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Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Maya Takeda, a mentor and voice-guided meditation leader in Second Life. Her work at the Mindful Cove  offers a haven for relaxation and community connection.

Second Life Spotlight - Maya Takeda.jpg

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I joined Second Life in 2011. I've immersed myself in the vibrant world of Second Life, a journey that began when a fellow user in another 3D chat platform introduced me to its wonders. Intrigued, I delved deeper into what Second Life had to offer, marveling at its advanced features and the freedom to create personalized content like skins and clothing. What truly captivated me was the ability to communicate via voice chat, a groundbreaking aspect of virtual interaction.

In the same year, while pursuing a foundation course in clinical hypnosis with the London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH) Asia in the real world, I discovered an opportunity to merge my passion for relaxation techniques with the immersive environment of Second Life. As I honed my skills, focusing particularly on relaxation methods and steering clear of trauma-related sessions, I realized the potential of Second Life as a platform for offering guided meditation and hypnotherapy in real-time voice sessions. 

However, my journey also led me to explore the adult side of Second Life hypnosis, driven by curiosity and suggestions from acquaintances. Though briefly intrigued by this unconventional approach, I soon realized it wasn't aligned with my intentions of sharing genuine experiences, knowledge, and skills with the community. It's essential to dispel misconceptions about hypnosis, emphasizing its role in mental and emotional well-being rather than mere adult entertainment in Second Life. Through my work, I aim to provide meaningful support to Second Life residents, highlighting the therapeutic benefits of hypnotherapy and meditation beyond the stereotypes portrayed in mainstream media.

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How do you think a virtual environment enhances the meditation experience compared to traditional, physical settings? Do you feel it affects the sense of community and connection among participants differently?
There are a lot of advantages to having a session in a virtual environment. Participants are nestled in their own cozy havens, whether it's their serene bedroom or a favorite spot, enveloped in familiar comfort. There's no dress code – they can simply wear what feels right in the moment. Many seek anonymity, finding solace in using avatars to represent themselves. With no forms to complete or IDs to verify, joining a session is effortless. All it takes is logging into Second Life with a reliable headset and computer, connecting with participants from all corners of the globe in a shared journey of relaxation. 

My experience during the challenges of COVID-19, Second Life became a sanctuary, uniting residents in group sessions without worry. I was requested to do a lot of voice-meditation sessions tailored to various communities in Second Life, offering a calming respite to their members during uncertain times. Yet, as with any endeavor, there are occasional setbacks. Weather, tech glitches, or real-life obligations sometimes disrupt planned sessions. It's disheartening when I can't fulfill commitments, and I'm grateful for the understanding of the Mindful Cove Committee, particularly my dear friend EllaPavlona, who occasionally had to step in to cancel sessions at the last minute. Though frustrating, it's a reminder to embrace flexibility and compassion on our collective journey toward peace and relaxation.

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You are a mentor at Mindful Cove, the Welcome Hub, as well as the Belli Hub, so you play a significant role in supporting new Residents. What do you find most rewarding about mentoring, and could you share a memorable experience where you felt you made a difference in someone's Second Life experience?
In my experience as a mentor, I've had the privilege of serving in three distinct roles: Mindful Cove mentor, Second Life mentor, and Bellihub Mentor. Each position comes with its own set of responsibilities. 

As a Mindful Cove mentor, my primary duty is to lead voice-guided meditation sessions for members of Mindful Cove and all residents of Second Life. 

As a Second Life mentor stationed at the Welcome Hub, my focus is on helping new residents navigate the Second Life viewer, understand their avatars, and get started in this virtual world. 

Finally, as a Bellihub Mentor, I assist residents with questions related to Linden Homes. 

Despite the differences in these roles, they often intersect and complement each other. For instance, I've formed friendships with new residents at the Welcome Hub who have also attended my meditation sessions in Mindful Cove. Engaging with individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and geographic locations has provided me with valuable insights into effective resident management. Being a mentor goes beyond just being sociable; it requires patience and kindness. 

One memorable experience stands out: I encountered a new resident who was struggling with her avatar and on the verge of giving up. Through a private voice chat, I guided her through avatar customization and familiarized her with the viewer interface. Witnessing her joy and gratitude upon achieving success was incredibly rewarding and reaffirmed the importance of mentorship. I believe my fellow mentors share this sentiment, finding fulfillment in assisting residents on their journey in Second Life.

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Could you give us a deeper look into the variety of experiences and resources available at Mindful Cove for Residents seeking mental well-being and support? How does Mindful Cove facilitate a supportive community for individuals exploring mindfulness and meditation?
Mindful Cove is a serene oasis within Second Life, dedicated to promoting mental health and well-being as outlined in its land covenant. Open to all residents, this Community Gateway offers a range of facilities to nurture the mind and spirit. From cozy cafes to inviting lounges, residents can engage in text or voice chats, fostering connections and support. Central to Mindful Cove's offerings is its library, stocked with resources on relationships, mindfulness, meditation, grief, and loss, including audio clips for easy access. 

My signature Chill Session With Maya Takeda invites participants to unwind and find inner peace through guided meditation. But the offerings don't stop there. Mindful Cove hosts live performances by talented musicians like Rulie Cisse and lively music sessions with DJ Kain. Personally, I find the art galleries and exhibitions held here particularly captivating, adding a touch of creativity and inspiration to the tranquil setting. 

Speaking of which, the region itself is a masterpiece of calming tranquility, thanks to the meticulous landscaping by EllaPavlona. It's a place where you can easily lose track of time, immersing yourself in the soothing ambiance. For those curious to learn more about Mindful Cove, Coughran Mayo and EllaPavlona are the go-to contacts for further information.

You also manage two different YouTube channels, could you share the inspiration behind each channel and the type of content viewers can expect? Additionally, how do you integrate your Second Life experiences into your video content, and what do you hope your viewers gain from your channels?
Initially, my YouTube channel called Maya Takeda SL was a space where I shared random adventures in Second Life, but gradually, I began to focus on showcasing Asian heritage and cultures. You'll find me delving into traditional attire, often crafting my own mesh clothing to capture that authentic essence. As the channel evolved, I started creating my own sounds, humming, lullabies, and voice-overs to steer clear of copyright issues. 

Then came my second YouTube venture, Peaceful Mind, where I curated a collection of voice-guided meditation and hypnotherapy sessions from my experiences in Second Life. Notable highlights include my workshops on Hypnotherapy in Second Life at SLB19 and leading voice-guided meditation sessions at SLB20. While these videos serve as personal keepsakes for my memory bank, I also hope they offer viewers a glimpse into my Asian heritage on Maya Takeda's channel and provide some much-needed relaxation through the Peaceful Mind channel.

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL who inspire you and whose work you admire.
One of the Second Life residents who truly inspires me is my dear friend, Karthikeyan Engineer, the brilliant mind behind MADRAS. His sheer creativity and intelligence in crafting mesh products never fail to astound me. What truly sets him apart is his selflessness; he's always willing to share his tips and expertise with budding creators in the Second Life community. Karthikeyan's generosity and willingness to assist newcomers not only enrich the creative landscape of Second Life but also foster a sense of camaraderie and support among creators. His actions exemplify the spirit of giving back, ultimately contributing to a more vibrant and inclusive virtual world.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
To join my voice-guided meditation, you can join the Mindful Cove`s Group using these links:
Meditation And Hypnotherapy - secondlife:///app/group/3e511271-a6a6-4752-ed5b-70f6240e854e/about
Mindful Cove - secondlife:///app/group/344bb28d-2739-2987-c8e7-dddaa5c28d14/about  

Check out my YouTube channels:
Maya Takeda SL: https://www.youtube.com/@mayatakeda 
Peaceful Dream: https://www.youtube.com/@peacefulsdream 


Watch this beautiful video produced and submitted by Maya for this Spotlight interview

Thank you, Maya, for your invaluable contributions to mindfulness, mentorship, and cultural enrichment in Second Life, making it a more connected and serene community for all.

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Cajsa Lilliehook, a pillar of strength and support within the Second Life community. Cajsa's dedication to uplifting artists through her discerning "Cajsa's Choices" and her unwavering commitment to social activism stand as a testament to her influential presence in the virtual world and beyond.

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Photo by LessThen Zero

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
Since July, 2007.  I downloaded demos of several games one night while I was recovering from an injury to my foot. I was so surprised by it and stayed. 

"It's Only Fashion" has been a staple in the Second Life fashion community for many years. What motivated you to start this blog, and fashion blogging as a whole? 
Blogging gave a purpose to my shopping. It legitimized what I did in Second Life, at least for me. Now, of course, it is Gidge Uriza and Rose Mistletoe who do all the blogging.

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Photo taken in 2017

"Cajsa's Choices" on the New World Notes blog is known for showcasing the artistic talents within Second Life. Can you share what inspired you to start this column and what you look for when selecting works to feature?
It all began with a plurker who posted WTF picture critiques. They were unkind. One of my friends was heartbroken after being named and wanted to quit blogging. She only wrote a few more posts and not long after, she left SL. I wouldn't blame one plurk for her leaving SL, but it played a role. The critic often said it was cruel to be kind about bad pictures and her goal was to help everyone do better pics. 

I reasoned people would learn from praise for good pics. I began doing plurks about good pics. I started my What I Like column at Shopping Cart Disco, then I wrote a few for It's Only Fashion after SCD closed. I was pretty sporadic when it was for my own site. Then Hamlet Au asked me to write for New World Notes. This is my 99th month writing my column, three days a week, plus a Friday column on blogs I like. 

What I look for is hard to describe. I like arresting photos that make me want to stop scrolling. I like it when someone clearly follows some easily explained rule of composition. I like pictures that tell a story, that challenge reality, that say something beyond “look at me.” I love it when someone has a fixation that inspires themes in their pictures, like Skippy Beresford and ships. I love it when pictures are about something. 

I like pictures where people wear clothes. They are becoming rare as SL Flickr becomes more and more about the male gaze. I mean count the number of pictures with clothed men and nude, or nearly nude women. Now try to find one with a fully clothed woman and a nude man. I did a lighthearted, but negative column once, trying to stress how boring these implausible bodies are - SL/Flicker Cliche Bingo

I do want people to let me know they want me to look at their pictures. Every day I find people I had never heard of who just blow me away. They can tag me on a specific picture or send me a Flickr mail or IM me in-world or tag me on social media. I think it's absolutely right and proper to say, "Hey, look at my pictures." I try to find new people by looking at people's favorites so I don't just look at people already in my following list.

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Photo taken in 2008

What advice would you give to newcomers in Second Life who aspire to contribute creatively to the community, whether in fashion, photography, or other artistic avenues?
Do what you love. Then tell people you did it. I am sure there are people in SL with no creative impulses, but I haven't met them. The hard part about making great art, clothing, houses, music, dance, whatever it is that inspires your creative passion, you have to get the word out because you aren't going to be discovered at a soda fountain in Second Life. I know it's unfair to people who are introverted. I bet there are publicists in SL. There should be.

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Photo taken in 2009

With your interests in real-world book reviews and activism, how do these outside passions influence your contributions to Second Life?
Well, I did try to do YouTube video book reviews but they even bored me. I am an um'er. I might have done better off the top of my head. For a good laugh, check this YouTube channel.

My books and my activism are reflections of my values which remain constant in and out of Second Life. I mean, in real life I can't afford a tenth of the clothing I enjoy in SL, but I still oppose systems of oppression and hope for a world where marginalized people are liberated. I mean more than just having laws to protect them from others, but to eventually create a world without precarity in which people can be the people they want to be, free, without fear. 

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Photo taken in 2017

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL who inspire you and whose work you admire.
Oh wow, have you seen my columns? Hundreds inspire with their pictures. But going beyond pictures, I am inspired by the people who persevere year after year after year. 

Folks like Daniel Voyager, Inara Pey, and Hamlet Au, who keep writing about Second Life so doggedly. They have their niche and they fill it. 

Then there are the Tubthumping heroes who get knocked down and get up again, folks like Gidge Uriza, Maxwell Graf, Nimil Blackflag, Sophia Harlow, and Sanura Snowpaw....and so many others whose real lives can get hard, terrifying, and full of grief, but who just will "never let you keep me down." 

Fashion bloggers, well, my friend and blog partner Gidge is my favorite. Have you read her stuff? She is hilarious. I like the bloggers who write about the clothes, that explain why they like them, and even shockingly, they sometimes suggest improvement, bloggers like Gogo, Grazia Horwitz, Sasy Scarborough, and Sydd Sinister

Again, folks who persevere year in and year out. I guess I am sort of biased toward the old guard. And of course, speaking of persevering, Sasy with Hair Fair year after year. People do great things in Second Life. 

Cajsa Lilliehook - Eclipse.jpg
Photo by LessThen Zero

Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Well, my columns are tagged so you can see them all at nwn.blogs.com/nwn/cajsas-choices 
flickr.com/photos/cajsa_lilliehook 
tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com 
singleservingrecipes.wordpress.com  (on hiatus until I replace my camera) 
goppredators.wordpress.com  
itsonlyfashionblog.com 
bsky.app/profile/cajsa.bsky.social 
twitter.com/Cajsa 
linktr.ee/cajsalilliehook

Thank you, Cajsa, for your invaluable contributions to the Second Life community, and for setting a precedent as one of the original fashion bloggers, inspiring countless others along your journey.


Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 
 

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Kacee Popstar, a multi-talented Resident known for her pivotal role in spearheading events and elevating brands with a unique blend of creativity and strategic marketing flair.

Second Life Spotlight - Kacee Popstar.jpg
Photo by Aria Christen

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I first entered Second Life around 2010, initially exploring the platform without a specific focus. I dabbled in creating a clothing store called Fresh 2 Def and enjoyed spending time with my SL family. After a few years, real-life commitments led me to take a hiatus. It wasn't until August 2021, prompted by the unique circumstances of the global pandemic, that I decided to revisit Second Life. To my surprise, my entire SL family was still active. Soon after returning, I met Fang Palazzo (greatfang.novo), an uber talented Live Mix DJ in Second Life. My return marked a significant shift as I delved into managing DJ Fang under Pop Entertainment. Soon after, I met my partner-in-crime Sugarplum Zsun (sugarplum85) and I found myself fully immersed in SL’s vibrant club scene and surrounded by the most amazing people driven by the love of music. I spent most of my time attending sets and promoting DJs and clubs by recording short, fun real-time party videos that seemed to really resonate with people. I am a support machine! If you are doing creative things in SL, chances are you’ve seen me right there cheering you on! My real-world experience in the music industry in NYC seamlessly blended with my virtual endeavors, marking the beginning of a new chapter filled with creativity and excitement. Second Life became a space for creativity and virtual adventures. The immersive and dynamic nature of SL really drew me back, and I've been deeply engaged ever since.

You are a multi-faceted individual who is involved in the design, production, and marketing of different events, activities, and brands in Second Life. Can you share some of the projects you are involved with and how they have evolved?
My journey in Second Life is a tapestry woven with my real-life passions and talents. Hailing from a background in the music industry, where I specialized in experiential marketing, I bring a flavor to the grid that's uniquely me. In every endeavor, one golden rule guides me - a dedication to infusing joy and prioritizing the user experience.

The excitement began with event planning and creating Pop Entertainment. Orchestrating and promoting lively DJ and club events connected me with a huge network of dedicated club owners and talented DJs throughout Second Life. These amazing people and their love for music is truly inspiring. From there, I ventured into the world of creation and design with the clothing brand DAO, meaning 'star' in Thai. This was merely the starting point for a journey that led to the evolution of Palazzo Park, a small idea for a bowling alley that blossomed into a dynamic entertainment destination. It means everything to me that so many residents visit and enjoy Palazzo Park daily and infuse a little fun into their Second Life!

Around this time, I began managing marketing for various brands. The most gratifying journey has been HexPosed. I was trusted to take over management of the brand and it has been a blast cultivating HexPosed from the ground up and steering a modest pose store with only a few products into a known brand expanding its offerings to include backdrops, holdables, and furniture. 

Along this path, my mission was clear - to bridge the gap between the mainstream and urban communities in Second Life. I started by introducing HexPosed and supporting urban events and ventures with HexPosed’s involvement. This ambition translated into DJ Fang joining Sneaky Link Entertainment, an energetic and dedicated organization featuring talented Urban DJs (DJ Gunnklips, DJ Kevo, DJ Brockie, DJ Lola Bunny, DJ Ultra Violet, and DJ Blackice), managers (Shawn X. Gunner, Kevo B. Wylin, Symone Gunner, King Slaughterhouse Gunner, Luna Laveaux, Dee Allure, and Lyric Skye), and a team of exceptional hype girls who keep the vibe hype and events enjoyable. The cross-community acceptance has been incredible, with followers on both sides of the grid attending and enjoying events. My role extends to marketing Sneaky Link, contributing to its success and popularity in the Second Life community. It has been an extremely enjoyable experience!

Simultaneously, my love for designing spaces gave rise to Spellbound Manor - a fantasy-themed residential community. Here, I express my creativity by crafting high-quality resort-style luxury homes surrounded by an enchanting forest. The success and popularity of Spellbound Manor led to a venture into offering interior design and landscaping services with Spellbound Spaces & Events, where we blend enchantment with luxury in every build. 

Then came FLOURISH, my most recent venture aimed at revolutionizing shopping events in Second Life. Being a marketer, I take note of the trends and feedback on social media regarding events. Acquiring FLOURISH wasn't just about business; it was about spotlighting creators and brands and their unique journeys. Some might call my ideas over the top, but that's just the way I like it - to bring back the spotlight to the creators who are often taken for granted, but are architects of our magical experiences here in Second Life.

