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Linden Lab

This week we are shining a spotlight on Second Pride, a destination that is celebrating 15 years of service to the LGBTQ+ community in Second Life. Learn more from their chairman, Lee McKay.

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Lee McKay - speech at the 2022 Second Pride opening ceremony - Photo by Jason Roach

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
As of July 11, it will be 16 years for me. I barely remember, but I think it was around the time that Second Life was "hot" in the media and even popped up on a couple of tv shows. I was hooked right away. I took some months-long breaks over the years, but for the last 5-6 years have been here steadily.

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You are the Chairman of Second Pride, can you tell us more about the history of Second Pride, how it came to fruition, and what can people expect when visiting the destination?
I wish I had more information about the history than I do. I know we are in our 15th year, but the Board of Second Pride has changed many times over the years. I'm not sure who the original members were, but we certainly appreciate the foundation they laid. The leadership is now more continuous, and this has allowed for more growth and stability over the last few years, including official sponsorship from Second Life, which we are so grateful for!

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Photo by Patch Linden

Second Pride is also a Community Gateway, what kind of support does it offer Second Life Residents?
You can, of course, create your Second Life account right from our website and arrive in our Gateway on day one. We have one of the more detailed and in-depth tutorials that I have seen, created by a school teacher, with interactive stations for learning various skills. We will also soon be implementing a method for a new user to be able to call a Second Pride Ambassador with questions. This should be available in the next couple of months.

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Photo by Tomais Ashdene

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. What kind of celebratory activities does Second Pride have planned for this month?
Second Pride holds an annual event in June to celebrate Pride, with 10 days of activities, including DJs, live singers, stage performances, etc. across multiple venues. We also have a wide selection of vendors set up with stores, gifts, and more. The two regions, Second Pride East and Second Pride West are set up as a large city, including a beach boardwalk with amusement rides, games, and more. We usually select two "first life" organizations to raise funds for. This year they are ILGA-Europe and Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. Then after June, we switch focus to another organization or two until the next June. We want everyone to know that Second Pride doesn't go away after June. We have three other major events, Glitter & Gore for Halloween, Holidaze in December, and Mardi Gras. These are all multi-day events. We also have some smaller events over the year. Our regions are here every day, all year long for people to come and enjoy.

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Photo by Evie I. Ravens

Aside from Second Pride, what other projects are you working on in Second Life?
I manage a men's resort and club called Steamworkz, part of the Boystown community. I also help with the management of the rental land and homes there. I've been involved at Boystown for many years before working there. It's where I call home.

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Photo by Scarlett Amethyst

Tell us about some of the other Residents in Second Life that inspire you and whose work you admire.
Adham DeCuir, who created Boystown in 2007, is a good friend and an amazing graphic creator, community designer, and landscaper. None of those terms really cover what he's capable of. If I need something for Second Pride, he's always able to whip up a stunning venue or whatever we need in nearly no time. He created our replica of the historic Stonewall Inn, and our current main stage area.
 
Tomais Ashdene, a fantastic photographer and landscaper, and another good friend. He did the majority of the work on the park at Second Pride.
 
Grant Valeska, an amazing designer and performer that created the Lady Gaga concert for Second Pride last year, and the Britney Spears "Stronger - A Live Experience" for this year. Watching Grant create is truly watching a master at work!
 
There are many others, and I feel guilty for not listing them all here!
 

Where can Residents learn more about Second Pride? Please share links to any sites and social media accounts.

 

Watch this Second Pride video from 2019 on the Second Life YouTube Channel 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Second Pride and their mission is to serve, support, and empower the diverse LGBTQ+ communities of Second Life!

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Sam King-Slain (Dropyour.Knickers), a skilled singer, songwriter, and musician who credits Second Life for assisting his journey in self-discovery. Watch him play live at SL19B later this month!

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

I'm 11 years old in Second Life which makes me about 250 in SLife experience. I heard about it after me and one of my childhood friends were playing the Sims. I think we googled 'virtual world' and it was the first one that popped up.

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You are an award-winning musician with quite the talent for songwriting. Second Life and the humorous and perhaps frustrating situations you encounter in this virtual world are the main topic of your songs. Tell us more about your music career and how it all began.

I've always been into writing songs, raps and poetry so it wasn't totally out of character for me. But roughly 5 years ago, myself and a few close friends were hanging inworld at a recording studio and it just struck me how funny it would be to write something about Second Life. I remember saying brb and 20 minutes later I jumped on mic like 'I gotta show you guys what I've done!' 

That was the day I wrote my first song 'TP Me' and the chorus was literally 'tp me, tp me, I've got a platform in the sky' and everyone had it stuck in their heads for weeks! I think we all knew we were onto something and I just knew I could write more so I went away and wrote 'Relog', 'Crosshairs' and 'Prim Love' and with each song just came more laughter and enjoyment. It was those guys that said 'Sam we have to do a concert' and that was when we set up a little warehouse skybox and threw our first show - I felt like a true Second Life Popstar, with my name in lights and it was a hit! 

My friends had made merch and set the stage up and we felt like we had really injected the fun back into Second Life. It ended up with us having a full sim with a Record Label Office and a venue and we started going around inworld to all our favourite spots asking if I could do a show. It was hard to get people to buy into the vision but I knew all I had to do was convince them to listen to one song and they got it.

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Do you play any musical instruments and how do you compose the music for your songs?

I have played the guitar and saxophone from a young age in real life. My song writing process is usually quite simple. I'll feel inspired, go away, and find a beat or play a tune on the guitar and then record and write simultaneously until it's done. It's very rare that I'll step away and come back to a song. If I feel it then, I just have to write something in that exact moment and I have to finish it then and there.

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What genre would you say your music falls in, and who are some of the musicians that have influenced your style?

I would say my genre is varied, like my music taste. Sometimes I rap, sometimes I'll do an acoustic song or something on the piano, and sometimes I'll do something people can dance to. Overall for Second Life, I like to keep my music light hearted, fun and relatable. Some musicians I look up to are J Cole - a lyrical genius, Drake, Bon Iver, Beyonce, Juice WRLD & Lil Peep. I'd say my acoustic music is heavily influenced by Ed Sheeran - gotta keep it in the UK!

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One of your songs reveals how Second Life assisted in your journey of self-discovery. Can you share in what ways SL has impacted your life?

Second Life has saved my life in a lot of ways. I'm from a conservative quiet town on the South Coast of England and being myself was pretty much out of the question as a kid. I struggled with my gender identity and Second Life gave me a means to explore that. I met the love of my life (we're back together now 10 years on!) and that taught me things about my sexuality. It's funny because in a game where you can be literally anyone - it has given me confidence to be my true self. I have met so many wonderful people from all different walks of life and it has inspired an abundance of self reflection and growth. I'm proud of my gratitude towards Second Life and I never shy away to say how much I appreciate the game - it really is whatever you want it to be. To some it's just a game but to me it's the place I've expressed my most authentic creativity and made genuine, life long connections and friendships.

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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. You have been very active in Second Life raising awareness in the past, can you share more about that and if there are any activities or events that you’ll be taking part in during this coming month?

Last year I wrote a song "SL Pride" which sort of depicts why pride is so important to me and how Second Life has helped me along the way. I won't go into much more detail than I did above because I'm much better at singing out my words than speaking them. 

Last year I did two big Pride performances - Burrow & Co for SL Pride and Pride at Home run by Tink Hax. Both events were hugely successful and we raised a load of lindens for various LGBT charities with a variety of really talented people. This year I'm booked for two Pride shows so far - Pride at Home and one at a fairly new venue called Eleventh House.

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in Second Life that inspire you and whose work you admire.

Someone who believed in me at the start of my SL music journey when no one did is DJ Gracie (Gracie Barbosa). Not only is she one of the most talented DJ's on the grid, has come to every show of mine and performed along side me, she has also created The Little Tokyo Rooftop which is home to the Dream Team - a collaborative of creative artists who bring love and good vibes to the grid. Gracie is very humble about what she has created on SL, but the sim is free for all and she is always making rl donations and sending out school supplies to kids in Africa. Lil Tokyo Rooftop does a Bumpin' Brunch event every Sunday and I'd really recommend dropping down! Check out Lil Tokyo Rooftop's Facebook page

Another collaborative that really deserve recognition is WWBH: We Will Be Heard - Founded by Daisatella Slain, Bars Simpson, November Justice, Pinky Banks, Roshambo Dench. It's hard to put into words what these ladies have achieved in the last couple of years. It started in 2020 with their Black Lives Awareness Event, it was so successful and raised somewhere to a million plus lindens for charity. These guys do a whole month of events, rl speakers, parties, art exhibitions, open mics, museums and raise as much as possible for the chosen cause. Last year was WWBH: Girl Power - Bars Simpson put together one of the most jaw dropping interactive inworld museum experiences I have ever seen - our whole community was involved and it showcased beautifully the issues surrounding women's rights. I was honoured to perform in the closing show. Their next project will be for Mental Health and I am so excited because this bunch pull it out the bag every single time, truly it blows me away and I'd love them to get some coverage for their next one -  I think it's something Second Life would be extremely proud of. You can still check out their first Black Lives Awareness website and the LinkTree to last year's Girl Power where you can find their IG/FB and more.

I know I've talked for ages but I just have to give Tinkers a shout out! Tink Hax has done absolute wonders this year. He's always raising loads of awareness to various LGBT charities, creates a beautifully colourful Pride sim for people to explore at Pride at Home and runs the Pride shop&hop. Tink created Love to Ukraine and I've never seen someone raise so much money in such a short timescale. They raised L$6209987 which ended up being £17,500 - an incredible amount of money which I'm sure helped so many people in such a crisis. What a guy! Check out the Pride at Home Facebook page.

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Where can people see you perform or hear more of your music? Please share links to your sites, social media accounts, and destinations you regularly perform at.

Inworld: Dropyour Knickers
Facebook: Sam Elliot King  
Soundcloud: Sam Super-Villin 
Flickr: SAM KING (slim) 

I'll be performing at Pride at Home at the end of this month, Saturday 25th June 6pm SLT. I have a good feeling about this one, hopefully see you all there!

Also just want to say although I've mainly stopped doing small occasions/parties, I'm always down for a good cause so I will happily come perform at your event if it's going to charity! 

And Linden Lab, if you ever want me to jump up on stage at one of your big Second Life events, just say the word and I promise I'll keep it PG!

Well Sam, we heard you! Watch Sam perform live at SL19B later this month!

Sam has graciously recorded a PG version of his song, Relog, for us. Watch the music video on our YouTube channel.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sam’s many talents and enjoy his music as much as we do. We'll see you at SL19B listening to his live performance!

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Damian Zhaoying, a Second Life veteran that brings a wealth of community building experience and translation services to our virtual world. He also runs the popular Spanish Community Gateway, Ayuda Virtual.

Damian also supplied the questions and answers in Spanish for our Spanish community members. Please keep scrolling for Spanish!

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

Since December 2006, a little more than 15 years ago. In the middle of 2006 a relative asked me to help her improve her PC with a graphics card and, after doing so, she showed me what the improvement was for. It was SL, she showed me the world, what could be done, and the possibilities to create and socialize. I made an account, but I didn't understand how to
handle it and then I lost it. In December I wanted to try again and, already with this account, I ended up fascinated by everything that can be done and achieved here.

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Can you share more information about your Second Life Community Gateway region, Ayuda Virtual, and what kind of support the destination offers Second Life Residents.

Ayuda Virtual is a Spanish-speaking community that is part of the Community Gateway project and we want to help new users take their first steps in Second Life and show them everything they can do in this world. We also want them to feel comfortable in our community, feel they belong to it, have a place to be, talk, meet, socialize, share, learn and teach. In addition, we believe that Second Life is an important platform to spread the different cultural expressions of our users - musicians, painters, poets, and more. We have exhibitions and talks on topics that are of interest to the community. Our teachers teach users different disciplines, such as construction, blender, scripts, English, role play, avatar appearance, and anything that is useful for them.

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Have you dabbled in content creation in Second Life?

I have created small, simple, and not so simple things, usually for personal pleasure or to be used in our Ayuda Virtual community, mainly working with scripts.

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You do Spanish translations for the Singularity and Firestorm viewers, are translation services something you offer to everyone?

I offer my translation services from English to Spanish to anyone who needs it. In addition, I also offer it to Creators (often free of charge), mainly so that users in the Spanish-speaking community can have products in their own language.

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.

I admire several, especially when it comes to communicating news to the Second Life community. Since I have my own news blog in Spanish, my references in this area are Inara Pey and Nalates Urriah. On the other hand, I admire my co-owner of Ayuda Virtual, Córdoba Cluny, for her ability to work and organize, which allows our community to grow and develop.

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

Personal Blog  
Personal Twitter  
Ayuda Virtual Blog  
Ayuda Virtual Twitter  
Ayuda Virtual Youtube  

Watch this promotional video about the Ayuda Virtual community:

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Damian and his quest to educate and provide a safe space for the Spanish speaking community.

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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. 

 

Spanish translation provided by Damian Zhaoying:

¿Cuánto tiempo llevas en Second Life y cómo te enteraste por primera vez?
Poco mas de 15 años, desde diciembre de 2006. A mediados de 2006 un
familiar me pide le ayude a mejorar su PC con una tarjeta gráfica y,
luego de hacerlo, me muestra para que era la mejora. Era SL, me muestra
el mundo, que se podía hacer y las posibilidades para crear y
socializar. Hice una cuenta, pero no entendí como manejarme y luego la
perdí, en diciembre quise volver a intentarlo y, ya con esta cuenta,
terminé fascinado por todo lo que aquí se puede hacer y lograr.

¿Puede compartir más información sobre su región de Community
Gateway, Ayuda Virtual y qué tipo de apoyo ofrece el destino a los
residentes de Second Life?

Ayuda Virtual es una comunidad de habla hispana integrante del proyecto
Comunnity Gateway y buscamos ayudar a los usuarios nuevos a dar sus
primeros pasos en Second Life, mostrarles todo lo que pueden hacer en
este mundo. También queremos que se sientan cómodos en nuestra
comunidad, la sientan propia, tengan un lugar donde estar, conversar,
conocer, socializar y compartir, aprender y enseñar.
Además, creemos que Second Life es una plataforma importante para
difundir las distintas expresiones culturas de nuestros usuarios.
Músicos, pintores, poetas. Tenemos exposiciones y charlas sobre temas
que son de interés para la comunidad. Nuestros profesores enseñan a los
usuarios distintas disciplinas, como ser construcción, blender, scripts,
inglés, role play, apariencia del avatar y todo aquello que sea de
utilidad para los usuarios de nuestra comunidad.

También tienes un negocio en Second Life, cuéntanos más sobre él y
cómo llegaste a la creación de contenido.

No realmente, no tengo negocio aunque muchas veces he pensado en
tenerlo. He creado cosas pequeñas, simples y no tan simples, normalmente
lo hago por gusto personal o para ser utilizado en nuestra comunidad
Ayuda Virtual, principalmente trabajando con scritps.

Haces traducciones al español para los espectadores de Singularity y
Firestorm, ¿los servicios de traducción son algo que ofreces a todo el
mundo?

Ofrezco mis servicios de traducción del inglés al español a todo aquel
que lo necesite. Además, suelo ofrecerlo a creadores (muchas veces, sin
cargo), principalmente para que los usuarios de la comunidad de habla
hispana puedan tener productos en su propio idioma.

Cuéntanos sobre algunos de los otros Residentes en SL que te inspiran
y cuyo trabajo admiras.

Realmente no tengo algún usuario relevante que me inspire, aunque admiro
a varios, especialmente en lo que es comunicar novedades a la comunicad
de Second Life. Como tengo mi propio blog de noticias en español, mis
referentes en ese ámbito son Inara Pey and Nalates Urriah. Por otro
lado, admiro a mi copropietaria de Ayuda Virtual, cordoba Cluny, por su
capacidad de trabajo y organización que permite que nuestra comunidad
crezca y se desarrolle.
 

Linden Lab

This week we are shining a spotlight on Jordan Lively (ohhbehave), who started her singing career in Second Life. She just released her first single, and it has hit the main page of Apple Music as one of the Best New Songs!

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Photo by Clearstone

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

I’ve been in and out of Second Life for about 10 years! I first heard about Second Life on the show The Office. I am a gamer and I loved the Sims so I was like, “that sounds funny and interesting, I’m going to check it out.” To be honest I initially wanted to go in and troll, but then ended up discovering that there was live music. I made some genuine connections and it became much more than the “game” I thought it was.

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How/When did you first develop an interest in music?

I’ve had an interest in music even as a child. I loved to sing although I was extremely shy and would almost never do it in front of people.

When did you start performing in Second Life, and what venues can people visit to hear you sing?

I started performing in Second Life maybe about eight years ago. There are so many amazing places you can hear me. Ugly Girlz, they are a group of some of the most supportive people in SL that put on hands down some of the BEST events. The Rayne District (I play every other Tuesday) is one of the most thoughtfully designed places with tons of personality and it is home to a lot of talent. Love Kats (I play every other Friday) is not only a venue owned by one of the most genuine and supportive people in SL but is also such a fun, friendly, and inviting atmosphere. Love Kats is a staple to the SL music community. Finally, the venue After Dark is the intimate space that holds literally some of the best musicians on the grid. You know when you play there, people are listening. You know you’ve “made it” when you play at After Dark.

