Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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SL Has a Thriving Community Who Roleplay 1920s Berlin

1920s Berlin Second Life

Berlin of the 1920s is famous for being full of vibrant and decadent fun (that is, before the Nazi darkness came), and if you've seen any version of Cabaret, you roughly know how and why; what might surprise you, however, is that Berlin of the 1920s is something else: The theme for a thriving Second Life roleplay community, who live in two sims made to look like that metropolis from that time: Click here for a direct teleport there.

The community even has its own homepage, it's own blog, and a Flickr stream, like social media echoes of another era. And while I've known about this community for awhile, I quite didn't get how thriving it was, until one of the owners explained as much:

"My biggest fear in it all was that we would be a quiet sim," she explains in that Reddit thread I mentioned earlier. "But we ended up with a really great community of folks who love an immersive, historical environment (hence the dress code). Some folks said that we wouldn't last, because of the dress... but that is exactly what made our community want to stay and grow. Apartment rentals are usually at 100% capacity, and we have a whole team of people running events, from a nightly 'bar night,' where the residents come, have a drink, chat about the day, to weekly performances (sometimes a bit risque), classes (for kids and adults), lectures, and annual events. We even have weekly church services and are soon to have a running synagogue. And people actually show up, a lot!"

Pretty noteworthy. We know about the thriving fantasy/sci-fi communities in Second Life, but it's interesting (and cool) such a relatively niche interest could find enough supporters to maintain an in-world presence.

SL image by jeannettes from her Flickr stream.

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Pussycat Catnap

Pretty sure this blog, and Daniel Voyagers both have been mentioning this place on and off again for a few years now.

They self-promote like crazy, so its no surprise they continue to thrive.

I've never been as the place has a blanket ban on my identity no matter how I could manage to respin myself - and I'm not comfortable with the theme for numerous reasons I've argued many times before, elsewhere, and prefer to leave that there.

It would be nice to see almost any other genre get some folks willing to promote themselves to this degree though, and gain some 'stick it out'-ness.

RP themes that last in SL pretty much come down to this place, and misogynistic Goreans - and I'm an ill fit for either.

Everything else seems to come and go at a rapid pace. Might be handy to see someone break it down with this community and look into what has made them last, in detail, and how they've overcome challenges that have wiped out other communities.

Ciaran Laval

Jo does a very good job of promoting the sim, they are also not static, it's currently set in 1929 but my understanding is that they will roll into the 1930's over time.

Jo Yardley

Thanks for mentioning us!
We have been around for over 3 years now and have plans for other roleplay sims, but that is still in the distant future.
Berlin will always be stuck in 1929 though, we are not too keen on role playing what came next.
But the sim does change a lot, for the last couple of months for instance, I've been turning stuff into mesh left, right and center.

The community is the main reason our sim is doing so well, amazing people willing to work very hard, organise events and who feel so much at home, they don't want to leave.
We are very proud to have a portrait gallery of people who have been tenants in our sim for more then a year, two years and in some cases even 3 years!
Apartments for rent go really fast, even if they are very very small and often dark, damp and smelly.

And for those who don't want to dress up like 1920s humans, we have several 'Relaxed Rules Days' in our sim where we welcome pretty much everyone.

Caliburn Susanto

The region contents are also scaled to actual human size (of which I am one, nowadays) as opposed to the 7-9 foot giants that frequent the Grid, so there is much more packed into the limited area and the main region has a lot of content.

Next door is the Graf Zepplin which is an entire region long! I have a photo set on Flickr at: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/caliburnsusanto/sets/72157626190653685/

virtualchristine

Hi Jo! When exactly are your relaxed rules days? I would love to drop by and take a look! A chance to wander the streets of my adopted home's golden era is a dream come true!

Mila Edelman

Yeup, I'm Emerald_Eyed_Betty, aka Mila Edelman. Jo let me know that my random post on reddit actually spawned an article. :) Now you know that I also love Dachshunds, Min Pins, and yarn (both spinning and working with). My secrets are out! OH GOD!

I am, every day, very proud of our community, and that's what really keeps us going. We should say, "THEY" are WHO keep us going.

