Draxtor Despres' mixed-reality interview series just keeps getting better and better. The latest episode of The Drax Files: World Makers highlights MadPea Games, a group who create immersive storytelling environments and game experiences within SL. Kiana Writer spoke for the group and had quite a few interesting things to say about what they do and why... But more on that in a bit. Check out the full episode for yourself, first:
To mark 10 years of Second Life, iO9's Charlie Jane Anders has an epic history of virtual reality in pop culture from the last 40 years, starting with a 70's TV mini-series by German film great Rainer Werner Fassbinder (who knew?), and more or less ending with 2010's Tron remake. One notable point: Just about every single one of these visions of virtual reality is pretty horrible in some way. Either it's covering up some dark aspects of human nature (which is why murders and such keep breaking out there), or it's draining us of our humanity in some devious way. (And in The Matrix, VR is used to literally drain humans.) But none of these visions of VR basically say: "Virtual reality is a great place worth living in as much as possible, because it makes the human race better to be there." I'd say the one possible exception is the holodeck of the Star Trek franchise, which presents VR in a fairly neutral light -- it's often a useful tool and a fun, occasional hobby (even though, again, things go wildly wrong there all the time) -- but even then, it's not a utopia, and the rest of the show implies the real world is still far more preferable.
So, why so much negativity about virtual reality? Probably for the same reason philosopher Robert Nozick's "experience machine" thought experiment is so compelling
There's an interesting new game available today, and although it might seem like nothing special at first blush, it's definitely not your parents' action platformer. In Cellar Door Games' Rogue Legacy your goal (at least in the short-term) is to die. Die splendidly, die stupidly, die often. Just make sure that you die with a few coins in your pocket to pass down to your children so that they'll be better equipped than you were.
... Because they're the ones you'll be playing as next.
Class Action Lawsuit Against Linden Lab for Suspended Accounts Settled for $172,000 Paid in Linden Dollars UPDATE: Legal Expert Says "Looks like Linden Lab lost"
If you're a lawyer or another kind of expert in American legal practice and you have a subscription to American Lawyer magazine, I'd love your help. Thing is, I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on the Internet, nor can I read in full The American Lawyer's article on the matter, since it's paywalled, but it looks like several Second Life landowners who lost their SL property after their accounts were suspended just accepted a class action settlement from Linden Lab. And the class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of 57,000+ SL users in a particular category of land owners. Specifically, as this 2012 class action granting decision designates:
The settlement amount paid by Linden is small, reported in a law blog as being paid to the defendants in Linden Dollars: 43 million L$, or USD $172,000. That it's being paid in Linden Dollars suggests it's being given to active SL users. Beyond that, I'm not going to speculate any further, but I'd love a legal expert to (carefully!) do so in Comments. Read the full class action decision here.
Update, 11:15AM SLT: Just got an e-mail from Agenda Faromet, avatar for an RL legal expert, who gave me the following quick-take analysis:
Yesterday, three-person development team Surreal Games launched a Kickstarter to help fund their fledgling virtual world, Surreal Adventures, developed in Unity and intended for release on a variety of platforms (including mobile devices). They've set a goal of $100,000 with funding drawing to a close on August 9th.
What exactly makes Surreal Adventures any different than the virtual world that have come (and, in some cases, gone) in the past decade? Well, for starters...
Click here to visit an installation for SL10B that Marianne McCann has made, which traces the 10+ year history of Second Life, through billboards and 3D totems that signify milestones for each year. Above is me by the 2003 tax revolt milestone, which has special resonance for me. I first heard about this walk from ex-Linden Teagan Linden, who told me why she loved it so:
Click here to visit a Second Life store that's created an impressive tribute to and is the cosplay around the action game inspired by the anime called Attack on Titan (which sophisticated geeks call Shingeki no Kyojin), which is an anime I've never seen, but Kotaku's Mike Fahey sure has, and just devoted a whole admiring long feature to the Second Life game inspired by it. It seems to involve giants and badass sci-fi warrior women kicking ass... but then again, that describes every other anime ever made. Anyway, the SL version was created by Moeka Kohime, whose store blog is right here.
Iris Rants: Pushing for Better Virtual Art is Great, But Don't Mistake Art You Don't Like for Bad Art in General
SL artist and machinimator Botgirl Questi recently wrote a somewhat controversial post on her blog, criticisizing the abundance of trite, cliché personal avatar photography that often appears on Flickr and in response to artistic prompts from Single Frame Stories, a popular weekly SL photography challenge. her post has provoked some discussion on Plurk, and not all of it has been positive.
It's easy enough to see why some people might see her post as a bit of a personal insult, but even if the post itself rubs you the wrong way Botgirl has some great advice that virtual artists (both aspiring and established) should pay attention to... And so do I.
Last Sunday as many Second Life users were celebrating the world's 10th anniversary, a group of people who had helped create the world itself quietly gathered there to have their own celebration too. Led in part by Babbage Linden, a steampunk gentleman with a bronze robot arm, many Linden Lab employees (mostly past, but some present) assembled in the Corn Field, which is the place that naughty SLers were once sent in banishment. (Created by Daniel Linden, it was his wry tribute to a famous Twilight Zone episode.)
"I thought our little SL10B party was a great combination of remembering old times in Da Boom and the Corn Field and being dazzled by WindLight skies, shadows and Osprey's amazing meshes at SL10B -- awesome," Babbage tells me now. "I also gave away my last non-copy Babbage Linden Bear to a collector at the Linden Bear Museum, which was fun." Babbage left the company in 2010, riding out of San Francisco on his longboard, and lately he's better known as Jim Purbrick, software engineer at Facebook.
So they gathered there and shared memories and occasionally danced. Many SLers tell me they believe all Lindens are indifferent to Second Life, and just consider it a job. But the Corn Field tells another story.
After the break, a rundown of the Lindens (and some non-Lindens, and some Lindens in their alts) pictured above: