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Linden Lab's New CEO

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BK Linden

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I’m happy to announce some very exciting news today: Rod Humble is Linden Lab’s new CEO. Our press release is here. You’ll hear from Rod himself after he starts in mid-January, but in the meantime, we wanted to share a brief introduction.

Rod has an impressive depth of experience in developing and leading fun, immersive entertainment experiences that have been great successes. As a 20-year veteran of game development, he’s worked on more than 200 games, and last year, the gaming magazine Edge named him #2 on their annual list of Hot 100 Game Developers. Rod is coming to Linden Lab from Electronic Arts, where he was Executive Vice President and led EA Play, including the best-selling PC game franchise of all time, The Sims. Prior to EA, he was a VP of Product Development at Sony Online Entertainment, where he led the EverQuest Studio.

Rod has a deep appreciation for what makes Second Life special. He’s already been exploring and experimenting inworld to familiarize himself with the pluses and minuses of our product and the successes and challenges faced by our Residents. He’ll officially start at the Lab in mid-January, and I’m excited for us to begin 2011 with fresh perspective, renewed energy, and creativity.

To give you a sense for Rod’s creativity, personality, and perspective, here are few links to his personal creations and a couple of press interviews he’s given:

Art games Rod has created in his ‘spare’ time:

Press interviews with Rod:

Happy holidays to you all from Linden Lab! We wish everyone a very happy and prosperous new year -- it’s going to be a great one for Second Life!

Rod's bio:

Rod Humble is Chief Executive Officer at Linden Lab, and he leads the company’s strategy and the development of Second Life. Humble’s 20-year career in the game development industry has included work on more than 200 games. He joined Linden Lab from Electronic Arts, where, in his role as Executive Vice President, he led the EA Play label, which includes the best-selling PC game franchise of all time, The Sims. In 2009, he was ranked #2 on the annual list of the Hot 100 Game Developers from gaming publication Edge. Prior to his work at Electronic Arts, Humble served as Vice President of Product Development at Sony Online Entertainment for the massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) EverQuest.
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@Ryuu buddy if you're spending $4K on a PC then you're doing it wrong, all you need to do is spend $200 on a new Graphics Card to run SL in Ultra, and I don't mean a cheap-o no-name card, get a XFX GeForce GTX 480 or something equivalent. XFX's cards come with double-lifetime warranties (register the card on their site to activate it). So if anything happens to the card, you're covered.

Just because someone can't run SL on Ultra (and should really be using Medium settings, your PC isn't that bad ass, sorry) doesn't mean the fancy eye candy in SL is bad. Try dialing back your settings to about medium and also; Telling LL to get rid of features that use the GPU instead of the CPU for processing isn't going to win you any friends, especially animators and avatar creators. SL graphics aren't the problem, it's the users hardware. UPGRADE THE GPU.

 

P.S. Ultra setting isn't there for everyone with a computer to use, it's there for people who actually HAVE the hardware (like myeslf) to enable those features.

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Welcome, Rod! In the month before you begin as ceo, Rod, become an anonymous resident yourself and experience sl for yourself - the highs, the lows, the weird, the wonderful - but, more than anything, listen to the people who hold sl dear in their hearts, know and understand what they want, and why they want it.

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@Ryuu.Radek and any other person who may not realize.

You don't have to waste your $$$ on a new computer to run SL on Ultra. If your PC is a desktop system just upgrade the GPU, and possibly add in  a bit more system RAM and you'll be able to run Ultra on even older  PC's (provided that are PCI Express compatible as ALL major cards these  days are PCI Express only). Laptop users are SOL as that does require  the purchase of an entirely new computer, which is why I prefer Desktop  PC's over laptops due to upgradability.

My PC is an Athlon 64 X2 4200+ dual-core CPU with 3 gigs of RAM and my GPU is an Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB and I can run the game on Ultra just fine. My girlfriends PC is from 2006, and has Windows XP. It contains a single core Athlon 64 @ 2Ghz, 4 gigs of RAM it had an onboard Nvidia GPU 6150(LE?) and it would run smooth only on low, however for Christmas she purchased an Nvidia GeForce 210 1GB, I installed it, and she can run on Ultra perfectly with buttery smooth performance with only a $60 GPU purchase!