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How would you describe your music, and who are some of the musicians who have influenced your style?

My music is honestly my diary. It’s vulnerable, it’s relatable, and my passion is spreading mental health awareness through music. So I openly sing about stuff I go through, good and bad, because I know there are people out there that can relate. Musicians that influence my style…I am not sure any influence my style but there are artists that inspire me: Dean Lewis, Jason Mraz, Adele, and Janis Joplin.

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Tell us about your recently released first single!

My first single, SOS, has just been released and is currently on the main page of Apple Music as one of the Best New Songs! It also got placed on two Apple Editorial Playlists!

SOS was recorded in Muscle Shoals Alabama and was produced by another Second Life Resident, Beardy

SOS, while upbeat, has lyrics that have a raw vulnerability to it, and openly talks about struggling with emotions and feelings in life that people can easily relate to. I did this as a metaphor because of how many of us walk around with a smile but are really going through something, struggling with something, internally. It’s more common than we think.

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Photo by Tea Enchanted

How has SL impacted your life?

There are so many ways that SL has impacted my life. The first being that I met an amazing musician, Beardy, at one of the RL SL music jams. Beardy became not only a really good friend but he was also my producer and sound engineer on this song, along with a few others we recorded. 

A HUGE way SL impacted my life is the fact that I wouldn’t even be pursuing music if it wasn’t for this amazing community. I started SL not singing, not playing instruments, not writing songs, until a couple of people heard me sing at open mics inworld and encouraged me to start singing and doing shows in both SL and RL. I then started learning how to play ukulele, guitar, and started playing the piano more. Eventually I started writing songs and once I started, I couldn’t stop. The community in SL is unlike any other: they have encouraged me, inspired me, been supportive of me, and a lot of them have become friends for life. I am beyond thankful to SL for being a hub to meet these amazing people, to create fun one-of-a-kind experiences, and also the way that SL is so supportive of its Residents, it really is just a beautiful thing.

Where can people follow you to know more about your music and shows? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.

Listen to the song SOS by Jordan Lively on all platforms! If you have Spotify please follow me, add the song to your playlist and share it with friends and family. Those are things that REALLY help independent artists. This is the first song of many coming out and I can’t wait for you to hear them! 

Listen to SOS  
Instagram  
Facebook  
TiKTok 
YouTube

We hope you enjoyed learning about Jordan Lively, and how the support of the SL music community encouraged her to pursue her passion and share her talent with the world. Take a moment to enjoy her incredible voice and soulful music today!

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Christion Dinzeo, (Ahlan Wright in the physical world) a DJ with humble beginnings whose passion for connecting people through music took him all over the physical and virtual worlds! 

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

Well, I can remember being in Second Life when everything was made of the little square boxes (called prims) that I later learned to turn to different shapes, haha. My oh my, how we have grown. I just had my 15th year rez day party back in February. Wow, saying that makes me think back to when we all just had the same clothes, the same hair, and everyone was so amazed when you could just take a proof script, put it in a prim, and make particles that fly everywhere. Or when the Lindens used to come hang out with us at a nightclub like Blue Linden. What brought me to Second Life? Well, I used to play TSO and I was with an entire family, and one day we were all chatting and we found out there was a new (life) game that everybody was so intrigued by. So one afternoon I installed the game, and {it was back when} we all got to have the same last name of our choosing.

I guess you could say that makes us vintage lol. I remember that anything was possible back then, and even more so now. But most of all, we could create a lifestyle and live a Second Life. It’s giving us a chance to meet, network, and grow with some amazing people from all around the world.

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How did you get into DJing in the physical world and when did you decide to bring that into the virtual world and start doing it in Second Life?

Well, I’ve always been in the entertainment business in real life. I first started out doing radio while I was in college. After a few semesters, a couple of my college mates kept telling me that I needed to go out and explore, and enjoy the nightlife, but I was a bookworm and I was studying day in and day out. I’ve always loved playing with computers. (I guess you can say that’s the geek in all of us.) Well, one night my roommate told me that we were going to go hang out at a nightclub. They would not take no for an answer, so I said “Fine, I’ll go,” and I honestly have to say it was the best decision of my life: we went that night and as we went to get in line, this gentleman stops me and asked me if I minded holding the door for him so he could carry some equipment inside. 

I said sure and held the door for him as he started carrying some crates and some really heavy equipment inside this night club. A little bit of time passed, and he hands me $200 and asked me if I planed on going in the nightclub, as he could get us all VIP access. Being in college, money was always tight, so those were two things that any college student would love to have. So we accepted his offer, went into the club, and had the most amazing time. But as for me, I was more interested in what he was doing, watching his hands and how he would take each song and put them together.

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Later on at closing time I walked up to the DJ and told him that I would absolutely love to do something like this. He told me that he could teach me, but it has to be more something that you naturally know how to do. So we exchanged numbers and he invited me back the next weekend to be in the DJ booth with him. I started watching what he did, and I told myself I bet I could do this. So after going to the club and watching him a few times, I learned exactly how to take a song that’s on vinyl and mix it with another one on vinyl. It was absolutely amazing to watch him take an instrumental and put it with an a cappella. So I told him that I wanted to try, and he told me if I came back early the next night he would let me practice. Now fast forward a couple weeks, and he really liked what I did, so he asked me if I would be the opening DJ for one hour on the weekends and he would pay me for my time. I was so excited, I ran back to tell all my friends in school that I was going to be DJing at a nightclub and they needed to come out.

They all came out to show support, and after a couple weeks the DJ started giving me a little bit more time each night. One night he called me and told me that he was sick and couldn’t come in, and that I was actually going to play the whole night and that the club would pay me. 

Well I accepted, and again I have to say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because from that point on the owner was very happy with what I did. People were dancing all night long, and after a while the other DJ actually left to go work at another nightclub. And so the owner offered me a Friday night, and from there I just started playing every Friday night, and I learned that I had a very good ear for music. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved music but I could actually control the sounds that people were hearing and that was very exciting to me. I eventually graduated with a computer engineering degree, and I wanted to continue to go to school and learn about the art of music and design and create my own sound. And with the help and support of my DJ mentor I did just that. 

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I started playing at nightclubs all over on the weekends and going to school on the weekdays, until one night I played at a club called Platforms in Florida, and I found out that I was going to be opening for a major artist that goes by the name of Yung Joc. You might’ve heard of him, his most popular song was “It’s Goin’ Down.” After doing the show they told me that they would love to have me come play on some of his other shows on the East Coast. I accepted and the experience was so great. After that things got even bigger, and I started playing more shows with different artists in different states. As the music changed, people started liking more and more different styles than just hip-hop, and I started messing around with other genres of music and really found a love for electronic dance music. I started playing at a lot of different venues, festivals, and shows all over the world in support of big name artists like DJ Baby Ann and DJ Icey, and then I got to be support for one the the world’s music icons, Avicii. After that show I just started to tour in support of artists all over, from major festivals like Miami’s Life In Color. And the rest is history. I now live in Las Vegas and support many headlining acts in addition to signing on as an artist with a very big agency called Blueprint. Each week is different, and I often work with some of the biggest talents in the world. It’s definitely been a blessing in my music career and I can officially say that I too am an artist. 

I remember this everyday and put it to use in the wonderful world of Second Life. So now back to the story of SL! After doing a few broadcasting shows, I learned that there was a way we could add commercials about the stores or pretty much anything, and we came across a program called Shout Cast. You could use it to stream and broadcast what was being played on your computer. Later, we found out that we could take URLs and put them in Second Life. So I did that and then I was hired for a few nightclubs.

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What are some of the advantages or challenges of DJing in the virtual world, as opposed to the physical world?

I would have to say the advantages are that anything is possible, as it has helped me grow and be able to reach out and do things I never thought were possible, like being able to work with some big and influential names in Second Life. 

The challenges would be not knowing if the stream is going to work or if it would coincide with an SL software update, or maybe your internet connection is giving you problems… Lol back in the day that used to happen to me a lot, it definitely was a challenge. But it was one worth putting up with.

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What are your favorite genres of music, and what mood do you usually go for when you DJ?

I’m a future bass artist, it’s in the same family of genres known as EDM (electronic dance music), but I have to say I always fall back on my roots and I love some good hip-hop, especially everything from the 90s. I don’t play it as much irl but I definitely enjoy playing it in  Second Life. For the second part of the question, I always love the ha and high energy type of setting, but I love to make people dance and knowing that I can make them dance and move to the sounds that I create is so special to me.

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We hear that you may be involved in a new club opening in Second Life, ELEVATE! Can you tell us more about it and when it opens?

Well, I had been gone for quite a few years, because real life had really kicked off and I was away on multiple tours. One day I was sitting at my computer and I received an email saying that a customer had a problem with one of my hats (I also design in Second Life). 

So I log in and send them a new copy, as I had made a custom fit hat for them. And it kind of made me miss this world, as it’s always been a part of me. After looking around and seeing all the different avatars it made me think I was a noob all over again lol. So that night I was on for a crazy amount of hours, as that’s how Second Life works for most haha, but I decided to upgrade and get myself all fixed up with the help of a few friends. 

And then it was almost as if I never left, because all the clubs had opened their arms and invited me back, and I found many other clubs to be a part of. After a couple weeks of being back I noticed that a lot of the clubs were different, and I wanted to take the knowledge I had gained and give back to this world, so after a few days of searching and creating something unlike any other and having the support from my friends and family I created ELEVATE NIGHT CLUB. I was able to find a designer that made the dancefloor lighting go on your body like in a physical club. As you can see in the logo, it has the name of the club as well as a triangle design. The triangle represents important things in my life, the people that have always stood by me, and the person that means the most to me in both worlds. Not only has she been an SL mom to me but we have become very close in the real world as well, and she has always stood by my side no matter what the situation may be, and her name is Savvy Tomorrow. If I had to say anything about her I would have to say that she is my hero and has always supported me in both worlds.

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.

To start off I would like to thank all the people that did not believe in me and would not give me the chance, because those are the people that just made me push even harder to succeed and be where I am today.

And I encourage anyone who is ever told no to turn that into a yes, no matter what it is in life.

As I mentioned previously about my SL mom, she is definitely at the top of my list, but there are so many people that believe in me and that have supported me, who I’ve supported also, with another being my SL daughter Raine Dinzeo. She is definitely someone that’s been there from day one. Also there’s Havi and a few others that don’t really come online anymore. 

I would also like to add that there was a time when my real life wasn’t going very great and I was not always a great person in Second Life, but since then I have definitely grown up and I’ve changed my ways. Sometimes it still haunts me, that maybe I didn’t think about something before I reacted and that I could’ve hurt somebody’s feelings. But I wasn’t even thinking about it at the time because I was hurting myself. I wanna let the people know that I have changed, I have definitely grown up and I have bettered myself not only irl but also in my second one. To any and everybody that I was rude to, I am truly sorry and I hope at some point in life you can forgive me, and give me a chance to show you that I have changed.

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Where can people follow you to know more about your next shows? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.

I wanna thank you so much for taking the time to include me, it definitely means a lot and hopefully gives me the chance to reach out to everyone that I may have run into at some point throughout my history in Second Life.

For info on our upcoming events | shows follow my Instagram:
Instagram: @ahlanwrightmusic
Facebook: @AhlanWrightMusic
Twitter: @AhlanWright
Soundcloud: @ahlanwrightmusic
I also recently did another interview for the the NFL tailgating committee.

Elevate Night Club’s grand opening is tonight, May 4th at 5pm SLT. Come party with Christion in your black and white attire! 


We hope you enjoyed learning about Christion’s whirlwind journey and the important life lessons he picked up along the way. We encourage everybody to follow their passions no matter what, just like Christion and countless other Residents have.

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Gabriel Easton (Wassup.Bruh), who runs Highlife Destinations with his family and takes our breath away with his virtual landscaping. You know someone’s really good at something when they make it look easy! Gabriel’s attention to detail has produced numerous regions that look and feel like absolute paradise.

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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 almost 15 years. I first heard about SL through a friend I was hanging out with, and they heard about it from an episode of CSI. They got curious and made an account and I watched them walk around for an hour. They were walking into people and we wondered why no one was talking… or doing anything for that matter. It was a strange world to us. They eventually grew bored but I wanted to see for myself what it was about and make the most of it. I signed up the next day and did the same thing. Just walked around. I learned to teleport and found some people who actually spoke. They taught me a few things, not much. I learned to shape my avi and got some freebies. I thought I was cute but man, looking back, I was still a hot mess! I rented my first apartment within that first week and met some cool people. That's what really made me stick around longer: the connections I made. Now, here I am 15 years later. I've gone with the flow of things and I'm happy I stayed to see all of the improvements.

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What drew you to virtual landscaping, and what styles have influenced your approach?
My love for landscaping started with another platform where you could design your homes. I would spend more time building the home and decorating than I did actually playing it. The same passion applied here in SL but with more of a learning curve. I always did my own landscaping and I didnt start out good, no one does. But with practice, I kept at it and got a little better. I didn't have it in my mind to make a business of it at first. That came later through encouragement from my Second Life family. I started out doing landscape work for my family and friends only. After I posted my photos, I gained more clients and kept at it. I haven't really defined my own style per se but one thing I will say about myself is that I tend to be a perfectionist. I have my landscaping pet peeves: floating trees, bare undecorated areas with so much potential, and bald grass! I just like for things to be perfect and beautiful and I go the extra mile to make that happen. I take a lot of pride in my work and those who experience it can see and feel that.

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Cuban Tropical Island

Since you work with your family as a creative team, please explain what role each person has, and what exactly your duties entail?
Highlife Destinations is a family company. For our destinations, I create the landscaping, decor and activities. My wife Tye handles the administration part as far as bookings, events, and so much more. Our son Roman does a lot of beautiful decor work on the hotel rooms and administrative work. Our daughter Sage does a lot with spa services, helping with check-ins and much more. Our daughter-in-law Savoeigh is our main check-in specialist. We have a full staff of team members like Jordan, A'storia, Lori, Bunny, Leta, and Angel that do various jobs in our restaurants, spa, cooking classes, and sip and paint classes. As for myself, I bounce around where I'm needed. I help with check-in, I may fill in for a spa here and there but mostly I serve dinners. Everyone works hard to provide excellent and fun roleplay experiences for our guests and I appreciate them all wholeheartedly.

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When building resorts or seasonal regions, what types of activities and amenities do you include to make a visit to these places different from regular exploration, i.e. an actual virtual vacation?
The difference is in the roleplay and immersion. With regular exploration, you go to a place, look around, take photos. Some places are interactive, but most are not. With our destinations, you are really on a vacation. People book for a day or two, sometimes more. They come with their luggage and start out in our airport, where they are greeted and checked in at our concierge just like a real hotel stay. Guests stay with us for their honeymoons, group vacations, or a quick getaway. They get to stay and make lasting memories together. 

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Timor Isles at Bali

Each resort will have activities that pretty much match the destination. In Timor Isles @ Bali, we had lots of fun water activities as well as underwater, zip lining and hang gliding. We didn't have a restaurant but we did serve dinner at their bungalows or a private romantic one on a mountainside.

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Winter in NY

Winter in New York had ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza, a Fun Zone arcade, Empire Steak restaurant, and more.

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Ibiza

Ibiza had water activities but it was more of a Nightlife resort with LOTS of parties on the water, in the club, and main pool area. We also had a nice mini golf and amusement park.

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Poconos

The Poconos had lots of winter activities such as skiing down a huge mountain and hang gliding. We also included a hot air balloon ride.

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Las Vegas

With Las Vegas we have packed it all in! Vegas has zip lining, a hot air balloon, paintball, pools, bowling, sand dunes, a drive-in movie theater, live shows, and more. We put together live shows every other week that feature showgirls, dancers, and singers. We also have a Viva Las Divas Drag show! Our shows have really been amazing and bring so much more to the Las Vegas  experience that you can't get anywhere else. I am honestly so proud and thankful for everyone that has had a part in them. They have worked so hard and our guests see that and have a really great time.

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Ibiza

How many regions is your team currently operating, and what can we expect from you next?
We usually keep our destinations for six months or more and then change it to something else. We are currently running Las Vegas, and it has four regions to explore. For our next destination, we will be bringing Timor Isles back for Bali 2.0! It will be bigger and better than ever before!

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

We hope you enjoyed learning about Gabriel and the creative potential of virtual landscaping. Make sure you check out his website and treat yourself to a magical escape!

 

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Inara Pey. As the writer behind the comprehensive blog Living in a Modemworld, Inara reports on the evolution, current events, and vast potential of Second Life and virtual worlds. Living in a Modemworld is almost as old as SL itself, adding gravitas to the observations found in its lengthy catalog.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

Altogether? 16 years - but I tend to not count the first time around, as I quit after several months for various reasons (such as jumping in without knowing much about what I was hoping to achieve or why I was giving it a go). However, by the end of 2006, the media hype cycle about SL was in full swing, and that gave me enough of an understanding about what I might find that I decided to give things another go - and 15 years and 4 months later, I'm still here!

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When and how did you get started writing about Second Life?