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Photo by Panda Banana

What unique experiences do you aim to offer visitors of Palazzo Park, and how do you keep the entertainment fresh and engaging?
Palazzo Park is all about interactive fun, inspired by the desire to create a voice-enabled, interactive space for residents to play and socialize. With attractions ranging from bowling and laser tag to a movie theater, rides, and fully interactive arcade, the goal is to foster friendships and fun in a unique environment. We aim to create a space where every corner offers something exciting and are honored to have the support of fun and talented creators, such as TIHQ, Bergson Bowling, HIVID, and Erfe Design, whose creations made Palazzo Park what it is today! Their sponsorship helps to keep the entertainment fresh by allowing me to add regular updates, new rides & attractions, and engaging events creating a dynamic and ever-evolving experience. We are in the middle of an expansion that will make way for all new and fun attractions, so stay tuned for that! Those interested in the park can connect by following our Facebook Page and joining our In-World group!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PalazzoPark
Group: https://world.secondlife.com/group/e5bbd64f-fa3c-d70b-2197-e9002255e368
Those interested in renting Palazzo Park or sponsoring our expansion, please submit your interest via these forms.
Park Rental: https://forms.gle/XeKyh1pDDyi6aDcD7
Sponsor: https://forms.gle/dR2WaNjMo8h6JQ1F9 

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Photo by Aria Christen

Running a monthly shopping event like Flourish is a significant undertaking. What's your approach to selecting brands and creating a unique shopping experience each month? When is the launch date for Flourish? How can eligible brands participate?
FLOURISH is indeed a labor of love that involves meticulous planning and a commitment to delivering an exceptional experience for both brands and shoppers. We focus on curating a diverse range of brands, each with its own story to tell. When selecting brands, my approach is centered on providing a diverse and exciting array of products that cater to the varied tastes of the SL community by taking into consideration the uniqueness, quality, and appeal of each brand to ensure a well-rounded and captivating shopping event. 

FLOURISH stands out through its unique business model and features, such as the FLOURISH Mens Edition, which focuses on providing a dedicated and exclusive space in the center of the event for men's brands. We also will launch “FLOURISH Unveiled”, a monthly show that will put the spotlight on a featured brand and take us through the journey of the brand. This will be in correlation with a dedicated brand exhibit area, housed right in the middle of our Sponsor Concourse, that will take you through the timeline of your favorite brands’ evolution! 

We also prioritize collaboration over competition, fostering a supportive environment for brands to work together. I've introduced a streamlined process without the usual collaboration fees, encouraged collabs by offering discounted Collab Sponsor booths so brands can engage in collaborative releases with reduced financial risk. 

The commitment to brands doesn't end there. We have also incorporated features like the FLOURISH Cafe, at the landing point, for food and beverage creators who often get the short end of the stick at events. Additionally, our Concourse Kiosks offer a low-cost opportunity for emerging and small brands to gain visibility in a real-world shopping experience, reminiscent of the shopping kiosks in your local mall. We have partnered with Luke Rowley, creator of the EasyBloggers platform, for a seamless blogging experience for brands and bloggers. Furthermore, FLOURISH will launch a unique rewards program for brands with continuous participation, providing perks such as late fee waivers, premium booth selections, discounted and permanent booths, and social media features. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what FLOURISH will offer and my amazing team, Lillian Onyx, Fang Palazzo, Symone Gunner, Lyric Skye, Cakhez Blvck, and I are so excited to bring it all to you!

The launch date for FLOURISH is set for April 7, 2024. FLOURISH is not just a shopping event; it's a movement dedicated to improving the overall experience for both brands and shoppers. Interested brands and bloggers can join the movement and experience the fun at FLOURISH by submitting an application found on our website, http://flourisheventsl.com.

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Photo by Panda Banana

With Spellbound Manor and Events, you blend enchantment with luxury. What are the key elements you focus on when creating an immersive and luxurious environment? How can Residents get more information about your design and landscaping services?
Spellbound Spaces & Events is another passion project involving myself, Lillian Onyx who handles day-to-day business operations and landscaping, and Fang Palazzo, our talented and creative lighting expert. My way of building is truly unique. Beginning with choosing environments to set the mood of a space and using high-quality, luxury decor and furnishings, plant life, and lighting to tell the story of a space. I often tell clients, that I don’t create spaces, I design with my soul to create experiences. Key elements in creating an immersive environment include meticulous attention to detail, blending fantasy aesthetics with high-end resort-style touches, and fostering a sense of wonder. The enchantment is brought to life in a way that feels both magical and grounded in reality. My goal, through the use of rich and earthy tones and shadows, is to invoke a feeling as you enter the room. Pro-tip: When stepping into any space that I create, ensure you are in “Shared Environment” to experience it the way it should be! The reception from the community has been overwhelming and we are so grateful for the support. Residents interested in our design and landscaping services can reach out to us via the form linked on our Facebook page.


Watch this video submitted by Kacee about Spellbound Manor.
Video production by Sabina Valeska

How has being a part of Second Life transformed or impacted your personal or professional life?
Second Life has been a transformative journey. It has allowed me to explore and expand my creativity, connect with an incredible community, and merge my real-life skills with virtual experiences. Seamlessly weaving together my real-world background in business, marketing, and the music industry with the dynamic opportunities of the virtual realm has allowed me to explore new facets of creativity, business management, and community building. The synergy between my real and virtual experiences has been harmonious, contributing to a fulfilling and enriching Second Life. It's not just a platform; it's a canvas for personal and professional growth, offering unique opportunities that have enriched both aspects of my life.

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Kacee with DJ Fang

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL who inspire you and whose work you admire.
In Second Life, the community is filled with so many talented individuals who inspire me every day! 

One notable figure who continues to inspire me is Fang Palazzo, DJ Fang. His passion for music and dedication to creating memorable experiences for residents constantly motivates me. I couldn’t do what I do without his continued support. 

My mother, Heaven Release, keeps me grounded and constantly reminds me that I am capable of anything! Between her and my father, King Slaughterhouse Gunner, I’ve had the most amazing support system. 

Vrutega, one of my most staunch supporters from day one, has really been a driving force behind me, giving me the courage to continue to do what drives me. 

Sugarplum Zsun and her passion for music and creating her mark in Second Life is what started my journey within the SL’s colorful music scene. 

The adorably sweet and talented SEMINA, who blessed me with my first Live Singer event, continues to inspire me with her creative shows and innovative ideas! Working with her is always a vibe and man, can she sing! 

Shawn X. Gunner and Symone Gunner both have hearts of gold and know no bounds when it comes to supporting me and all my different endeavors! Their patience and guidance are a gift as I navigate through this virtual world. 

Highlife Destination owners Tye & Gabriel Easton are truly inspiring to me. The hard work and ingenuity they put into their vacation destinations and events raise the bar and add a level of realism with flawless roleplay and endless activities. They inspire me to keep growing my ideas and I aspire to be on their level one day! 

Ras Solaris and all the education and awareness he brings with the Meroe Museum. He is the definition of inspiration! 

Second Life Creators are my biggest inspiration! Each has a distinct style and passion that continues to motivate and push boundaries. Their dedication and the unique contributions they make to the SL community are truly admirable. Their creativity and drive really keep Second Life filled with vibrant experiences, and for that, I am forever grateful. All my club rats in the SL Music scene I have a special love for! Imagine day in and day out they are here simply for the love of music. Inspiring! There are too many to name, but the support and inspiration from Second Life residents continually drives me to explore new horizons and contribute positively to this virtual world.

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Kacee with Sugarplum

Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Yes! Please connect with me! 
You can find all my links and info at http://kaceepopstar.carrd.co
Palazzo Park: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Spellbound Manor/105/85/2223
FLOURISH Event: https://flourisheventsl.com
Spellbound Manor: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Spellbound Manor/251/210/21
Spellbound Spaces & Events: https://www.facebook.com/SpellboundSpaces

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Thank you, Kacee, for your invaluable contributions and for enriching our community with your creativity and dedication. 


Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup        

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Shawn Gunner, whose decade-long journey in Second Life has transformed from a curious newcomer to a pivotal machinima artist, DJ, and educator.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I have been a passionate follower of Second Life for nearly ten years, finding this virtual realm to be a constant source of amusement and social connectivity. Surprisingly, I initially discovered this platform through an online forum dedicated to IMVU, another well-known virtual world. However, upon entering Second Life, I immediately recognized its superior qualities compared to any other virtual world I had encountered previously. With its captivating visuals, limitless customization opportunities, and thriving community, Second Life has undeniably become a cherished sanctuary for me.

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You are a talented machinima artist, how did you get into it and do you have a background in video production?
Upon discovering machinima in Second Life, I was immediately drawn to its captivating and imaginative possibilities. Initially unaware that real users were behind these creations, I mistook them for a feature available for purchase within Second Life. I recall reaching out to a machinima video creator, expressing my interest in acquiring something similar. It was only after they enlightened me about their personal involvement in the video's production that I truly appreciated the depth of their creativity, and my fascination with the realm of machinima was born.

Spurred by this encounter, I developed a passion for crafting my own machinima videos. Although I initially considered commissioning a video from the creator, I ultimately declined due to cost and resolved to embrace the challenge myself. My friends, impressed by my non-Second Life video creations, wholeheartedly encouraged me in this pursuit.

Countless hours were devoted to researching and honing my craft. I carefully studied a multitude of videos on YouTube and reached out to numerous experienced videographers for guidance and assistance. I eagerly absorbed insights into various techniques and software, integrating them into my creative endeavors. Experimentation with camera angles, lighting, and effects played a crucial role in achieving my desired outcomes.

While I lack professional experience in video production outside of Second Life, my ardent interest in the art of filmmaking has always remained steadfast.

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You’ve recently started teaching film classes at GPS Studios, can you tell us more about that and how Residents can sign up if they are interested in learning?
Due to my passion for teaching, I am thrilled to have begun my career as a videography instructor at GioNation. During my time there, I had the pleasure of meeting Sergio Castellanos, the school's founder. Although initially nervous, Sergio's polite and welcoming demeanor helped put me at ease. Following a successful interview, I accepted a teaching position at GioNation until its closure.

Undeterred by this setback, I sought guidance and support from Sergio to continue my teaching journey. With his invaluable assistance, I established GPS Studios, where my team and I offer comprehensive filmmaking classes. These courses cover essential aspects of videography, such as lighting techniques, camera movements, and numerous vital skills.

At GPS Studios, we take pride in our straightforward teaching style, striving to make the learning process enjoyable and accessible for our students. Additionally, we provide a wide range of effects for Premier Pro, which can enhance video quality.

If you are interested in creating machinima in Second Life, we would be delighted to have you enroll in our classes. Our team is excited to share our knowledge and expertise with you. You can find our sign-up page here: https://forms.gle/mJtBQgnHU4CSvxnP7 

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You’re also a DJ, how did you get into DJing in Second Life and which venues do you regularly play at? Are there any upcoming shows Residents can see you at?
I have always had a deep passion for music. My sister Junie Hendrixx and I started from nothing on Second Life, playing music and slowly building a following of people who appreciated our talent. Through hard work and dedication, we honed our skills in mixing and blending, which eventually led to the creation of our esteemed entertainment company, Sneaky Link Entertainment.

Although we initially started small, over time our company grew, and we were fortunate enough to bring on my best friend and business partner, Kevo B. Wylin. Together, we have established ourselves as one of the premier entertainment companies within our virtual world. Our diverse roster of DJs, including DJ Kevo, DJ Lola Bunny, DJ Ultra Violet, DJ Blackice, DJ Fang, DJ Brockie, and myself, offer a wide range of music genres, catering to various tastes from Rap/Hip-Hop to R&B and House.

Behind the scenes, our exceptional team of managers, including Symone, Dee, Luna, Lola, Lyric, Kacee, and Slaughter, plays a vital role in keeping our company thriving. Additionally, we have a highly dedicated hype team consisting of over 15 members who assist us in promoting our events and reaching a larger audience.
To stay updated with our upcoming shows, you can join our in-world group or follow us on social media. Our Facebook and Instagram links are provided below:
FB: https://www.facebook.com/SneakyLinkEntertainment 
IG: https://www.instagram.com/sneakylinkentsl
Inworld Group: secondlife:///app/group/2f521f16-f593-e83a-90b1-59771471c838/about  

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Are there any other interesting projects you are currently working on? What can we expect from you in the future?
I am currently involved in multiple projects that hold significant professional importance for me. One such project is a collaboration with Moon Studios, where we are working together to achieve an exceptional result. Additionally, I am working closely with Peasant Tater, a highly regarded videographer and voice actor in the Second Life community, on a detailed project. Our focus is to compile various scenes into a cohesive work that will undoubtedly impress. Peasant is making significant contributions to the project by creating multiple custom animations.

Furthermore, I am collaborating with a carefully chosen group of individuals on a music video project. The casting call for the video was overseen by Sauda Moon, the CEO of Moon Studios, and Revienne Decosta, CEO of Revienne. Ryah Plastique, the founder of Mu Alpha Chi Sorority, is responsible for animating the dancers in the video.

In summary, I consider myself privileged to be involved in these projects and eagerly anticipate their final outcomes. These projects hold immense professional significance for me, and I take pride in being able to contribute my expertise to their success.

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL who inspire you and whose work you admire.
Within the realm of Second Life, a multitude of gifted and imaginative individuals exist, uplifting and propelling others to new levels of achievement. Fortunately, I have had the privilege of encountering a handful of these remarkable residents who have left a lasting impact on me.

One such individual is DJ Brockie, who, in my estimation, stands as one of the premier DJs in existence. Sadly, I believe he does not receive the recognition he rightfully merits. Nevertheless, his prowess behind the turntables is unparalleled, and his passion for music is contagious. He is unquestionably a role model for me, and undoubtedly, my entire team feels the same.

With respect to videography, the Second Life community is teeming with countless talented figures, too numerous to mention entirely. However, several individuals stand out prominently to me, namely VrutegaSere Vene, Sergio Castellanos, Malus Castamere, Peasant Tater, and many others. Each possesses a distinctive style that sets their work apart, showcasing their exceptional abilities and the unwavering commitment they pour into their respective crafts.

I would like to emphasize my deep reverence for each of these individuals. I wholeheartedly support and admire them in their endeavors, whatever they may be. They serve as a wellspring of inspiration for not only me but also for many others within the Second Life community.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.

https://www.facebook.com/GunnerKlips 
https://www.instagram.com/gunn.klips
 
https://www.facebook.com/GPSStudiosSL
https://www.instagram.com/gpstudiossl

https://www.facebook.com/SneakyLinkEntertainment 
https://www.instagram.com/sneakylinkentsl


Watch this moving machinima created by Shawn for this Spotlight interview, where he shares his unique connection with Second Life.

Thank you, Shawn, for enriching the Second Life community with your talent, creativity, and musical expression.

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup      

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Winter Karter (Allure Enchanted), the creative force behind the fashion brand Vague and the founder of the Shoppe BLK initiative in Second Life.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I’ve been playing SL for over 15 years now. A group of friends and I came over from IMVU in 2006 to see what all the fuss was about, and for the life of me, I could not figure it out the first time around. I was just flying around aimlessly and was like, omg what is this?! I gave up that day! It took me about a year to come back and try again and was like okay I can walk, I can change my clothes. I think I got it now. Once I returned I never looked back!

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You are a seasoned content creator, how did you get started, and can you tell us more about your brand Vague?
I first started creating clothing and accessories on IMVU. I knew I wanted to continue the journey here, but at the time I didn’t know where to begin. I wanted to create things I liked for myself and also to support my spending habits being in the game. This was a very expensive upgrade from the previous one. There weren’t as many options back then as there are now with all the different bodies and modifications. I come from a prehistoric time. I’m talking about dinosaur age! All we had was the default body, BOM clothing, and “/99bling on” accessories lmao. Shortly after figuring out the process as it was very different compared to the way things were on the other platform, I opened my first store “Killer Lipstick”. I was known as the girl who made the flexi tutu skirts lol. My store was a side-by-side concept with my now husband Kingston Karter’s former brand “Undefined”,  in a shopping region known as “NYC2CALI”. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be a creator today. He’s the one who taught me in the very beginning and always pushed me to open a store. He’s always been my number one supporter, I love him dearly and I can’t thank him enough for that. Fast forward a bit to a few brand identity crises and name changes I settled on Vague, a women's apparel and footwear brand and the rest is history.

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Do you have a background in 3D content creation and what kind of tools do you use to create your content?
Being on SL pre-mesh body days (omg crazy right) it was much easier creating BOM texture clothing back then and even texturing full perm mesh. In 2021 I decided I wanted more control over my brand, no longer wanting to rely on commissioning other 3d artists to complete my vision. I opted to take mesh classes hosted by some of my fellow residents. I can admit it was very intimidating learning programs that I’ve never heard of or even seen before. Blender, Zbrush, and Substance Painter were all foreign to me at the time and seemed nearly impossible to master. Had a few hiccups, tons of failed lessons, and even quit a few times, but in January of 2022 all the hard work paid off and I released my first 100% original mesh item all done by me. It was such a rewarding feeling. Like omg, I did this! And I owe it all to an extremely talented artist, friend, and teacher Kitti Softpaw. She’s taught me everything I know about 3D modeling, and I am forever grateful.

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Your role as a mentor and teacher is quite inspiring. Could you elaborate on the community work you do and the 3D modeling classes you offer for budding creators in Second Life? Where can interested Residents sign up to learn from you?
I wouldn’t refer to myself as a teacher but more so someone you can look to when you are in need of help. Whether it be providing a discord server to come together and house fellow creatives, providing resources, helping with a HUD, setting up vendors, rigging clothing, texturing in substance painter, marketing, or fixing that little hole in your mesh lol. I will soon be embarking on a more focused mentor program where I’ll be taking a few aspiring and small creators and guiding them on their journey into 3D content creation and running a successful brand in Second Life. Most of us are either self-taught or learned from other residents. If I can help in any way, I always try to because these are things I wish I had access to and knowledge of when I first started creating.

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Can you give us an overview of the Shoppe BLK initiative? How can designers who meet the criteria get involved?
Shoppe BLK where do I begin? After browsing on social media, the question was always asked “how do we find black-owned businesses in Second Life so that we can support them”? The idea was brought to me by a dear friend Daisy (owner of 28LA). She suggested it would be good if I started a directory of Black Owned Businesses within Second Life. I’m all about community and coming together so why not ya know? From that Shoppe BLK WKND sale was born. Its sole purpose was to highlight, showcase, and support black creators like myself within the grid. Shoppe BLK runs the first weekend of every month (Thursday- Sunday) you can find items from our featured designers each round for 75L. We are always looking for talented designers to join, all you have to do is add your brand to the directory and fill out the designer application to be considered.