Simple PC upgrades are not rocket science; a new GPU and more RAM can make all the difference in the world when it comes to performance. There is a threshold though where the CPU speed can become a bottleneck for the GPU and hinder performance if the CPU is too slow, but thats not a major issue for a casual SL user, only for hardcore gamers. Keep in mind also if your PC is is so old it doesn't have modern compatbility (ie: PCI Express / PCI Express 2.x, etc) then you may want to upgrade to a more modern system, but it definately doesn't require a $4000+ hardcore gamer machine!

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Sadly the new guy is a corporate bean counter albeit with a gaming background. The rot will continue as his pay will no doubt be based on new users and sales growth gained from marketing, cost controls and cheap tricks rather than evolving and innovating to enhance the in world experience that separates SL from all the competition.

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Gosh this blog is so busy, it just shows how much everyone values what SL was and how much people have been agreived with the changes over thhe last two years and it also highlights just HOW COCERNED WE ALL ARE.

ROD PLEASE READ through these replies from your committed inworld residents, and maybe, just maybe if you take these concerns on board and not shrug them off to bottom line profits then perhaps, just maybe we will still have an inworld Second Life hopefully resembleing something that it was three years ago.

-> Keep kids on their own grid.

-> Reverse Zindra and find a better way to augment adult themed SIMS with age verified User level access.

-> Whats wrong with Camping - Traffic, ok so lets find a way to make it work, dont jus bann it outright.

-> Allow more third party collaboration, more people commited to improving inworld experiences will surely enrich and involve morre stakeholders so gaining popularity and so more business.

-> Second Life was miles ahead, lets get it back out there.

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Welcome Ron I hope you can fix Second Life and start with the Support Team, I have made several complaints about being ejected as a copybot for the last 6 months and I AM NOT A COPYBOT.  No one seems interested whether I am innocent or not, when I tried to appeal to the creator/owner of the RedZone security orb system he was very rude and told me blind people have no business using Second Life and if I didn't BEG HIS FORGIVENESS he would never appeal my "request"  First  of all I'm not a copybot and I don't even know what one is. If I tell the owner of the shops, they don't believe me so how can I prove I AM NOT A COPYBOT?  After being a customer for almost 4 years and spending hundreds of US dollars in this Second Life I got some security orb guy in Denamrk who hates blind people calling me a thief.  So Ron please hire some people in your support system who is willing to help disabled people or even investigate an Issue beyond the basic steps.

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Sounds much like that ban link thing, people abuse it and it affects the whole system, honestly I think its better that sim owners manage their bans not some system.

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To Rod the Humble:

Just reading your explanation of your "Marriage Game."

I think I need a marriage counselor.

Good luck wth the new gig -- there will be lots of whine and cheeze waiting for you.

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Galileo Moleno, with respect, look up the business model called 'freemium'. It's a recent model made possible due to the almost non-cost of operating and producing digital goods and services.

Understand that companies like the German GameForge make 'hundreds of millions of euro a year' by producing free to play games with premium options. Know that facebook owners made near 1 billion dollars last year with all their 'free accounts'. Facebook developers made about as much in turn.

For a 'social freemium' game you need to have grass if you want to have cows.

SL is trying to be a 'social freemium' game, although the Lab is apparently stunned with how to do it correctly. They are stuck in the business model of re-RENTING server space in the guise of SELLING land and doing it at an incredible markup. If you remove the visitors to these lands the 'owner' of the sim will have no one to play with and will turn off the sim. SL would be even more of a micro niche product then it is now.

I think we agree that a users possibilities should be limited or enhanced by the ability to pay for it, but i don't see how paying a monthly subscription fee to the lab offers any enhancement beyond the ability to buy up some virtual land. This assumes someone wants to sit in some virtual house for some reason or run some 'thing'. This is often not the case.

