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Second Life Destinations - Hashima Island

Linden Lab


Inspired by Hashima Island in Japan, discover the strange world of Hashima in Second Life, once a coal mine community, prison, and film set.

Creator Titus Palmira shares the background behind Hashima Island.

What does Second Life mean to you?
I have been in SL for 13 years and have done many things, each adding to the overall experience, but it really boils down to this: SL is a place where I can do what I want, be what I want, how I want, and all done within a shared experience with interesting people from all over the (real) world.

What is the background of Hashima Island? Is there a story in your head that you wanted expressed in this form?
I have always been interested in ghost towns. I feel they have a poignancy about them, the life that resided there once removed leaves a trace that soaks into the fabric of the abandoned buildings. There are government facilities here in the UK that have taken over entire villages, mining ghost towns in Australia, empty towns in Spain due to the greed of property developers, or ex-Soviet era towns in Eastern Europe. I found the Latvian town of Skrunda. It was used by the USSR army as a radar facility and also hosted the soldiers' families. The melancholy of it all struck me as being very profound. That gave me the idea of replicating this somehow in Second Life and the sim "Skrunda 2" was created, this was repeated the year with "Skrunda 3". We took the ideas and concepts behind Skrunda and moved the whole thing to Japan. Hashima island is almost the perfect real-life destination to be converted into a Second Life / Skrunda sim. It's small, has a defined identity, and has been abandoned, so a great ghost town. It has a rich history, it was a coal mine, a camp for POWs, and was a set for one of the scenes in the James Bond movie Skyfall which I thought people would find interesting.

How would you explain SL or what you do to a “skeptic” among friends and family?
That's a tough question, how do you describe something with almost endless possibilities? It's not a video game, so it has no beginning, middle, or end, but it sort of looks like one. I would say it's a virtual world, which in part you create yourself, a world where you get out, what you put in. If you don't socialize and make an effort to be involved, you will spend it alone and you will probably leave SL soon after, there is only so much shopping one can do before it gets tiring. 

Do you think avatar expression is a vital part of SL or are the experiences and places more important?
I think the two things go hand in hand. As in real-life our "look" is the outer manifestation of who we want to be seen as and the message(s) we want to give out, but there is no point in having an amazing looking avatar, if there is no one to show it off to or great places for it to be seen in. Interesting sims of any kind, shopping experiences, clubs, photographic sims, role-play worlds, adventures, etc.. require effort and money to create. Not all sims are created to create a return on investment. I think what we try to do, is to offer something to the communal "pot" for everyone in SL to enjoy with no expectation of anything back. This is my way of paying it forward. 

How would you recommend folks who are new to SL and feel they have no building skills become creative residents that contribute to the wonderful mosaic that is SL?
Youtube is your friend, failing that, have some real friends who are experts in this area. My good friend Sofie Janic (an accomplished SL builder of multiple sims) introduced me to Megan Prumier, another amazing builder. Like most things in life, it's best to just "give it a go", it might seem a bit fiddly at first, but you will be surprised at the things you can create quite quickly. There are so many great stores that sell such great components for sims, buildings, vehicles, plants and trees, assorted bits, and pieces, etc. Start off with a small Homestead, rez a shack, create a garden or a beach, add some waves and a deck chair, and you are there! 

Video Production by Draxtor Despres

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