Shoppe Black Business Directory 
Shoppe BLK WKND App
Shoppe BLK Facebook

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL who inspire you and whose work you admire.
Second Life is full of so many amazingly talented creators and just people in general. I’m always in awe every day seeing how creative everyone is.

Kismet Chrome from Rosary is someone who has been creating amazing clothing for a very long time. I have admired her work for years. And anytime I have a question or run into an issue, she has no problem answering or helping me solve a problem.

My dearest brother CzarFenris of Animosity Poses, I don’t know anyone who has his work ethic. From blogging, and photography, to pumping releases nonstop.

Vive Nine, Merch, Rowne, Majesty, and so many others! It’s an honor to be among so much talent.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
You can find all of our work on Flickr 
Vague Mainstore
Vague on Marketplace 
Follow us on Facebook 

Thank you, Winter, for being an inspiration for all aspiring creators and community builders in Second Life.


Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Nico Kiyori, a dynamic DJ whose passion for music transcends boundaries, both in the virtual world of Second Life and the physical world.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I've been hanging out in Second Life for about six years now. It all started in 2017 when a friend, who's already a pro at Second Life, told me about it. One day, while chatting with friends online, the same friend told me about the music scene in Second Life. I was surprised to discover this cool virtual world! I realized Second Life is more than just a game. It's a place where people from all over the world come together online. I had no clue such a world existed. Intrigued, I decided to explore this new world. 

I've always liked learning about new languages and cultures, so I got really interested in Second Life. That's how my friend introduced me to this exciting digital world. Since then, Second Life has become a place not just to escape but also to explore different cultures and share my love for music.

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How did you get into DJing in Second Life?
Once I finished creating my avatar with the help of my friend, I started hanging out at the clubs to explore the music scene in Second Life. It felt like a whole new world compared to the music I used to play in my real-life DJ journey because the tunes people enjoy on SL are quite different. I did some research and practiced a lot to understand this new music culture and process to stream.

During my exploration, I stumbled upon a club, and guess what? They were looking for DJs. Gathering up my courage, I applied, went through my first-ever DJ audition, and that's when the magic began. A big thanks to the amazing people who motivated me to give it a try and always pushed me beyond my limits.

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What are your favorite genres of music, and what mood do you usually go for when you DJ?
I have a broad taste in music, but my top picks for DJing are the upbeat and energetic electronic dance music (EDM) genres like house, techno, dance-pop, dubstep, and hip-hop. When I'm in control of the decks, my aim is to set a lively and energetic mood to keep the crowd fully engaged. I take pleasure in blending mainstream tunes with some house elements, and every now and then, I spice things up with creative mashups. Creating a musical journey for my crowd is something I truly enjoy, and occasionally, I mix up everything in a set just for the thrill of it – because, why not? Crafting an atmosphere where people can have an awesome time and truly relish the music is a key focus for me.

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Which venues do you regularly play at in Second Life and are there any upcoming shows Residents can see you at?
I DJ regularly at Club 511, Club Exhale, Sonance, and 7th House in Second Life. On Tuesdays at Club 511, you can find me playing popular music like pop, R&B, hip-hop, and classic rock. We even have cool giveaways sponsored by some of Second Life's hottest brands for the best-themed nights. On Saturdays at Club Exhale, I get to play a mix of different music for a diverse crowd.

Apart from my regular gigs, I'll also be performing at future events at Sonance and other places. It's been awesome DJing at past events like Sonance Grand Opening, Badder Santa by 40 Thieves, Paragon Dance Anniversary, Blueberry X Teletubbies Collab Party, Relay for Life at Camping for Cure Team, Spookzila Hunt, Breath & Electric Ice Music Fest by Exhale/BRM Entertainment Event, Snowtide 23 at Where Our Journey begins Sim, and many more. Being part of this club community is truly a blessing.

My DJ sets are known for their high energy and good vibes, and I've had the pleasure of performing at various clubs and events across the grid. For updates on my upcoming shows, you can check my Second Life group, Discord server, and my social media channels. I'm always excited to bring the beats and create memorable experiences for the residents!

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How has Second Life impacted your life? 
Second Life has been a really important part of my life. My DJ journey started in 2006 in India, playing Bollywood dance tracks at different events and parties. However, after I finished my master's degree in accounting in 2016, work got really busy, and I had to take a break from DJing. But my love for DJing didn't go away; it stayed like a stubborn spark.

Thanks to Second Life, I can still do what I love - playing music for people all over the world. Being in this club community is a real blessing. Making friends with creative people and joining popular music events keeps my passion for DJing alive. Music is like a superpower to me; it brings people together and makes unforgettable moments.

Apart from DJing, I've met some amazing and talented folks here. I wouldn't be where I am without my small group of friends who've been with me since the start. These friendships have helped me through good and bad times, and I'm always grateful for them.

I really believe in the magic of music, and Second Life has given me a platform to share that magic globally. It's amazing to see how music connects people, no matter where they are. Second Life is more than just a virtual world; it's a place where dreams come true, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share my beats with a diverse and global audience. Cheers to the fantastic world of Second Life!

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
Every day, I get inspired by the creative folks in Second Life. Residents, artists, and creators from all over the world make the virtual world exciting for me. A huge thanks to the amazing people who worked with me, motivated me to learn new things, and pushed me beyond my limits. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who invited me to their clubs and private events. Without my small team of friends and musical family, there wouldn't be DJ Nico. I owe a lot of my growth and success as a DJ to them.

Nicole Maladay has been my rock, supporting and helping me every step of the way. She is the one who pushes me to think outside the box when it comes to Djing. She's made my Second Life experience truly special. Her kindness, creativity, and unwavering support mean the world to me, and I'm grateful to have her by my side in this digital adventure. 

Also thankful to my close friends Syd Specter and Tessa Mermaid for being incredible supporters on my DJ journey. 

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
You can find all my links in one place: https://linktr.ee/djnicolive 
I really recommend joining my Discord community to keep up with my future sets and events. Plus, you can come hang out with us there!

Thank you, Nico, for sharing your unwavering passion for music within the Second Life DJ community.

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup   

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Godiva Varela, a talented Resident whose artistic journey in machinima captures the essence of creativity and innovation. Join Godiva on January 24th for a premiere of one of her latest short films at the Second Life Cinema

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
The first time I logged into SL was about 9 years ago. I had my pauses through the years but it was at the beginning of 2020 that I really started to log in way way more. The first time I heard about SL was on some documentary I saw long ago on the TV. I always wondered how it would be to get into SL after that documentary, but when I saw an article in a magazine I said enough wondering, and decided to give it a try. My computer at the moment wasn't strong enough so I didn't log in again for another year, but when I came back with a better computer I was hooked forever! 

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Tragedy 2 Preproduction

You are a very talented Second Life machinima artist, how did you get started, and do you have a background in video production? 
Thanks for the compliment! I got started by taking short videos of myself dancing and showcasing my outfits (using gyazo), after some time (around the end of 2022) I decided to make my first music video so I just simply started putting to it all the knowledge I had about building and driving in SL. It came out as a wonderful first video so I decided to keep producing more of them. 

After a couple months I attended to the Fantasy Faire, there was a film competition which I wanted to participate in, so I gave it a try with my first video with acting. I was no stranger with providing a story to my videos, so this was the perfect opportunity to test myself onto it, and let me tell you that it came out much better than I initially expected!

About my background in video production, I really do not have any former education or formation on it, the only times I edited videos outside SL was two times in RL many many years ago, and they were like birthday videos. Since I never studied for this, I tried to learn along the way, so if I didn't know how to make a transition or an effect, I would look for tutorials on how to do it. You can say I am still learning something with each video I make. I always try at least one new thing on each video, as that makes it feel more challenging.

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Mad Maxine Preproduction

What kind of software do you use to capture and edit your videos? Any tips for budding machinima artists?
I started using the old windows movie maker the first time I edited a video in RL, but when the moment to edit in SL came, I used Wondershare Filmora. It was a super easy to use program that had very low requirements and helped me all my way through my first months making videos. After some time I felt the need to have more tools and options, so I asked around my friends and Peasant Tater suggested I should try DaVinci Resolve. So that's the software I have been using since like half a year. Its amazing with loads of options and it’s free!

As for capturing the footage, I haven't tried more than the built in windows recorder, and Nvidia Shadowplay. Since I have an Nvidia card, I am able to use the latter, and it is an amazing and simple software that does not lower the framerate while recording. I haven't had the need yet to try OBS but I may try it if I need to do some streaming, or something outside of my current scope.

We loved your recent PBR video. What can we expect from you in the future? Are there any interesting projects you are currently working on?
Thanks a lot! I really like to try the new tech coming, testing and playing with it is one of my favorite things from all time, I love changes. And well, you can expect more music videos and fun videos, but also I have some series on the works. Funky Diva has been a good testbed of how to produce my own series within SL, so I plan on giving it a more detailed 2nd season. Besides that, I also have a more serious series in the works with a whole different mood, it will have robots too, and a more cyberpunk feel to it.This new series is not named yet, but it will be filmed completely in PBR so its gonna be exciting.

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Watch Funky Diva: episode 1

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
When I started in SL I really didn't had the chance to watch many SL videos, because I wasnt really on the social media and I missed a lot of awesome content. But around 2 years ago I started to go way more social and I stumbled upon the videos of Sere Vene. I was absolutely impressed by her aesthetics and attention to detail. Not much after that I also found out about Teal Aurelia and again I got impressed by the level of production on her videos and the fine aesthetics. They both really had an impact on their own ways on how I saw SL from then on. There are many more Residents that inspired me, like Vrutega and Peasant Tater, but I would have to make a long list!

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Tragedy Backstage

Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Godiva.Varela 
Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/@godivasl/videos
Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/196190976@N08

Thank you, Godiva, for enriching our world with your creativity and inspiring a new generation of machinima artists.

Watch the premiere of Funky Diva Origins with Godiva and other Residents on Wednesday, January 24th at 12pm PT at the Second Life Cinema!

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup   

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Aline Passiflora, the current organizer of the FabFree blog and community. She credits Second Life with helping her embrace her authentic self - and finding fashion, friendship, and even real love in our virtual world.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I've been a Second Life resident for 13 years and 5 months. I first heard about Second Life through random internet meandering, as far as I can remember. I have a vague recollection of reading an article about a virtual world where you could be anyone, explore things, and get to know people from all over the world, and it sounded like fun to me. At that point in my life, I was looking for connection and belonging, and Second Life really provided a space to meet diverse people.  

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You are the current organizer of the Fabulously Free in Second Life blog and you moderate the community of more than 60K Residents, can you tell us more about Fabfree and how you got involved with it?
Not to be dramatic and biased, but FabFree is the best! I've always felt that we are a really special community, filled with helpful and enthusiastic SL residents. FabFree was born in 2007 when Cherlindrea Lamont created the Fabulously Free in SL Blog. It grew exponentially from there and birthed the inworld group. We maintain that we're the longest-running (e.g. without interruption) freebie, discount, and shopping community in Second Life.  

I stumbled across the blog many moons ago, and became an avid reader and fan of the way the bloggers found affordable fashion, styled it, and then created engaging posts to share with the community. I would visit the site daily to get my dose of SL fashion and will freely admit to becoming a massive fangirl of the bloggers of the day - such as Prudence Rexroth and Serena Snowfield.  

The story of how I got involved has always amused me, as it happened quite by accident. After reading a post in 2018, I headed over to my favourite store of that time period (the illustrious Sn@tch, sadly now defunct), and set myself up for some fishing (an activity where you can "catch" free clothing in a pond).  There, I ran into Love Trill, who was the FabFree organizer at the time and an immensely talented blogger who made FabFree what it is today. I, being a massive nerd, totally squealed at her, and we struck up a conversation. She must have seen something in me, because a week later, I was a FabFree blogger, and insanely thrilled about it.

When Love Trill decided to retire in 2020 after a decade of service, I took up the mantle of FabFree Blog Organizer, just like she had before me, and how I hope to one day (not yet!) pass the baton on to the next generation of SL freebie lovers. 

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Where can Residents learn more about FabFree and its activities and events? Does Fabfree work with Content Creators or Bloggers to cross-promote different events? If so, how can they reach out to get involved? 
FabFree is a vibrant community - we've always got something going on, from coverage of massive events, to our own hunts, to our everyday blog posts about free and affordable finds in SL. Our aim has always been to promote up-and-coming designers, giving them a platform where they can communicate with a large base of potential customers. SL is a busy place, and it can be hard to know where to go to get the word out about what you offer - we love hearing from designers and members who have something they're passionate about and want to share with the grid.

Also, at our core - we just love a good free find! We love letting our readers know about the latest group gifts or under 75L finds that are exciting us each day. Second Life is for everyone, and everyone can make their avatar their own, no matter their budget! Our blogging team works hard to cover as much as we can, and we often are looking for new people to add to our friendly and dedicated team. I'm always inspired by the selflessness of our bloggers - it's a tough job and we do it out of the pure joy of sharing a great affordable find with our readers.  

If you're looking for freebies and deals, check the blog daily at fabfree.wordpress.com, or join the Fabulously Free in SL inworld group to get up-to-the-minute updates from our community about great finds they want to share - the chat is a busy and exciting (and a very friendly) place!

If you're a designer or event promoter, you can apply to be a part of our Designer program - we have over 100 stores that participate, and in exchange for an exclusive gift for our group members, you gain access to notice rights in the group to spread the word on what's going on in your store or event. You can find application details at fabfree.wordpress.com/fabulous-designers.

If you're a blogger, you might consider joining our team - we sometimes have openings for people who are team-oriented, passionate, and kind.

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You also run your own personal blog, how long have you been a blogger and do you have any advice to give to new Residents looking to get involved in the Second Life blogging scene?
I started my blog back in 2016, at a time when fashion was really starting to take on a life of its own in SL.  I kept collecting fabulous outfits, gorgeous shoes, and beautiful hairstyles. I was aching for a place to document and show off all these creations. Thus, Aline's World was born, and my pile of pretty items continues to grow.  

My first piece of advice on becoming a blogger is to make sure that it's something you're passionate about - if documenting items you're wearing on your avatar isn't something that interests you in the least, you'll tire of blogging quickly. If you're really into creating a look, a space, or a feel - then jump in and see where the adventure takes you. Also, don't be too precious about what your "style" is - you will end up taking on so many different looks that by a few months in, your style will just be seeing where an outfit takes you.  

From a practical standpoint - get on Flickr to check out the blogging scene. That's where I started, and it's where most bloggers share their looks!  

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How has Second Life impacted your life?
I think SL has taught me to be more authentically myself and take more risks fashion-wise. I've met people from everywhere, with differing views, and different styles - and those differences have informed my thought processes over the years. It's been an adventure! The other big adventure was meeting my real-life partner. Yes.. love in SL is a real thing! 13 years ago, we met by a virtual pond and now we're married and living together. Who knew?!

I've made so many friends and met so many special people who have touched my heart deeply as well as my imagination, and I think that THAT is the true magic of Second Life. We've all come together in this crazy virtual land and created a special world where we can all be our authentic selves.

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL who inspire you and whose work you admire.
I'm endlessly inspired by other bloggers, especially those who came before me in the freebie scene - Love Trill is always creating beautiful scenes featuring affordable finds. I also love to follow the work of Grant Valeska, Bunny Fluffz, P e d r o, and Meriluu Lumoss (and so many more!). Also, designers who craft some beautiful outfits, avatars, accessories, and attachments such as Alaskametro, Miss Chelsea, Ricielli, Cureless, Moon Amore x Muse, Lelutka, Magika, Stealthic, Truth, Ysoral, Dust Bunny, Apple Fall, Euphoric, Foxcity, Ishiku, and ChicChica, ... and far too many others to name - their craft and dedication are amazing to me. 

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
FabFree Blog
FabFree Inworld Group
FabFree Info Hub
Aline's World
Flickr

Thank you, Aline, for dedicating years to guiding Second Life Residents in their quest for fabulously free and affordable treasures!  

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

 

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on The Nature Collective, a nature-loving community in Second Life. Learn more about TNC from the founder, Emm Evergarden.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I joined Second Life after rewatching The Office during the pandemic, during a time when I was feeling a little lost. I figured if Dwight Schrute could live his best life not once, but twice, then so could I and here I am!

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Emm at Walsh County

What does nature in Second Life represent or offer to you personally and how does it connect or resonate with physical world nature experiences? 
Nature to me is a very spiritual thing. I feel like we can learn so many lessons from it like how to slow down and be present in our lives. It can teach us that things end, but there is also rebirth and new beginnings. I’ve always felt that we are connected to all living things and nature has always been a huge part of my life. It’s where I can be still and truly feel at peace with myself.

Nature in SL gives me that same sort of solace and peace but in a different way. It offers a place where I can do things that I can no longer do in my physical first world life such as biking, horseback riding, hiking, etc. It also offers an outlet for my creativity by giving me a blank canvas with which to create.

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The Coffeehouse at The Nature Collective

Tell us more about The Nature Collective, what inspired you to create it, and have you seen any positive impacts TNC has had on the Second Life community?
I was inspired to create the Nature Collective after exploring so many beautiful places in my early days of SL. It was obvious that there were so many talented nature creators here and I wanted to find a way to help showcase these areas, make it easier for people to find these locations and get people out exploring them. I also wanted to inspire people to stop and look at the world around them, virtual and real, and maybe get inspired to help with local, national and international nature-related causes.

At its core, The Nature Collective is a group, or a collective if you will, of nature-based sims and locations in Second Life – but we are so much more than that. We encourage exploration of our member locations through our various group events. Many of our locations are focused on real environmental issues and are working to educate people and make an impact. Whether we are nature creators, nature explorers, or both, we care about nature in all its forms and are doing what we can to make a difference and help people connect with nature both in Second Life and in our day-to-day lives.

I feel like The Nature Collective has helped inspire people to create more nature spaces in SL. People get excited about creating and sharing their spaces. It’s also helped people connect. Our little community now has over 2100 members and is continually growing. TNC offers group events aimed at getting people out exploring in SL while meeting new people. We’ve seen friendships blossom over common interests in nature. It’s been truly heartwarming to see our little group into this beautiful community.