My SL-related blogging initially started in 2007, with a focus on what was then my primary interest. By 2008, I was writing more broadly about Second Life. {Around this time} some of the Lab's management and board (all of whom have long since departed LL) saw the future of the platform as being more of a "business application" - and that as a result, some users might not find the platform as welcoming as it had been going forward. This, coupled with other events (such as the whole OpenSpace / Homestead situation), led to a lot of criticism being directed towards the Lab; honestly, a more than good portion of it was justified, although equally, some of it perhaps wasn't.

For my part, I became aware that I actually didn't understand all of the complexities involved in running and maintaining a platform like SL as well as I perhaps should, making some of my own critiques either questionable or hypocritical. So I set out to learn as much as I could about the platform (and am still learning!) whilst also trying to report on it from a more objective standpoint, keeping subjective opinion to pieces clearly noted as such as much as possible. At the same time my interest in exploring SL more broadly came to the fore, as did my interest in SL art and in taking photos in-world - as a result, Modemworld was born.

You highlight the latest news, updates, and destinations in SL in such a concise and informative way. How do you stay on top of all of the information you wish to feature?

It's a combination of factors.

Most simply, I try to run on a schedule. I'm helped in this by the fact that some of the things I report on are themselves scheduled (such as the in-world user groups) or often announced ahead of time by the Lab or by event organisers. 

I also try to keep an eye on various sources of information - the official blogs, social media, various in-world groups, etc - that allow me to identify opportunities for blogging. In addition, I'm really fortunate enough to receive a lot of suggestions and requests, and to have friends who regularly nudge me about places I might like to write about (special thanks to Shawn and Cube and everyone who does so), and to have artists and gallery owners take the time to keep me informed as to what they are doing, as well as a readership who takes the time to let me know about things they feel might be of interest. 

I've also been very fortunate enough to attract some guest writers - Caledonia, R., Beq, and Marianne - who have all given depth to the blog.

Do you have a submission process for Residents who would like to have their destination promoted on your blog?

The best way is via notecard, although IMs will also generally work, and there is a Contact Me form on the blog. I cannot possibly cover everything I'm messaged about, and I do sometimes receive requests for articles that fall outside my focus, and so are not covered; my apologies to those sending them for this being the case. But generally, I try to take requests / suggestions on a case-by-case basis and blog with credit whenever there is a good fit.

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.

Honestly, there are so many, it would be hard to point to a handful without me feeling guilty about not mentioning others. I'm constantly and repeatedly awed by the regions I visit, the art I encounter, and all the work of all the creators and scripters who bring depth to our in-world lives.

I'm also genuinely appreciative of the Lab (together with all the open-source developers) for all the work put into keeping this complex, aging, behemoth we call Second Life running as well as it does, nevermind constantly trying to improve and update it.

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What do you do to relax in-world?

A variety of things. As readers of my blog know, I have a particular love of in-world building / kitbashing, which I tend to combine with landscaping. I also love spending time boating, sailing, and flying in SL (and skydiving, something I had fun introducing to Strawberry!), and am in awe of all those who create and script the boats and aircraft that make this possible. Exploring is also a means to relax (even when related to blogging!), and of course there are those who keep me coming back to SL for their company.

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

 

We hope you enjoyed learning about Inara’s extensive background in SL. Sometimes it takes a village to provide coverage of everything that goes on in here, so don’t be shy about submitting content to Modemworld! And of course, we encourage any aspiring bloggers to check out the Second Life Blogger Network.

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Zaara Kohime, who brings the luxurious colors of Indian culture and clothing to SL through her digital creations. In addition to gorgeous lehengas and saris, a visit to her main store is an experience in itself. She has artfully incorporated many architectural styles and iconic symbols of Indian culture, such as colorful tilework and a serene temple.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

I have been in SL since 2007! A friend of mine pointed me to a news article about it and I signed up. I didn't quite know what to do once I logged in (don't we all?). I used to camp in those days to earn some lindens and eventually made some friends. Soon enough, I was told that if I have any sort of graphic capabilities, I should try creating something in SL.

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{Zaara} mainstore

Do you have a background in fashion or 3D creation? What got you interested in creating content for Second Life?

I went to art school and am trained in illustration and print media. I was also an art director at an ad agency that handled fashion and lifestyle brands. Advertising was on the cusp of digitization and print mediums were increasingly on the decline… we didn’t have the budgets at our disposal, or the timelines, that we were used to. It was just a high pressure environment and I was getting  pretty frustrated with that way of life. What attracted me to SL was the freedom, that I could do *anything* and if it was good enough, people were willing to pay for it and appreciate it. I liked the idea of being able to reach a global audience and to be on a level playing field; there was a sense of equality about it and mutual respect. The positive feedback from customers was also encouraging, it felt like what I was doing was worthwhile and bringing joy to someone in a very direct way.

I decided to make a few outfits in my spare time to see how it went... and thus {Zaara} was born. I was proficient in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, however, I had no training in any 3D software. Luckily, SL content at the time was not driven by mesh but rather by textures, which were my strength. Luckily, I could pick up newer techniques and softwares along the way as SL evolved. My partner, Sawyer Campese, was comfortable with 3D and I learned softwares quickly. Needless to say 14 years later, I am still here and loving it!

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{Zaara} Lehenga

As most of your clothing is highly influenced by South Asian culture, please share some common garment terms that people might not be familiar with. Are there any specific people, places, or movies that have inspired your designs?

{Zaara} is a quintessential Indian brand, pretty rooted in tradition and authentic in its representation. A lot of my customers who are not from India are often pleased to discover fashion goes beyond a sari. I do try to name my outfits correctly, with the name in Hindi and English so people understand how these pieces are called.

I try to focus on specific outfit styles, the most popular of which is a Lehenga - flared intricately worked on skirts with blouses with draped scarves. Most South Asian traditional garments tend to have draped scarves called 'dupattas' or 'chunnis' for the sake of modesty. Then of course there is the Sari - the ultimate fashion paradox... it is as complex as it is simple, with its richly decorated seven yards of untailored fabric.  There are apparently over 100 different ways in which a sari can be draped. I have managed to make... ONE style (lol). Then you also have tops or long dresses such as 'kurtas' which are worn with pants. These have several different names such as anarkali, a patiala, churidar kurta, sharara, gararas... depending on the cut of the top and the fit of the pants.

A big part of my inspiration is drawn from different fabrics, embroideries, and regional differences that stretch across the vast landscape of India. I also love color and South Asian fashion is one where strong colors and patterns are unapologetically front and center, so I like to celebrate that. A lot of my customers contribute references or draw attention to an outfit from a popular Bollywood movie and I happily comply if possible!

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{Zaara} Patiala Kurta (left) and {Zaara} Sari (right)

You recently updated the Zaara mainstore to an all mesh build. This photogenic Indian themed location is an attraction in itself, filled with meaningful cultural markers such as a temple, colorful tilework and stained glass, and the revered cow and elephant. What was the process of building such an elaborate store like, and what experience do you hope people take from visiting?

My inspiration for the {Zaara} sim was a mix of old Havelis (mansions) and the steps/ghats you see in Puskhar and Varanasi. I like this region because its architecture is influenced by Hindu as well as Islamic elements which captures the multicultural fabric of India.

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Zaara region ghats/steps

I also understand that a lot of non-resident Indians come to SL looking for nostalgia and a feeling of home.... I didn't want to build a palace, but rather something relatable that had seen better days and was looking for a sense of purpose. The {Zaara} mainstore is housed in such a 'Haveli' with a rambling layout which spills over outdoors into the lanes leading to the 'ghats' or steps into the water. 

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Zaara region lane

I initially referenced pictures off of Google, but unfortunately, I didn't even know where to start. Rural Indian builds are so chaotic and I couldn't figure out what these builds looked like on the inside, and how one building led into another. So I traveled to Rajasthan, along with my partner Sawyer, to collect references and observe the structures firsthand. The Mainstore structure itself is based on an old Haveli in Shekhawati. The yellow building that houses the Menswear is a quaint house I saw in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The pools are a nod to the gorgeous lake palace in Udaipur. Then there was this particular lane in Pushkar that I fell in love with and attempted to recreate a simplified version here in the sim. I could do sooo much more, the {Zaara} sim still feels like a work in progress... but I had to stop somewhere and get back to making Saris and Lehengas!

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Lane comparisons - RL (left) vs SL (right)

How has Second Life impacted your life?

Well, I met my now RL husband in SL, so it has certainly impacted my life (haha). In general, I think the most priceless thing Second Life offers is freedom. We have been able to move across countries because of how flexible we are... and because it is not a 9-5 job we could develop other interests and hobbies. I was bogged down by a mortgage on my apartment in Mumbai and my SL business helped me pay that back. We are now building a life together without the traditional constraints of a job or location, and I'll always be grateful to Second life for that. I have made so many friends from so many countries and even met a few IRL! Nothing can be quite as enriching as a culturally diverse human encounter. What keeps me going is the appreciation of customers, some of whom have been purchasing from my store for 13-14 years.

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Zaara region temple

Where can people follow you to learn more about your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.

Flickr
Facebook
Instagram
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Zaara on Marketplace

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Zaara’s talent and flair for virtual fusion fashion. 

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Saffia Widdershins, a powerhouse woman that has years of promotional work under her belt, including an incredible job of hosting many award shows, pageants, talk shows, and more!

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

I first heard about Second Life in early 2007, when my team in the Medical Sciences Division of the University of Oxford asked me to go into Second Life and see if it might be useful to us. I went in and did a little exploration... and was fascinated by the whole environment and decided I wanted to explore more thoroughly. I created a second avatar to do this - so Saffia is actually an alt!

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Prim Perfect Magazine - Covers of the first (2007) and last issue (2015)

In addition to being renowned in Second Life for hosting a variety of events, you are known especially for your in-depth interviews. When and how did you get into broadcasting in Second Life? 

My first venture into media in Second Life was with Prim Perfect, Second Life's first home and garden magazine. As my (real life) husband said... "You're planning on a virtual magazine in a virtual world, telling virtual people what virtual furniture to put in their virtual homes … and you're planning to make real money doing this?" After we'd been up and running with the magazine for six months, I thought we could also have a presence on Second Life TV, so I contacted the popular network SLCN (later Treet TV) and asked if they'd like a home and garden show. That was the start of MetaMakeover, which was planned to be a home makeover show, but it very rapidly expanded far more into looking at places and events, and so it soon became Designing Worlds. And so it is to this day! There's a longstanding team behind it - in addition to myself there's Elrik Merlin, Aisling Sinclair, Wildstar Beaumont and - recently, Bain Finch who is a second videographer.

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A double page spread from The Primgraph by Terry Lightfoot

Designing Worlds is such an amazing resource for creators. What are some of the other shows and events, past and current, that you have produced? 

I've also been involved with Happy Hunting, which was produced for a number of years by Cinders Vale and Petlove Petshop. And, of course, there was the thriller/fantasy story of The Blackened Mirror, which was a group production by a very talented team which included Zander Greene, Da5id Abbott, Aisling Sinclair, Petlove Petshop, Lorin Tone, Terra Volitant, Mavromichali Szondi, Angie Mornington, AvaJean Westland, and others. And then there was The Primgraph, a magazine for the Steamlands, which ran for several years.

One event that is so close to my heart is One Billion Rising. We recently held the 10th annual event, as it's been running since 2013. That's a long time in Second Life! It's part of international events held around the world on February 14th,  drawing attention to the statistic that one in three women worldwide will be beaten or raped during her lifetime - which adds up to more then one billion women and girls. It's an event with music, dance, art, and poetry. For many people, men and women, it's very powerful - it certainly is for me. I've been involved with the team leading it throughout - it actually started by the editorial team of Prim Perfect; when we read about the event, we wanted to be part of it! Over the years, many people have been involved - the team this year included Dawny Daviau, Briony Writer, Adele Ward, Cherryblonde Scribe, Meegan Danitz, AvaJean Westland, Jenny Anatine and some amazing volunteers who came in all shapes and forms! 


Designing Worlds visits One Billion Rising in Second Life 2022 

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.

Well, quite a lot of them are people I'm lucky enough to work with - or have had the opportunity to work with in the past!

Deep breath...

I would have to look at people who have created some amazing events, such as the teams behind events such as Fantasy Faire. The organisational skills there (led by Elizabeth Tinsley and Zander Greene) are amazing - and every year the creations of the designers just blow me away. One of my favourite things that I do each year is to lead the Company of Faire Folk on the tours we have each year, where a group of us go and explore each region of the Faire in turn, so we get to admire the work of creators like Alia Baroque, Saiyge Lotus, Sharni Azalee, Kayle Matzerath, Kilik Lekvoda, Walton Wainwright and Loki Eliot. The Tours run very smoothly, thanks to Aoife Lorefield and the rest of the LitFest team - the Literary Festival and now the Film Festival, led by Chantel Harvey, are components of Fantasy Faire.

And then there's the Home and Garden Expo, led by Kaerri Rae, which is the most wonderful way of seeing the best of home and garden design in Second Life. As well as the lovely furniture design, I always look out for Cassie Eldamar's doll houses - really beautiful, intricate models of Victorian houses - and a library, a pub, a lighthouse - all tiny with amazingly low land impact.

So many people contribute to Second Life in so many ways ... Marianne McCann, OldeSoul Eldemar, Desmond Shang, Mosseveno Tenk, Maxwell Graf, Froukje Hoorenbeek, Tymus Tenk and Truck Meredith, Kaya Angel and the wonderful team behind Grendel's - Flea Bussy and Toady Nakamura. Toady also runs wonderful classes teaching people to build in Second Life every week.


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Are you currently working on anything new?

Actually, yes. I'm working with Zander Greene (and many others) on a new series set in the same universe as The Blackened Mirror series. It's called "Harland Quinn and the Omega Hex", and I can say this about it ... When a lethal, magical anomaly out of the pages of legend begins wreaking havoc all across the Fairelands, it falls to a mismatched band of heroes to stop it before it’s too late. A Dark-Elven femme fatale, an erudite librarian, a rough-and-tumble sanitation worker, and a hard-boiled Private Detective will have to overcome their differences if they’re going to solve the enigma of the Omega-Hex and a mysterious scientist who may not be what she seems. We're planning to release the first three episodes at Fantasy Faire this year, and the next three next year. There's a very large team behind this - as you can imagine!


The first episode of The Blackened Mirror - 2012

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

Prim Perfect Website  
Prim Perfect Facebook  
Designing Worlds Website
Saffia on Flickr  
Saffia on Twitter  
Saffia on Facebook  
Saffia on YouTube  
Saffia on Vimeo  
You can watch many of Saffia’s interviews with the Lindens & Moles on YouTube


A Media Project from 2014 by Saffia Widdershins

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Saffia’s successful years in Second Life! Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are shining a spotlight on a successful woman entrepreneur. Jasmine Kiyori is a prolific virtual builder whose work aims to authentically honor various cultures and locations from around the world.

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Jasmine’s work includes Little Santorini, Cheri Noel, and Kiyori City. (Note: Kiyori has two components, Kiyori City, rated Moderate, and Kiyori, rated Adult. If you do not wish to visit Adult regions, make sure to adjust the settings in your viewer preferences, as this will determine what types of regions you are allowed to enter.)

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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 now! I’ve always been interested in virtual world platforms and games; I’m 90% sure I found Second Life through one of those ads on the side of Adobe Flash Player games back in the day. I made an account but didn’t really get into Second Life until an old friend brought me back in a few months later and I’ve been here ever since.

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Do you have a background in design or architecture? How did you get into 3D building?

Actually, I don’t have a background in either! I’ve been building since I joined Second Life and that started as a hobby: before I had land I would go to public sandboxes and build there. Once I started purchasing land, I would make themed skyboxes for my friends and myself to enjoy,  but I wasn’t very confident with the work and would do it on the side of other interests in Second Life.

Although many know me for builds now, I have pursued different paths in Second Life such as meshing, photography, managing and hosting at clubs, buying, selling, and developing land, and helping others create their own unique look.

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Your work in Second Life has a very international feel, with themes encompassing various cultures. How did you learn so much about all these different places?

In RL I love to travel! I've learned through my experiences during travels, people that I've met, and plenty of time dedicated to research. I've always been interested in other cultures besides my own and am very eager to learn about other countries' customs and way of life. When I design new spots or rentals, I always do a lot of research and make sure what I'm introducing is true to the design of the place I'm referencing. This comes down to architecture design, landscape, and knowledge of customs and culture. I'm very careful to not include something that doesn't make sense, wouldn't be there, is mocking, or generalizes and blends it into a similar culture. I think that bringing these cultures into Second Life is a beautiful thing and a great way to learn and understand them for those who aren't familiar but are curious. I have found that with places I've designed it not only attracts people who are interested in learning and experiencing these places, it also appeals to people from those cultures as well. I plan on designing something for every continent, and aim to represent various countries and their beauty whether on a smaller scale such as a single mainland rental home, a hangout spot, or on a greater scale full region.

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How did you discover virtual rentals, and when did you get started?