I spend a lot of time in the background, doing programmy-things, and buildy-things, but every single time I come down to the city to spend time with our community, I am so impressed with how much so many of them consider it "home." Pretty much every single time I've gone down to fix something or update something, I end up at an impromptu gathering at someone's house or at one of the clubs. Though some of the newer residents don't know me too well (because I tend to be buried in behind-the-scenes work lately), they welcome me in as if they've always known me, and many don't even find out until hours, sometimes days, later that I am the other owner of the sim, or that, sometimes, I designed every piece of clothing they're wearing. My point in that is that they are so friendly that, even without knowing who I am, I'm welcomed in without question. Even people I had to come down and stop from doing something (one resident had a rezzing accident a few months ago) ended up inviting me in for drinks, even though I came down to put the hammer down (though I always open with a kind approach, first, so that probably helps).

The residents are welcoming, and there are so many people who want to contribute to make it thrive, that we are blessed by them every day. Jo and I could continue to do to an amount of events and things that two people could handle, but I love that people in the community are always coming forward, asking to run something, or start something. Not to sound corny, but their enthusiasm is really fuel for us, too.

DD Ra

1920's Berlin is a place to visit on SL, both because of the incredibly immersing atmosphere, and because it's a very welcoming place.
It's a good place for cool roleplay in a polite and non violent (and historical) atmosphere too !

Dave Bell

I don't usually play as human, but I would say it isn't hard to put together a presentable human AV to visit places such as this.

And since my usual furry AV is based on a character from this general era, it's not a big jump for me. Though, since I'm a bit more aware of the history than some, I find pre-Nazi Germany to be a bit spooky. A lot of the enabling politics ran all though the Wiemar period.

jo yardley

We'll organise another relaxed rules day soon, keep an eye on our site or facebook page and you'll hear about it in time.

Berlin in 1929 was a scary time, a politically tense time but for most people life just went on as it always had and except for one huge riot each may, generally that is what our sim is all about; Daily life.
And 1929 was just before things started getting really scary.
Also, when you live in dangerous and scary times, you have a greater need for escape.
Thus, in 1920s Berlin most people try to ignore or forget what is going on in politics and demand more cabaret, more dancing, more drinking and more wild parties ;)

Masami Kuramoto

Jo Yardley wrote:

Berlin will always be stuck in 1929 though, we are not too keen on role playing what came next.

You kind of did when you had police hunting down mesh-wearing people and kicking them off the sim.

But the sim does change a lot, for the last couple of months for instance, I've been turning stuff into mesh left, right and center.

So it's 1945 Berlin now? :P

Adeon Writer

Glad to see it's successful. I did drop by on their dress-code-free weekend and it's a nice place. Sadly, wearing the right clothing won't get me in the door at any other time as my avatar is the wrong species, and that's a little farther than I'd prefer to change up Adeon. :)

Jo yardley

Masami Kuramoto, for a short time we asked visitors not to wear Mesh clothing because most people could not see mesh yet and we would have the occasional person walking around half naked or half invisible.
We never hunted them down and kicked them off, they were simply asked in a polite way to change their outfits.
Bit silly to compare that to the persecution and terror during the Nazi regime....

And comparing the ongoing changes in a sim with the horrendous destruction of a great city is also a bit off the mark.

Hamlet Au

Comparisons to regulation of mesh on avatars with the Nazi Party is a fresh and fairly unique violation of Godwin's Law, so I guess that's interesting, but now that we've seen it, it'd be nice to never see it again.

Flo2

And additionally, "Pussycat Catnap" has succeeded in offending all those people who put work and work into building a community and organizing events, exhibits, rp scenarios, etc. etc. with her(?) bitter remark: "They self-promote like crazy, so its no surprise they continue to thrive." Congratulations for this consequence - the one who says thing like that, doesn't understand anything about managing a successful sim.

virtualchristine

Almost every street in my Berlin nieghborhood has little plaques in the sidewalk with the names of families who were dragged off in the night, tortured starved experimented on, seperated from everything they knew and loved, then savagly murdered.In the courthouse I walk by on the way to work hundreds of people were sentanced to death, including teenagers who maybe drew a caracature of Hitler in school, often by guillotine. Did you know that more people were guillotinned in Nazi Germany than in the french revolution Masami? Have you seen a concentration camp? There's one right outside Berlin in Oranienburg.We could be there in 40 minutes from my house. The next time someone doesn't get your coffee the right temperature, or asks younicely to change clothes, we could go have a look at the labs and ovens before you draw a metaphor.

Jo Yardley

Christine, as a sim we recently 'adopted' one of those street stones, a very poignant and emotional way to remember what happened.
One of the reasons I started the 1920s Berlin Project was to show people this amazing city before things went so wrong, the culture, the art but also the jewish neighbourhoods.

Masami Kuramoto

virtualchristine, I am well aware of history, which is exactly why I took issue with Jo Yardley's choice of words in her blog:

It drives people mad, police are confronting people for wearing huge odd globes only to be told these people are wearing mesh 1920s clothing. Berlin civilians keep calling the police to report these people. Yet these people think they look fine.

If you can read that quote and say with a straight face that it doesn't evoke images of the police state Berlin of the 1930s, then you may be in need of a history lesson. It's nice to seamlessly integrate sim policies with roleplay, but in this particular case it's inappropriate.

By the way, I find Dave Bell's comment spot on:

I find pre-Nazi Germany to be a bit spooky.

Indeed, and it is precisely this spookiness that Jo Yardley is exploiting with her project. Berlin in the 1920s was already fertile ground for fascism; it was not a beacon of civilisation but rotten to the core. If you have fun doing roleplay in front of that, fine, but don't tell me I have to respect Jo for what she's doing. Her sim is neither a memorial nor an accurate representation of history. Its sole purpose is entertainment (of the "spooky" kind), and I'm certainly not "violating Godwin's Law" when I say that I dislike it.

Dave Bell

Thanks, Masami.

I've recently been reading both Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" and Andrew Marr's "History of Modern Britain", and the contrasts between Germany and the UK are striking. Both were scared by the Communists (so was the USA), but the British political system had more history of coping with the changes. Germany, as a democracy, was a fresh-faced youth.

Andrew Marr also suggested that the British were inclined to snigger at the various coloured-shirt movements, but he may have a vague recollection of Roderick Spode.

With Nanowrimo looming, I shall be up to something. There is an actress boarding the Orient Express, in Vienna Germany, carrying plans from a factory in the rump of Czechoslovakia. There is a guy racing half-way around the world to meet her.

Bother, it's the wrong time of year for snow. And it's Istanbul, not Constantinople (but that's nobody's business but the Turks).

virtualchristine

Well, I'm sorry Masimuri but I cannot see a darned thing about a virtual role playing sim enforcing rules about clothing to be in any way related to a real world totalitarian state wiping out 11 million people. And as to the 1920's Berlin being somewhat spooky, then wasn't the slaveholding american South? How about the Jim Crow era? The attempted genocide of the Native American? Doesn't that make Western Roleplay spooky?How about Portuguese roleplay, the inventors of African Chattel Slavery,or Brazil's record as having imported the most slaves from Africa of any nation. Are sims about their histories in poor taste? How about 1920's Tokyo; the Japanese were certainly no slouches in the enabling politics department, or mass murder! How about pre genocide Cambodian or Rwanden culture?
The Nazis were able to do what they did on the scale they did it beause of a thousand years of enabling european culture. Ask a Sapphardic Jew if they find Spanish history "spooky".
I am not an educated woman. But I like to read. And a few years back, when a favorite author of mine won the Nobel Prize for literature, I stood in line for hours to hear her speak. She had a similar conversation to the one we are having now with a member of the audience. And when Nadine Gordimer said" People who equate psychological torture to phsyical torture have not had hot irons put through their tongues" the modern day Berliner audience burst into a standing ovation. I truly do wish you all the best Masami. But I think you are wrong.

virtualchristine

Oh and Masami, I would like to apologize for my complete inability to spell anything longer than two letters after 7pm, and I would also like to apologize for the crack about getting your coffee the right temperature. Folks do get volatile around this very volatile subject, but my remark was unneccesarily mean spirited. I am used to blogging, where I can put things away overnight before I actually post them! I am sorry if I offended you in any way with my very often glaring clumsiness.

Pussycat Catnap

"bitter remark: "They self-promote like crazy, so its no surprise they continue to thrive.""

That was bitter?

That was a compliment.

Effective promotion has kept that community alive. More communities could do well from learning how they have managed to promote.

Pussycat Catnap

"One of the reasons I started the 1920s Berlin Project was to show people this amazing city before things went so wrong, the culture, the art but also the jewish neighbourhoods."