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TNC has implemented an Explorer HUD, can you tell us how that works exactly, and how has it enhanced the exploration of nature experiences in Second Life?
Our Explorer HUD has over 160 different Nature Collective member locations. Nature Explorers attach the HUD, click on the arrows to either page forward or backward through locations with each one having their own text-based image and SLurl. People can then click on the HUD and it will open up the world map and allow them to teleport directly to that location. There is also a search option available that lets people type in the name of the location they’re looking for, if they don't want to page through every one.

Our Explorer HUD has made exploration in SL easier and more fun. Using our HUD means there’s no need to keep 160+ different landmarks in your inventory. The HUD also auto-updates when new locations are added, meaning that our members have the most-up-to-date list available at all times.

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TNC Coffee Collective at The Dancing Rabbit Cafe

What are some of the events and activities that TNC runs? Can anyone attend and join? Where can Residents learn more about them?
We have several group events such as our Coffee Collective, Shutterbug Club, Trails ‘n Tails, Come Sail Away and our Book Club! Most events happen at different Nature Collective member locations as a way for people to visit and explore more of our locations. We have some laid back events like our Coffee Collective, where we meet up twice a month at different TNC member coffee houses and cafes to chat, mingle and just enjoy talking and getting to know people. Our Shutterbug Club is a once-a-month event where we visit different TNC member locations and take photos. Trails ‘n Tails happens once a month and is one of my favorites; we grab our SL pets and walk and hike as a group throughout different locations and explore, chat and try to take in as much of our surroundings as we can.

Anyone can join in these events, and we welcome everyone! You don’t need to be a Nature Collective member, but it helps to be in the SL group and in our Discord server so you can easily get event info, reminders, and updates. Event info and our event calendar can also be found at the Nature Collective headquarters in SL as well as on our website.

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TNC Trails n Tails - November by Kup Haroldsen

What can we expect from TNC in the future? Are there any new upcoming features, events, or goals you have for its future development that you can share with us?
We are always looking ahead at the different ways that we can get people involved and out exploring. We are working on our first publication, which will launch in the first quarter of next year, as well as revamping our Explorer HUD to make it more interactive and easier to use. We will also be adding more group events for our members and some different educational and informational events aimed at helping people make the most out of their Second Life. And last but not least, we are working on a new immersive mainland experience for the TNC headquarters with more informative content showcased and shared in fun and inventive ways.

We are also looking for ways to bridge our two worlds by working with various nature conservation organizations to promote fundraising efforts as well as showcasing what a Second Life presence can offer to these organizations. We are always looking for ways to inspire people to form a deeper connection with the world around them.

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Tilheyra by Teagan Tunwarm

In what ways has building and managing The Nature Collective and being a part of the Second Life community impacted your life?
Without meaning to sound dramatic, it kind of saved me. I was more than a little bit lost after a life-changing health diagnosis. Second Life and creating The Nature Collective has opened new ways for me to dream and create and allowed me to do things that I can’t do anymore in my first life. It’s given me a sense of community and belonging and a sense of purpose when I needed it most. I’ve met so many wonderful and beautiful people from all walks of life and from all over the world that I wouldn’t have otherwise met and learned so much from them and from Second Life in the process. Second Life truly is a remarkable place.

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Big Sky Over Florence by Meycy Bailey

Where can people get more information about The Nature Collective? Please share links to any sites and social media accounts.
- Website   
- Explorer List  
- Discord  
- Destination  
- Flickr Group

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Evergarden Equestrian by Teagan Lefevre

Thank you Emm, for being not only a promoter of nature's beauty and importance, but also for building such a thriving community where others can share in this appreciation. 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup    

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Charlotte Bartlett, the talent behind Scarlet Creative, a digital architecture and home decor boutique in Second Life.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I joined Second Life in 2006. I had been an avid fan of playing Myst online and was looking for something that had a sense of community and connecting with people online and found it via a random Google search.

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You’ve been creating content in Second Life for many years, how and when did you get started?
I started creating content right from the beginning when I joined, so ouch 17 years. I got super lucky and connected with an inworld architect back in 2006 named Scope Cleaver who built me something called the Bartlett House. I was looking at it for more wider user cases (part of my RL world back then). We called it the Bartlett House and it was pretty unique for it's time and the limitations then. During this, I got to build for the first time using the prim tools and created the swimming pool water for the house (it was all I could be trusted with ha). It was like a light bulb going off. I was hooked immediately on being able to create things in real time and interact with them.

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Do you have a background in 3D content creation and what kind of tools do you use to create your content?
Zero background (as you can probably tell!) I learnt using Second Life tools which gave me the ability to understand some basics. In 2012, I transitioned from Prims into creating with Mesh. I then picked a 3D tool that barely anybody else in SL used (why not!) and started to learn Cinema4D (C4D) for fun. These days I still prefer C4D along with Substance Painter and Designer. Anybody just starting out - pick Blender (far bigger SL community to learn from and it's free!)

How would you describe your virtual architectural style and what are some of your favorite items that you have created?
My style is a little fluid and to date I am still trying to figure my own "dream" build for Second Life. Hey I might figure it out by the time my avatar reaches 20! My favourite remains when I was creating more for Scarlet Creative in world, the modernist white beach houses back in 2007 onwards. They were simple but really were fun to build so will always hold a special place in my heart. 

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My actual favorites are not houses. My joy was always creating installations and interactive region experiences. It started back when I first joined. I created an Alice in Wonderland set for a SL birthday that had a full on interactive build behind it in a "secret world" through to builds collaborating with brands like Sports Relief, Vice TV, BBC and Adobe in my first few years in Second Life. I did a brief stint as Princess Mole and loved creating with the original small team of Moles. However, my favourite was back in 2008 a region sized secret handbag with adventure rooms and almost like an early style adventure room. My one wish is if I had more time I could use Second Life in this way again. Perhaps actually when my avatar reaches 20 I'll finally achieve another one!

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
There is one person above all others. Her name was Jewell Lamourfou. On the very first day I logged onto SL and escaped the Newbie section (of course I never read anything so just started to press all the buttons). I teleported on to her head somehow. She had also just joined in 2006 and had set up her little plot on Mainland. We both spent the first few days trying to figure out why there was smog everywhere. We became fast friends, and often would create together in the pre-mesh days. She was a real-life highly successful artist and created lovely textures for Second Life called Distressed Textures and had a wildly successful texture app co created by another close friend we both had. Sadly in real-life we recently just lost her this month to cancer, but I know her texture and artwork have left a legacy within Second Life that will keep her memory and beautiful work alive.

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Charlotte Bartlett and Jewell Lamourfou

Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
SLURL  
Facebook  
Flickr 
Instagram

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Thank you Charlotte, for sharing your inspiring journey and introducing us to the beauty of your virtual creations. 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Wanders Nowhere, a talented creator who has been crafting immersive experiences that transport Residents into otherworldly dimensions. From the awe-inspiring era of dinosaurs at Prehistorica to the haunting corridors of Castle Dracula, one can't help but marvel at the level of detail, passion, and creativity.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I have been in Second Life since August of 2006. I first discovered it whilst I was living and working in a tiny rural village in Japan. Second Life became my creative outlet and connection to the English-speaking world, and my primary income after returning home to Australia and growing Prehistorica into a Mesh store in 2014.

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You have been a content creator since 2009. What kind of content do you create and how did you get started?
I'm an avatar and creature creator primarily, though I’ve also done tons of worldbuilding, scripting, and experience design over the years. I tell people RL asking about my job that I "make dinosaurs on the internet." It’s just easier that way!

I was fascinated early on by the possibilities of stretching the definition of 'avatar' on SL, even back when we had to use hacked deformer animations to stretch out the underlying skeleton to hang a prim sculpty creature body on, I could see the potential to be a dinosaur, a dragon, or anything else you wanted. Mesh, Project Bento, and Animesh have taken all of that to levels beyond.

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Tell us more about Prehistorica and the different experiences it offers Second Life Residents.
Prehistorica was always designed to be an immersive experience, to take you back into the past to experience the prehistoric world firsthand. That giddy sense of awe and wonder we all feel as kids the first time we discover dinosaurs - that these wonderful, fantastical, gigantic beasts that feel like they should be myth really did exist, and once ruled our world - that's the feeling I want to capture with Prehistorica.  

You can ride dinosaurs, hang from a pteranodon's clutches and fly about, or buy one of our avatars or animesh and own – or become! – a denizen of the Mesozoic yourself. Our Primal Life game system allows you to experience a survival game environment where your dinosaur eats, drinks, sleeps, hunts other animals, and gains experience over time. You can also hop up to the floating Azhar Dracys dragon islands above Prehistorica to play a special minigame where you (as a human, dinosaur or dragon) battle invading Elementals for prizes.

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You also have another project in Second Life, Castle Dracula, tell us more about that.
This is my other major project on Second Life, which I have been working on for 15 years. It’s a recreation of Dracula’s own castle, inspired by the original novel - and influenced by the legendary Universal and Hammer films, and the Castlevania game series - but with the novel as its touchstone. In 2022, I opened it as “Castle Dracula: A Gothic Horror Experience”, a gigantic, sprawling haunt like nothing else on the grid, and a way for people to discover the original literature in an interactive, cinematic, and scary way.

You take on the search for Jonathan Harker, traveling to Transylvania, meeting The Count Himself, and exploring his Castle in search of Jonathan’s diaries and the truth of his fate. Along the way, there are plenty of chills and surprises and an ending that will haunt you for a long time to come.

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Just in time for Halloween 2023, I’ve expanded it with a second storyline based on Sheridan LeFanu’s “Carmilla”. In ‘Carmilla: The Love of the Dead”, you’ll follow the novella’s protagonist Laura as she searches for closure on her encounter with the alluring and sinister Carmilla, ten years after the story. Is Carmilla truly gone? In the tangled depths of the Castle, a story of grief, desire, and terror awaits you with more puzzles, new haunts, unique prizes, new areas of the Castle, and new cinematic twists to a classic tale.

Come this Halloween - and stay forever! Castle Dracula is open all year round, and I intend to continue expanding it with more classic gothic tales in the future; Carmilla is to be the first of several new chapters...so stay tuned, my dear guests, for more horror to come.

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Who are some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire?
I still have a profound respect for people like Flea Bussy of Grendel’s Children and Stickman Ingmann of Seawolf and Roarbeast, who were there before me pushing the limits of what SL could do back in the days before even Sculpties were a thing. I think there’s a sense of lost history there. Only Grendel’s, Seawolf, Nargus Labs, and Isle of Wyrms were doing non-humanoid creature avatars when I got my start. They walked so that every creature avatar maker since could run, fly, hop, scuttle, and slither. That’s part of the story of the grid, SL wouldn’t be what it is without them.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
You can find Prehistorica here:
Inworld Store / Main Sim
SecondLife Marketplace
Inworld Group: secondlife:///app/group/0d91b53a-3995-9ca3-41ee-299af853749d/about
Our Website
Discord
Facebook
YouTube
Flickr

The Castle Dracula Experience and Carmilla: the Love of the Dead can be found here:
Inworld Landing Point
Inworld Group: secondlife:///app/group/beaf63f9-e2fa-43b0-4281-185db70dbf0e/about
Discord
Facebook
Flickr

Come visit our prehistoric landscape, soar the heavens and swim the seas, hang out with us, and get in touch with your inner dinosaur – or dragon – or giant prehistoric snake 😊 Prehistorica welcomes explorers of every era. Just remember to be polite – some of our denizens get a little toothy when they haven’t had their morning snacks!

Watch a video submitted by Wanders Nowhere for this Spotlight feature, video production by Caelyn Moss:

Thank you, Wanders, for adding the magic of imagination to unforgettable Second Life experiences.

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Second Life Spotlight - GBTH


Spotlight

Today we’re shining a spotlight on GBTH, which stands for Grab by the Horns, an art incubator in Second Life celebrating its 6th anniversary this week. Learn more about GBTH from the founder, Marina Munter.

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GBTH Workshop - photo by Soyoy

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I joined Second Life back in 2012 and recently celebrated my 11th rezday on September 1st!

Back in 2008, I read about the art world in Second Life in Wolf Lieser’s Digital Artbook that I found around my mother’s library. Artists like Gazira Babeli and Eva + Franco Mattes were mentioned for the work they developed inworld back in the day. 

Sadly at the time I didn’t have full-time access to the internet and I was also underage, so I waited until the stars aligned to finally create an account!

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NON-PERISHABLE by Marina Münter

You are the founder and owner of GBTH, an art incubator in Second Life. Can you tell us more about it, when you started it, and what inspired you to do it? Was there a specific gap or need in the art community that you wanted to address?
The GBTH is an independent art incubator here in Second Life. It has its own region and hosts simultaneously 12+ exhibitions in diverse formats; individual and collective, full environments, and 2D. I started it back on October 17th, 2017 right after I had my first exhibition inworld, called Non-Perishable. It consisted of five monochromatic shipping containers filled with objects of the same color, assembled in a port-like environment built specifically for this exhibit. The dynamics of putting that body of work together made me fall in love deeply with Second Life as a creative platform and even before that exhibition opened I had a gazillion ideas for future projects popping into my head.

In real life, I had been gathering experience working as an assistant and mediator in a few exhibitions and projects, as well as an academic kickstart with a junior scholarship through the Fine Arts School in the Federal University of Bahia and joined my first collective real-life exhibit at the age of 15.

Here in Brazil, we say “joining the hunger and the desire to eat”, and I think that is exactly what happened. With GBTH I wanted to offer more than just an allocated space and a timeframe - we offer the support, guidance, and management to ensure their idea is coming through and that the exhibition will be completed in satisfactory ways for all parties involved. For us, there isn’t a distinction between art made in Second Life and art made in the physical world, in regards to the work itself - it is all art.

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DECOIFFE by Vincent Priesley - Photo by BadUnicorn

The art incubator is a concept that might be new to some readers. Can you provide a brief overview of what exactly is an art incubator, and how does it differ from traditional art museums or galleries?
In simple words, an art incubator focuses on the process of assisting the artist in putting together a body of work, whereas a gallery focuses mostly on sales and a museum, on preservation and display. 

The way I wanted to see the GBTH functioning was to be more active than a mere space where artists would come and just rez their work - I wanted an actual exchange and mutual learning.

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VESSELS by Rob Danton

What challenges have you faced in launching and running GBTH, and how have you overcome them?
I had a super old slow computer back in the day. We’re talking like building with an average of 6fps. Using Second Life has a bit of a learning curve and I feel like every day there is something new to learn. Back in the day, my resources to run GBTH were limited to how persistent and creative I could be to keep it going. From asking friends if they could donate a piece of land for the first exhibitions to asking inventory items to be borrowed for a certain project - stuff that seems so simple looking back 6 years later but that played a big part in how I’d structure the place and its values. 

We give an array of options on how to follow through in the process of putting together a body of work here, offering beforehand alternatives to prevent the artists we’re working with from dealing with the same issues so the conversation can move forward.

Being here in Second Life was also the first time I saw myself as a foreigner since I’m Brazilian and never traveled abroad. The cultural and generational barriers were curious to overcome, so one thing we always encourage is for artists to bring their own cultural background into their work, which results in extremely rich and honest exhibitions.

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KLUB 15 by Keiko Clementine

How can artists who want to participate get involved with GBTH, do they reach out to you? What types of artists and creative projects do you believe are particularly well-suited for incubation and support through GBTH?
We’re planning on making open calls at the beginning of 2024, so artists who might be interested in working with us can join our in-world group and follow us on social media to be the first to know once that happens, how to reach out and what to send.

The projects are selected based on several factors which vary from case to case, even because it depends on the format they apply to - 2D, full environments, or collective shows. It is important when applying, that the artist understands what we’re offering and what is being asked from them. 

Each exhibition opened is a result of at least a few weeks of work and investment from all parts involved, and we wouldn’t do it any differently because it is part of what makes it pleasurable for us.

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Colonia 2.0 Eupalinos Ugajin - GBTH presents Ed. Colonia 2.0

What is in the future for GBTH? Are there any upcoming events, exhibitions, or projects within GBTH that we should be on the lookout for?
Right now we’re wrapping up the final details for the biggest exhibition we had so far: GBTH x Rachel Breaker EPILOGUE. It is a collective exhibition in collaboration with Rachel, and it will mark the celebrations of GBTH’s 6th anniversary. 

For this 5th and last round, we asked the participants to answer how they were feeling through the assemblage and texturing of a figurine. These figurines are made with a kit provided by us with meshes by Rachel Breaker. We hosted a workshop for the participants to talk about conceptual thinking and workflow development and the response was so good! I’m beyond proud and excited to share the result with the rest of the grid.

GBTH x Rachel Breaker EPILOGUE opens on October 20th, 1pm SLT, with a second party at 6pm SLT for those in the USA!

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THE SURFACE OF MARS by Rachel Breaker

Collaboration and community can be essential for artists, GBTH is also a part of the Second Life Community Gateway Program, can you tell us more about that?
It is indeed, especially when we aim to burst the bubble and connect with residents who aren’t necessarily in the art field. We joined the Community Gateway Program back in 2019 and it helped us be even more aware of Second Life’s nature of being a user-based platform by not only being more “hands-on” in the process of user attraction and retention but also through the exchange with members of other CGs and getting to know more about the areas they focus in.

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DISTANCE by Mich Michabo

As a founder in the art space, you likely have a unique perspective on the art world. Are there any artists in SL that particularly inspire you, or whose work you admire?
I know it will sound cliche but every interaction I’ve had with all the few dozens of artists that passed through the GBTH was really inspiring in their own way. It is really hard to refer to names without feeling someone was left out. There are also people whom I admire and who don't exactly consider themselves artists, but that doesn't make them any less worthy of mention. To name a few:

Lux Chiantelle, an artist who owned the first gallery I visited in Second Life, Suntory Time, and blew my mind with the works on display there;

Vincent Priesley, whose brain I wish I could kiss for how it gifts us with the most fantastically intricate works that I’ve seen here;

Jake Vordun, for his contagious authenticity, elegance, and shared passion for art and museum displays;

Soy, whose creations made me feel at home when I was still not fully invested in Second Life.