With my builds, I started to develop a small but dedicated community in Kiyori back in 2018-2019. The regulars were really impressed with my work, and would ask if they could live in Kiyori. I set up a few apartments in the city, and quickly they were all rented out! This interest from my community urged me to expand Kiyori to two full regions. I shifted the focus of Kiyori more into a community rental place along with the city being a public place for all to enjoy.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, I began to participate in land auctions, where I would find mainland plots with cultural region names and design a home based on that culture which tends to be for rent or permanent sale. I love this because, whatever becomes available on a land auction is totally random, and so when I find one that does have a cultural region name, it's usually something I haven't done and challenges me with a new style. I have plenty of themed homes on the mainland in styles such as {those found in} Mexico, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Korea, Russia, Italy, and more to come! My first mainland plot, Hygge Retreat, is a Scandinavian cabin that is still available for rent or permanent purchase today!

Another outcome of the pandemic was Little Santorini! It is a full region vacation island based on the physical world location of Santorini, Greece. This was my first full region and at the time of launch was, and still mildly is, controversial due to it being a vacation island with day rates. Nowadays, many Second Life Residents are familiar with vacations within Second Life, and plenty of information can be found by reading blog posts written by Dirk Vanlager, who has been highly supportive of my works.

There is also Kiyori City (moderate region), the expansion region of Kiyori. This is the clean, luxurious side of the city featuring places such as The Takai Hotel, Cat Cafe Kariko, Seiryu Blues Lounge & Bar, and much more! Kiyori (adult region) is a full region based off of various Asian cultures, and this is the seedier side of the city.

Finally, I also run an annual winter vacation destination, Chéri Noël, which is based off of Strasbourg, France. I love this place because it combines French and German aesthetics. It runs yearly from December 1st-January 1st, where we go out in style and hold our annual star-studded New Year's Eve Formal!

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Are you working on any new projects, or just maintaining your current regions? Tell us about what it takes to maintain a vacation region year round.

We just launched the Kiyori website where you will be able to find information on all my projects, rentals, and so on.

I design mesh as well and run Kiyori Shop! You will be able to find all my latest items here! (There is also a new clothing store coming out soon, so stay tuned!)

I am always thinking of new micro-areas for the Kiyori & Kiyori City regions, this makes the city more realistic and keeps things fresh.

I am also planning on reworking Little Santorini, I have new ideas for it but there’s no set date for this.

While there is no set date or specific details set in stone, Vrutega and I plan on collaborating for video content for Kiyori & Kiyori City.

As far as new destinations, mainland homes pop up when I find a region with a good name to work with! I have also teased a new type of experience I'd like to offer on social media, it's kind of a cross between Santorini and the mainland rental homes. Most vacation destinations operate on closed access, meaning you have to book first to access the place. With my new experience, I will be designing smaller scale, private region destinations that are cultural, authentic, and immersive. These new destinations will be self check-in, there is no booking required meaning it will be easily accessible to all timezones and will be first come first serve.

It's important for me to note that Kiyori as well as Chéri Noël would not have been possible without Megan Prumier. Megan has dedicated so much time and effort to the development of these places and I don't want that to go unnoticed. Megan understands my vision very well and we work extremely well together. When I don't know what to do, Megan knows! I haven't found anyone that matches her creative ability and we have future plans to work on new places together. I can't thank Megan enough for everything she's done, and Megan also has her own venues as well, please do check out her works on her Flickr.

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

Kiyori Website
Flickr
Facebook
Kiyori Facebook Page
Instagram
Kiyori Instagram
Marketplace
YouTube

Watch this video: Aquatic Adventures in Little Santorini

 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Jasmine’s work and inspirations, as well as the thriving vacation rental industry of the metaverse. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on the virtual wellness and lifestyle publication Sage & Crystals Magazine, which was created to support and promote the rich ethnic and cultural diversity that exists in Second Life. Learn more about it from the Executive Editor/Co-Editor in Chief, ZoeyNova Oatsmill.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I first learned about Second Life from my real life mother. She heard someone refer to it on a television show, which sparked her curiosity. As soon as she signed up, I remember her telling me, “You have to join this! It’s a virtual world of some sort.” Since then, we have both been Second Life Residents for 13+ years.

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The issues of Sage and Crystals cover a comprehensive range of topics and feature stunning photography. Do you do everything yourself? If you have help, please tell us about your team and what they do.
The magazine was born out of my desire to represent the diversity of Residents on the grid. I got together with a group of wonderful, like-minded ladies and Sage and Crystals Magazine was created. Although I do a lot of the photography, Sage Absinthe and I share the task so we are responsible for the imagery represented and we contribute some of the editorials. For some of the features, like Spotlight, we use the pictures of the Residents we are showcasing.

Our staff consists of:
ZoeyNova Oatsmill - Executive Editor/Co-Editor in Chief
Sage Absinthe - Co-Editor in Chief
Pilar Mimulus - Editor-at-Large/Editorial Coordinator and Project Manager
Harper Nova - Relationship Manager/ Editor-at-Large
Ari Lexington - In-House Interior Stylist/Set Designer

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A huge step forward in representation involves normalizing the idea that people of all backgrounds exist outside of stereotypes and are capable of a variety of interests and skills. You do such an amazing job of that with your magazine. How would you describe your approach to this?
The mission statement of our magazine states, “Sage and Crystals SL is a magazine created by a Second Life collective to present a virtual wellness and lifestyle magazine that supports and promotes the rich ethnic and cultural diversity that exists within SL.” The magazine is meant to be representative of the world at large as it exists on the grid without a bow to prejudice and stereotypes. I feel that the Second Life platform takes away some of the barriers that prevent us from interacting with different groups of people in {the physical world}. On the grid, you can be who you are or who you feel you are. My goal is to make an effort to show that at the core we are all human. We are all just people having experiences that could be teachable moments; moments that could expand you, or stunt/limit you. The opportunity to bridge some gaps and explore differences as a form of education exists in Second Life. The learned opportunity is transferable and  applicable to real life, too.

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What are some things you hope people get out of reading your magazine?
By reading the magazine I hope people will suspend judgment to acknowledge and embrace the diversity that exists in Second Life. Our community is not linear and should reflect and relate to those in it. This social platform can allow us to build bridges and connect with different people and cultures on our own accord, as well as vigorously challenge the conditioned narratives and assumptions that have been echoed in real life.

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Also, I hope that people can see that virtual wellness is essential. There are so many places on the grid to practice self-reflection, meditation, and other wellness activities to be a better version of ourselves, which can be so beneficial.

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Are you accepting submissions from other Residents at this time? If so, where and how?
No, we aren’t accepting submissions at this time, However, we review suggestions and comments that come in from notecards, IMs, or via our social media platforms.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Second Life Residents can check out our work on Issuu, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Instagram.

Thank you for this opportunity!

Watch this fantastic video from the Sage and Crystals team:

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sage & Crystals Magazine, and start living your best virtual life!

Each weekly post will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on the one-of-a-kind Pour Up Winery & Vineyard, an estate that hosts a variety of events for the Second Life Community. Learn more about it from the owner, Mᴀᴄʜ ᴋ. Dɪsɪᴄᴋ (BhampagnePapi).

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I’ve been on Second Life for about five years. I discovered SL by just playing many other virtual games growing up. At first I was on and off because I found it quite difficult to use it, it was very confusing to me. I came over from imvu, everything was so easy over there compared to Second Life, but I loved how realistic things were and that you can actually do and experience things differently here. Therefore I tried again and finally got the hang of things.

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There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in SL. What made you decide to go with a winery?
I chose to go with a winery because I haven’t really seen one here. I wanted to bring something different to the grid. I explore quite often; the places and things I enjoy in my real life I try to enjoy in my second life. I am also a big wine guy and I knew most people would love to roleplay visiting and enjoying themselves at a winery/vineyard. When I mentioned the idea of a winery to my close friends/family they loved it and immediately supported it which really influenced me to actually make it happen.

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What types of events does Pour Up host?
Pour Up Winery & Vineyard hosts several events. We have live singers, comedy shows, movie nights, parties, and date nights. We plan on extending the list throughout the year. Some events and themes change along with the seasons. The winery has been good with showcasing the talents of others on the grid.

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What kind of experience do you hope visitors take away from Pour Up?
Simply have fun, enjoy, and pour up. That’s all Second Life is about: having a good time online. The destination is free to visit and available to the public with many enjoyable activities from painting, horse riding, and more. There are also items you can keep as a souvenir!

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
People can see some of Pour Up Winery’s work on Facebook , Flickr, and Instagram. We take pictures of the region every time it is updated and we share all of our guest pictures.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pour-Up-Winery-108813901449359 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pourupwinery 
Flickr: https://flic.kr/ps/3hR748 
Destination: https://secondlife.com/destination/pour-up-winery-vineyard 

Watch this fun video about Pour Up Winery on YouTube:

We hope you enjoyed learning more about this unique virtual winery. 

Each weekly post will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Sydd Sinister, an award-winning blogger who has curated an inclusive vision of beauty for over a decade.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
In 2006, an online friend (My dear Sheda) introduced me to Second Life as a way for us to hang out online. Unfortunately at the time my PC was in no shape to run SL (lol), so for about a year I did not play. Then, I got a brand new PC and thought, "Hey, I wonder if I can play that Second Life now?" Sure enough it worked, and I have been logging in ever since!

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Tell us about your avatar’s style and how it has evolved over the years.
When I started playing Second Life, in SL & RL I was very much into punk style: piercings, tattoos, all of it, and I thought it was so cool to be able to have that reflected in my avatar. I still very much love that style but through Second Life I've been able to experiment with a ton of different styles, as pretty much any style you can think of can be found in Second Life. So as I've grown, it's been less about a specific ‘style’ and more “things I love, I wear."

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We’re so grateful for the Second Life creators of products that add small authentic details for avatars of color. What are some body parts (hair, skin, freckles, etc.) that really blew you away in terms of offering diverse choices, and what would you like to see more of?
Recently, especially as far as mesh bodies in Second Life, I've been extremely impressed with eBody Reborn and Kalhene Erika, as I love all the curves you can create on these bodies. Of course as a blogger and continual shopper in SL there are so many hair and skin brands that I absolutely love. The diversity in SL has come a long way. A few skin brands who continually impress me and will always be favorites of mine are Modish, Public Figure, Leronso (seriously amazing), Revoul, Amara Beauty, Lueur Beauty, Glam Affair, Koonz, Boataom, Birth, ItGirls, Nonative, The Skinnery, Tres Beau, Purple Beauty, Nuve, Pumec. Moccino Beaute, Dernier, Velour, Ives Beauty… I could keep going forever. Skins are one of my favorite parts of SL! There are some things where I have no trouble picking favorites though. For eyes, Avi-Glam are my absolute favorite, and for eyebrows, the-Haus by Princess Usbourne and Marsh are two definite must haves for me. Hoodlem, Garden of Ku, Carol G and Mister Razzor are my go-to tattoo spots, and TOP1SALON has come out with some of the best makeup for all skin tones, from light to dark they are flawless.

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Tell us about how you got started with your award-winning blog and what topics/styles you get excited about.
When I got back into Second Life in 2007, the most fun I had was dressing up my avatar and shopping. I started taking pics of my avi, just wanting to share with anyone. Through that I found the world of SL Blogging. Back then it was a much smaller community but it really helped me to find stores and places in SL I loved. The only thing lacking for me was diversity, and then I found Khitten Kurka's blog! She was the first Black American plus-size blogger I saw in Second Life, I related to her so much and it was because of her blog that I decided to try and start blogging myself. Not only did I want to share whatever I thought was "cool," I wanted to share as many skins with different tone ranges as possible. Back then it was a lot harder to find diverse skins and I felt like if I could show all the great skins I came across, maybe it could help someone like me who was new to SL and didn't know where to find themselves, y’know. Skin Fair is always my favorite time of year to blog, not only because it falls in my birthday month, but because I love seeing what everyone comes up with and what new brands I might find. The talent in SL always amazes me.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Blog: http://sydd0sinister.wordpress.com 
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sydd_sinister 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sydd.sinister 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/syddsinister.sl 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sydd and her many years of contribution to the Second Life fashion blogging community. 

Each weekly post will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Kurimu Kuma (MiruBani), a fashion and lifestyle blogger whose carefree style is often influenced by her deep interest in fantasy and cosplay.

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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 over eight years. The first time I heard about Second Life was through an invite by a friend. She invited me to come and see her store inworld, and I remember trying to wrap my brain around the concept of having a real store in a virtual world. I wasn't sure what it was going to be like but I was very intrigued. In the end, the store was but one of the many wonders {to be discovered}. I clearly remember being excited about the novelty of being able to run and fly in such an unconstrained fashion. I was used to a completely different 3D environment in which such free movement wasn't really a thing. I couldn't find the end of this room, it just went on and on. {There} was a learning curve, definitely, but one I enjoyed getting around.

I still really love flying, it's not going to get old. I do it less now because I've learnt “some” etiquette along the way. However, if it wasn't quite so rude to, I would fly through and over everything I possibly could. Walking is so terribly pedestrian now. If only I could really fly like my avatar.

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There is an element of fantasy and cosplay in your avatar’s style. Where did that come from?
It's definitely seeping in from my real life; fantasy and cosplay do feature quite heavily. {They are} but a few of my favorite subjects. I absolutely adore cosplay and it's something I like to indulge in my everyday life. I've just never outgrown playing dress up. I really enjoy the whole process of trying to put together an outfit and if I can sew it myself, even better still. In Second Life I get to do that on an almost regular basis every time I log in, but with so many more things available to me. My first thoughts once I've pressed the button to log in are usually along the lines of “What shall I dress my avatar up in today?” And, even better, I'm less likely to go broke from it.

Fantasy has always been something I've loved from my first interactions with it in books, and I have an overactive imagination to boot. Writing and creating characters, outfits, and worlds for them to live in has been something I've done since I was little. The idea of escaping into a fantastical world even for a moment is something oh-so-magically exciting. Most of my hobbies are creative in some way, shape, or form; my imagination is always being fed in different ways. My avatar herself is just a fantastical creature I made a story about.

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Your in-world photography is amazing. Can you tell us about your setup process for taking a great shot?
I am very much my own worst critic so I'm not always satisfied with my images when they come out. I'm always thinking of things I could have done better. However, there are a few things that I do every time I take an image in Second Life.

I always like to tell a story, even if I am the only one aware of it. It's how I get my ideas for what I want the picture to be. I think a lot about what the focus items are and build the story around that. I decide what the mood will be, and I find that lighting really helps with that, but ultimately the items that go into setting up the scene will reflect that also. I rely a lot on windlights and inworld lighting to help me. I love playing with shadows too, I find it always makes a scene look so different when added. Working with larger scenes can be a bit daunting for me because I worry how I'm going to fill it, but I've found that focusing on a small area first and working outwards helps keep me focused instead of getting overwhelmed.

Now I also have a bad habit of being very nitpicky with setting up, and I've slowly just come to accept the fact that I like to take my time about everything that's going to be in the shot… Turning it here and there numerous times only to later decide I don't want it in at all. Funnily enough I do this with the camera angles from which I take the shot. I do try out a few angles and then pick the one I like the most before going in to take the final shot. The aim is always to get as much from Second Life as I can so I don't have to change too much in editing. If I don't accomplish what I want completely? Well, there's always next time. I try not to let it get to me too much and instead take away from it the things I would and wouldn't do next time.

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Tell us about your blog and what kinds of topics you like to write about.
When I set up my blog it was made to be like a picture diary of my avatar's Second Life adventures. The pictures I take and its subjects revolve around decorating, food, fashion and friends. It tends to be done in the style of me writing about my avatar as a person in her own right, though we are both in firm agreement on many things. In most cases it merges a lot with my real life and I end up hijacking her story for a while, but we eventually get on track and find a balance between ourselves.

There is something about decorating that is even more satisfying than putting together outfits and taking pictures of them. It's the feeling of accomplishment that comes with turning an empty space into something decorated, then sitting in it and existing uninterrupted for a while. I adore decorating so I always cover decor shots. Food tends to fall into this area too but sometimes I just like to focus on the food itself. The more edible it looks the happier I become. It's like indulging sans the calories. I'm one of those people that loves to take pictures of her meals before eating, and I love cooking so much. It is strange because at one point I hated cooking. Now I love it and the level of excitement that occurs when I find beautiful virtual foods is unreal. I have a bad habit of putting it in almost anything I can.

Fashion is another topic you'll find on my blog. My own fashion tastes have been projected onto my avatar, for good or bad, and I tend to lean towards girly fashion with a lot of light colours. Florals, frills, ribbons, and cute adorable companions. However, there are times when I go outside of my norm, because where's the fun if you don't? At the end of the day if I try on an outfit and I'm feeling very happy with it, chances are I'm taking a picture of it and it most definitely includes magical girls and costumes.

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Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
My blog and Flickr are the two places that I use the most. 
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/people/137212676@N02 
Blog: https://kurimu-kuma.com 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kurimu_kuma 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Kurimu. Each weekly post will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Colpo Wexler, an Italian Resident who is an architectural and design maven in both the physical and virtual worlds. Having been in SL since close to the beginning, his style and ability to navigate change have adapted with finesse.

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Custom build for PARÉ Mega Store

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I {have been} in SL since December 2006. I heard about it through a friend with whom I then founded one of the first Italian {regions} in SL: "ITLAND," which later also became Orientation Island as part of the Community Gateway of SL.

