Wednesday, July 27, 2011

one step removed

"Publicly displaying the level of disconnection between avatar and player that is common in MMOs would be anathema in pretty much every SL roleplaying environment. (Imagine calling your avatar a "toon"!)"
- Ordinal Malaprop, commenting on Why Call Second Life "Second Life" When Few People Use Second Life Long Enough to Really Have a "Second Life"? in New World Notes.

This notion, that Gamers, in their usual stance, are emotionally dissociated from their avatars, intrigues me. I have come across it, in varying degrees, several times. And it's fair to say that some of the people I am, or have been closest to, are hard gamers. In this discussion, I am thinking of "gamers" as MMO Players from other realms - WoW, for example - who have come to Second Life and established themselves. (I have also met many who came but didn't stick).

I have had at least two startling, intense discussions with friends who think of themselves as gamers and also dissociative - not a parallel they drew themselves, but one I noticed. It's interesting to me that I formed close relationships with both people. I'd like to assure both that they simply cannot be as disconnected as they inwardly fear, or that could not have happened.

I know myself as extremely empathetic: I have always and easily been able to perceive and feel compassion for the people I meet and the circumstances or mindset they act/react from. On occasion, I have felt crippled by this sense of understanding their point of view - in situations where I have needed to be hard-nosed and decisive, I have struggled to shut out the emotions of others, and, importantly, an innate understanding of how they acquired their stance.

I have also mentioned before, I am highly empathetic towards my avatar. What she sees, I experience. What I want, she attempts to provide. When she stands close to you, it's because she likes you :-)

I believe it is very possible to have a Second Life within Second Life and that this is, moreover, the desired outcome. I believe the confusion arises when people attempt to derive a first life from their second life. In my experience, those people are in SL on a mission, , and SL is simply a tool to achieve their goal. Those people are not  - and I stress, this is in my experience only - as engaged with the medium. They are less likely to have more than intermediate skills, and more likely to express frustration and boredom. I also personally think they cause more harm, but sometimes it's just that they haven't the self-awareness to know what they came for.

Hanging out with my peeps on Idle Rogue

In my experience, the more successful users are those who either use SL as an adjunct to their first life - a creative and emotional outlet - and those who are able to engage with a small (not psychopathic) amount of dissociation.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands

Just a few months ago I wanted to write about "what I'm looking for", and gave up in the end, because it seemed like it would be dull reading.

My partnership had ended, and was followed by an unfortunate choice, a "fling" that left me feeling very hollow indeed. I am so busy that I don't really have time to establish close friendships (some will say I barely have time to maintain the ones I have). And I am not offering a real life (my personal reality precludes it) - so many people want that, even when they've denied it. I felt like I was standing alone in every crowded room. SL is a great adventure, but it's a collaborative experience, an interactive medium. It's more fun with someone who "gets" you.

Had I written the list, it would have included things like:
  • Shared interests - Idle Rogue and its' community, entertainment, event management, art, content creation, music, dance, photography
  • Personal characteristics - patience (for my lack of time, and for my mood swings), flexibility, good self esteem, honesty, fidelity, sense of humour, capacity for intellectual conversation, tolerance, a strong work ethic
  • SL specific attributes - time to be there, committment to being there, an appreciation for the medium and it's possibilities, an ability to separate from RL but be a real person
So uhhh .... it seems like he showed up. He is so true to my theoretical list I, at first, suspected him of being manufactured. It's a good thing he likes classic rock, because, seriously, he needed a flaw

He's also new, and I am quite conscious that who he is, in his Second Life, is unformed yet. And I have a natural instinct to bolt at any minute anyway. It weirds me out that he seems to have arrived in SL with all the skills he could possibly need to cope with me.

I am ridiculously content. And I feel I ought to say so.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Facebook killed my mojo

Once upon a time, chryblnd Scribe had a Facebook profile, different and separate to her human counterpart's profile. I opened it because my Second Life is so absorbing, and so time-consuming, that people I knew from real life were finding their news feeds over-run with news fom a game they had no interest in. I had a view to a future in which my children might have a facebook presence. And I wanted a way to network and interact with other avatars on a less formal basis.

They were heady times :-) Second Life avatars have a strong presence on Facebook, and within weeks I had a contact list of almost 2000 avatars and people who are interested in Second Life. I stopped looking for profiiles to add, and let those who were interested add me. I was easily able to access the interesting things that were happening in and around SL, such as events, news stories, new content creation. I learned much more about the metaverse we all operate in, and I met and got to know amazing people.

The advantage Facebook has is that you can post so many different types of content. The music you like, the people you admire, random thoughts, what games you play, photographs, links. And your friends can access that information at their own pace. You learn more about each other in a lovely slow game of tag.

But Facebook doesn't want avatar profiles. It is, in fact, in direct contravention of their ToS. We all knew this, and we all knew it could happen to us. In May, it happened to me. Chryblnd Scribe's facebook profile disappeared, and with it went thousands of memories, little interactions and moments in time.

When your profile is suspended, there is, apparently, an appeal process whereby you submit identification that matches your profile's name, and can have it restored. As I contemplated the options, and the vast loss I felt at comments and content that had once warmed my heart, and would never be seen again, I decided that I did not want to lose another account. Many people simply set up with a new email address, but I decided I wanted the option of appeal, should Facebook swoop in and remove my profile again.

So I returned to my RL Facebook profile. I removed all the photos of my children and myself that had been there for family and old friends to enjoy. I warned the current friends list that things were about to change, and get busier. I added, or tried to add, those profiles I had enjoyed as chryblnd Scribe.

I also set up a page for Chryblnd Scribe as a fictional character, though the only fictional aspect of chryblnd Scribe is her avatar's appearance.

It's been spectacularly disappointing, and a lesson in humility. For whatever reason, friend requests I sent were ignored or turned down. I have stopped sending them, unless I know the person inworld and well enough to let them know the request is coming. And the fictional character is limited in her interactions. She can't tag people in photos or respond to them unless they "like" her, and it turns out not many people do *facepalm*.

I believe chryblnd Scribe was an interesting and innovative Facebook user. I see many avatars now using Facebook to promote and inform of events as I did, and was the first to do. But perhaps she was just an annoyance. In any case, my Facebook flow has been stemmed. Those who are close to me are there, and I love that they are, because of course, they were who I interacted with most. But I exist in a vacuum now, and I loathe it.