recreate new lives
imagination runs wild
real hearts beat beneath
haiku by M. Nakazato LaFreniere
When my mom needed someone to stay home with her (her cancer meds made her shake randomly so she would fall sometimes), I was there for her. Second Life became my way of leaving the house without leaving the house. You can socialize, have conversations, do a lot of things together and a quick “brb” was enough to leave abruptly to take care of something in real life.
Virtual games are more set — you are within one person’s vision (or a company’s vision) of what the world looks like and what you can do. You can chat freely but most times the chat is task-oriented on whatever challenge you all are facing.
In a virtual world, it is whatever you want it to be. Because of that, it is a lot harder in the beginning. Like a baby, you have to learn to walk, sit and fly (well, ok, most babies don’t learn to fly). Initially I kept walking into walls and falling off boardwalks into the sea. Kind of funny to be as clumsy virtually as I am in real life.
The vision of the place you are visiting is a like a movie set — usually no one person makes the place. People sell or make everything: avatars, clothes, furniture, trees, buildings — literally everything. Then someone does the landscaping or interior decorating by either buying stuff or making it, then buying land and laying it all out. You can even change the skies and the ground.
So taking picture in virtual worlds like Second Life is a collaboration between everybody who make the things, the set designer (ie landscaper or interior decorator), the model(s) (and their skin, hair, face and clothes designers) and the photographer. You don’t even have to accept the sky and water settings of the landscaper. You can change those on the fly through windlights, changing the feeling of the place. In the camera, you can choose whether you want a normal lense, telephoto or wide and if you want the background sharp or blurry. You can do snapshots (the default is everything sharp and a 55mm-like lens) or plan your photos.
I usually take photos by myself because it takes me so long to set up a shot, get the right angle and to focus. You can socialize — it can be as simple as just chatting or you can be involved in doing things together like having a home, a shop or roleplaying with a group. Some people come into virtual worlds expecting friendships or more intimate relationships to fall into their laps. And there are people who will take advantage of the new or emotionally desperate person just as there are in real life.
|As in real life, friendships are built around doing things in common and take time. Even here, instant relationships tend to implode. Some friendships enter the “real world” and meet in person but it is rare, partly because the other person can be anywhere in the world. My besties lives in Australia, England, Connecticut and California. Kind of hard to walk over and knock on their doors since I’m in the heat of Arizona.
A fair amount of the people I’ve met here were homebound for a variety of issues like I was. For some, it is a serious health issue and they don’t come into the world on the days when the pain is very bad or they have a relapse. Winter has had several friends who had muscular dystrophy. For those people who have mobility issues, virtual worlds is a great escape because they can do anything here.
Some people are caretakers like I was whether of someone who was ill or a housewife/husband who’s primary duties are keeping their household on track as they snatch a few moments in Second Life between ferrying real family members to their various activities. Being able to socialize when you can’t leave the house improves mental health immensely. Or even just to escape and create art, breed a pet, or hunt for an item.
It’s also a great way to socialize with friends who are living in other countries. Because you can talk using a mike when you meet here (if you want. since I am getting hard of hearing, I actually prefer chat), you basically have free long-distance calling internationally. So my friends in Second Life span the globe.
Because you can use a mike, some people enjoy singing in clubs, reading from books in libraries and being DJs. I met Amber because she was an auctioneer for Kittycat breeders. She had a warm way of talking with a great sense of humor. Being in Australia, her auctions were midnight my time which worked out great because I used to come into Second Life after mom went to sleep each night.
I originally came into Second Life though a Master’s degree course at the San Jose State University. The professor gave a lecture each class period to students scattered around the world. We heard the lecture and asked questions out loud. We created exhibits and virtual books. We also collaborated on a class project with students at a university in Wales.
Mostly though people (healthy or not, homebound or able to go anywhere in the real world) are just here to have fun, socialize, create things, decorate, make pictures, earn money (not nearly as easy as people think), and breed virtual animals.
Photo: Created within Second Life by M. Nakazato LaFreniere as avatar Kayla Woodrunner
Since a picture in Second Life is a collaboration like in a movie, the credits are on the flickr page of the images. Too long to put here.
Books on Second Life on Amazon: (honestly most of the beginner books on Second Life were from 2007 to 2013 so I felt they might be out of date and did not include them. Plus there are newbie places that help teach you to walk, give you free stuff and generally help you get started. Also compared to when I first started, Second Life has mesh now and it’s used primarily instead of prims which changed a lot of things from avatars to landscaping. It also makes creating things a bit harder as you need software. Yes, you can make things in prim and then port it over but it is not as pretty as if you made it in mesh in the first place. I really wish I could afford Cinema 4d. I love that program as it was not as difficult as something like Maya and would love to explore making things in mesh but oh well. I’ve chosen more like essay books on Second Life as they are more recent and the essays are written by people who spent time living in Second Life)
Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human
Second Life is a place we visit: Collected articles on the metaverse
The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World
Women and Second Life: Essays on Virtual Identity, Work and Play
I’ve been accepted as an Amazon affiliate. Last month I got my first “buy”. Haven’t gotten a second one yet. Still I’m happy. The first buy means they’ll review your site and officially accept you and I got accepted! Now, I’ll usually get a percentage if someone buys something by clicking a link — for books it’s 4.5%. Amazon disclosure: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”