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GBTH bot photobomb by Autumn Yap

Where can people see your work and get more information about GBTH? Please share links to any sites and social media accounts.
On the GBTH website they can check all the current exhibitions, interviews with artists, links, etc... 
We’re also on X, formerly Twitter as @GBTH_artinc 
on Instagram as @gbth_artincubator 
and on YouTube.

Watch Marina on Lab Gab in March 2021, giving a tour of GBTH! 

Thank you, Marina, for adding your talent to the art community in Second Life and providing a platform for digital artists to express themselves! 

Attend the GBTH x Rachel Breaker EPILOGUE opening party on Friday, October 20th, at 1pm SLT, with a second party at 6pm SLT for those in the USA, and celebrate 6 years of GBTH with the community!

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Poster designed by Difficult Conundrum

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Second Life Spotlight - LP Kidd


Spotlight

Today we are shining a spotlight on LP Kidd, an award-winning Director, Writer, and Producer of many Second Life machinima! Join him on October 6th for a showing of one of his short films at the Second Life Cinema!

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I've been in Second Life for seventeen years. My original join date is August 2006 from an alternative account. I learned about Second Life while in college from my art teacher. As a class, we were instructed to join Second Life to further teach us 3D building aspects as well as networking with people in the gaming industry. We visited sandbox regions and explored SL as a class in 2006. Eventually, Second Life turned into a personal hobby for me as my first step away from the class was to join role plays, create content, and explore videography.

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You are the Director, Writer, and Producer of many machinima that you filmed in Second Life, which can be viewed on YouTube as well as Amazon Prime. How long have you been writing and creating, and where do you get your inspiration?
I was inspired at a young age by my late father when he took me to theatrical animation festivals. Of course, over time I'd write short stories about my childhood life around the age of eight. Later heroic movies like Superman, Terminator, The Abyss, and The Matrix were influential. An MTV series called Liquid Television, Aeon Flux would further feed my inspiration to write Science Fiction scripts and comic books. I also gathered inspiration from attending college and getting my degree in Game Art and Design, which is where I learned a lot of cinematic videography techniques. Although all these inspirations are from varied sources, one of the most major inspirations I have ever read was from the bible and the study of eschatology.

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In light of the recognition your machinima has garnered, have there been any standout feedback or reviews that have particularly resonated with you?
There have been three recognitions.

The first was being accepted by Amazon Prime for my four episodes of The Tales Of Twilight series along with accrediting approval for the Imdb.com listing. The episodes are now purchasable on Amazon Prime

The second was being awarded the Independent Short Awards (International Film Festival) for my short film series episode of The Tales Of Twilight: Destineville.

The third was the article review from Film Threat, which covered Resilient Red-X Episode One.

I continue to produce films because I'm passionate about filmmaking, telling, entertaining, and producing stories. I am very appreciative of all of the SL community support, and fan following of my works that I've produced in music videos and in Machinima short films... and thus far these three stand out to me. I count being featured on Spotlight by Linden Lab a fourth.

What kind of software do you use to capture and edit your videos?
There was a time I would not share this information when I worked in videography as a company.  Also, I didn't receive a lot of help, and being an early pioneer and veteran of SL Machinima. A lot I had to learn on my own back in the day using CamStudio and Windows Movie Maker. So I kept that information private for a time, and with a company like DreamFX I kept indoor intel proprietary. However, today so much is shared and exposed within the videography community. I also work more independently sort of how I began. I currently use Davinchi Resolve and sometimes FXHome/Hitfilm, and VideoPad. As for audio enhancement, I use my voice, licensed GhostHack sounds, and a program called MusicMaker.

What can we expect from you in the future? Are there any interesting projects you are currently working on?
I am currently working on a science fiction spiritual drama/adventure series called 27 R.C.  I have three episodes out and plan to produce more. I am also in talks of revisiting Resilient Red-X into a new evolved story. I also look forward to more Tales of the Twilight episodes. I hope to one day get my series more solicited in hopes of syndication. That will be a great day for Machinima animation. I believe Tubi is the next step to get my content out to the world. On a side note: I am always making music videos monthly and bi-monthly so you'll always find some kind of content from my Musicality YouTube page.

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
Currently, Teal and Vrutega's work is inspirational and very top-notch in cinematic appeal. Both of their works are visually stunning. Just add voice acting, good lip, good facial emotion, and a good script... and poof they are there! The talent list of creators is growing though. So many are now out there making videos from SL now. More and more people are producing content, and for those where finances are not an option, they have the opportunity to use some of the top-end PC software, with fast CPU graphics, as well as education to match... making their machinima look epic, reaching its limits... if it has any. It's always been my goal to produce machinima where people don't know that it's machinima, or they have to ask, "Where does this animation come from? What is this animation?" Because they are intrigued and impressed, and they wonder because it's not exactly like industry animation. When I get that question I feel like I've pushed the SL Machinima visual envelope into CGI Meetup territory.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
The best route is to use my linktree. 

However as an option here is a list:
Media Pages:
YouTube @LPFilmsCGI
YouTube @lpmusicvideos
TikTok @lp_films
Flickr - LP Films
Instagram @lp_films_cgi

Personal or specific Pages:
Portfolio
ResilientRedX
The Tales of Twilight
Twitter @cgiseriesx


Watch the trailer for LP's RESILIENT RED X LEVEL 4, submitted for Spotlight

Thank you LP, for adding your creative talent to the machinima scene in Second Life!

Watch a showing of RESILIENT RED X LEVEL 4 with LP and other Residents at the Second Life Cinema on Friday, October 6th at 12pm PT!

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup   

Linden Lab

Second Life Spotlight - Ravenstarr


Spotlight

Today we are shining a spotlight on Ravenstarr, a talented Second Life builder who weaves destinations brimming with adventure and dipped in fantasy.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I've been a resident of Second Life for a remarkable 12 years. It all began with my school, which surprisingly owned an island in Second Life. They tasked us with creating avatars and using the platform to present our research posters. Picture an island brimming with newcomers, all stumbling around, attempting to present our medical research. It was hilarious, to say the least. I became curious about Second Life. I decided to explore this unique realm, and it was here that I truly fell in love with the boundless creativity it offers.

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You’ve been building creative, interactive, and fun destinations in Second Life for many years. Can you walk us through your creative process, from ideation to the final build? Where do you draw inspiration from?
My wellspring of inspiration flows from various sources - movies, books, or even chance encounters with captivating images or videos. It all begins with a concept, and from there, I construct my creative vision. I deeply consider the emotions I aim to stir with my "art." For instance, my destination, Kaleidoscope, was inspired by a documentary I stumbled upon during a period I was battling intense anxiety. The breathtaking beauty of monarch butterflies it showcased ignited feelings of wonder and optimism within me. In Second Life, I endeavored to recreate that very sense of awe and hope.


Teleport to Kaleidoscope

What are some of your past destinations that you worked on and also any current ones that Residents can explore and enjoy? Which ones have been your favorite?
I've created quite a few destinations that people may remember. 

My first was Junktown, that was inspired by the game, Fallout. 

Ravenport Reclaimed was another apocalyptic themed region that was a deserted town reclaimed by nature. 

The Pond was an oversized koi pond that you could explore above and below the water. 

This Mortal Coil for SPARK was inspired by the movie “What Dreams May Come”. 

The Deep Woods for SPARK was inspired by fairytales both light and dark and explored fantasy and fairy tales. 

A Who Christmas was a Christmas inspired region. 

Nova was a sci-fi utopian themed build with aliens and a chat AI bot. 

Kaleidoscope - Monarch Education project, which I mentioned earlier, is still open to the public. Kaleidoscope can be found here.     

OLYMPUS for SPARK was inspired by Greek Mythology and fantasy. I wanted to play with proportion again and build something very different. Olympus can be seen here.   

My newest destination, Neverland, is inspired by my favorite children’s story, Peter Pan. I wanted to create the whimsy and playfulness that made me fall in love with Second Life. Neverland can be seen here.

It’s hard to pick a favorite because each one is a favorite for different reasons.

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Teleport to Neverland

Can you share more about the Spark Project, what it is, and your affiliation with it?
SPARK Project is a collaborative project with my dear friend, Drew Lukas. We wanted to create an experience that combines music with an immersive environment. We host two day music festivals at the opening of each destination. Then the region is open for exploration for a couple of months before we break it down and create again. I help build the regions with Drew and organize DJs. Our current project, OLYMPUS, is still open for exploration until the end of September.

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Teleport to OLYMPUS for SPARK

Are you working on any other projects that you can share with us?
My next project will be a new SPARK destination. It will be something inspired by Agatha Christie. We are hoping to open that one at the beginning of December.

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This Mortal Coil for SPARK

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
I'm inspired every day by the creativity I see in Second Life. There are so many beautiful people who create from their souls. 

My build partner, Drew Lukas, is a creative genius who pushes me to expand my skills. 

My friend, Faith (proverbs312014), created Cotton Candy Bay, and it's a constant source of inspiration. 

Vɪᴏʟᴇᴛᴛᴇ Mᴏʀɴɪɴɢꜱᴛᴀʀ (Violette Rembrandt) and her partner, Lucifer, have crafted an amazing Wonderland that never ceases to amaze me. 

My friend, Cube Republic, with his sheer talent and the quality of his landscaping plants, is another source of inspiration. 

Vrutega, Macguyver Mode, and Godiva Varela captivate me with their ability to breathe life into their art, creating captivating visual stories.

The list could go on and on because Second Life is a place to celebrate creativity, and it’s a testament to the power of virtual communities to bring people together and foster artistic expression.

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Ravenport Reclaimed

Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
My personal brand is MORPH Productions
My Flickr
My Facebook

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The Pond

Thank you Raven, your creative contributions to the community illuminate the vast potential of virtual worlds and inspire us all!

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we are shining a spotlight on Truth Hawks, the mastermind behind the iconic Truth Hair in Second Life. Trailblazing since 2007, Truth has been crafting some of the most coveted virtual hairstyles and has now impressively extended his genius across diverse metaverse platforms and on the big screen!

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Photo by Hayden Rowley

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I created my account early 2007. At the time I was working for myself in graphic and web design and had just started dabbling in 3D. I heard about SL on the news and it sounded interesting so I thought I'd check it out. 16.5 years later and I'm still here! 

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2009 Truth Mainstore custom build by Barnesworth Anubis

You are one of the most renowned hair creators in Second Life, how and when did you get into content creation?
I started creating from the get-go. I remember thinking it was really amazing that you could make anything, set it for sale and cash out Ls for real money so easily. I first made some graphic t-shirts and tattoos and rented a little spot in a shopping district. I started creating hair not long after and that is what really grew my store.

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Do you have a background in 3D content creation and what kind of tools do you use to create your content?
SL was the main catalyst for my interest in 3D. A few years into SL I moved my family from Australia to Vancouver and LA to study at film school. Since then I've worked with top studios around the world and on movies and games such as Black Panther and League of Legends. I use a wide range of software, I'm pretty tool agnostic and will use whatever works.

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Sculpted Mount Bashenga from Marvel’s Black Panther - Wakanda Forever

You have recently started collaborating with other creators in Second Life, tell us more about that collaboration. 
I came up with the idea of Truth Collective because my releases in SL had been less frequent since dividing my time between SL/RL work. People would often ask when a new hairstyle is coming out so I thought why not invite some talented creators to make hair with my textures. Truth customers can enjoy more releases and the creators could benefit from my large update groups. It's been great working with Wasabi & Faga and having the ability to help each other with hair making, something I haven't had a lot of in the past as I've mainly worked alone.

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You have also ventured out into the NFT world, tell us more about what you are doing on other metaverse platforms.
I started creating NFTs in 2020 and sold out a few of my own collections. I went on to work with RTFKT and collaborated with AMC, LVMH, and other fashion brands. My company has organically moved to more of a metaverse focus and we're currently activating 2 major fashion brands on another platform. I feel that the interest and opportunities in metaverse that SL experienced earlier on has seen a big revival in the last couple of years and it's exciting to see where it might go from here.

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Modeled & Textured RTFKT x Jeff Staple Meta-Pigeon

How has Second Life impacted your life?
It's hard to imagine the direction my life would have taken if I didn't find SL. It guided me on a career path that I might not have taken as seriously otherwise and I'll be forever grateful for all the support SL residents have shown me for so many years.

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Photo by Hayden Rowley

Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
My company is VRTL WRLD 
SL Flickr
SL Twitter   
Linktree

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Kryptoz x AMC NFT

 

Thank you, Truth, for pioneering with passion and gracing us with virtual hair that's nothing short of stunning!

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we are shining a spotlight on Polyester Partridge, the talent behind the Yummy brand in Second Life. With an 18-year legacy, her creations are vibrant masterpieces narrating tales of color and imagination.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I've been using Second Life for such a long time that I can't remember exactly when I started. If I check my inworld profile, it tells me I've been a member since 2005, which means I've been using it for 18 years now. Yikes! I first heard about Second Life from another virtual world I used to log into called "There".  In There, you had the opportunity to become a "developer" and make custom clothing to earn "Therebucks" which kept me there for a few years. Second Life sounded like the wild west where you could create whatever you wanted, open your own store, and get paid real money for it.

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You’ve been creating content in Second Life for many years, how and when did you get started?
I started content creation from the moment we logged in. It started as a fun hobby. My sister Nylon Pinkney and I have always enjoyed doing things online together, she was the texture person and I was the builder. One of the first things I can remember that we created together was a giant head you could walk into for a LL run event called "Burning Life" which was a riff on the real-life Burning Man. Later on, we both established stores to sell our content on a parcel of land that a friend generously rented to us, and over time, I refined my brand Yummy.

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Do you have a background in 3D content creation and what kind of tools do you use to create your content?
I don't come from a 3D background, but I spent many years as a professional freelance photographer and used Photoshop in my daily work. My Photoshop, photography, and lighting skills have been helpful in both creating and marketing those creations. Everything I've learned about 3D content creation has been self-taught, learned through other creators, or tutorials available online over many years. I'm currently using a combination of Photoshop, Maya, and Substance Painter for creating my content but I'm always keeping my ear to the ground for new tools.

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Where do you get the inspiration for your creations and what are some of your favorite pieces that you have created?
I usually find inspiration from various sources. Everything from the current season, the theme of an event I'm participating in, something in a movie or TV show that grabs my attention, my Instagram feed, and even the video games I enjoy can be inspiration. The initial spark is a windy road and can lead to a range of different creative ideas in the end. My last creation is usually my favorite but lately, I've been having a fun time creating rigged earring sets.

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Tableau is a mysteriously whimsical destination, and also home to your main store. Can you share how the idea and design for the region came about and what can Residents expect when visiting there?
Tableau began as a shared space we created with a core group of friends for our inworld stores. I can't quite remember exactly how it started, but we would work together on designing a sim, build it, then feel like changing things after a while. We would create scenarios where things went haywire like a virus outbreak, aliens dropping in, or giant hamsters causing chaos and "destroy" everything in real-time, only to close and open up in a week or two with a brand new look. We did this a few times and got a reputation for it, although it was easier back in the day when everything was made from simple shapes and pictures. To this day I still receive messages from people saying how they missed when we used to change the sim every couple of months. 😅 

After a few years, the friends that shared the sim with us decided to explore different opportunities in Second Life and Nylon and I took over the responsibility of managing Tableau. The two of us transformed it into the space you see today.  When visitors arrive at Tableau, they'll be greeted by a desert landscape that appears to have seen its fair share of history with fun mysteries, jokes hidden around, scary dinosaurs, and, of course, a shopping area where you'll find my store along with others. We still like to introduce new elements sporadically and make tweaks, but the desert scene has remained unchanged for a good number of years. Tableau has attracted quite a few interesting fans. An anatomically correct horse, a group of senior citizens visiting The Golden Years, and a wild monkey sprinting around are just a few recent notable ones that come to mind. We also have a friendly ghost who occasionally sends me postcards from their haunting Tableau.

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
There are SO many residents whose work inspires me that it's difficult to pick just a few but I will try to list only a handful creators here:

I am totally biased, but I genuinely believe that Nylon Pinkney is one of the most creative and skilled people I know. She's great at sim design, 3D modeling, and is well known for creating custom commission illustrations. For a few years she created a very funny comic that poked fun at second life, virtual worlds, and the online culture for New World Notes called "Nylon Pinkney is very online". 

Nikohl Hax from Random Matter always amazes me with their stunning and detailed fantasy creations. They cover a wide range, crafting everything from decorative pieces to intricate jewelry, and I'm always excited and incredibly jealous when I see their latest releases.

Walton Wainwright of [ContraptioN] is so talented it makes me question if they're human. The high-quality fantasy and roleplay items they create are meticulously designed and could fit right into a AAA video game. Each one comes with an interesting backstory adding an extra layer of depth.

Salt Peppermint of SALT & PEPPER has been so helpful to me and has put many amazing tutorials out there for anyone to learn how to create things for second life on youtube. Shout out to the Creators supporting Creators discord!

Doux is a true artist when it comes to hair design. Their releases never fail to impress. In fact, if you're reading this you probably already own at least 1 or 100 of their hair creations. Their work has set a new standard for hair enthusiasts within the Second Life community.

Vespertine of Vespertine makes beautifully detailed handmade deco and each piece she creates carries a distinct and personal touch that sets it apart from the crowd. Her knack for creating lifelike plants and food deco is truly remarkable and I want to own everything she makes.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Flickr
Facebook 
Twitter
or you can find all my socials here on my carrd: https://yummylinks.carrd.co 

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Thank you Polyester, for bringing years of creativity to the grid, and sharing your journey with us.

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we are shining a spotlight on Hamlet Au, also known as Wagner James Au. Hamlet is a journalist that has been diligently reporting about Second Life for two decades on New World Notes, and has just released his latest book, Making a Metaverse That Matters!

