meets-MySpace-meets-Second Life…they aren’t really worlds at all.
There.com is kind of a carnival or a playground, as far as I can tell. They provide things to do and let you build certain kinds of things and do certain kinds of things. All for fun! But don’t go outside the boundaries, ‘k? ‘Cause we won’t let you anyway.
World of Warcraft is a bloodbath, a place to go to struggle for treasure and power and stab things.
Kaneva seems to be a glorified TV set, a place to go to hang out while you watch videos and share profiles.
(I’ve never been to any of these places, now, so stop me if I’m missing the point.)
Basically, those three “virtual worlds” seem more like virtual entertainment systems. I think their creators believe that what we all need is more entertainment.
I’m not so sure. How many TV channels are there? How many DVD’s can you rent whenever you feel like it? How many games are there to play, videos to watch on the Web…? Entertainment is nearly infinite. Sometimes we need to be entertained, sure, but don’t we have plenty to be getting on with?
I think these companies are saying the same thing Microsoft is saying when their software tries to correct purposely non-standard grammar or to block an attachment that I really actually do want to open: they’re saying “We’ve done studies, and we know what you want, so here it is. Don’t try to get something other than what we’re giving you, because believe us, we’ve checked and you don’t really want that.”
Phooey on that. Double phooey. Give me nothing, and everything, and let me sort it out myself. If I need to be entertained I’ll get cable.
^^^\ Kate /^^^