While I understand and find that a noble goal - in my eyes as a non-white, I see that everything in the western controlled parts of the world was still wrong at that time. Germany simply brought it all to a head in the 30s-40s; but the world was an ugly place.

1920s in Berlin bothers me personally because I know what was boiling under the surface there, about to spill out - and I know how it did spill out. I commend the aim of your goal, but the era makes me highly uncomfortable.


I personally, prefer to think of the Berlin of today - which is a shining beacon in the world for the causes of equal rights, justice, and remembrance AND a model to the world for advancement in culture.

Pussycat Catnap

"The attempted genocide of the Native American? Doesn't that make Western Roleplay spooky?"
***********

- Yes it does, and I've called people on this often. This kind of Roleplay is not roleplaying 'before' the war, but during it.

Much of playing 'Cowboys and Indians' is pretty much akin to playing 'SS and Jews'. Particularly disturbing for me in that at least as of the 1970s when I grew up, boys were still being told to play that game - and as I grew more aware of the fact that I -am- the Indian my brothers played at killing (not yet aware they were the indian)... that's where my interest in social studies and history began.

But that is a whole different discussion.

And Jo's sim is -NOT- set in WWII Germany. She's before the rise of the Nazis.

virtualchristine

Well said Pussycat!

Jo yardley

Masami.

Yes I can say with a straight face that people reporting rulebreakers to the Police does not remind me of Nazi Germany.
After all, this is something that happens in every city, in every country in every time and is not something that just happened during that regime.

Pre Nazi Berlin was a lot less spooky then Nazi Berlin.
Especially as Berlin was leaning much more towards the 'red' side of the political stage and remained generally not a very good breading ground for Nazism, even during the war.
1920s Germany was the last time there was hope and freedom in that city, more freedom then in almost all other countries of the time.
And by 1929, the year in our sim, the Nazi party was still relatively week and only just getting up again from a time when they were banned and Hitler had not been allowed to even speak at gatherings.

Our sim tries to show people what life was like in this city BEFORE the Nazi's took over, we do show the dark shadows approaching.
We're dancing on top of a volcano.
We're not 'exploiting' it, we're showing it.
We are using the sim as education, and it does work that way as visitors keep reminding us; they learn, a lot.
Please do feel free to let me know via notecard or email in what way it is not a accurate representation of history.
And I will gladly reply in detail.

Pussycat,
Yes it is a bit scary to know what comes next but that also makes experiencing the world the Nazi's destroyed extra enjoyable.
One last 'in your face', the wild bohemian behaviour, the communist riots, so many people (especially in that city at that time) being anti Nazi, people feeling things are finally getting better after inflation ended, so many new things were invented, sexual liberation and tolerance at a level unheard of in the rest of the world till the 1970s.
Culture blossoming immensely, people called it a golden age.
Knowing what comes next can make it spooky, but also makes it extra strong.
The 'enjoy it while it last' attitude.

Masami Kuramoto

Jo Yardley wrote:

Yes I can say with a straight face that people reporting rulebreakers to the Police does not remind me of Nazi Germany.

I repeat the quote from your blog:

Berlin civilians keep calling the police to report these people. Yet these people think they look fine.

Let's first look at the facts here: These people did look fine. They used Linden Lab's official viewer and saw their avatars wearing authentic 1920s clothing. They certainly didn't break any rules.

That being said, let's look at your choice of words: Berlin civilians vs. these people. Granted, this is roleplay, but if it were real, it would make Goebbels proud. Subtle but effective: These people are obviously not Berlin civilians. The big irony here is that you condone intolerance and "police action" against these people who committed no crime other than being more progressive than "Berlin civilians". It is the exact opposite of what your project is supposed to express and celebrate.

Third, let's look at the role of the police in Germany after 1933:

In the book Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany, 1933-1945, Robert Gellately argues that the Gestapo were not in fact all-pervasive and intrusive as they have been described. The Gestapo only numbered 32,000 for the entire population of Germany, and this clearly limited their impact. In the city of Hanover there were only 42 officers. Instead, Gellately says that the atmosphere of terror and fear was maintained by 'denunciations' from ordinary Germans, whereby they would inform any suspicious 'anti-Nazi' activity to the local Nazi authority. According to Gellatley, these denunciations were the cause of most prosecutions, as in Saarbrücken 87.5 per cent of cases of 'slander against the regime' came from denunciations.