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Can you give us a brief overview of your background and how you got involved with virtual worlds, especially Second Life?
Back in 2003, I was a young San Francisco-based freelancer writing about games as an emerging cultural force for Wired and Salon. The PR firm of an oddly-named startup called Linden Lab invited me to see a new online game world they were creating. (Yes, Lindens called it a game back then!) 

After Philip had taken me on my first tour of Second Life, his head of marketing at the time, Robin Harper, suggested that I could write for them -- as a journalist embedded in their virtual world. My first avatar, Hamlet Linden, was born, as was my blog: New World Notes.  

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After I left Linden to write my first book, The Making of Second Life, I moved my avatar identity to Hamlet Au in a transfer ceremony. I’ve always worn a white suit, sort of my silly tribute to legendary “New Journalist” Tom Wolfe.

One of the very first Residents I interviewed was Catherine Omega, an amazing scripter who casually mentioned she was temporarily homeless in real life. So I quickly realized an amazing community was developing, and that it was the story of a lifetime. I’ve been writing about SL culture whenever I can ever since!

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For instance, I recently interviewed BunnyGPT, one of the first SL bots wired up to ChatGPT

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I even still have an office space in Waterhead kept from my Linden days. Come visit! There’s an official shrine to Snow Crash there, approved by Neal Stephenson himself.

Your first book, The Making of Second Life, was published in 2008. How has Second Life evolved since then, and how did that evolution inspire your new book Making a Metaverse That Matters?
Second Life's visual quality and backend reliability have greatly improved since 2008 for sure, but to me, the most important evolution since then happened with everyone else: In the last five years or so, metaverse-type virtual worlds have finally become mainstream. And what’s exciting is that Second Life is not only still thriving, but is an important role model for these newer platforms. As I noted a while ago, Second Life creators make about as much money from the virtual world as Linden Lab itself. No other metaverse platform can say that!

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The Making of Second Life (2008)

So that’s what inspired me to write Making a Metaverse That Matters: I want to take all the lessons we’ve learned from Second Life over the last 20 years and apply them to new metaverse platforms so that we can finally realize the best and largest virtual world possible.

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Making a Metaverse That Matters (2023)

As someone who has worked for Linden Lab, what insights can you provide into the challenges and successes of maintaining and evolving a platform like Second Life?
The biggest and most amazing challenge is that the community is basically an equal collaborator with the actual company. This is both a blessing and a curse! When I was a Linden, the team would often stop work to marvel at the latest user-made project which included technical workarounds the engineers never anticipated -- and then realize that they couldn’t easily patch that workaround since doing that might break the user’s creation.

With your blog New World Notes running for over 20 years, how have your thoughts and insights about virtual worlds changed? Can you share a particular event or moment that was a turning point for you?
During a conference where I was speaking about my first book, I randomly visited a virtual Bayou bar, where I saw an avatar playing blues guitar. His appearance was customized to look like a tall old Black man, which I assumed was just his roleplay character. 

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Mr. Bristol photo credit: Russ Roberts/Etherian Kamabuko

But clicking on the user’s account, I realized that in real life he was Charles Bristol, an 87-year-old Bluesman and the grandson of once enslaved people who lived long enough to play live music in Second Life.

Wow, I thought to myself -- if people as amazing as that are in SL without me knowing, who else is in there? So I’ve never really left. Even if Second Life is not the largest virtual world, it’s definitely the most interesting and inspiring -- and the best role model for making the Metaverse.

Tell us about some of the Residents in Second Life that have left a lasting impression with their work in the virtual realm.
There are so many! But I’m very grateful to Cajsa Lilliehook for covering SL’s incredible Flickr community every week, and Sanny Yoshikawa for translating New World Notes to SL’s large Japanese user base. And to all my regular New World Notes readers! 

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I should also mention metaverse artist AM Radio, who is not as active in SL in recent years but still keeps his eye on the virtual world, and whose work has been so influential. I recently wrote about how his real life son is helping keep his art alive.

Where can people see your work? Please share links to your books, websites, and social media accounts.
New World Notes
Making a Metaverse That Matters
Facebook: Hamlet.Au
Twitter: @SLHamlet
Plurk: Hamlet_Au
Discord: WJA#3523

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Thank you, Hamlet, for all your years of reporting the metaverse news! We especially enjoyed your recent article in The Atlantic: There Will Never Be Another Second Life. Catch Hamlet tomorrow on Reddit for a special AMA!


Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we are shining a spotlight on Grant Valeska, a visionary artist that shapes high-fashion photography and art into visually stunning narratives. Grant is an embodiment of LGBTQ+ pride, celebrating his identity while inspiring others.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
My gateway to the world of Second Life was The Sims Online, where I had met other Residents who were transitioning to the Second Life platform as Maxis shut down their own metaverse. I dabbled in Second Life on various accounts as a teenager (remember teen grid?! RIP) but it wasn't until I graduated high school in 2010 that I started using Second Life regularly. I was no longer just making friendships at a random hub or dancing in the corner of a club afraid to talk to someone. In fact, I met some of my closest friends, to this day, mere days after creating Grant Valeska!

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You are known for your sense of style and editorial photography in Second Life. Do you have a background in fashion or photography?
I think many people are surprised to know that I have zero background in fashion, besides working retail for almost a decade. From the time I can remember, I have had an obsession with fashion - specifically when it came to popstars and the back pages of fashion magazines (that's where the editorials gather, in case you didn't know). I found fashion to be an escape from reality, it was otherworldly and perfect. In a place where I felt everything was so boring and mundane, fashion became my escape from the walls of a conservative Christian upbringing, to quote Andre Leon Talley, "It's a famine of beauty, honey! My eyes [were] starving for beauty!"

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How has Second Life impacted your creativity and are there any RL fashion influences that affect your work in Second Life?
Without Second Life I would not have an outlet to rid my brain of its ideas and creative cloggination. Cloggination is not a word but let's pretend it is for today! Haha! Though there are many things I can't accomplish YET within Second Life, it does force some creativity in Photoshop to make my ideas come to life which in turn has forced me to become quite the wizard at Photoshop! When it comes to influences, I have a handful of fashion industry icons that I try my hardest to not copy but emulate in some form or fashion. I have been obsessed with Grace Coddington since seeing her in the documentary 'The September Issue' in 2009. I was familiar with her prior but her commentary about ways to create an image, specifically storytelling and emotion, is constantly on replay in my brain. Along with Grace, I love David LaChapelle's photography style - it's so vibrant, campy, and over the top yet still fashion-forward! There are so many iconic images that have come from his lens. A quick Google search will leave you breathless. Outside of fashion industry icons, I am overwhelmingly inspired by pop culture moments and music. There's something about a conceptual album rollout that gets my heart racing! In more recent memory, Dua Lipa's 'Future Nostalgia' album was a major source of inspiration for me - from her promotional imagery to the music to the music videos, it spoke to my love of disco in such a graphic way!

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What is your creative process when styling for a shoot and what tools do you use to get your photos to look polished and professional? Any advice for those looking to increase their skills in fashion photography?
My creative process is chaotic, like most creative people I've encountered in my lifetime. It can start anywhere. When it comes to Second Life I have styled an entire outfit based on a pose, I've styled based on a color, I've styled based on a dead tree lying in some grass that I saw on a walk (true story!) - it can come from anywhere and anything! I believe inspiration can be found in anything if you are open to letting your mind lead you. Cliche saying alert: the brain is a powerful thing! As mentioned in the last paragraph, I use Photoshop for literally everything. Without Photoshop, no one would be impressed with my photos, I swear! My advice for anyone wanting to increase their skills would be START NOW. If you don't start somewhere, you won't get anywhere. My images from a decade ago compared to my images now look like a whole other person. Note: I do have a re-style of an image from 2011 reimagined to 2023's standards coming soon to a top-secret publication, then you can see for yourself how booger I used to be! Ha! Also - I can't go without saying these four syllables - EX-PER-I-MENT! Don't get stuck repeating the same thing, if someone "copies" you (I use that term very loosely, everything is a reference of a reference of a reference, in my opinion) create something new. When you do something over and over, not only do you lose the interest of the people viewing your work but your mind is on autopilot. Forceable creativity works!

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June is Pride month and in Second Life many members of the LGBTQ+ community find this to be a safe space to express themselves and feel empowered. Are there any activities or events that you’ll be taking part in or are looking forward to during this month?
Pride in Second Life is incredibly important to me. My first introduction to queer people was through Second Life and has continued to be the primary source of my interactions with other LGBTQ+ people on a daily basis. Where I currently am living we don't have any Pride events, let alone any LGBT spaces, so to say we have a community would require enough of us existing from beyond the shadows. For this reason, Pride events in Second Life have always been a great way for me to celebrate in my own way! In previous years I've had the pleasure of doing some live tribute shows at Second Pride, a great non-profit LGBTQ+ organization within Second Life; most recently paying tribute to queer icons Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. Last year's tribute show was at max capacity and crashed an entire region! While I don't love the concept of crashing a region I was extremely excited to have so many people come together to enjoy a show I put my blood, sweat, and tears into all in the name of Pride!

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Are there any other projects, activities, and events you are involved with in Second Life? What can we expect from you in the future? 
Wow, this is quite a segway from my previous response because I do, in fact, have a few projects coming up soon! I have partnered with Smokefest to pay tribute to Rihanna this upcoming August and I am currently working on another live show to debut around Halloween at Second Pride since I was unable to do so for their official Pride season events. Beyond live entertainment, I was recently approached by Grab By The Horns to collaborate with them on an art installation located in their incredible region which is the home to other amazingly talented artists in Second Life. My debut exhibit, PRIMITIVE, opened on May 27th and is currently still open to the public. Creating this exhibit was one of my favorite things I've ever been a part of in Second Life! Make sure you grab some merch and if you like any of my pieces they are available for sale, profits not only support my art but they help support GBTH!

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that you find inspiring and whose work you admire.
Creating a chosen family is something I never expected I would have but in the past 13 years, I've created a group of friends that have become my family. They are an insanely talented group of individuals so before I mention anyone else I must give a shout-out to each of them. Gianni Broda of David Heather, my co-designer at BlondeSushi Landscaping & Interior Design and former creator of Le Primitif - Bae Leaf, my insanely talented photographer nieces Krishna, Goldie, and Chai - along with two other creator nieces, Riley Yen of Pox and Oliver of Pare!

Outside of my tiny but mighty chosen family, I have a handful of people who inspire me with their creations, their images, and sometimes both!

Rowne probably takes up more inventory space than any other creator. Their pieces vary from high fashion to casual but I highly recommend anything they create goes straight to your inventory - Rowne is always in style. Timeless and iconic.

When it comes to hair, this girl has been my go-to for years, not only to buy from but to send aggressive messages about creating a specific hair at my request - Nova Faerye of Nova - and she always delivers, I am a Nova Hair stan for life! P.S. The aggressive messages are my privilege so don't come at her crazy or I may have to amend this statement - haha!

Jack Valentine of Boys to the Bone is a great example of someone who does it all - their creations are not only groundbreaking and outside the realm of the normal Second Life creations, but their photos are always a 10 out of 10. I have been known to admire their Flickr in a semi-stalkerish way and I have no shame about it. I did what I did and I said what I said!

To continue my admiration of someone who can do it all, Keiko of Keikumu has been another obsession. She creates some of the most beautiful makeup Second Life has to offer - so many options for someone who wants a subtle look to those of us who enjoy a heavy-handed application! Beyond the amazing makeup, her photos are to die for. She is another resident whose Flickr feed I find myself getting lost in, every image is surreal and feels like a dream!

Someone who is a newer find for me, Naomi Wong, can't go without being mentioned here. Not only are they an exceptional stylist and photographer, each image they produce feels like a high-concept fashion editorial, but they have now dipped into the world of creating and I am loving everything I'm seeing. I highly recommend taking a trip to their Flickr feed and in-world store, you won't regret that time spent!

Now since it is Pride season I'd love to give a shout-out to some amazing LGBTQ+ creators who I have had the privilege of working with and blogging for over the past 13 years - Alexander Powell of Thirst, Danny Boo of Noche, Marco Nova of Clef de Peau, House Bunny of Shushu, and Tim Yung of Fake Society. Many of them have great Pride merchandise out right now, so give their stores a quick pop-in!

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Blog  
Flickr  
Instagram  
Twitter  
Facebook  
GBTH Presents: PRIMITIVE by Grant Valeska - https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/GBTH/57/163/35 

Thank you to Strawberry for reaching out with this opportunity (and for attending the opening of my exhibit), being recognized as a legitimate artist and creative by the Second Life/Linden Lab team has been incredibly affirming and exciting to have happened to me in all these years on the grid. I am particularly honored to be a part of the Pride Month Spotlights. As a very loud and proud gay man, and a lover of all things LGBTQ+, this was a great way to start the month of June! Happy Pride ya'll! 🌈

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Thank you, Grant, we’re delighted and honored to have you as a part of the Pride Month Spotlights and appreciate the high-fashion photography and art you bring to the grid!

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we are shining a spotlight on Max (Cosmic Cat), a singer and songwriter, and the talent behind Cosmic Dust, a clothing and accessories brand in Second Life!

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I joined Second Life in 2013, so it has been about 10 years for me in Second Life. I first heard about it after looking for a new home when the virtual world I was in at the time, called vSide, had shut down. I guess it’s safe to say that Second Life became my new home in the past ten years.

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You have been a content creator in Second Life with your store Cosmic Dust for almost a decade! Tell us how you got started, where you get the inspiration for your creations, and what are some of your favorite pieces that you have created.
When I started Cosmic Dust, I genuinely didn’t know what I was doing. All I knew is that I wanted to make stuff and being someone who loves space, I immediately knew I wanted to name my brand Cosmic Dust. What I did have was an amazing support system of friends and family. With the help of some of my fellow creators, I was able to get started and learn the basics of creating/meshing as well as collaborate with friends on some more advanced projects. 

I get a lot of my inspiration from pop culture and everyday life. I tend to see things and think, “How cool would that be in Second Life?” My store has been on a bit of a hiatus since I have been focused on my music more recently, but some of my favorite items have been some of my sillier ones such as my backpack bra, as well as the fanny packs and boomboxes I made ages ago.

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You’re also a singer and songwriter in the real world. Tell us more about your singing career and do you also sing in Second Life? Where can people hear you sing?
Growing up, I was very into pop music and pop culture. I was always interested in singing and songwriting but very shy about it. I had a notebook where I would write some songs and little tidbits of unfinished lyrics, but I never ended up doing anything with them. During the pandemic, I went through a bad breakup and never got any closure from the relationship. I ended up writing my first song Forever Goodbye, and showing a rough demo to some friends.  Everyone was super supportive and told me I should release it. I ended up writing a few more songs, which really helped me heal and give myself the closure I didn’t get. When I finally released my first EP Heartbreak Hotel, I ended up sharing it with the SL community and having a virtual release party, and everyone was very supportive. I am currently working on writing and recording my second EP which should be out later this year. 

In Second Life, I am working on making my live singing debut at Smokefest in August, so be sure to catch me there! I am also planning on doing other shows this summer as well. You can keep up to date with me on my Flickr as I will be posting more details there.

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June is Pride month and in Second Life many members of the LGBTQ+ community find this to be a safe space to express themselves and feel empowered. Are there any activities or events that you’ll be taking part in or are looking forward to during this month?
Pride month is very important to me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Growing up Indian and gay, I felt like I didn’t have the best support system, nor did I know how to navigate battling societal pressures to live life as my most authentic self. Second Life really gave me a safe space to be myself and meet many other people who have stories similar to mine. I am so grateful for all of the people I have met along the way. 

Although I do have a lot of RL commitments this month, I will be DJing at Pride At Home twice this month and have a free gift out at the Pride At Home sim as well and am definitely looking forward to attending as many Pride events as I can. If you see me around, feel free to say hi! 

My DJ dates for Pride at Home:
Pride Prom - June 24th @ 8 PM SLT
Pride at Home Closing Party - June 30th @ 4 PM SLT

I’ll also be playing, show #1 live at Smokefest on Saturday, August 5th at 6 PM SLT. 

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
(Nokey) Kitty.Cat, Rikku (Bitey.Cat) & Glitch (Gae.Passion) are three creators I really admire. Glitch really helped me learn a lot in my early days when it came to creating in Maya for Second Life and she has come so far with her own brand, Quirky. Nokey and Rikku are the creators of HAZEL and STOIC. They create super fun high-quality items and animesh attachments that are super unique.

Geena Carminucci is a wonderful blogger and photographer in Second Life and a great friend in real life. Her work completely blows me away and she often does my ad work for Cosmic Dust. She always inspires me to improve my skills and continue to learn new techniques every day. 

Jade (Chibi.Resident) & Jess (xoJessxo.Pexie) : Although these two are not content creators in SL, they have become my family and inspire me to do better and be more creative every day. They are my biggest supporters and always give me new ideas for my creations and music. I have known them for over 8 years and they are some of the people I have known the longest in SL that continue to inspire me. 

Sol (Cool.Cat) is an aspiring graphic designer and content creator who is super creative! I love her work and she actually directed my Heartbreak Hotel (Acoustic) music video used in this spotlight!


Video production by Sol (Cool.Cat)

Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Cosmic Dust
Flickr  
Facebook  
Destination  

My Music (Late Night Feelings):
Spotify:  
Instagram  
Facebook  
YouTube  
Apple Music

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Thank you, Max, for adding your talent and voice to the Second Life creator community and live music scene!

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Happy Pride Month! Today we are shining a spotlight on Dash Huntsman, an innovative new content creator that considers Second Life to be a safe haven for the LGBTQIA+ and credits the community for their support in his transition journey.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I joined Second Life in 2010. Wow, it’s been 13 years! I was playing a mass of other games with a friend. I was really into MMORPGs (Massively multiplayer online roleplaying games) back then, and they asked me if I wanted to join them on another game. I remember coming online and thinking it was basically a version of the Sims but with other people! She introduced me to a roleplaying sim where I could sword fight and shoot a bow and arrow. I wasn’t very good at it but I felt like I was Xena. I remember having a blast creating all sorts of storylines and getting into mischief. I became a transient on Second Life and have explored different types of communities, and the diversity and creativity in Second Life have always astounded me.