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Custom build for Palette Mega Store

What first inspired your love of architecture?
I studied scenography at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, and previously at the Art School with a specialization in architecture. From that time I imagined that my scenography in the future would be dedicated to virtual reality and that's what I did. Creating architectural set designs for metaverse.

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Custom build for UBER Event

Had you done 3D modeling before you started building in SL, and what 3D modeling software do you use?
Yes, I used to model both architectures and objects but obviously I applied meshes only when they were introduced in SL. Previously for years I specialized in the realization of buildings in prims. The software I use is Blender.

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Custom build for T O X I I N Store

How would you describe your virtual architectural style?
My style is generally minimal/modern but I often like to range and contaminate styles. Clearly I also love cyberpunk, new retrowave, and urban style. This taste for the contamination of styles comes from the requests of my clients, who often propose interesting ideas that stimulate creativity. As you can see on my portfolio on Flickr, many of my buildings are the result of the fusion of the styles I mentioned before, and sometimes also of oriental or classical motifs.

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Custom build for Elle et Lui store

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
As you can see I've been in SL for a long time, and I was inspired by other architects or designers I had seen in the early periods. One of them is definitely Botha, who made houses. Then there was a beautiful furniture store (with a lot of prims also) called CULT. Obviously there are, and have been, a lot of really good creatives in Second Life throughout its history.

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Custom build for H A P P Y Event

Where can people follow you to learn more about your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
My Bio: http://www.colpowexler.com
Portfolio: https://www.flickr.com/photos/colpowexler
Website: http://www.mydigitalcult.com
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/colpowexlervr

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Custom build for UBER 2021

Colpo has been creating custom builds for content creators and events in Second Life for many years. Check his Flickr for his full portfolio.

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Custom build for ASCEND Mega Store

We hope you enjoyed learning about how Colpo was drawn to building and designing in Second Life.

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Each weekly post will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Sassy Nitely, a busy mom and lifelong musician who rediscovered her passion for performing through the live music scene in Second Life.

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Sassy about to start a show in 2021 – Photo by Kaitlyn Pruitt

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

I have been in Second Life since October 2007. I first heard of Second Life through a coworker; she explained the platform to me. However, like many new Residents of Second Life, I had no idea what I was doing or what would come out of that decision. {Joining} Second Life was one of my best decisions and has impacted my life tremendously. I owe a lot of gratitude to Second Life. I was 30 years old when I signed up and nearly 15 years later, I can say without a shadow of a doubt: Second Life has taught me a lot about myself, shaped real life relationships, and brought me back to my musical roots.

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Sassy (top center) in Madrigals (1995), Antioch High School, Antioch, TN

How did music become such an important part of your life?

For musicians, music is our lifeline, much like the air we breathe. I grew up in the music industry here in Nashville, so this life of being a musician and being the daughter of a musician is all I have ever really known. My dad began his music career playing drums at the age of 15, and by the time he was in his late 20s, he was playing at the Grand Ole Opry behind many country music icons.

When I was 11, I loved to sing. I was obsessed with lyrics and started to write my own songs with catchy hooks and melodies. At the age of 12, I decided I wanted to be a drummer like my dad. I loved to sing, but growing up around a professional drummer I naturally wanted to follow that path. I put the notepad of lyrics down and switched it out with staff paper. He taught me how to read and write rhythm patterns and I learned the bible of all drummers: drum rudiments. In sixth grade, I joined the middle school band’s percussion section. I excelled in music, but found I gravitated more toward the melodic percussion instruments like the bells, xylophone, and marimba. Playing those instruments, I had to learn how to read sheet music and become more involved with music theory. Missing the singing aspect, I signed up for choir and finished out my sixth grade year in band and show choir. In high school I continued in concert band, choir and “Madrigals,” which is a select choir of 16-18 vocalists.

Those are my roots, and although so many amazing things happened musically in my youth through honor band and choir, I moved on to my college years and majored in Vocal Music Education. This era in my life taught me more about music composition, theory, and I also became a decent pianist and a classically trained vocalist.

In 1999, my husband {at the time} and I started a family. The music was put on hold for a while. Then, in January 2008, due to Second Life, music came rushing back into my life and I picked up the guitar that had been sitting in my closet for years.

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Sassy (bottom, third from right) at a Madrigals showcase rehearsal in 1995, Antioch High School, Antioch, TN

When did you start performing live in Second Life, and what venues can people visit to hear you play?

In January 2008, I found music on Second Life. A new friend sent a message asking if I’d like to join him at a music concert with some friends. I was excited and intrigued because I had no idea live music was even a part of Second Life. I gladly accepted the invitation. I landed at The Freudian Slip and my Second Life was forever changed with the sound of one voice and one guitar.  

Lyndon Heart was singing his heart out and strumming his guitar that day at The Freudian Slip. I knew instantly that this was exactly what I needed to do. Second Life was a way that I could be at home in the evenings with my son and bring me back into performing. That concert gave me an epiphany that saved me in many ways. I found my way back to music and have been performing in Second Life since February of 2008, and in real life since 2011.  

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Sassy performing in April 2008, photo by Sassy

In my years of performing in Second Life, I have had so many incredible opportunities to help raise money for charity through music. I’ve played concerts for Homes for our Troops, American Cancer Society, Feed a Smile, Power Up for Charge, Team Diabetes and others. This gives me a great sense of purpose and the charities listed mean a great deal to me. I have also performed for the Bloggies and most recently a halftime performer at the NFL Alumni Association's ESTV event.

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Sassy at the ESTV Halftime Show, photo by Linden Lab

I am grateful and beyond blessed to play many of Second Life’s premier live music venues. I play every other week or once a month at After Dark, The Blue Cornflower Lounge, The Black Diamond, Free Spirit Farms and Swamp Water Bluz. This family of venues has been around a while; they are a staple of live music in Second Life. If you want to hear the best talent Second Life has to offer, go to one of these venues. Those who own/manage these venues and their crew are very selective about the performers they pick.

How would you describe your music? Who are some of the musicians who have influenced your style?

My roots started in country, rock, and eventually pop, but I was introduced to many genres growing up. My music is soulfully strong with a bit of sweetness and sass (hence the name). I grew up listening to Bob Seger, Aretha Franklin, Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, The Judds, CCR, and many others. A great singing voice is an amazing instrument and I grew great admiration for those artists who could also accompany themselves with an instrument. In my teen years I listened to Shania Twain, Jewel, Martina McBride, Whitney Houston, Taylor Dayne, Melissa Etheridge, Reba McEntire and Sarah McLachlan. These ladies are all incredible artists with strong, soulful, and sweet voices. They sing with raw emotion and conviction. If the performer feels the music and lyrics, it will radiate to their audience. Just like the artists mentioned above, I leave a piece of me on every stage and if I touched at least one person through a song, I did my job right.

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Sassy performing in her band “My July”

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Sassy with her newest music project “New Binge

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.

I cannot miss the opportunity to point out Lyndon Heart again. I had the extraordinary honor of meeting and playing music with Lyndon at the Nashville Music City Jam in 2012. He is quite a songwriter and I encourage everyone to look him up. Other incredible songwriters I admire and consider professional in their art are Zak Claxton and Phemie Alcott. These artists not only enjoy writing, but they also accompany themselves well on their instruments and tell their stories with conviction. There is a mixed bag of incredible artists on Second Life. There are vocalists who sing to high quality tracks, instrumentalists, musicians who sing and play multiple instruments or electroacoustic artists who compose electronic music on the spot. You just have to go concert-hopping to find who fits your niche and follow them. The talent in Second Life is endless and there is something for everyone. Do a quick search of live music events in Second Life. Drop into any show and you will find greatness.

The live music community in Second Life is a tight knit family and every year there are several chances for us to get together in real life to make music. My SL and RL best friend Anastasia Yanwu and I organized the 2012 and 2014 Nashville Music City Jam. This year, Yvie Caproni and Marina Sharpshire are bringing the jam back to Nashville to continue the tradition! I cannot wait to meet up with our community and make new memories filled with fun, laughter and of course, MUSIC! From Nashville to Baltimore, Dallas, Minneapolis, London, and others there are many destinations to attend a jam. Be sure to check out the SL Live Music Jams Facebook page to keep up to date on where the next live jam will be.

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All attendees signed this board at the first “Nashville Music City Jam” in 2012

Where can people follow you to know more about your next shows? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.

You can find me listed in live music events inworld or at any of the links below. I included my RL band information as well for our Nashville-based SL Residents.

Sassy on the Web: www.newbingemusic.com/sassy 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sassynitelymusic 
Calendar: https://calendar.google.com/calendar/embed?src=sassy.nitely%40gmail.com&ctz=America/Los_Angeles 
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2PTVKG-njH-ekhkIwsiHtg 
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/barbie-horsley 
SL Life Music Jams: https://www.facebook.com/groups/186627631374381 
RL Band: www.newbingemusic.com 

Thank you for this opportunity to share my story with you all. Second Life is full of surprises, and you never know what doors can open for you as a result. Thank you, Second Life – for everything. ♥

Thank you Sassy for bringing your melodious music to the live music scene in Second Life!

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sassy today and get a chance to enjoy some of her virtual concerts in the near future.

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on The Wastelands, a post-apocalyptic community celebrating 15 years in Second Life this weekend. Learn more from the founder and curator, NeoBokrug Elytis.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
A little over 16 years ago I saw an article about Second Life on the Make Magazine blog. And then a few more articles about Second Life later... I decided to sign up on Halloween of 2005. I was instantly hooked on building with prims and visiting the virtual spaces all over SL.

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How long did it take to build The Wastelands, and what goes into maintaining it?
The first region (The Wastelands) took a few months of planning, but only a couple of days to build its infrastructure. I distinctly remember working with my dev team and not sleeping until it was done. After that, the first Residents had their initial builds done within the month. All of this was before mesh or even sculpts existed, so when folks built things, you could see prims take form in real time -- and it was amazing!

Because we're a themed community, most of the land in The Wastelands is owned by its Residents, so all due credit for maintaining those spaces goes to the folks who live here! They are always building and changing their builds. There are some Residents who have had the same parcel of land since the day we opened, and there are others who move to a different chunk of land every month to build a brand new thing. Despite the ever-shifting sands of the estate, the general aesthetic always stays the same.

These days most of the maintenance comes in the form of greeting and helping new Residents, planning and hosting events, and working on the game we have here. The community of The Wastelands is always helpful to visitors and each other, so in its own way it's very self-maintaining.

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Part of the fun of exploring such a vast region is noticing the different design styles throughout, such as industrial, desert, and psychedelic. What are some things that inspired these stylistic choices?
The majority of The Wastelands is owned by its community members, and so much of the stylistic choices of what is built is left up to them. The whole estate has an overarching theme of post-apocalyptic ruins, which is inspired from all flavors of post-apocalyptic tropes. Certain regions also have sub-themes. For instance, The Junkyard region is more of an industrial ruin, while The Great Fissure {features} more tribalistic ruins made of recycled debris. New Residents tend to plant their roots in regions that are visually interesting to them, so regions tend to stay cohesive all on their own.

We also have a "Public Works" department, where Residents make thematic assets for the community. We've got a respectably big heap of free stuff now, and I think that helps glue the different aesthetic builds together.

As long as our estate management can see that you're making a good faith attempt at building within the theme, we're typically fine with what you make. If not, we'll make some suggestions and offer help; more commonly, your neighbors will likely offer to help you before we do. My account may be 16 years old, but I constantly remind myself that we were all new users at some point, and that we only get better at building as long as we have some place to practice those skills.

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How would you explain getting started in roleplaying to someone with little to no experience?
What a complex question to try to answer! I'll do my best to keep it simple and generalized.

Over the years I've found that roleplaying in Second Life is done in many styles and methods. It all really depends on what the destination offers, how the other characters interact with the setting and each other, and what you want to get out of it. I guess the most important thing to know is that everywhere does things differently. But I'll try to explain some common ground...

The first thing to do when you arrive at a destination is read up what they're offering when you land there. It's essential to remember that they've built their roleplay setting with certain ideas in mind, and you should think of their setting as a book of rules to follow. At the same time, don't try to shoehorn in your own ideas that don't really fit within the setting. If the destination you're visiting allows you to lurk as an out of character spectator to their roleplay, I would highly suggest starting off with that for a session or two.

One universal rule that most places adopt is designating how local chat should be interpreted. Most chat in a roleplay setting is by default considered to be ‘in character’ {so} a way that folks show that chat is out of character is by encapsulating the line in single or double parentheses, e.g. ((such as this)), or (like this). There's a shortcut in the Firestorm viewer: if you press ALT-ENTER when typing out a line, it'll automatically add double parentheses. This is useful to ask participants questions out of character, because if you're ever unsure about literally anything, it's ALWAYS best to ask questions.

Another universal thing is that there are generally two primary types of accepted styles of chat-based roleplay. One is Paragraph or Para-RP, and the other one could be described as script style roleplay. There have been huge debates about these two styles, so I am going to very broadly explain them. I am not going to cover if {the written text chat} is first, second, or third person perspective, because everybody does everything differently.

Paragraph roleplay is where the participants usually take turns in order by typing about a paragraph's worth of text for players to read and react to. Because players are taking turns writing a long paragraph, it may be quite some time before it's your turn to react and respond. It's typically best for smaller groups of roleplayers, as the wait time in larger groups can be rather long. But it gives the players time to think about what they'll say or do.

Script style roleplay is where a player writes just a sentence or two, and anyone at any time can react and respond. Because the flow of roleplay is faster, it takes more attention to react to what's happening at the moment. It's better suited for any size group of players, but could be a bit chaotic with lots of players. The primary downside is you might feel pressured to keep up with things, but I've seen it used at a slower pace just fine.

I think consent among roleplayers is critically important, because you can't have people join and say "Bang! You're dead. I win!" No one really enjoys players who command what happens to others unless the setting allows it. There are instances where players plan among each other before roleplaying what might happen between each other to push a story forward. But if you want to try to do something that may affect another character, you may want to {convey} that you're taking an action and let the other player choose how it plays out. Perhaps you're drawing a gun, and maybe they react by hiding behind a dumpster, and then you position yourself to corner them, but then maybe they try to disarm you, and you let them. That's how things should play out in my opinion, by giving folks opportunities. Perhaps even discuss what should happen ((out of character)).

I think the above info is good for a general understanding of how roleplay works in Second Life, but it is certainly not the be-all, end-all of what roleplay is and can be. At best, it's the tip of a very deep iceberg. I didn't cover a lot of things such as dice-based resolutions, or HUD-based combat, or anything like that. The beauty of Second Life is that we can build settings and tools to augment how roleplay can be enhanced inworld beyond just text.

Roleplay in The Wastelands isn't mandatory, it's opt-in and completely at your own pace. Feel free to visit and lurk because we honestly don't mind spectators.

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The Wastelands will be celebrating their 15th year in SL very soon, can you tell us about some of the events you have planned and how people can participate?
We've got three days of partying planned, starting on Friday, January 14th at 5pm SLT. We're going to have live music, DJ sets, combat & sports, roleplay sessions, giveaways, storytelling, and more! It's free to attend and open to the public, and there is no dress code other than wearing some dang pants, so feel free to stop by and enjoy!
On Friday and Saturday most of our events take place at our Arena stage: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Wastelands/38/146/75 
On Sunday the rest of our events take place at our Junkyard stage: https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Junkyard/122/162/72 
Our full schedule of events and locations is here: https://bit.ly/3JGH4RU 

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
Haha, that's such an unfair question! I've been on the grid too long, and I've seen too much to pick a handful out of literally hundreds of creators I admire. Besides, I could easily play favorites among longtime personal friends, Wastelanders, and folks I've worked with professionally. So instead -- and I hope that this is an acceptable answer -- I will list some qualities of various creators that I admire. Because it's very hard to not be inspired by content you see in Second Life.

First and foremost, anyone who makes ruined, broken, or wrecked content from scratch in Second Life is doing amazingly hard work. It's far easier to make something that looks fresh from the factory and has a new coat of paint; it is extremely difficult to make it look weathered, ruined, dented, or broken. Great post-apocalyptic content is few and far between on the marketplace and inworld events. So I do what I can to spread the word and buy it all up when I see it.

Anyone who creates mesh and does proper LODs (Level of Detail) earns the highest of marks in my book. I don't personally create mesh, but I am very technically knowledgeable about the whole process and the time involved in creating mesh LODs *properly* for Second Life. It's a lot of hard work, and it might cost more LI (land impact) for customers to rez -- but in the end mesh that looks great at any distance is something I can really appreciate.

Creators who make great use of textures and materials deserve far more praise than we give them. I specifically appreciate those who avoid using a lot of high resolution textures. They're making the viewer run better for everyone, and I think it's one of the least understood and most underappreciated skills among content creators.

I love all the 3D art installations in Second Life, too!

I could literally go on and on forever about how, what, and why certain Residents inspire me, but the truth is, anyone who creates in Second Life inspires me. I am always eager to see what people are making, or participate in what people are doing. From creators to performers, to bloggers, to communities, I think it's all super amazing because there's always something new to see.