I recently cancelled my own pointless premium subscription after 6 years. I was getting 500L a week from it (how do you like that new guys) so it pretty much paid for itself. I cancelled it to protest the removal of the online numbers. Now I am turning off my last sim as the final protest to this blunt insult of hiding the data.

Do a little research on freemium income models if you care :

http://www.eurosouthkorea-ict.org/documents/forum_presentations/CarstenVanHusen_Online%20Game%20service%20in%20Europe.pdf

http://www.investmentu.com/research/video-game-industry-investing.html

http://www.instat.com/press.asp?ID=2917&sku=IN1004659CM

As to the new CEO...

He's from the Sims and EA. TSO was a failure and EA are perhaps the most hated game company to every shaft a customer.

Was he fired from EA due to their shrunken stock value and the failure of TSO? Was he hired by LL due to their lack of direction simply to prop up investor confidence to allow the gravy train a few more years of life?

What do you think he will actually do? Maybe he will introduce missions,raids and personal stats like WoW then SL can retain the 5 minute av who leaves because there is 'nothing to do'. Maybe avs will have to use the washroom now.

Yo Rod, I'm real happy for you and ima let you finish, but quake3 was one of the best world building engines of all time. Of all time!

LL should do something bold: like hire me! I've got vision. I have no fear. There is only one way to break new ground and you'll never find out how from a user survey such as 'do you feel SL is getting better or worse?'.

Here's what I would do :

Forget the server farm reseller model. It's limited and short sighted. It does not scale. As I'm sure I mentioned YEARS ago there would come a time when cheap knock offs would offer the same amount of arbitrary 'land' and technology for 25$. Now it's here and you are going to die from it at an ever increasing rate as you focus on pointless directions such as viewers and theme lands.

The one single thing that SL did better then anything before it was to ALLOW US TO MAKE THE STUFF. In other words, don't get all up in our grill with junk like linden railroads, linden homes, theme lands, viewers, special events blah blah. Just give us tools and remove the artificial limitations of your business model. Don't limit us to proprietary stuff like prims, sculpts, havok and LSL. Don't be the police or the help staff. Do this:

Open source everything except the money transfer and the related identification services. Focus development on these 2 core concepts.. money transfer.. id verification.

Allow anyone to run a grid/sim and database. Get all these 'open' sims to use Linden Dollars. Get the large community of open-source developers to tinker and improve the opened code instead of having the handful of in-house staff give us 1 or 2 useful functions a year in between unimaginative noob retention directives like display names, linden homes and ugly black viewers or completely misguided attempts to sell grids and sims to corporations.

Create or adopt a markup language for 3d space and motion that can be interpreted by other scripting languages and compatible grids beyond the dead end of LSL. Use this in these open sims.

Allow private databases down to the individual user instead of dead ended mothership databases to handle non persistent media. Grids that support .xxx type objects will be able to create instances of the objects from a personal database.

Let people operate storage companies and let people operate endless shards with various directions of development and connectivity to other grids. Let it be a jungle of opportunity and possibility. You just help people move their money and their ID around because that is all there really is in common in the end.

Provide a 'Linden Land' gated community grid for those who want advanced things such as proprietary physics (havok), windlight, copy protection and police/support (har har).

Do not print money out of the air. Every linden dollar (or a re-branded credit with a less ugly name) introduced must be one that was paid for by a customer.

Make your money by selling this linden dollar at a set rate and offering services such as cashing out the linden dollar to real life local currencies. There would be much overhead for this, but it would be directly proportional to the billions you make. Forget the facade of a 'market place' that you use now.

In this way you have a much more unlimited future with the potential of unlimited users and making billions and billions of dollars. It's all about people using your money system in the endless possible shards of direction that digital networked social media will take. You should have done this 2 or 3 years ago, but who listens to me?