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You are new to content creation in Second Life, tell us how you got started and what kind of tools you use to create.
Last summer, I took a leap of faith and saw Joey Macmoragh offering mesh classes tailored for Second Life on my Facebook. I enrolled and have had a blast making content ever since. I opened my store Aardvark right after the class ended on the first week of August. I’ve been hitting the ground running ever since. Honestly, I’m super excited about creating content and get antsy when I’m not making something. I use Blender to create my 3D items. I make everything from scratch, starting with a basic shape, usually a cube. After that, everything goes into substance painter, where I do the textures, and with some luck, patience, and little chaotic flailing, an Aardvark creation is rezzed into Second Life. 

Where do you get the inspiration for your creations and what are some of your favorite pieces that you have created?
I get a lot of my inspiration from random memes or jokes. I founded Aardvark on the mindset of food, fun, and decor. I’ll brainstorm randomly about how to make people smile or laugh. My partner also helps me brainstorm different ideas on things she finds on social media. She has just as an imaginative and witty brain. Other people will sometimes drop me random suggestions, and I’m always appreciative and honored when I receive recommendations. I’ll get tagged in the odd meme or random product someone sees in real life, and it’s so cool to think that someone thinks of Aardvark. My top 3 that I hold dear are Sassy Vases, Gingerbread Fighters, and Potatoes.

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This meme on my Facebook showed a vase that seemingly looks like it’s judging you. It inspired me to bring this to life. These vases are all personality and say quite a few things back at you when you click them. 

I also like to make everything interactive. So much of my stuff makes a funny sound, talks back, or animates the avatar somehow. For example, I made a set of Gingerbread Fighters over the holidays last year, and they were so fun to make that I couldn't help but laugh as they came to life. My partner offered to make sound effects for them, so she practiced “karate” in the hallway, and well, you’ll just have to come by the shop and hear them for yourself to see how that turned out!

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Lastly are my positive potatoes and tater family. For some reason putting a face on a potato makes them adorable, and I wanted to inject positivity into the world. So these little spuds were created; sometimes, a potato gift can bring smiles when we don’t have the right words to say. 

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You credit Second Life for assisting in your journey of self-discovery. Can you share in what ways SL has impacted your life?
I’ve met many amazing people on this platform and will always be in awe of the creativity and talent here. Second Life is a safe haven for a lot of the LGBTQIA+ community. It allows us to express ourselves with the grace of anonymity where we may not be able to express who we truly are in real life. Second Life was the first place people referred to me by he/him pronouns, which was comforting and validating.

2018 I found SL's Facebook community. I didn’t know it existed! It was another way to comfortably express my thoughts through words and photos. I started to blog and was able to express all these complex emotions about my gender identity through photography. I came out as a transgender man in 2019, and I started documenting my social transition on my SL Facebook. I wasn’t entirely confident with coming out in real life with people that knew me personally, but online I was open with all of it: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I didn’t feel alone anymore, nor did I want others. I talked with other transgender individuals, parents of children with questions, people questioning, and allies about their stories and struggles. Everyone wants to be seen and heard, and I finally felt that in who I was.

Sharing my transition in such a raw way gave me the confidence to do it in real life. At the end of 2019, I started to seek options to transition medically, and in 2020 right at the start of the pandemic, I started hormone replacement therapy with testosterone. I continued to share the ups and downs of coming out to my family and workplace and how my body changed.

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In 2021, through the generosity of friends, family, creators, performers, and entertainers, we created a fundraiser called “From her to Me” to help me get top surgery. It’s a gender-affirming procedure that is a double mastectomy. Honestly, my mind is still blown. On February 14th, 2022, I had my top surgery. I wouldn’t have been able to have this surgery without the help of so many people from Second Life.

I owe Second Life for so many things that have impacted my real life. I've built impactful relationships with many people who have touched my life, and I will forever be thankful. I hope my story can show others that you are not alone. There are a lot of transgender individuals on Second Life, and although the world can be scary, be proud of who you are. It took so long to accept myself finally, and I want you to know that you are just as valid in your journey of self-discovery.

June is Pride month and in Second Life many members of the LGBTQ+ community find this to be a safe space to express themselves and feel empowered. Are there any activities or events that you’ll be taking part in or are looking forward to during this coming month?

I’m proud to participate in a couple of events celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community. First, I’ll be participating in several events hosted by Pride at Home. The owners, Tink and Coral, have graciously let me create a Transgender Resource Hub at the Pride at Home Sim. There I’ve left some resources and information to help transgender people and allies. Pride at Home opens June 1st. 

In addition, I’ll be one of the judges at the Live Drag Race Competition hosted by SeraPride on  June 18th at 5 pm SLT. During the event, Aardvark will match all donations up to L$20,000 to benefit Rainbow Railroad, a non-profit organization that assists LGBTQ+ individuals. 

I also have some fun plans and gifts for Pride with Aardvark and will spread some fun shenanigans all over the grid. So stay tuned; I hope to see you all around the grid!

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The Transgender Memorial is located at the Transgender Info Hub at the Pride at Home Sim. Each candle is named and represents a transgender or gender non-conforming person who was lost in the act of violence. There are 88 candles in total for the 45 lives lost 2021, 32 in 2022, and now 11 in 2023. We've also included a guestbook to leave messages and a small display of resources about Transgender people in history, basic terms and terminology, and words of kindness.

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
So many people have inspired and helped me along this journey, and I could write a book about each of them. However, some of the residents and creators I admire the most are the ones you never know what they will create next, and I strive to be one of those content creators. Lundy Lovely from Hive has such a fantastic aesthetic, her eye for detail and how she lets customers customize her products are incredible. Kota Kirax at MoonRabbit is one of my favorite brands that create so many outside-the-box ideas and is so witty! I’ve been a long fan of Radio and Lattee Bixley, the creative geniuses behind Junk Food. They bring comforts and nostalgia from the real world into Second Life. Finally, Ikari Ichibara from Tardfish is a creator of the most kawaii things and, honestly, one of the best at cute Animesh! It’s always cool seeing what they all come up with!

Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Everyone is welcome to stop by the main store located at beautiful Peaceful Shore
Our marketplace and Flickr have our full catalog
Also, you can view some fantastic work from others with Aardvark items in our Flickr Group
Or our Facebook

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Thank you, Dash, for sharing your heartwarming journey with us!

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup

Linden Lab

Today, we are shining a spotlight on Iki Akiri, the talent behind Violent Seduction, a virtual fashion boutique specializing in elegant, Gothic, and Lolita styles.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I've been in Second Life since 2005 and heard about it through some friends on a forum I was running at the time.

My early days involved turning up unannounced to people's houses in a party hat and forcing people to party. It was always my birthday. Endless entertainment for me, maybe not so much for them. My friends can vouch the troll never left.

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You’ve been creating content in Second Life for many years, how and when did you get started?
I started my store around December 2008 as a hobby right after finishing high school. I had not had an easy life prior to this point and I turned to art to regain my energy. I had been in and out of Second Life for a year or two, but I wasn't happy with a lot of the style of clothing Second Life had to offer in 2008, so I started making my own and never really stopped. 

It was just a drive to make things that don't exist yet and it became a hobby and a tool to help me destress. Over time this became a lifeline and learning tool that supported me through many other hardships and redundancies after. I am so grateful for it.

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2011 vs 2023

Do you have a background in 3D content creation and what kind of tools do you use to create your content?
I was originally an aspiring 2D artist working to become a concept artist. By the time I had started my degree in Game Art, I had decided that 3D had more freedom, more prospects, and an easier barrier to entry than concept art for my future, so I switched to the 3D electives early into the course and graduated in 2012.

After that, I learned a lot about lighting and rendering during my time working in Archviz. This allowed me to learn the specifics of light and material properties early on before a lot of games had built the visual equivalents into their base engines. 

I taught game art (UE3-4) for 5-6 years while I was running my store on the side and this also gave me the added motivation to teach other SL creators using the curriculum I was already teaching, but with a pipeline more suited to Second Life.

Since then I've been jumping into indie work specializing in high poly assets and skilling up using adapted game industry standards in parallel to my work in Second Life to keep me up to date. 

The main programs I use regularly are 3DSmax, Marvelous Designer, Substance Painter + Sampler, Zbrush, and Marmoset Toolbag. I add, remove or switch programs, pipelines, and plugins depending on the type of item I'm making or if something new seems interesting/applicable to test.

I also do the majority of my quick reference sketches using Fashionary sketchbooks and lately; Procreate using a fashionary template. Imagine the satisfaction when I found out these were recorded, what a time to be alive:

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You create high-quality Gothic styles that are always efficiently using the latest technologies available on the grid, such as PBR. Do you have any tips and/or advice for creators looking to increase their content creation skills?
Yes! My advice would be to start looking into alternative pipelines, programs, and engines, expanding your problem-solving skills with more than what you are used to. Learn what the industry is doing right now and see if you can learn those tools and techniques to improve your own quality. Focusing on efficient content allows you to work in a nonconstructive way alongside the gaming industry, meaning your portfolio and skills will transfer and you'll be able to pivot and adapt as a creator during things like the addition of PBR and future updates if you keep on top of your ongoing learning. 

Find Game Art 3D tutorials and watch them in your spare time. Dedicate an hour (30 mins even) every day to learning a new 3D skill, or alternatively, if you don't have time to learn; build those tests/skills into your work as you go. You'll get better very fast and it is absolutely worth the time even if it's not 1:1 applicable with Second Life. It might be valuable information later down the road.

I'd highly suggest finding some local Game Dev Discord channels local to your area and sharing your work, asking for constructive criticism, and adapting on the feedback of peers with wider experience. You can make a lot of local friends in the industry and improve super fast this way! 

There are so many benefits to aligning yourself to a more efficient workflow, and it does wonders for networking in the real world too.

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Where do you get the inspiration for your designs and what are some of your favorite pieces that you have created?
Fashion is definitely one of my major loves my whole life. I have been designing clothing well before I started in SL and had some real-world experience watching seamstresses work with patterns at an early age too. My love for fashion is the main driving force that keeps me creating here.

My inspiration often comes from seeing certain cuts, wrinkles, or fabric types and building a design around the idea I'd like to test in 3D. As a result, I don't often use complete pieces of reference and will take snippets of many different references to create something new. I personally feel that Second Life is a research and development tool in a way so I enjoy pushing myself into different styles and testing to see if people think they're cool or not while I keep pretending to be a fashion designer. Perhaps it will be real-world applicable to me one day.

I'm inspired stylistically by a combination of substyles namely Larme Kei, Gothic Lolita, Otome Fashion, Cyberwear, and Techwear as well as designers like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, and Iris Van Herpen. I will often be inspired by random objects I've seen while traveling or historical Victorian patterns I'm itching to translate into Marvelous Designer. I also really love to use SL to experiment with my designs by crossing different substyles and seeing if that will translate into the real world. Tying my real-life fashion style into my design process is so important for my creative motivation.

My favorite works are generally the ones that were the most annoying to make. They act as my heavy-hitting portfolio pieces as some of the technical aspects are fiddly and need a lot of early problem-solving to achieve efficiently for Second Life. I hated doing it and didn't sleep for most of it, but now I love them:

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Nemissa Set - Regicide Set - Theia Set

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
I'm a bit of a hermit and honestly, I don't get out much, so my inspirations are people and friends I've followed for quite a long time:

Hinadori Chang (ひなどりさん♡): I've followed Hinadori for many many years. The way she combines sub-styles together and presents them in an old "Street Snap" style really resonates with me. If you've ever collected any Japanese fashion magazines you'll understand immediately!

Contraption: Walt builds some of the biggest, coolest, and most efficient builds in Second Life. They're beautiful and I'm so excited to see more from him - especially with the upcoming PBR updates as well as his work with world/sim building.

Insomnia Angel: I don't know how to explain this, but whenever I see Insomnia Angel reference a tiny aspect of an outfit I've only seen on display in the basement of Laforet it makes me so happy, like an inside joke only 3 people get. She gets fashion in and out for the same styles I'm interested in. ♡

Tonktastic: Real OG, Tonktastic has been pushing efficient content longer than anybody I can think of. Highly recommend looking at his breakdowns over the years! 

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
New Website: violentseduction.com  
Mainstore: https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Violent%20Seduction/221/135/169 
Entire Catalog on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/violentseduction 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/violentseduction.SL 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/violentseducti 

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Thank you, Iki, for adding your style and expertise to the Second Life fashion community!


Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Second Life Spotlight - VWEC


Spotlight

Today, we are shining a spotlight on VWEC, an innovative Eduverse in Second Life designed to provide educators with support and advocacy for educational initiatives in virtual worlds. Learn more from coordinators Valibrarian Gregg, Elli Pinion, and Dodge Threebeards.

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What is VWEC, how did it get started, and which communities are involved? 
VWEC stands for the Virtual Worlds Education Consortium, and it began in January of 2021 when many educators realized we had been working for years in isolation and we saw a need to meet to share best practices, ways to advocate for education in virtual worlds, and tips for overcoming obstacles.   

We moved to the newly created VWEC Eduverse in May 2022. We have 48 groups that have regions located in the Eduverse and almost 400 members in the VWEC Group.

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First Meeting of VWEC Jan 2021

What are some of the goals of VWEC? 
Initially, our intention was to meet quarterly to discuss and brainstorm about the future of education in Second Life and support educators. We gathered the educational groups that we knew about together and wanted to highlight them, as there was no need to reinvent the amazing “wheel” of work that was already being done here. And it took off! And we have a Welcome Center and Eduverse Reserve.

Now we have formal Vision and Mission Statements:

Vision: The goal of the Virtual Worlds Education Consortium (VWEC) is to bring educators together to share what practices have been successful and to tackle obstacles across virtual platforms and communities.

Mission: The Virtual Worlds Education Consortium connects educators, learners, digital citizens, and virtual communities of learning to share and develop best practices for teaching and learning in virtual spaces.

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VWEC Eduverse

Tell us more about the frequent events that happen and how Second Life Residents can get involved.
In addition to our Quarterly Meetings, we have five weekly Fireside Chats where educators in both formal education and non-profits who also teach, can share their experiences and tips, as well as talk about research and approaches. The VWEC Fireside Chats are held in English, Spanish, and Polish at various times of the day to bring in time zones across the globe.

VWEC also presents a bi-monthly Expert Series that showcases successful teaching and learning in Second Life. There are monthly tours of educational communities, as well.  All events are on the website at vweconsortium.org, as well as InWorld.
 
We encourage members to help at our Info Center and through our Instructor Development Projects.

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VWEC Expert Series - Photo by PI.Illios

How can educators not yet in Second Life join VWEC?
New educators can find more information on our website at vweconsortium.org. If email is a preference, we have a Google group at metaverselibraries@googlegroups.com. We are happy for them to email us directly for information.   

As a Community Gateway, instructors or their students can join Second Life on our website at https://www.vweconsortium.org/sign-in/secondlife.php. They will land at the VWEC Welcome Plaza to find teleporters to orientation gateways.   

All three of you also have individual educational projects related to the VWEC, tell us about some of those.

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Valibrarian Gregg (Dr. Valerie Hill in RL), a professor of Library and Information Science has a background as an educator and librarian. Currently, Val is the Co-Coordinator for the VWEC and is responsible for the VWEC Info Center. She serves as the director of the Community Virtual Library which is a real library run by information professionals in a virtual world. In addition to supporting VWEC, the library holds programs, shares exhibits, provides classes on information literacy (metaliteracy in digital culture), and provides traditional library services alongside innovative metaverse resources such as databases, holodeck read-alouds, and tours of immersive educational simulations. Val’s research on changing literacy led to the adoption of the term metamodernism (our current philosophical moment) in her book Metamodernism and Changing Literacy and numerous research articles, webinars, and presentations on digital citizenship, metaliteracy, and virtual learning environments.

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Elli Pinion (Dr. Becky Adams in RL) was the Director of Online Course Development and teaches Educational Technology and Virtual Worlds at the University of New Mexico. She is the Co-Coordinator for the VWEC. Presently, she is working to complete the Welcome Center since the initial build Opening Ceremonies, develop our Models for Teaching exhibit hosting seven instructors who teach in Virtual Worlds, expand the Educational Resources area, is establishing the Eduverse Representative Assembly, and support our teams who are part of the VWEC including our first Student Challenge-athon coming this fall. Elli’s research is in Online Professional Development for Educators.

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Dodge Threebeards (Dr. Greg Perrier in RL) has managed the Second Life program for the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) since December 2012. He taught biology at NOVA for many years and incorporated interactive activities in Second Life into his classes. As manager of the program for NOVA, he developed workshops to increase faculty and staff interest in using Second Life with students. Pre-pandemic, NOVA averaged about 400 students a year using Second Life. Use declined drastically during the pandemic as NOVA required all faculty to use Zoom and commercial online labs, but it has climbed to over 90 students using Second Life in the spring semester of 2023. During his initial year in Second Life, he benefited greatly from the support and advice from more experienced educators. Thus, he was excited to see VWEC emerge as a program to provide such support and advice as well as encourage collaboration among educators.

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VWEC Quarterly Meetings - Photo by PI.Illios

Where can people learn more about VWEC? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
The best place to learn about VWEC is at our website vweconsortium.org and InWorld
VWEC EduversePlaza 
VWEC Eduverse Plaza Welcome Center
VWEC Eduverse Plaza Deck and Fireside Chat
VWEC Eduverse Plaza Info Center   

SOCIAL MEDIA
Linktree  
Twitter  
Facebook  
Linkedin
Instagram
Mastodon
Flickr Group
VWEC YouTube channel has curated playlists across educational communities

For more information contact:
Becky Adams: reada321@unm.edu  
Valerie Hill: valibrarian@gmail.com  
Greg Perrier: gperrier@nvcc.edu

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Thank you, Val, Elli, and Dodge for your inspirational work at VWEC. We’re looking forward to attending VWEC’s first anniversary on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 11:00 am PT!

 

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we are shining a spotlight on Cain Maven of Maven Homes. For over a decade, Cain has been at the forefront of virtual home design for the Second Life community - learn more about his journey!