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Where can people follow you to learn more about your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Our blog posts important updates around the community and unique roleplay articles: https://press.the-wastelands.org 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wastelands_inSL 
We post our weekly event schedule on Plurk: https://www.plurk.com/TheWastelands 
Are you visiting and taking pictures in The Wastelands? Please post them to our flickr group: https://www.flickr.com/groups/thewastelands/pool 
Finally, we have a pretty active Discord server where folks can stay connected and share pictures of cats, food, and post-apocalyptic memes when not in SL: https://discord.gg/cdkhzb4QCh 

Watch this fun video about The Wastelands:
Video Production by NeoBokrug Elytis
Music written and performed by Irk the Mutant (shannonwilsonbell)

We hope you enjoyed learning more about The Wastelands. See you at their 15th year celebrations this weekend! 

Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Bixyl Shuftan, who just celebrated 14 years of reporting the Second Life news!

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Artwork of Bixyl Shuftan’s Second Life avatar by artist Alleara Snoodle

How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

I first started hearing about Second Life in 2006 when one of my online friends told me about it. She got me interested, and when I got high-speed internet that year, I signed up for it. But it wasn't until {the next} summer that I began logging on regularly.

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When and how did you get started writing about the latest news in Second Life?

After I began coming here on a regular basis, I wanted to know more about the place. So I started reading blogs and newsletters about the virtual world. One was the Second Life Newspaper, owned by JamesT Juno and run by Dana Vanmoer. After I sent in some reader submissions in late October 2006, they asked me to meet up with them. After a short conversation, {they} hired me as one of their reporters. So I was officially in {around} early November 2006.

For two and a half years, I would send the Second Life Newspaper articles about various people, places, and events at least once a week, often more, as well as most of its cartoons. But real life would catch up to James and Dana, and in June 2010 they sadly closed the paper. But the staff had been told ahead of time, so three other Residents and I started a new publication: the Second Life Newser. By July, it was clear we were around to stay. And although there have been changes in the staff since then (Gemma Cleanslate has thankfully remained onboard), we've continued to report the news about the people, places, and events, publishing online on a daily basis.

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The Second Life Newser Office in Second Life

Do you have a submission process for Residents who want to have their event or location promoted on your news blog?

For the majority of places and events, such as stores and club anniversaries, we generally charge an advertorial fee. But {for} charity events or places that are clearly a benefit to all, such as a well done nature park, a museum, or a benefit to raise money for illness research, we'll do a small advertisement for free. If we're impressed and have enough time, we may do a larger article.

I should note that we're hiring. We've always been open to talent, and have had some great writers over the years. So if anyone reading this has a latent for writing and wants to tell the Residents about notable people, places, and events (large and small), please contact me at bixylshuftan@gmail.com. If you haven't got the time, but still want to tell others about a great place or person, we accept reader submissions.

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Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.

Oh, there have been many over the years. Dana Vanmoer was the person who showed me how to run a newsletter and a team. In the past, there was Paisley Beebe who did a live weekly talk show. Delinda Dyrssen had her "Live and Kickin" show to promote musicians. Pooky Amsterdam for her intellectual game show "The 1st Question" and videos, as well as machinima artist Chantal Harvey, among others. In more recent years with Second Life media, Draxtor Despres has made an impressive showing between his podcasts, videos, and book club.

A number of inspiring people have been in the Relay for Life. They've demonstrated a shining example of the good virtual worlds can do. There have also been some talented examples among my virtual neighbors, the Sunweavers, such as Shockwave Yareach and Cynthia Farshore, our top builders who have designed some award-winning structures. Nydia Tungsten and I have supported one another on the projects we've done, she's probably best known for her music videos, as well as being a published writer in real life.

I should also mention Alleara Snoodle, a brilliant and kind woman with physical disabilities who accomplished so much. Sadly, she passed away recently. 

Finally of course, there's Gemma Cleanslate, who's been with the team since the start. For over 11 years she's been contributing an article or two a week. I can't imagine the paper without her.

I could mention many others, but there just isn't the space.

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Are there any big news stories in early 2022, or projects you are working on that you’d like people to know about?

We'll be writing our Year in Review and for the past few years, we've also been doing a "Man of the Year" article about the person or persons who had the most impact on Second Life news. In February there will be the "Hug a Linden" event, and the start of the official Relay for Life fundraiser season.

I've also been writing a science fiction novel, "The Corsean Encounter," which is just about done, currently going through some editing. It should be published before too long.

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

The Newser’s official site: https://slnewser.blogspot.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slnewser 

Besides checking it for the daily news, you can read the archives for past events, as well as articles on some great people and places.

So stay informed about the news, in both real life and Second Life. And while we may be the best source, we're not the only one. By all means, check out other newsletters and blogs (and in real life check out multiple sources of news). But we're the newsletter that reports every day on the people, places, and events across the grid, large and small.

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We hope you enjoyed learning more about Bixyl. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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 - Dirk Vanlager


Spotlight

This week we are shining a spotlight on Dirk Vanlager, an extensive traveler of both the physical and virtual worlds. He's reviewed over 50 hotels in Second Life and is known as the SL Hotel Inspector!

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

I originally came to Second Life around 14 years ago for my RL job. At the time, I worked in an advertising agency, and we were handling an inworld project for a client. When my RL work in SL finished, I stayed. 

I heard about Second Life via the media.

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When and how did you get started writing about hotels and resorts in Second Life?

Travel has been a big part of my life. It's something I love doing personally, and over the past few years I’ve also worked in the travel industry.

The pandemic, of course, put a stop to that. 

Then, in September 2020, a friend took me to a Balinese themed resort (which has now closed) called Timor Isles. I was amazed to find out that there are vacation resorts and hotels in Second Life that mimic the RL experience. That’s what led me to create my website, which focused on visiting and reviewing as many Second Life hotels as I could. It began as a bit of personal pandemic therapy, but the reaction to it far exceeded my expectations so I carried on. Fifteen months later, and I’ve now stayed in over 50 SL hotels.

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Do you have a submission process for Residents who want to have their hotel or resort promoted on your blog?

I would love to hear from hotel or resort owners. The simplest way to reach me is just to send me a notecard inworld (IW name - Dirk Vanlager).

I do have some criteria, of course. It needs to be a hotel, motel, resort, campsite or bed and breakfast that roughly resembles an RL equivalent.

Ideally it should allow you to book rooms by the night. Occasionally I’ll consider places that have weekly rentals (as many resorts in RL do offer weekly packages). However, I generally don’t cover long term rental places.

Finally, I don’t accept free stays when I do a review. I insist on paying my way. That’s a policy I introduced all the way at the beginning and I have stuck to it. That way the reader knows that what I am saying is what I actually think.

 

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.

I’ve had the chance to meet and experience the work of some truly creative designers and {region} builders. Three, I think, deserve a special mention.

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Jasmine Kiyori is behind one of my favourite {regions}, Kiyori City, which is loosely based on Tokyo and Seoul. In addition to Kiyori City and the neighbouring Kiyroi {region}, Jasmine runs a Greek island vacation experience called ‘Little Santorini’ and the seasonal ‘Cheri Noel’ Christmas {region}. Jasmine is incredibly talented, and runs all of these destinations on her own - I truly don’t know how she does it.

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Victoire Goudenoff-Sire Clitton designed Le Chateau Motel and Resort, a French themed 1980s Motel which is a riot of colour and fun. Vic is like some non-stop fountain of creativity. Over the past few months, everything from a French Guianese village to a jungle airport has been added to Le Chateau. The other day she even sent me the first output of her newly created “Le Chateau Records.”

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AshaRhia is both a {region} designer who always seems to have projects on the go, as well as the owner of an SL travel agency. As part of her travel agency, Asha creates pop up destinations, which exist for several weeks before she tears them down and starts all over again. For example, in November she built a five {region} Africa experience covering Egypt, Angola, Congo and Kenya. And now in December she’s removed it and is opening ‘Finland,’ spanning four {regions}. What Asha is doing is pretty unique. She loves travel, and loves to show people a constantly rotating list of destinations recreated here in Second Life.

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

My website - https://virtualhotels.online 
Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/kirkusmaximus


We hope you enjoyed learning more about Dirk’s traveling adventures across the grid, as well as the virtual hotel industry of the metaverse. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Tzeitel Enchantment, the ambassador for "Power Up for Charge," the official fundraising arm of the Charge Syndrome Foundation in Second Life.

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How did you first hear about Second Life?

I have been a member of Second Life since March 2007. I first heard about it from a story in the news and just had to log in to see what it was all about. I’ve never looked back, it’s been an amazing ride.

What gave you the idea to start running fundraisers for Charge Syndrome in SL?

A friend of mine first suggested I have a fundraiser for Charge Syndrome in late 2019, because I’m so passionate about the work of the foundation and such a strong advocate for my child who lives with Charge Syndrome. I am quite open about my child with Charge Syndrome, and the challenges he (and we) have faced in Second Life. I feel it’s important the stories of those with disabilities are told. So it was also important to me to not just raise funds for The Charge Syndrome Foundation, but to also build awareness about this rare disease that is not only the most complex condition a child can be born with, but is also the leading cause of deaf-blindness among other things.

I let it percolate a bit, knowing that it would be a huge task, because when you do something in Second Life you gotta go big!  As the idea percolated, Love Kats offered up a space for me to host the event. I found 12 amazing musicians to perform live, some content creators donated  for draws and I had a small cohesive team of folks that helped me plan all the details and make it happen. So on February 29, 2020 I hosted the first annual “Power Up! For Charge” fundraising event to celebrate Rare Diseases Day. The day was a huge success.

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Tzeitel Enchantment getting her son ready for graduation

Do you build in SL, or collaborate with other Residents? Please describe your process for running these events and getting Residents engaged.

I am not a creator in Second Life, but since the inception of the Charge Syndrome Region, I’ve learned a lot about region design, terraforming etc. My creative head and principal designer is Suzen Juel (Juel Resistance) and she has taught me just about everything I know. While we have very different styles, we have a fun but messy process for creating the fun space we call Charge Syndrome, and it works really well for us. I am really open to collaboration, and allowing others to create fun spaces in the region. I think it is empowering for everyone involved and it helps to keep everything fresh. As we build, my charger inevitably interrupts and becomes part of the conversation. Almost everything we do is inspired by him and the joy and inspiration he creates by being simply the person that he is.  

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Suzen Juel and Tzeitel Enchantment

In addition to Suzen, my core inworld team includes Dusty Caldera and Sana Lisbeth (Dreamsdesire Starfall). Tintin (Aborignal) has joined the creative team this time around and is really excited about the ice cave “experience” he has created as well as some other wonderful spots. We have also welcomed Cranston Yordstom, the creator and builder of the Charge Syndrome Railway. Additionally, Ing (ingwaz.thor) has joined the fold who is designing a fun space for the Tinies and Dinkies of Second Life. 

We are a welcoming and diverse group of people, and if anyone wants to be part of the growing community, I am always looking for help. It’s not just the design of the region, but we also need folks to help plan and implement our events, outreach and whatever else we can think of. 

 I am very grateful for everyone who has donated their time and talents to Charge Syndrome. Together, I believe, we are building an amazing and supportive community.

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Power Up! For Charge Holiday Creators

Do you have any inworld events coming up?

I am hoping to have some holiday events this year. We currently have Nina Settner confirmed for December 4th. This will be a special event where she will be performing some more classical pieces. I am also in the planning stages for Sul’s big birthday bash in January. That’s my charger’s birthday, so we have to celebrate!  

Planning is also underway for the 3rd Annual “Power Up! For Charge” event for Rare Diseases Day. This has become a multi-day event during the last weekend in February, and is the cornerstone for all of our fundraising efforts for The Charge Syndrome Foundation. 

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Your region just underwent a transformation for the winter months. Could you tell us about that process and if there are any things in particular that inspired or influenced the design?

Charge Syndrome is transformed about four times a year. It’s a fun but messy process. That usually starts with emptying and flattening the region so it’s like a blank canvas.  The base textures have all been hand drawn and created by Suzen Juel and from there we build upward and create the shape for the space. Suzen is very specific about the whole visual component so before we begin to lay anything down together we will decide on the sky, environment, and mood. It can take a while to do this part, but it’s a lot of fun as we experiment with all the lights trying to set the right vibe and tone. 

The themes we choose for each build are typically inspired by my son, who lives with Charge Syndrome. They tend to be playful and quirky and focus on light and texture. My charger lives with low vision so definition and light play a big role. My creative director, Suzen, is an artist so the region is never going to have a realistic look to it. Our trees have hearts or curlicues, our grass glows, and there is always something unexpected around the corner. 

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I’m not sure where I got the idea for the railway for the winter theme this year, but it was embraced by the whole team. I’m so glad we went with it, and that I got the support of Cranston Yordstrom to design and build the whole system. I contacted him out of the blue and he hopped over immediately to start building. I was blown away by how he has embraced the project and the train is definitely a highlight for all of us.  

I also invited the Tiny and Dinkie community to the region this time around, and a space has been created just for them. In addition, we have customized dance and skating intans for them so they can enjoy all that Charge Syndrome has to offer. There is also a hot air balloon to enjoy, lots of spaces to find and explore and to take pictures.  Finally, we are in the final stages of creating an “experience” with the inclusion of a hidden, underwater cave system. This cool addition is being designed by Tintin (Ab0riginal), another new and wonderful addition to the team.  

My hope with each build is that people will be inspired to come and enjoy the space but will also  take a few minutes to read up our information boards about Charge Syndrome. Simply by accepting the teleport to the region, they have now heard of this disease, and I think that is a big step in beginning the education process. We want people to feel relaxed and happy in the space we’ve created. We want them to return again and again and bring their friends. Hopefully each step we take will help the community grow.

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For people unfamiliar with Second Life, what is something you’d like them to know?

Second Life to me is really an extension of my first life. I have met some of my most favourite people in the world on the grid, and then have gone on to meet them in “real” life. I have laughed and cried with these folks, we have hugged and drank wine together.

Second Life brings together a diverse and amazing group of people. You can be whatever you want in the metaverse, you can explore your creative side, be an artist, singer, content creator. The exciting part of it is that you have a global community there to support you on your journey.  

Follow Tzeitel and learn more about Charge Syndrome at the following links:

Power Up! for Charge Destination: https://secondlife.com/destination/charge-syndrome
Power Up for Charge Flickr Group: https://www.flickr.com/groups/14758574@N23
Tzeitel Enchantment on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/41484783@N02
Tzeitel Enchantment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Tzeitel-Enchantment/100011509209478

Watch this Made in Second Life video about Power Up for Charge!

Video Production by Draxtor Despres
“You’ve Got a Way” written and performed by Suzen Juel
RL videography by Rosie L.

 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about how Tzeitel channeled her passions into this stunning region that raises awareness for Charge Syndrome. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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 Sirux Mahoney, the CEO of FANTASYLAND Estate since 2006 who is now venturing into an impressive NFT/Second Life crossover project called Universe v2.

Sirux.pngHow long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

I have been in Second Life since 2006. Prior to that, I was in another 3D world and became quite popular, so much that I became its official partner for my region. My community kept on growing over the months and then one night, one of my good friends, who went missing for some days, reappeared and told us that she had been spending time in Second Life. She had lots of praise for Second Life and insisted that we should all try it out. While many of my community members felt enthusiastic about the idea, I was rather skeptical, though I have to admit that I Googled it to find out more. My concern was about leaving everything behind, especially my good friends, going back to square one in another world. I could see my community crumbling. I decided to stick around and watch how things developed. And things did develop. The inevitable happened. I witnessed an exodus of my community members to Second Life. And when my good friends started moving too, I realised that my initial concern was no longer valid. I entertained mixed thoughts in my mind over the next couple of days and then one day, as I was driving back home, I decided to take the plunge! The next thing I remember I was creating my account on Second Life and logging in to discover what the hype was all about. The rest is history. I found my way on Second Life and made it even bigger than in that other 3D world. I never went back!

You are already well known for FANTASYLAND Estate, a virtual real estate provider in Second Life and you have been very active in this market since 2006. What got you interested in it? Tell us more about your business and how you got started in virtual real estate.

When I joined Second Life and connected again with my friends from the other 3D world, where we mostly spent time chatting, we found out that Second Life had so much more to offer. Instead of just meeting up and chatting, we started to explore, visit places, shop around and get engaged in various activities all over Second Life. We quickly noticed the business potential of Second Life and while some of my friends became designers, builders, and scripters among other things, I decided to try my luck at the real estate business as the common thing we all spent money on was land! That's how FANTASYLAND Estate was born. I was lucky that my business jump-started as all my friends started to rent from me and kept on recommending their friends. The orders came pouring in and FANTASYLAND Estate kept on expanding to become what it is today, thanks to the dedication and customer care shown by our team over those 15 years. I take this opportunity to thank all my staff members, and all my tenants for trusting us and making us what we are today. And last but not least, all the wonderful people at Linden Research, Inc., for working with me and providing me with the support needed.

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Outside of your real estate endeavours, what are some of your favorite things to do or places to visit in Second Life?

Honestly, I would love to find more time out of my busy schedule to be able to enjoy what Second Life has to offer. When I do have some free time though, which happens very rarely, I log on to an anonymous account to meet up with friends and go around freely and unnoticed! Apart from my real estate business, I have been actively involved for a long period of time with breeding horses on Second Life. Actually, I still have a large collection and do it from time to time. I love horses, and I am fascinated by the uncertainty and reasoning involved in the breeding mechanics.

