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The Drax Files: World Makers - Special Edition: 10 Years of “Gone Gitmo”

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Linden Lab

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Exactly 10 years ago today, award-winning media maker Draxtor Despres (a.k.a. Draxtor™) uploaded to YouTube one of his most-acclaimed pieces of virtual journalism:  “Virtual Guantánamo [in Second Life].” The video, which received mainstream media coverage and won an “Every Human Has Rights” Media Award, was conceived at the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) with a MacArthur Foundation grant in 2006. 

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This early machinima production documented the making of the Gone Gitmo project (“Virtual Guantánamo”), a 3D replica of the infamous Guantánamo Bay Detention Center in Second Life. Inworld visitors to this virtual prison experience were subjected to an “abduction” simulation that included a dark plane ride and being thrown in a cage. Until its closure in 2013, this inworld project was also used for multiple mixed reality panel discussions including events affiliated with Seaton Hall Law School and the ACLU.

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The project was a collaboration between VR pioneer Nonny de la Peña and former USC professor and artist Peggy Weil, both of whom created the project under the mentorship of former BAVC creative director Wendy Levy. Second Life was the ideal platform for the ambitious project, and it demonstrated how virtual worlds could be used as a storytelling medium for social justice issues. 

This month, Draxtor revisits his original reporting and meets again with the people behind this pioneering piece in immersive journalism that served as the precursor to the popular ethnographic series on virtual lives “The Drax Files.”

 

Want to see more Second Life stories? Find previous episodes of The Drax Files: World Makers at Draxtor’s website, or at the links below  and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel  where you can watch the entire series.

The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 45: Arduenn Schwartzman
The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 44: Istanbul University
The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 43: nnoiz Papp
The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 42: Death Row Designs

The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 41: Vista Animations
The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 40: Bernhard Dörries

The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 39: Sergio Delacruz
The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 38 : Eboni Khan
The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 37 : Nonprofit Commons
The Drax Files: World Makers - Episode 36 : Sominel Edelman

 

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