Instead we still have this shrinking dollhouse that doesn't do anything overly well. I mean...we cant even send an IM in to SL except as a response.. we can't even confirm if llGiveMoney(amount,target) failed or not... our vehicles drive through walls or lag under ground...who are these new people on my damn friends list...it could make a man cry (in a cool mic jagger falsetto way of course).

So, am I hired? Say yes.


----

A note to the faceless moderator of this forum.

I'm just some guy, you know? I'm a little candid for a corporate forum perhaps, but I feel I've done enough to be allowed a voice in this public forum. I've been in SL since 04 when 2500 people on line was news. I've been developing things for SL the whole time. I make things work.

InSL© I've helped in endless ways. I've run up to 4 sims at once providing content I've created in the form of play grounds and race tracks open to the public. My personal development has helped create communities based on virtual motorsports. I've 'ghost' scripted content for all kinds of top sellers. Many are proud to leave my name on the tag. I've taught tricks of the trade to countless people. I would say that stuff I've had a hand in can be found in just about every avatar's inventory over a month old. I have paid many thousands of dollars to the lab in the time I've been here and helped the flow of millions of others by my participation. I may be annoying, but I'm kinda relevant.

So, if you delete my post at least give me a reason as to why you think my input is harmful to the general public. Or you should remove the comment option. Or... you should just ban me to prevent having to delete the outrage that will follow

No kittens were harmed in the making of this post that no one is reading anyway.

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welcome and congratulations

i dont spend much time in SL anymore.

a lot of my friends left to go to other worlds when they lost the shirt off their backs in the homestead sim restructure. they complained of having put their heart and hopes into a 5 year plan and then having it wiped out in 6 months without any compassion or compensation.

other friends have left because they had a technical or account issue with LL and received no support. When you no longer have access to your avatar and its inventory because you chose to support LL by having a premium account and then letting it lapse because there was nothing premium about it and then you get locked out kinda makes a person think whether or not it is worth creating another avatar and starting again or just walking away. many walked away to other worlds that were less money orientated.

other friends walked away because they had witnessed the callousness of LL. when you spend a bit of time with your avatar you somehow feel connected to it. and if the LL gods can be that cold and that controlling over a neighbours land or a neighbours avatar then it is just a matter of time before they do something to yours for the sake of money too. best to get out before someone hurts you. at least then you have some sense of power over the fates.

if i walk away completely ... in truth ... it will be for a much more simpler reason. LAG. my computer is old. and i cannot afford a new one (or at least it is not a priority). i come in to SL to be a part of what could be a wonderful live music experience. and mostly i leave because i am surrounded by grey people and deformed blobs. gets to the point where i dont even bother. and tho i know it is silly ... gets to the point where i think LL is getting kickbacks from computer salesmen to force people into getting better and better graphics cards with every update. SL has become less popular because most people have other priorities and areas of expertise. its is these other interests that create an interesting and diverse world. it is these other interests that spark ideas and new connections to music, art, education, community etc but it seems that without the right technical knowledge and without the latest equipment no connection can be made. i guess it has always been so in the the computer world. those who know how take pride in their knowledge and it becomes a kind of club. and others cannot join the club unless they learn the right language. but there are so many more interesting things to learn and only so much time in one day. so the club becomes elitist. and then it becomes stagnant. and then it fades away.

im not sure if SL is going to a part of my future. it has always been a fairly small part. between working full time as a registered nurse, being a friend and sister and daughter, and creating a home and garden my priorities are elsewhere. and tho facebook is no where near as entertaining or interactive, at least it enables me to communicate with friends from all over the world without it having to be another full time job just to keep up with technology.

besides ... whats the point in building a family and an environment in SL if LLs can just take it away whenever they want.