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We hear that you have a brand new project debuting this week -- Universe v2 - Rise of the Robots. This appears to be an NFT project that has a unique Second Life component. Can you explain a bit about this project, which I understand has an elaborate backstory about the robots. Can you tell us a bit about the story - and how will this work for people who want to check it out and potentially participate?

Oh yeah I love the storyline of our new project, Universe v2:

'The Law of Conservation of Mass states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, although it may be rearranged in space and the entities associated with it may be changed in form.

End of 2021. This is what actually happened. During a cataclysm, the universe got rearranged. The sun remained but the planets {that we know} disappeared, and two new planets were formed: Onerion and Zerotia. But what happened to the living entities? Well, they changed in form! Onerion and Zerotia are inhabited by different colonies of robots, each one having unique characteristics that are passed on through fusion. Onerion and Zerotia move along different elliptical orbits around the sun and every three months, they concurrently become aligned with the sun causing a cosmic tunnel to open up in space, linking the two planets. What happens next? Well, some things never change: Onerions and Zerotians travel along the tunnel, waging war against each other in the New Universe. Universe v2, Rise of the Robots.'

The ‘Universe v2’ NFT collection consists of 9,998 robots (4,999 Onerions and 4,999 Zerotians) minted on the Solana network, each robot with a unique combination of attributes. We are launching our whitelist registration on 4th Dec at 12.00pm UTC, limited to 1,500 slots with max 4 NFTs per slot, which gives registrants access to our PreSale Round 1 mint at only SOL1.35 (roughly USD285). Presale Round 1 mint will start once all whitelist slots are taken, followed by PreSale Round 2 mint, limited to 3,000 NFTs at SOL1.35 still. The last minting stage will be Public Minting at SOL2.50. The Second Life component of the project is that we are giving away the corresponding 3D Models of the NFTs on Second Life to those who mint during PreSale.

As with any NFT project, early minting is crucial. If you are new to the NFT world, basically early minting an NFT is similar to you buying at wholesale, getting the distribution rights to a product direct from the ‘manufacturer’ and then deciding to keep it, use it or even onsell it at a higher price. I would therefore recommend anyone interested to book a whitelist spot on our website as soon as registration opens on 4th Dec. For the records, we have seen NFTs getting resold at USD $170,000 just one month later while the minting price was less than USD $20.

While full information, including the Road Map and FAQ, about the Universe v2 project is available on our website, it is indispensable to anyone interested to join our Discord server as this is where we actually keep in touch with all our members, providing regular and important updates.

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Second Life 3D Model

Is this your first NFT project? What made you interested in entering into this space?

Yes, this is my maiden NFT project. What got me interested in the first place was the hype. However, since the beginning, I felt that there was something just not right about them. I didn't like the idea of people buying an NFT to keep as a collection piece or immediately reselling it for a profit. I wanted to make something different. And that's what the Universe v2 NFT collection is all about! A Universe v2 NFT is not just an NFT which you keep or try to onsell for a profit straightaway. It is a living piece of technology which you can use for your enjoyment while even earning rewards, which also evolves, making its worth soar for you to show off or eventually onsell for an unbelievable profit! Our road map has it all planned out to make this happen. We have invested a lot in this project and have big hopes. For these to come to fruition, we rely on our community to trust us as we work together to make this project enjoyable and rewarding all along for everyone, and achieve its full potential. We plan to build a Universe v2 Legacy, together with our members!

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Second Life 3D Model

While this sounds really cool, we know that not everybody may be a fan of NFTs -- and/or there may be some hesitation or confusion about them. Can people participate in Second Life without the NFTs - or is that something you are considering for the future?

Indeed you are right. While the NFT market is very promising, it is a niche market and fairly new too. On top of that, we have a limited number of 9,998 NFTs which means that they won't be available for everyone. The limited supply is actually an intrinsic feature of any NFT collection, contributing to make the floor price of the collection soar above the original release price (the minting price) and actually reach astronomical values in some cases, as I pointed out earlier. With that in mind, we understand that some people, without the NFTs, would love to have one of our robots and participate in our MMORPG further down our road map. We shall definitely give it due consideration and look into ways of properly integrating new components in the future, making the project progress further. This is perfectly in line with the last point mentioned in the road map on our website.

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Universe v2 NFT Robot (left) - Second Life 3D Model (right)

It seems like this has the potential to introduce Second Life to entirely new audiences. How are you planning to help connect your new NFT consumers directly to Second Life -- and potentially explore more of the virtual world beyond claiming their robots?

Yes, we could be among the first, if not the first, projects to be giving away corresponding 3D models of the NFTs right off the bat! Since my team is actively involved in Second Life on a daily basis, it provides us with the ideal platform to do that. Our 3D Artist team did an awesome job delivering the quality we aspire for. We understood from the beginning that this endeavour would entail getting Second Life introduced to new audiences and we got our team prepared for that. We have a link on our website for our community members to register for a Second Life account and log on to visit us on the Universe v2 region, where they can see the 3D robots being made and even meet and greet them! We know this experience can be a bit tricky for first-time users. We have a specific channel on our Discord server dedicated to providing the initial help to our members regarding registration and logging on for the first time. And once in-world, we have our team to guide them and cater for their orientation. We believe this process will become easier once we have Second Life Residents join us in this project, make new friends in the community and contribute towards helping them not only with the Universe v2 project on Second Life, but also with discovering the immense outreach of Second Life.

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Universe v2 NFT Robot (left) - Second Life 3D Model (right)

This is all pretty exciting -- are there other new projects that can we expect from you in the future, too?

We do have two more projects planned. The first one, which is actually already in the works, is related to the NFT metaverse though it won't be an NFT collection as such. The second is the development of a mobile app which will link people worldwide and make it much easier for them to communicate and cooperate while playing a popular augmented reality (AR) mobile game, thus allowing them to progress faster in the game.

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

While our website provides all information about Universe v2, our Discord server is where we actually make important announcements, provide regular updates, hold discussions, answer questions and work together with our community members towards our common goal. We would say it is indispensable to anyone interested in the project to join our Discord.

Website: https://universev2.com 
Discord: https://discord.gg/universev2 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Universe_v2 
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/people/universev2 
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGhxlI0SLzIiACgbLzUqGxQ 

 

View the Universe v2 Official Trailer, shot in Second Life, video production by Vrutega.

 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sirux and his impressive new project. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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: Angel Manor


Spotlight

This week we are placing a Spotlight on Angel Manor, a palatial estate adorned in some of the most impressive architecture we've ever seen. The Duke (Kaya Angel, Owner & Builder) and Duchess (Kezzy Forwzy, Co-founder & General Manager) of Angel Manor have proven to be a powerhouse duo in terms of creativity and event management.

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How long have each of you been in Second Life?

Kaya: Well, I first came into Second Life to see what this new virtual world was all about when it first went live. I was fascinated by what Philip Rosedale had said about this new world and his vision for it, and I was specifically interested to see what the proposed freedoms were in a {world composed of user-generated content}. At the very start, I wanted to see if people would explore the ideas of new social groups and societies that tested new ideas about how people could work together: if they would build environments and create businesses, or if people would just copy and replicate the real world as we know it. It was perhaps too early right at the start, it was such a new concept that it took us all a long time to understand what potential existed here. It wasn't until a few years later I really found my feet on the platform and created a new avatar who had a mission to create and build a community. So in one form or another I've been in Second Life from its birth and watched it change and grow into the world it is today.

Kezzy: I've been here just over 14 years now. A {physical world} friend had an avatar and had told me all about this online world where you can meet people from across the globe and enjoy amazing live music. I was really intrigued; I was already an online gamer and an active member of several community forums as well as running some myself, so I thought I would make an account. I was fascinated by the premise of being able to socialise in real time with people across the world, and at that time several {regions} had sprung up in likeness to where I lived in {the physical world} which really made me curious. I logged in, followed my friend to some live music venues and I was instantly hooked. I met Kaya within a week of logging in and the rest, as they say, is history!

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Do either of you have a background in design, and what drew you to creating things in a virtual world?

Kaya: I do have a background in design, as my full time job is as an event designer. I specialise in lighting and set design currently for large corporate events, but my background is based in theatre and concerts. It's often strange how much Second Life replicates my real life work! Doing technical design in RL has really helped in Second Life as a key part of my design role is to understand how people are affected by different environments, such as how light, space and sound influence the experience people have. Here at Angel Manor we really try to ensure we create a very real immersive world, which we often describe as “hyper reality” in that it's just a little exaggerated, but very much based on the world we are used to. This means there are rules such as items can't be floating, and even though we don't have the laws of physics it should feel as if they do. So structures must look like they would stand under their own weight and we don't want the estate to feel like a film set in that every door should lead to a real room and every window should have a view both inside and out. But Second Life has also helped me so much in my professional career as I now use the 3D modelling skills I gained from Second Life in other 3D programs to create the designs to showcase to clients as proposals. So it’s very much been a two way learning of which I'm very thankful for.

Kezzy: I am not a designer at all! Kaya is absolutely the design genius in this partnership, although I enjoy the design process throughout. I deal with the logistics side - running the estate in terms of the day-to-day management and organising live events and private bookings. However, our strengths feed off each other, which is why I think we make such a great team. For me, I get great joy from bringing our talents together to create spectacular events and seasonal treats that will inspire and motivate all Residents of Second Life to live their best lives by joining us in our world. When we bring together our skills and create a magical event or a new build that has people talking about it for weeks and months, that is the biggest draw for me.

Angel Manor is such an immaculate and huge place. How long did it take to build, and how would you describe your artistic vision?

Kaya: It's hard to put a time on how long it has taken to build as there are always updates and upgrades taking place. The best time scale I can give is to say that based on past experience, a full {region} here takes about two months to complete and a homestead about two weeks. But as I say, it’s always changing. The artistic vision is to ensure there is always something new to find, either because you did not find something on your first visit or something new has been added. Our vision is very much created by the influence of people who live and visit here. We always listen to the Residents who call Angel Manor their home and are open to new ideas they would like to see here. We get wonderful comments and take note of what people like and what areas may not get much use. This is how Angel Manor has been shaped over the years.

Kezzy: We also consistently hold ourselves to the highest standard of events that we can. We pride ourselves in delivering unique and exciting events whether that is by allowing the use of the venue for charity, cultural and large scale events or our own live music events. We've been really fortunate to have some of the very best in Second Life talent grace our stages over the past 14 years, and I think that all comes back to what we have created.

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How would you describe the architectural style, and what are some things that inspired it?

Kaya: Starting as a 1930's ballroom, it has become more regal and palace-like over the years as that is what people seem to enjoy the most. The best way to describe the style is that it's based around a mix of English and French architecture from the golden era, but as this is Second Life we also like to add a mix of Disney magic, a touch of Phantom of the Opera and not forgetting the most recent influences of Downton Abbey! Just like the grand estates that are still around today, we act as the modern day custodians, here to keep the estate running and to keep it serving the community as best as we can while also ensuring all the roofs remain leak free and no aging stone work falls endangering visitors!

Kezzy: I think the biggest inspiration we have is being driven by the power Second Life gives us to create this very real feeling, very immersive world that allows Second Life Residents to come and experience whatever it is that they want it to be. We best describe the Angel Manor as themed as a modern day aristocratic palace that aims to create an environment that allows our visitors, Residents and staff to experience a standard of life and culture that encourages, inspires and motivates us to live our best lives in both worlds. It is not a traditional roleplay location, but a place people can come as their true avatar self and act as they would if they were visiting or living in an old aristocratic estate.

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What have been some of your favorite events that have taken place at Angel Manor? Anything coming up that you’d like to share?

Kaya: When it comes to events I think we are best known for the stage production we add to the live music events. We work to support artists that perform on our main ballroom stage by providing changing lights and sets that visually support the artist. The reason for this was not just because this is my real life background, but because we wanted people to feel they are at a very real show. Often with live music it can be easy for people to arrive and listen and enjoy the performance, but they will be either camming around to see who else is there or maybe deep in chat with other friends while listening to the performance. We really want people to be not just listening but watching the performance. The visual aspect of our shows should also help convey the emotion of the song being performed to enhance the overall experience. The other events that stand out are the large themed events we do which are normally based around holidays. We have created large Halloween events such as a masquerade ball, and enjoyed Easter with {a nod to} Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, complete with chocolate river and waterfall to get the perfect mix!

Kezzy: We have been really lucky to showcase the best artistic talent across Second Life, be that in art, music and culture. We have two live music events across our various venues every week but I think my favourite events are also the Grand Balls we put on twice a year at Easter and Halloween. These are custom built, themed events that we have so much fun brainstorming and designing together. The most recent ball was the Enchanted Ballroom, themed as if we had sneaked all of our guests into the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast! This summer we celebrated our 14th anniversary with a grand "Celebration of the Arts" festival, with live music spanning across a whole weekend. We invited musicians who had performed on our very first stage right up to musicians who are relatively new to the Second Life music scene, and we were delighted that the {regions} were full for the entire weekend. This festive season sees the return of our annual Christmas Market, built in the Estate Gardens that will feature market stalls from some of SL's finest designers as well as a full calendar of live music events so we would encourage everyone to wrap up warm and join us for some festive cheer through December.

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Do you consider Angel Manor to be finished, or do any parts get remodeled after a certain amount of time?

Kaya: Angel Manor is never finished as I just love building too much! There is always something that can be improved or made fresh. We never want the place to feel dated in SL terms. There are always new techniques or new mesh that improves on the design, but most of all we want anyone who lives or visits here to always find something new. Also, from a business point of view, the homes here are on a continuous cycle of updates to ensure we always offer the grandest of regal living.

Kezzy: I call it tinkering! It's not unusual for me to log in and find Kaya trying something new, or rebuilding a wing, or excitedly showing me the inspiration behind a new idea. Part of the magic is seeing what we will come up with next to add to the estate. It's forever evolving to meet the needs and desires of the Residents and visitors but also our own needs and desires as well.

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What are some of the day to day tasks of managing such a large estate?

Kaya: When it comes to day to day tasks I know Kezzy is always out looking for new performers to bring to the our stages, while I do the rounds of the estate tending to the grounds and buildings. It's not uncommon that a Resident may have had a car crash into a bush, or maybe a horse has broken free and is roaming the estate. There may be the odd golf or tennis ball that has been hit off course. Some of the largest tasks are dealing with all the season changes, as the estate has wonderful summers and golden falls and not forgetting very cold and snowy winters. Ensuring the estate feels alive and is always changing is a key part to my day to day tasks.

Kezzy: I love how incredibly varied each of my SL days are! I like to check in with any residents that are online, and see what they are up to or if they need any help. I encourage them all to run social events within the estate which fosters a great sense of community, something that we are very proud of here. If we have a show or an event that day, I will be prepping notices and promotional material and checking in with the event organiser, musician or their manager to make sure everything is going ahead. Otherwise, I'll be checking the calendar for the weekly events, answering notecards and IMs with inquiries about the estate and the store and booking the next month's worth of shows. Each day is completely different, I never know who I will come across when walking around the estate, and I love that. The diversity and breadth of our visitors never fails to amaze and inspire me.

For more information on Angel Manor, follow them here:
Website - www.angelmanor.org
Facebook - www.facebook.com/angelmanor
Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/groups/angelmanor/
YouTube - www.youtube.com/user/ThePurpleRoseTheatre
Instagram - www.instagram.com/angelmanor
Twitter - www.twitter.com/angelmanor
Teleports - angelmanor.org/visit-us

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Angel Manor. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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

This week we are shining a spotlight on Aufwie Mysterious, whose cathartic experiences performing live music in SL have helped him grow as an artist and encouraged him to positively impact others with his songs.

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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 in Second Life since 2010 and I remember hearing about it on the telly as they were talking about these new virtual worlds and how you were able to do almost anything you wanted, such as meeting new people, learning new things, attending art venues and so on. The idea of having the chance to create an alter ego caught my attention as I struggled with depression and PTSD from an early age. It was then that Second Life became the perfect place for me to learn how to socialize again and be who I wanted to be without being judged or exposed. Since then Second Life has played a very important role in my development and it became a safe place for me. Eventually this alter ego merged with my real self and became a virtual representation of what I am. 

How did music come into your life, and what instruments do you play?
Music has always been there for me, I can't remember a moment in my life in which I wasn't surrounded by it. My father was a professional drummer, my mother an amateur singer, and in such a tiny house like the one in which I spent my very early years with them, my crib, the drumset, and the many recordings my father had (big fan of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Genesis, The Police and Elton John) it was pretty difficult to not to feel involved in that world. So I started playing drums at the age of 4; I loved to play and sing, just like Phil Collins from Genesis. It wasn't until about 2006 that I discovered all these punk rock and indie rock bands such as The Libertines, The Smiths, Sex Pistols or Green Day (to name a few) that completely blew my mind to bits and I felt the need to get my hands on a guitar and make songs. So my father got me this low, low, low budget generic stratocaster that, for me, was the most marvelous thing I had ever held in my hands and there it all began. I was already playing drums and doing live shows with a band when I was 12 but I wanted to become a frontman, so I kept drumming while taking guitar and singing lessons and it wasn't until I was 18 that I formed a band called Love Paranoia (you can still find some songs on spotify) with which I finally got to experience what I means to be in front of a band, staring at a crowd in the eye and speaking your heart out to them. And I loved it. Since then, I've dedicated my life to music completely. Today I play drums, guitar, bass, synths, ukulele and whatever instrument I can get my hands on for my homonym project called ''AUFWIE''. My professional life now consists of doing live shows in Second Life, writing and releasing my own music, and also producing music for other artists as well.