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I first set foot in SL about 14 years ago. Some online friends of mine had migrated here after the game we were playing was shut down. Needless to say, I stayed longer than I planned to -- which was every bit as much about making new friends as reconnecting with old ones. Then there's of course that certain magic that SL possesses, and that we all keep coming back for more of.

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You’ve been creating content in Second Life for many years, how and when did you get started?
The plan was not in any way to start creating content. I had bought myself a nice modern villa and had fun furnishing and landscaping. Then, one fateful day, I decided that one of the rooms was too small, so I set out to modify it. I soon realized that I could maybe build whole houses, maybe put them up for sale, maybe... you see where this is going. In those early days, most of the revenue stream stemmed from my friends' pity purchases; fortunately, things got a little bit better over time. In 2010, I acquired one of my competitors and early this year I expanded with a third region.

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Do you have a background in 3D content creation and what kind of tools do you use to create your content?
Sadly, I don't have a background in 3D content creation. My formal education is as an architect, but I somehow got sidetracked and ended up in journalism, software development, and graphic design. While I had tinkered a bit with various (now discontinued) tools, it wasn't until SL gained support for mesh upload in 2011 that I sat down and taught myself some new and useful tricks. My current toolbox includes Blender, Substance Painter, Photoshop, and copious amounts of coffee.

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How would you describe your virtual architectural style and what are some of your favorite builds that you have created?
I'm not sure I have an architectural style per se... but if forced to choose I would probably say modern/contemporary. However, I do dabble in many different styles, with a possible fondness for Mediterranean Revival; it's hard not to love the old masters of the Italian Renaissance and their impact on today's designs. That said, I think it's challenging to do good work in a style that you don't personally like, which probably is why you will see some stylistic omissions in my portfolio. In terms of favorite builds, I would pick the Cosimo mansion (because every home should have a dome) and the modern Pacific, because its entire being centers on the collision and cooperation of weird angles.

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Are there any other projects or events that you are working on? 
The main focus for 2023 is creating a collection of smaller homes -- and hopefully, being able to get into some of the bigger events. If they will have me.

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
Looking back, Robert Galland pretty much owned the architecture market when I first started out. He, therefore, became the reference, the benchmark, and the competitor I measured myself against. Robert is still active and remains an inspiration. I'm also a fan of Danny Bourne of reBourne fame -- his treatment of light is second to none. And when it comes to daring concepts and outside-the-box thinking, Sergio Botha is the master.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
My current selection of homes is available at the regions Maven Homes, Maven Homes 2, and Quantum Luxury Homes.

Marketplace  
Flickr  
Instagram  

 

Thank you Cain, for helping Second Life Residents create a virtual home away from home.

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 

Linden Lab

Today we are shining a spotlight on Anu Papp, an artist, musician, dancer, and kundalini yoga instructor who has brought her skills into Second Life with her own dance company, Muse Dance Co.  

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I joined Second Life in April of 2007. A friend of mine from Oregon who was already a resident told me about Second Life. At the time I was the CEO of a non-profit, In Gaia’s Lap, and its division Artist4Mercy. Through means of internet radio, our tag was to “connect the Globe through the power of music to bring awareness to the needs of children in orphanages”. He told me it would be a great platform to promote the non-profit. Telling him I was not a gamer lol, I created Anu Papp, and one day while exploring Lost Gardens of Apollo, I hear “This is Anu. You are listening to the Artist4Mercy.” Little did I know I was already reaching Second Life through music. Nor did I realize that Dane Zander was one of my biggest donators in the physical world. From there I went on in the hope of creating a better world virtually.

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In the physical world, you are an artist, a photographer, a musician, a dancer, and more! How does your background inform and shape your work in Second Life?
I am a licensed Kundalini Yoga Instructor. In addition, I am an artist of many mediums. In my early days of Second Life, as a folk vocalist, I performed live around the grid.

You can hear my music here: Featherbed by Anu (soundcloud.com) 
I believe that its all inclusive and ever evolving. As I grow in the physical world, my virtual world is a reflection of that growth. Second Life is my arm that connects both worlds. It allows me to run communities and organize events, teach, make friends and confidants when the time is needed.

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In Second Life, you have a dance company called Muse. Can you tell us more about your experience founding and managing it, and when and where is the next show?
I began dancing in Second Life by hosting a small sacred dance circle. One day I was told by one of my guests that she was wheelchair-bound. The dance circles brought her alive because she could actually move! Sadly she has since left this realm, but it was the seed that fueled my continuum in dance. I manage all shows solely on my own. From set design to streaming music to laying out the choreography, I am a one-woman show. With a multitude of HUDS on my screen, I move people, change sets, and manage the entire production. We have over 40 dancers with Muse Dance from all parts of the globe and as I often say, it takes a village. I am grateful for each dancer who dedicates their time to be a part of the team and visions of Muse Dance.

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On Sunday 7 May at 9 am SLT Muse Dance will be presenting Mystic India.  

A dance performance created around the colors of the chakras and culture of the Punjab region of India. Chakras are one of the many lenses through which we view the energetics of the world. Everything from yoga asana, meditation, colors, and how we interact - has a charge behind it. The subtle body, or energetics, are part of our experience of living just like our physical bodies. Join us as we travel the journey of the soul through dance. 

Mystic India 2023 - Official Trailer:

You currently have a destination in Second Life that is a real-life replica of the iconic Taj Mahal. What inspired you to create this, and do you have any plans to expand on it?
As my personal life has always been involved in yogic and meditation practices, the culture of India is strong in my heart. Ironically my region Ravenhart was the same theme in 2008, so I have returned full circle 16 years later. Future plans include meditation and tai chi areas, and Swami Café for social connections. The theater of Muse Dance is also located in the same region, so continual dance performances, including but not limited to, cultural, ballet, modern dance, and even some musicals.   

With the events of our World over the past 10 years, it's important for me to offer everyone regardless of your religious beliefs, a place within Second Life to find your Nirvana.

Visit the virtual Taj Mahal in Second Life!
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How has Second Life impacted your life and what do you enjoy most about being a Resident?
I laugh when I say this, but like many, I grew up in Second Life. It allowed me as an artist to expand beyond anything I could have imagined. It's been my canvas. It allowed me to “put smiles on sad faces” as said by Paramahansa Yogananda. There is such joy when I present a dance production or design on my region Ravenhart where others can experience things they may not be able to do in RL. Muse Dance Co. is poetry in motion and I have no intention of stopping as long as I have breath. 

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
Each dancer of Muse Dance Co. is amazing and continues to be the fuel that keeps me creating. They are all my heroes. Oriolus Oliva from region Verdigris - amazing sim and human. Catherine Nikolaidis for her intricate photography. Jojo Deed who has since left Second Life was the push that got me into blogging. China & Goodies and all the builders that create such beautiful historical work. Ulysses Cabaret, my dearest and oldest friend in Second Life, who was my inspiration in learning how to build. Last but not least, my Second Life partner who is also my physical world husband of 20 years. He is who keeps me going in all worlds. Too many to list but the journey to now has been an amazing ride.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Muse Dance: www.musedancesl.com
Blog: www.anupapp.com
Flickr: Anu Papp | Flickr
YouTube: | muse | dance company - YouTube
Our cinemaphotographer: Glynola Productions - YouTube
Facebook: Anu Papp | Facebook
Soundcloud: Stream Anu music | Listen to songs, albums, playlists for free on SoundCloud


Watch this mesmerizing video submitted by Anu for her Spotlight feature. 
It is the official trailer for Anu Papp's original production "State of Grace" choreographed for Muse Dance Co. of Second Life.
Video by Glynola Productions

Thank you, Anu, for bringing your artistic mind and endeavors to Second Life. Attend Muse Dance Company’s next show, Mystic India, on Sunday, May 7th at 9am PT!

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup

Linden Lab

Second Life Spotlight - Yu Zhu


Spotlight

Today we are shining a spotlight on Yu Zhu (Jamaicasianbaby), a multi-talented Resident with an impressive array of skills, from photography to vlogging to styling, and even landscaping!

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I have been in Second Life since 2011. Actually, I can't quite recall the website where I first saw the ad for Second Life, but I do remember that it immediately caught my interest because I’ve always enjoyed playing life-simulation games, like the Sims, since I was quite young.

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Your Second Life photos are amazing, do you have a background in photography, and what are some of the tools you use to enhance your images?
Thank you, and unfortunately, I do not have any background in photography. I was raised by very traditional, well-intentioned parents who preferred that I attended dental school instead of art school. My late older brother, who passed away in 2020, was actually able to become a photographer/videographer. He was always very skilled with computers and gadgets from a really young age. He was the one who introduced me to the program Adobe Photoshop when I was around 12 years old and he taught me how to select objects in an image to remove the background. 

When I was under a tremendous amount of pressure during dental school, I was able to use SL photography as an escape and an outlet for some of the frustrations I felt at the time. As much as I hate to admit it, I am sort of a pushover by nature so I found some satisfaction in portraying a more assertive and endearing character through photos of my avatar. My aim when editing snapshots was to enhance the realism of this character and the scenes as much as I could. I started with the old skills that my brother had taught me and I continued to polish those skills, learning mostly by trial and error since I didn’t know of many SL photo editing tutorials at the time.

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Around 2013 I was introduced to Flickr and that was where I started sharing my work. I soon started blogging and enjoyed it for a few years. This experience pushed me to experiment with different ideas and concepts, which then in turn helped me to further develop my skills with SL photography. After some time I started receiving requests for portraits and store advertisements. In the past, I used to be more active with accepting clients and have done ads for various stores like Addams, Bad Unicorn, Cold Ash, The Forge, and others. I have drastically reduced my client intake since then because my hobby started feeling too much like ‘work’ rather than something fun and creative. In any case, I have no regrets about the experiences as I was able to learn a lot through them and met some really great folks along the way. 

Recently, my partner upgraded me to a custom gaming pc so I was finally able to start playing around with Black Dragon viewer. After having used Firestorm viewer for years on my laptop, I was blown away by the quality of graphics on Black Dragon and how it’s able to significantly augment the overall aesthetics in Second Life. This viewer definitely helps to enhance images and make them more realistic with less requirement for post-editing of snapshots in Photoshop. It does take some time to become familiar with all of the settings. I am still in the process of learning myself, but I have really grown to enjoy using this viewer to capture my raw images.

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You have your own YouTube channel, can you tell us how you got into creating videos, what kind of content you focus on, and what are some of the tools you use?
I think the moment that triggered the chain of events that led me to start my channel was around the end of 2022, when I logged into SL after a long time and was going through my inventory with an intense feeling of guilt. I couldn't believe the embarrassing amount of unused items that were just sitting in my inventory, some that have not even been unboxed yet. Around this time as well, I was watching various architectural and home decor videos on Youtube because I had just married my SL partner in RL and we were attempting to design our first official home together. I felt spontaneously inspired to attempt a little virtual home tour video with a skybox that I had set up at the time and that was the very first video I uploaded to Youtube. 

There are so many things I enjoy doing on SL that I personally can’t always capture through a snapshot, like decorating and landscaping. Even when it comes to fashion. I play dress-up with my avatar on a regular basis and I go through tons of outfits that I often don’t get the chance to take pictures of. I take a decent amount of time to edit each image and I have my limits when it comes to tastefully capturing an entire outfit from head to toe in a single photo. I figured videos would be a nice way to showcase many full outfits and pretty much all the rest of the things I like to get into on SL. I wanted to create fun and aesthetically pleasing videos that I could look back on and perhaps others would enjoy watching them as well. So far it has also been a nice way to share in more detail about what I do on SL with my RL friends and family.

I guess you can describe my content as 'vlogs' as I focus on the things I do on SL/how I spend my time on SL. The topics range from fashion to creating shapes to landscaping and interior design to photography and photo editing plus more. I use a free screen recorder from ScreenRec.com to capture my scenes. The first video editing program I tried out was Shotcut, which is free and pretty straightforward to use. But then I learned about Filmora shortly after and tried the demo version of it. I had so much fun using this video editor and learning all the features that I went ahead and got the full version. 

You also co-own the Bamboo destination in Second Life. What inspired it and what can Residents expect when they visit?
Bamboo originally started off as a homestead and my private home with my partner, Jin Zhu. We’re both Asians living in the Western part of the world, so we wanted to design our SL home in a way that would represent our traditional cultures. Jin has roots in China, while mine are in Myanmar (a country in Southeast Asia). We wanted to create a home where we could feel nostalgic and relive familiar experiences from our childhoods. As we worked on materializing our vision, our passion quickly grew for this personal project and soon we expanded our homestead to a full sim and made it open to the public on March 18, 2022. 

Although we are both quite aware of the many unique differences between each Asian country, we can also appreciate the vast similarities that the majority of Asian cultures share. An often humid atmosphere, the rich smell of earth after the rain, the intense singing of insects and wildlife that thrive in lush vegetation, dense forests of ancient bamboo trees, and the sizzling sounds of fragrant foods cooking around street market vendors, are just a few examples of the similarities among Asian countries. Buddhism is also a prevalent religion in most of Asia. In many towns, one can find Buddhist temples and it is common for homes and places of business to have shrines and statues of Buddha. From our own personal recollections, we found that most countries in Asia are also especially similar when it comes to rural landscapes and villages. We pulled inspiration from memories of our travels back to our motherlands in order to create a place on SL that, in our perspective, showcased the essence of a rural far-eastern environment. 

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Visitors may also stumble upon a hidden memorial on our sim that Jin kindly helped me to curate. This memorial was set up to pay tribute to the thousands of heroes that have fallen at the hands of the Myanmar military since 2021 - some as young as 1 year old, some even younger. Not very many are aware of what has been happening in Myanmar as these events have been overshadowed by the major war between Ukraine and Russia. Nevertheless, the crimes that have been committed against humanity are equally abhorrent. We wish to promote awareness of the current events that are still unfolding in Myanmar and the resilience of its civilians in their resistance against a well-established dictatorship. A cruel dictatorship that confiscated and withheld oxygen, medical supplies, and services from civilians during the peak of Covid-19 outbreaks. My own paternal uncle and cousin, who were both residing in Myanmar during this time, were not able to get access to the oxygen they needed and eventually lost their battles with the virus along with thousands of others. I am now constantly worried about losing more loved ones. Those who are resisting the military are mostly young high school students, nurses, doctors, teachers, farmers, and activists among many others. Innocent human beings, most of whom have never seen a weapon in their lives before these events. They are fighting for the freedom to hold onto their dignity and dreams, things that we often take for granted in democratic countries. The only thing that is keeping this current revolution alive is the conviction of those fighting for peace and their hope for a brighter future. The story of Myanmar is full of beauty, inspiration, tragedy, and heartbreak. I sincerely implore anyone who may be curious, to dive into its rich history and learn more about it.

Needless to say, our Bamboo sim holds much sentimental value for both me and Jin. It is a space to honor those who stood for peace during their lives and it further serves as a place to nurture and find peace within one’s own current life. This is what Residents can expect if they do decide to visit the Bamboo Destination in Second Life.

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How has Second Life impacted your life?
Perhaps this may be considered taboo for most people to say but I have to admit, Second Life has been more than just ‘a game’ for me. It somehow evolved into something bigger and has integrated into my life where it will forever serve as a historic foundation for the person I am today. When I signed up with the most uncreative username that I could come up with in two seconds, I was not expecting that SL would pretty much change my entire life. 

Second Life gave me the creative outlet I didn’t really have growing up. Through this platform, I was able to explore my creativity and get through difficult times by being able to express myself in a variety of ways that would not have been possible in reality. 2020 was an especially tough year and with the travel restrictions, it was nice to be able to do things on SL like building places to escape to or taking pictures at beautiful locations that you can get to with the click of a mouse. 

I usually would never share any of my artwork with anyone I knew in RL but the warmth and encouragement I received from the Second Life community for my work really helped me to start believing in my own creative abilities. I am sincerely grateful to those who have been so kind and supportive to me over the years because it helped me to open up more in RL. My brother was the first person in my life with whom I shared my SL photography and landscaping work and it is now one of my most cherished memories with him. Since his passing, I finally gathered enough courage to share my work with my parents as well. I think many people who have grown up around western culture but under strict traditionalist, Asian parents can relate when I say, opening up to our parents is one of the hardest things to do. I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t understand much of what I was showing them but their acceptance and support for me that day has also become one of my most cherished memories in life. In a way, SL helped me to break many boundaries with my family.

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Last but not least, I met my now real-life partner in Second Life. I actually already knew about Jin Zhu before we even spoke for the first time in 2018. Dynasty was one of the very first stores I discovered and loved on SL as the items invoked feelings of nostalgia for me and especially because in my early days on SL I did not come across many items with Asian themes. At the time I would have never expected that one day the creator would personally reach out to me, much less that I would end up marrying this amazing, talented, and kind individual. Jin and I were really able to connect and learn about each other through our creative endeavors on Second Life. We were able to talk a great deal and got to know each other while working on different projects and over time, precisely three years of long distance and a lot of traveling later, we both had the profound realization that there could be none more compatible than we were for each other. Jin proposed to me in Jamaica, where I grew up since I was 2 years old, on November 18, 2021. We have been married as of September 28, 2022, and I am now living in a whole new country and have a totally different life than what I could have ever imagined before I signed up to Second Life with a silly username.

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
This question is the most difficult to answer as there are many talented and inspiring residents in SL. A few of my favorite stores that I can list off the top of my head, other than Dynasty, of course, are .Shi, BBQQ and [SAU] Motors. The creators behind these stores are all amazing individuals who are always so humble and supportive. I also admire artwork by Petra Messioptra (PM), who is one of the first artists/bloggers that I started following when I joined Flickr in 2013. William Weaver was also a great inspiration to me in my early days on Flickr, but unfortunately, I can no longer find his work on the platform. Some of his videos can still be found on Youtube. I've also enjoyed videos/blogs by Strawberry Singh, which I find to be quite detailed and informative. There are so many amazing residents in SL and I could fill many pages if I were to list them all here.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.

Watch this fantastic video submitted by Yu Zhu for this Spotlight feature.

 

Thank you, Yu Zhu, for sharing your life-changing experiences with us.

Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup

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