This, dear Jo, is the implied spookiness of reporting these people to the mock-up police of a mock-up version of 1929 Berlin. That's why I said you roleplayed the 1930s. And when I pointed that out, you even had the nerve to accuse me of trivializing history. Let me be clear about this, Jo: The trivialization of history is happening right there in your sim. The public mindset that enabled the establishment of the Nazi regime didn't appear out of nowhere in 1933, and it also didn't magically disappear in 1945. "1920s Berlin" is a sugar-coated attempt at history whitewash, a parallel universe on par with "Inglourious Basterds" in terms of authenticity, except that the latter doesn't want to be taken serious. You do.

ZZ Bottom

I'm Portuguese so lets be straight!
We didnt trade slaves, we traded goods as slaves where by that time and our role was only a export/import one, rival tribes in Africa as Muslin slave traders, gather those goods that we esported to where they where needed!
Yes polical incorrect for sure I'm!
But nevertheless, trully!
btw, being on the sim, enjoyed it, period!


ZZ Bottom

Proud of Our past, be sure we are!
Not only of being slave traders, but also of explorers of the unknown, the 1st ones to be on Japan, the 1st ones to be on Australia, the ones that made proof that World was round!
A small Country in the end of the Europe, that made the dirt work for England, France, Germany and so many, cause it was the only way we could survive!
And we did it and be sure we are still here, now spreaded all over the World bur never fearing the past, cause to deny history for the good and the evil is the mistake we dont make!
Never.

Jo yardley

Masami,

Semantics, as someone who's English is not her first language, I could also have used the word guests, visitors, etc.
The reason to use the words Berlin Civilians was to emphasize that one of the main reasons we follow up on our rules is that we have tenants who pay rent to experience the 1920s setting and not see people walking around in modern clothes or who are half invisble.
At that moment in time most people did not yet have a mesh enabled viewer and we got lots of calls from people seeing very weird avatars visiting the city.
That is why we asked people not to wear mesh for a very few weeks, we needed time to adjust.
I condone intolerance and "police action" against people who break rules and laws, just like any society does.
And just because it takes us a few weeks to catchup, as pretty much everyone I knew uses the phoenix/firestorm viewer, and because the way you look is important in our sim, does not make it necessary to start comparing it all to the Nazis.

1920s Berlin and even the 1920s Berlin Police force WAS very different from the one in the 1930s.
Much of the police force before the Nazi regime was anti-nazi and a lot of the officers had to be replaced or transferred when the Nazis came to power.
And once more, civilians reporting criminals to the police is not (just) related to the Nazi regime.
Civilians cooperating with a criminal regime is also nothing that was just something that worked in nazi Germany, it could happen in many countries and it did/does.
Hitler never got a majority during the elections and the second and third party during the 1933 election had the opposite views the NSDAP had.
There were many Germans and especially many Berliners who opposed Hitler and his cronies.
The reasons the Nazi regime finally flourished, or appeared to do so, are countless and very complicated.
It was not just 'the mindset' or the German character or even the German people.
The Nazi party took advantage of the fear of communism after several riots and the fire in the Reichstag, they had to interrupt party meetings of their opponents and use terror and street violence to get the votes they had, yet still it was not a majority.
If Hitler had not taken charge in 1933, he may not ever have ended up in power.
It is a combination of circumstances, not just a people's mindset.

How much time have you spend in the sim, have you lived there and been part of the community?

Jo yardley

I meant the Reichstag fire was used after the elections to scare people into letting Hitler take more power then he had been given democratically.
They needed the Reichstag Fire Decree to force out any opposition to get 44% of the vote and still they had to create a coalition to become powerful enough to take over.
Hitler had to fight to become dictator.
Does not sound like a country where"The public mindset that enabled the establishment of the Nazi regime" was very prominent.

virtualchristine

ZZ, buying people from Afican slave traders,was where most european slave traders got their "product" for a very long time.This wasn't exclusive to Portugal. I know this because I have ancestors who were slaves, and ancestors who owned them.Personally "pride" is not a word I would use to describe the process.I don't think it has anything to do with political correctness,as you said, history has good and evil. I am proud of the good, not the evil, which I do not deny happened. Nor was I saying there was anything especially "bad " about Portugal or Spain or Japan, sorry if it came over that way. I am a regular visitor to your country and a great admirer of Portuguese history and culture. I was just trying to make a broad example! Desculpe!

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