When did you start performing live in Second Life, and what regions can people visit to hear you play?
The truth is that since my early days in Second Life, I would be busking around the grid, literally anywhere I could open my mic and sing. I always loved to use music as a way to cheer people up, to distract them from their busy lives for a moment, so that's what I did for nearly 8 years; Just log in and hop from one place to another singing my heart out for the few that would listen. It wasn't until this whole Covid pandemic started that I realized it could become something bigger. Some friends encouraged me to start doing live shows properly, and before I could realize what was going on, I was performing once a week for 50 people, more or less. I never really thought of myself as someone special or particularly skillful, but I guess people liked it! Nowadays I'm performing three to four days a week, in almost every venue in Second Life, and I really couldn't be happier about it. Every time I log in to perform, it doesn't matter how awful my day or my week has been; the very moment that I plug my stream in, everything feels better instantly. Some venues I regularly perform at are Seaside Lounge, After Dark on Idle Rogue, and The Grand Strand.

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How would you describe your music, and who are some of the musicians who have influenced your style?
I don't think I can properly describe my music when it comes to style. I think it doesn't follow any particular style or genre, it's more about what I feel like writing and composing at the moment inspiration hits. If I were to make a list of the artists that have influenced me I could do an everlasting list, just 'cause I'm so profoundly in love with music that every single witted song in the world makes me want to create. As I mentioned before, the UK progressive rock scene was of great importance 'cause that's what my father would listen to all the time. Besides that, I remember going to my best friend's house and her sister (the embodiment of punk rock in my eyes back then) would lock us inside her room and make us listen to The Clash, Sex Pistols, Green Day, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys... All those bands were exactly what I needed, even though I didn't know that I did! Later in high school, I got to share time with the weirdest kids (just like me) and we would listen to absolutely everything, from reggae to industrial metal and whatever comes in between. So today, I'm a mixture of a hundred different artists who paved the way for me, and my music and I are ever changing. 

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
Skye Galaxy. Probably the most professional Second Life music performer. This bloke cracked the code and made me realize it was possible to be a pro musician here. First time I got to one of his shows I understood what it meant to take Second Life as a job when it comes to live music. It just made me rethink my shows, my setlists, everything. Besides him, there are dozens of great artists that I love to hear in Second Life, let me mention Rara Destiny, Sol (Puppi OwO) and J. Doe to name a few. They're all amazingly talented and beautiful singers, and it's always wonderful to share the stage with them. Also shout out to my mate Dj Noizy (noizyzapp) for his pure hard work and commitment. I don't think there's a more professional DJ in the whole grid. 

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Where can people follow you to know more about your next releases and shows? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Spotify: aufwie | Spotify 
Instagram: @aufwie_ | Instagram
Youtube: aufwie - YouTube
Twitch: @aufwie_ | Twitch

 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Aufwie. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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 - Vrutega


Spotlight

This week we are shining a spotlight on Vrutega, a new Resident who is already creating visually striking and memorable machinima. 

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I have been on Second Life for a little over a year. I first found out about Second Life in 2020 through friends who are Second Life Residents. One day my friends were video streaming a Second Life party that they were hosting. I was drawn to the realism that their party showcased, from the party decor down to the house they were all gathered in. At that moment I realized Second Life is a great social platform, and has the ability to bring people from all around the world together in digital spaces. During the beginning phases of COVID-19, a lot of people lost that basic human component of socialization and connecting with people.

Second Life provided me with an opportunity to reclaim some of that human connection on a digital platform. With the help of my friends, my transition into Second Life was easy. Within a week I created my first avatar, and was up and running in no time. From the very beginning I was enamored with the Second Life world, and got involved with everything the platform had to offer from live music events, visiting art exhibits, and shopping. It wasn’t until February 2021 that I realized that I could create storytelling video content on Second Life. I studied all types of machinima video genres and artists, and became inspired by all of the talented Residents and creators around the grid.

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Every aspect of the machinima you create in Second Life is very professional, from the editing to the voiceovers. Do you have a background in video production and editing?
Yes, I have a professional background in video production and editing. My experience in video production stems from my professional work in commercials, advertisements, and short films. Realism and continuity are important to me. I treat every aspect of my machinima projects like I would treat a film industry installment/project. From sourcing actors, music, props and backdrops, hashing out project logistics is very similar to the industry work I do on a weekly basis.

The benefit of working on Second Life is that I have everything a producer could need at my fingertips. With everything being digitally available on the Marketplace to inworld stores, the sourcing process is expedited considerably. And with the availability of Second Life social media, finding actors, set designers and collaborating creators has never been easier. 

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What kind of software do you use to capture and edit your videos?
I use a wide variety of post production software for my machinima projects. However I primarily edit my videos using Adobe Premiere Pro, and Adobe After Effects. I use OBS Studio to record my machinima, and capture my footage using various Second Life Viewers.

Tell us about some of the other creators in SL that inspire you, or whose work you admire.
I am inspired by a wide variety of Second Life Residents, artists and other content creators from all around the world. The person who inspires me the most in the machinima world is my dear friend and Second Life Resident Sere Vene. Sere is the artistic catalyst who pushed me to take Second Life machinima seriously. Sere’s phenomenal Second Life machinima projects made me rethink how important storytelling is, and how I should implement storytelling in each machinima I produce. Sere is a true artist, and her creativity and attention to detail knows no boundaries. I am truly honored to now work alongside her in my studio and call her my friend.

Without my small team of friends and family, there is no Vrutega. I attribute a lot of my growth and success as an artist to them. Lilith Lamia is like a mother figure to me. Lilith has industry roots in photography and cinema, and has consistently reminded me to pay attention to detail when it comes to framing and posing subjects in a scene. Spartin Parx is a creator who pushes me to think outside the box when it comes to filming a project. Just when I think I’ve perfected something in a project, Spartin often gives me that “Aha” moment that enables me to make amendments to a scene. Professional {region} builders and set designers like Agnes Whittle and Lemony Nova have inspired me to make every inch of space in a scene count. These two have helped me build the beautiful landscapes and worlds that you see in my machinimas. 

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What can we expect from you in the future? Are there any interesting projects you are currently working on?
I am always looking for inspiration in music, movies, television, and other pop culture references from all around the world. One of my future machinima projects will be a Pokemon-inspired video, which should excite a lot of fans of the beloved Nintendo franchise. And like all of my machinimas, this project will be done in collaboration with other Second Life Residents and content creators. 

I’m a firm believer in supporting Second Life artists and the content they create. I often find myself face to face with content creators from all types of background experiences. From seasoned video veterans to new content creators, I make it my mission to support, build and uplift those that I surround myself with. Second Life is proof that drive, determination, and raw talent can thrive in any environment when it’s nurtured.

The future of Second Life machinima is bright. Every day I see more emerging machinima creators and Second Life Residents utilizing video in their everyday lives. Machinima makers like Lipe Hax, Any Bergan, and Kelie Ladys are all promising beacons of hope and inspiration within the machinima world. Their creative machinimas have been enjoyed by thousands of Residents all over the world, and have paved the way for the next generation of machinima creators. With the introduction of independent film companies like Film Threat, Second Life is now on the threshold of bringing in film industry influences that can reshape the way we think about machinima.

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Where can people see examples of your work?
People can find my work on Flickr. I can also be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Check out one of Vrutega’s latest videos, a carnival themed thriller that takes place in a mysterious small town. The location is Cirque du Mystere, an interactive MadPea event.

We hope you enjoyed learning about Vrutega’s experiences creating machinima in Second Life. Any budding machinima artists out there? You never know until you try!

 

Each of these weekly posts will feature 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 - Bryn Oh


Spotlight

Second Life can be hard to categorize, but at its core, it is a celebration of creativity. Today we are shining a spotlight on Bryn Oh to kick off a new series of SL creator featurettes. Many Residents are familiar with her work, as she is one of the most talented virtual artists of our time and has spent more than a decade creating art in the virtual world of Second Life.

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The Brittle Epoch by Bryn Oh

What first brought you to Second Life?
I discovered Second Life after reading an article about a person who purchased a condominium in a virtual world for $200,000 USD. A bit like an NFT that you could go into and inhabit, I suppose. Anyway, I had to go see this building and made a Second Life account. I hadn’t really been in multi-user environments much before so it really amazed me to meet people from around the world in real time. I was actually so enthralled that I forgot to even look for the condominium.

What was your first project in Second Life - and is it still accessible?
My first project was a bit strange. One day, as I was exploring, I accidentally created a prim box on the ground. I discovered that I could edit it and played {with it} for a while before logging out. When I returned the following day the box was still there, which gave me an epiphany of sorts. I realized that anything I made could have duration in the virtual space and that I could change the space itself. The ground we stood upon was supplied by Linden Lab but the world itself was created by its users, a type of MUD, MOO or LambdaMOO. I began to build steampunk insects daily and while doing this a couple Residents would come to watch me create each day. After what seemed a long time they told me that they really loved all my steampunk insects, but could I perhaps take some back into my inventory because I was filling up their land. I then realized that I was actually building in someone’s backyard and that people lived in all the houses around me and they, very generously, let me build dozens of robotic insects. I then went to build on an IBM sandbox and met many artists creating there. The person who built beside me on the sandbox really impressed me with an elaborate train he was creating. His name was AM Radio and he was quite popular at the time.


Hand by Bryn Oh

You’ve been pretty prolific in SL over the years -- are any of your past projects still open to visitors?
Most of my work is in my inventory but I have three regions of my artwork that can be visited. There is a gateway region called Bryn Oh where I keep my work Hand. It will stay there for years as it is part of a course on the art of Bryn Oh being taught at York University and needs to remain there for the students. A second region called Immersivist has another work called The Singularity of Kumiko on it currently, but that region will rotate my large scale artwork from my inventory every six months or so. My main region is called Immersiva and it is where my new work The Brittle Epoch is. The Brittle Epoch is actually connected to Hand and Singularity of Kumiko so it’s good to visit them for that reason too.

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Brittle Epoch Oil Painting by Bryn Oh

How have your inworld creations evolved over the years?
Before I came to Second Life I was an artist and oil painter. In art school at OCAD we would study various art styles, schools, and movements, looking at art as it evolved through human history. From cave paintings to modern art. Through this lens I see Second Life, or specifically the persistent virtual space, as a new art medium. When I created paintings I would essentially create a snapshot in time; a 2D moment where I would try to capture the viewer's attention and immerse them using various techniques like colour theory and composition, as well as creating narrative within my imagery.

However, immersion is very fragile and if, say, a baby cries or your phone rings while looking at a painting in a gallery, your attention wanes and the immersion is broken. Suppose we now look at cinema. You have a seat, the lights go dark, and the large screen blocks out your peripheral vision to reduce any distractions. They then turn the sound up high so that you are dominated by your senses. They want your vision to be dominated exclusively by their narrative. Of course, the glowing red EXIT sign always reminds you that you are not “in” the movie but rather “watching” a movie, keeping you from being fully immersed. 

There is a narrative and each scene has its own composition. But with cinema you are a passive observer to the story. You do not interact with, but remain separate from the medium. Once the movie ends you can restart it, but the narrative is fixed as well as the camera movement. If you see a drawer in a room you can’t stop and open it. The experience is fixed and will never change regardless of how many times you watch it.

The goal for an immersive artist, or an Immersivist, is to eliminate as many barriers as you can. My inworld creations in the virtual space have evolved where I look at our medium as a unique and very powerful immersive tool for creating the style of art I am interested in. I want to create art where you are not a passive observer but an active participant in an open ended artwork where you are not led around as in cinema but instead you have the freedom to interact with the environment as you wish to. And when you combine that with VR it is a very powerful immersive medium. Virtual art may be written about in history books one day and these may be the first stumbling steps to a new movement in art not unlike the Cubists, Surrealists, Minimalists and so on.

Perhaps a movement may begin where the artists are called the Immersivists and the movement is born and thrives within the virtual space.

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Brittle Epoch Model in ZBrush

Tell us about some of the other creators in SL that inspire you.
When I first came to Second Life I was impressed by the creativity of an artist named Starax / Lightwaves and then later, as I mentioned, I enjoyed the work of AM Radio. I also came across the work of Glyph Graves and Selavy Oh who both were creating compelling art that often treated the virtual space as its own medium for art as opposed to mimicking real life. Though I think my favorite was the Petrovsky Flux that was built by Blotto Epsilon and Cutea Benelli. It was a steampunk creation that would slowly build itself in modules of hallways and rooms into a form a bit like a giant tree. It built itself randomly growing up into the sky and then at a certain point it collapsed to pieces only to begin anew. To be honest though, there are many artists whose work I enjoy.

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Bronze Sculptures by Bryn Oh

What keeps you coming back to SL?
I am endlessly fascinated by Second Life’s potential as an art medium. Not really sure how to explain but it is very unique as a medium. So the Immersivist artist often creates within a different environment than traditional art is experienced, and thus focuses on different goals. The role of art varies depending on location, for example, in a museum or gallery we are kept separate from the art and often can feel the gaze of security guards on us as we experience the artwork. We are not just separate from the art but greatly encouraged to be so. The art often is placed for the viewer to observe but not interact with, and it is housed in a structure designed to protect the art from both people and the elements such as rain or snow. The art is created and then shaped by the necessities of its own real world environment and needs. When you see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre there is often a crowd surrounding it, and of necessity people must move on to keep the flow of traffic through the gallery space. So, our experience with art is often bound and shaped by the realities of the real world and we shape opinions and feelings based on elements outside the artwork itself.

I design immersive virtual exploratory spaces with the mindset that it is a unique medium free of many constraints. I want to determine what makes it unique over other forms of art. I don’t want to mimic the way art is shown in real life as it is not necessary to do so in a virtual space, and as such I can redefine how the viewer interacts with my art. There need not be gravity nor chairs nor roofs, walls, etc. unless the viewer needs these familiar sights to feel immersed. The viewer is an active participant in the story rather than a passive observer. They have the freedom to explore in an open-ended space in whichever way they choose. I think of immersive artwork itself as a whole rather than individual pieces or components. When I make a sculpture of a ballet dancer in the environment, I don’t see it as a standalone artwork but rather a component of the entire environment. Within my work the visitor is often challenged with tasks. They are not handed the artwork to look at but rather they inhabit it and must put in effort to experience it. The more effort they put in the more they get back, and it is my feeling that someone who works to achieve something in my art will feel a deeper connection to it. This can be in the form of climbing difficult towers in an almost gamified way, to simply looking under beds or in drawers to find hidden notes. The visitor solves problems, detects hidden elements, and explores layers. They become experts in the current work, which in itself is connected to earlier works and upcoming works, creating layers upon layers of understanding and expertise, and these visitors have earned it.

Each viewer interacts with the artwork in their own fashion which often does not mirror the experience of visitors around them. It is shared but unique to each person. In contrast to a crowd seeing the Mona Lisa and walking away with the same {physical} experience as the others around them, the visitor to a virtual space has a unique experience all to themselves and explores at their own pace. Some stay hours and some stay weeks, and in some cases their interactions can influence the outcome of the artwork. It is experiential, interactive and highly immersive. The goal is for people to forget the real world for a time and live within another place that I have created.


Standby by Bryn Oh

Tell us about your most recent work and what impression you hope it makes upon visitors.
My new artwork, The Brittle Epoch, is the second part in a trilogy. The trilogy itself sits within a narrative of dozens of other creations spanning over a decade. The first part, which is pretty important to know, is called Hand. It is also important to be familiar with Standby, a work created for IBM in 2009 or so. The Singularity of Kumiko is referenced in the Brittle Epoch as well. My art in Second Life is one long narrative artwork told through large scale builds, similar to chapters, that can take years to make. The Brittle Epoch took about eight months to create: writing the story, the sound, scripting, building models in Zbrush, and texturing everything within the artwork. And I would like to thank the Ontario Arts Council who have supplied me with four grants to support the creation of these three works and more.


The Singularity of Kumiko by Bryn Oh

My artistic focus is on how contemporary society is affected by technology, ranging between human/machine and machine/machine relationships. Often we believe technology opens channels for people to interact and engage socially. However, the opposite can occur where people become isolated within their own personal bubble. They are separate and witnessing the world from a distance, an online entity with brittle popularity. My work expresses a yearning for meaningful connections within our new technological realm. I build virtual reality environments that explore the juxtapositions between human emotion and machine sentience, but I also want to challenge and create debate through the introduction of various concepts in my work. In the Brittle Epoch we follow children whose perception of our world is blurred between fantasy and fiction, where moral concepts are not black and white but grey and indistinct, much like a winter storm.


The Brittle Epoch

Follow Bryn Oh on her various social platforms to learn more about her work. 
Blog - http://brynoh.blogspot.com
Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/brynoh 
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/BrynOhh 
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/bryn_oh 
Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryn_oh 
Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/c/BrynOh

 

We hope you enjoyed learning about Bryn Oh’s experiences creating art in Second Life. Each weekly post will feature 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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