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Rod,

You have a unique opportunity to effect much needed positive change in SL.  To do it, you'll have to get back to that work-ethic of a fresh-from-school newbie, trying to make/prove your position in this virtual world.   We desperately need that visionary mindset that once ruled the day here.   Unlike most businesses, as you know, in a virtual/social world, your customers include amongst them, those with the skills and desires to build your business in many positive ways.   I've seen comments here that suggest I am not alone in hoping that Linden Labs will stop making decisions based on how many pennies it can squeeze out of the great foundation that has been laid in the past - and start cutting some paths for it's creative customer component to put down the roads to it's future.   There was a time when creative geniuses flocked to Second Life because it offered a true sense of open-source...   when content creation walked hand-in-hand with a spirit of "hey, we want everyone to come and enjoy this amazing, new, environment where it's possible to learn and live in a virtual world."   One way that you can make your mark is to begin exploring the inevitable...   Start implementing the development of off-grid server/sim technologies. Unlock some of the iron grip and watch how after the dust settles, your most brilliant customers and staff will come up with required solutions to any resulting IP/copyright, security, and other issues...   as many are just waiting for the opportunities and challenges that you can create for them - in a world where such things exist.   Make Second Life a place where armchair developers are once again a valued and cherished resource.   Re-instill the true spirit of a virtual world where opensource and community benefit is the underlying motivator.  Markets and profits will follow.  If you follow the current path... which based on a lot of comments seem to be based on an end-of-life business model...   then the end result will be as it may.  But then there are many like myself who believe that even if you mess-up... something will come to replace it.   I do wish you luck and like everyone else, will be hoping for a sign from you... something dramatic and something to effect renewed spirit and hopes for a great future in the virtual world we call Second Life.  Welcome and best wishes in the coming year!

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Actually - Second Life -IS- a game.  It might be a sandbox game, and it might involve  legal inworld RMTs and it might be taken entirely too seriously by some folks, but at the end of the day it is NOT real, it is a game, nothing more.

 

It is simply the visual extention of games like Muds, mucks, mushes, moos.  It is a MMO extension of games like Simcity and the Sims.

 

That said, I sure hope that this doesn't end up leading SL down the Sims3 path.  More sandbox is better than less.  And my one complaint with the sims lately is that it plays more like a goal oriented game.  And I know mr Humble was in charge of the franchise when it changed directions.

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SL is NOT a game. It doesnt have levels. It doesnt have points or scores. It doesnt have winners or losers. Well, it definitely has losers but thats a different topic.

It's been very obvious to even the most casual observer, however, that LL is pushing it TO be a game. Although disappointing, its definitely not a surprise to see someone with so much "gaming" experience come in. I know many would like that, but for me personally I could not have any less interest in SL being a "game" than I do, and not only "will leave" as many in these forums say they will--then dont-- but have already moved my things to another grid, and will simply delete what is left in SL if it gets to a 'game' point.

As for Rod, the new CEO, I have to admit being extremely skeptical with his game record that he will do anything other than make it just that, but I do like to give a chance to see before I assume, so I say welcome and I wish you (and all of us) the best. I'm interested to hea YOUR take on SL and where it is headed, and I think it will provide much more clarity (or at least your standing) on this never ending "game vs. not a game" topic

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SL is NOT a game. It doesnt have levels. It doesnt have points or scores. It doesnt have winners or losers. Well, it definitely has losers but thats a different topic

Games do not have to have levels, they do not have to have winners and losers.  In any other sandbox type environment its a game.  There are no levels in a MU at least not the more sandboxy ones, like mucks and mushes.  And there are not real levels in games like the sims, and since you're not playing with others in those, certainly no winner.

Just because it doesn't fit some people's notion of what a game -is-, doesn't make it not a game.  If you do something for fun, it is a game, even if its bouncing the ball for your dog, or wiggling a wand with a feather boa on the end for your cat - those are certainlt games without levels and winners.

And if you are spending time in SL for any other reason then fun, then you ought to consider going back into RL, just because its not supposed to be specifically fun.

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Aribeth Zelin wrote:

... If you do something for fun, it is a game ...And if you are spending time in SL for any other reason then fun, then you ought to consider going back into RL, just because its not supposed to be specifically fun ...

I'm stunned. Then, SOCIALIZE is a game for you? Because one (not only) of my main reasons for being in SL is socialize, socialize seriously, not socialize as a game.

