Explorer of physical and virtual environments, an adventurer of the mind and a creator of fantastical things
This was my very first Second Life Birthday celebration. For those of you not in the know, Second Life has its own birthday. On June 23rd, 2004 Second Life celebrated its 1st birthday ¹ and so every year, Second Life celebrates its birthday around this time. This year, was SL14B² and they had the theme of “CARNIVALESQUE”. I had been to the shopping event with a friend of mine and grabbed all the free gifts and then had to try to find my way back to the stores I wanted to buy stuff in, in the ENORMOUS shopping mall of Halcyon shopping sim. But I had really been waiting for this. The BIG birthday Carnivale celebrations. Excited much??? YES I WAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The first time I went, I didn’t even take any photos. I just stared, open eyed and grinning in both my real life and my second life with the gaudy brilliance of it all.
I was greeted at the landing point by friendly people pointing me to the board with the teleports to areas of interest. I was given a notecard with visitor gifts. I wore the top hat with great glee. I followed the path down to catch a dragon flight. The dragon took me down and revealed to me such sights as I had not expected. The bright, eye jarring, beautiful chaos was overwhelming and glorious. The builds that surrounded me were a joyful reminder of the creativity of the many. I can’t even begin to say which was my favourite. They were all just so wonderful and representative of this incredible place.
There was a pile of free gifts. The generosity of people and their gifts almost brought me to tears. These lovely, giving, delightful people had donated gifts to the party goers and there was such a variety. Everything from lanyards, to SL14B exclusive pets to full perm building materials. I think next year, I would like to be one of those people who give too.
And just to add to the fun even further, there was a hunt3 that took you around to different builds with MORE free gifts. For those not in the know, a hunt in Second Life is a lot like a treasure hunt in real life. You are given a list of places where you need to look for a particular item (in this case it was a magnifying glass). When you click on the item, it gives you a small prize. For me, one of the best things about a hunt is that it DOES take you around to many places. I now have a lot of landmarks of places I did not previously know about but now want to visit. It also makes you look…REALLY look closely at what the creator has built. I always come away with a new sense of appreciation when I do that.
The atmosphere was indeed, as the theme suggested, Carnivalesque. The sights and the sounds immersed you into that theme. There were live performances and dance floors and stages. There were livestreams by Draxtor Despres4-6 and Strawberry Singh7-9 and Meet the Linden videos10-13 that accompanied the whole carnival. There were rides and for a moment of complete peace…Jaydn Firehawk had built a serene little piece of Yosemite right in the middle of it all. It was so nice to just sit in the park listening to the crickets chirp and the birds sing for a small moment before trekking on.
It’s hard to explain why this meant so much to me, but soon I will reach my own SL birthday. My Rezzday will come and for me, it will be quite the milestone. Just as each SLB was a milestone for the world and its people.
When I started this journey, I never expected to care so much . I didn’t realise what it would mean to be a part of a world, to be drawn into its culture and its life. To feel its pulse and be drawn along with it. I did not think I would become so enamoured of its people or so involved in its community. I thought I could hold myself somehow separate but this world and these people…they have a way of working their way into your mind and your heart. You have no choice but to BE creative in a world that is built on the creativity of its people.
So to all the Lindens who have had vision and foresight, who built the infrastructure upon which many minds have journeyed, who kept the world going underneath the glossy exterior, who patched the code and helped to build and maintain community….to all the people in their glorious diversity, past present and future who participate and watch and build and live and laugh and cry…to you all who make the great and glorious world of Second Life13…I wish you most joyfully and thankfully a wonderful SL14B.
Reblogged this on KULTIVATE MAGAZINE.
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Thank you John! 😊
“When I started this journey, I never expected to care so much. I didn’t realise what it would mean to be a part of a world, to be drawn into its culture and its life.”
This is so beautifully and eloquently stated, and it captures the feeling I’ve had—in Second Life and, many years ago, on The Palace platform before it—of becoming extraordinarily attached to a “virtual” community that exists primarily within and thanks to the human imagination. These worlds aren’t “places” in the traditional sense, how many people might think of them, and we communicate with one another there in ways that both mirror but also transcend & oppose the standard expectations of face-to-face interaction; they feel tremendously real nonetheless, and can have a deep and long-lasting effect on our psyche and how we view ourselves.
I continue to believe that worlds like SL remain generally (and unfairly) ignored as a subject of inquiry, academic and otherwise, and I’m not convinced that those pushing the VR of headsets & first-person “immersion” really understand or appreciate the possibilities of an avatar-centric, screen-based world. Imagination is a much more powerful tool than technology. Topic for a longer discussion, I suppose, but I think there’s something to be said for a platform where you can see yourself as someone or something else while remaining at a slight remove, exploring new frontiers while staying right where you are.
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