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The term "game" is so open to interpretation and context as to be utterly useless. A "game" is the color purple, because ice cream has no bones. "Of course SL is a game!" "Of course only an idiot would consider SL to be a game!" "People watching is a game." "It's only a game if *I* win!"

Trying to define 'game' and applying that definition to SL is like trying to nail Jello to a wall. Good luck with that.

We can say, however, that with respect to certain incidences within The Sims Online and with the marketing of SimCity: Socities, some things could have gone better, particularly under Rod Humble's watch. While 'mistakes do happen', these 'mistakes' were in the line of poor communication with the potential market. "Mistakes we can recover from" is also different from, "These projects died under my watch of a disenfranchised fan base."

As I said before, I am very curious to what Rod would have filed under, "Lessons Learned." Rather than focus on the nature of "SL is/ is-NOT a game", it may be useful to look at what specific style of leadership Rod has had with his other projects, particularly in the area of marketing and communcations to the fan base. It would also be useful to find out if his leadership is a net plus for the projects under his control, or if Rod is better known for driving projects off a cliff and then leaping off just in time to avoid getting the worst of the crash splattered on him.

Yeah, EA has squandered the good will of their fans and collected a good deal of hate from people who would *want* to buy their games. How attached is Rod's name to that hate? Has Rod learned anything from his time in EA about dealing with a disenfranchised fan base?

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Aribeth Zelin wrote:

... If you do something for fun, it is a game ...And if you are spending time in SL for any other reason then fun, then you ought to consider going back into RL, just because its not supposed to be specifically fun ...

I'm stunned. Then, SOCIALIZE is a game for you? Because one (not only) of my main reasons for being in SL is socialize, socialize seriously, not socialize as a game.

Did you ever play house a child?  School?  Cowboys and Indians?  Was the socializing you did as a part of it any less serious because you were playing pretend?  Were your friendships any less real?

What about playing poker with your friends, or monopoly?  Was the socializing any less real for it being over a game?

And if you are hanging out at clubs, be they real or virtual, isn't the whole flirting thing a game?  Even if you aren't interested, its a game of parrying the pickup lines of someone else.  Its fun, its a game.  It doesn't make the socializing any less real for it.

So, yes, socializing is a game, its part of a game.

But Romag is right, its kind of pointless to keep arguing it because everyone wants to think what they do is srz even if what someone else does isn't.

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Under your blog community profile, click Edit Preferences, and Notifications.  You can select no email notifications there.

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Hey maybe this new guy here and kicks some of the people that work for Linden Labs in the ass and make them answer tickets that was made 3 weeks ago. I keep asking myself why in the hell am i a paying member there. wait i thought i would get help alittle quicker when i was. i was wrong

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Mr. Humble, welcome to SL.

I think there are some very good suggestions made in these comments to give you direction, and a lot of healthy and unhealthy skepticism.  It's clear to see that improvement is needed.  That's probably why you're here!

I personally like the idea someone suggested for you to connect with residents every day in some way, where you get direct feedback.  If you do this, I think you'll get a good sense over the next year of the resident experience.

 

Isa

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Welcome to Second Life  and your newest challenge Rod.

And challenge it will be.

Muffle the screamers, its their nature, they will scream regardless. Rather listen to the heartbeat. Those who are busy enjoying this magnificent virtual world brought to life by Linden Labs.

The toughest challenge in SL is the same as in life. The only constant is change and those who struggle adapting to change cry the river. Latch onto nuance phrases and endless no win debates papering the forums and group chats. ie: Is SL a game? It is. It isn't. The glory of SL is it's ability to be whatever the participant deems it to be, for them. Is SL richer, more vibrant today than yesterday. It is, for some. It isn't, for others. Again, the glory of Second Life. It's personal. It's what we, the residents, make of the opportunity provided us.

So welcome to Second Life and its glory Rod. Best of luck and much success to you.

Best regards,

Jahzera Bulloch

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