Saturday, July 04, 2015
Happy Independence Day, Fellow American Second Lifers!
... shot just now from a July 4th party in Stars Over Sparta (SLurl here) where Seth Regan is closing out a set with covers of "American Pie" and "Heart of Gold" by American treasure Neil Young, where the only American flag made to represent all Americans is flying.
Friday, July 03, 2015
As a Professional Second Life Scripter Almost Anything
Reddit itself is totally in tumult over some odd recent management moves, but the /secondlife subreddit has a very interesting "Ask Me Almost Anything" thread for "HisRant" a programmer who scripts in Second Life on a professional basis. Yes, professional: "Having gotten to the point of knowing enough people and having a decent reputation within larger project agencies," he says to a question about his Second Life income, "I would be able to script as my main form of income if I was risky enough to rely solely on freelance work." In another question, he drops a tantalizing hint for an upcoming project that aims to remove the need for poseballs [with positioned animation]:
Thursday, July 02, 2015
Black Second Life User Shares Real & Virtual Experiences With the Confederate Battle Flag
"It is good to see someone speak about what the Confederate flag is about, and what I, my family, and other African people have had to live with for many years," wrote SL user "bellahyae", commenting in Tuesday's post on that flag's sale in Second Life's official store, reflecting an opinion similar to that shared by many African-Americans for many years, but largely ignored until last month's atrocity.
"I wish people knew how much it hurt to see the flag on TV and in places which are supposed to represent everyone in a fair manner, like court houses. I have been to places in Second Life which had the flag up." She continues:
"We always knew what it meant. That we and others with our color are not wanted around that area. It is like putting up a 'Caucasian only' sign. I have a lot of bad memories with that flag. Like walking past homes of people who have them proudly displayed in front of their homes... while at the same time, the mean stares we got just for walking by their home. People looking at us and then spitting. Being called the N word for no reason and often out of the blue."
"Bellahyae" goes on: "I do not know its full history, but for people of my color, that flag always means one thing: You're not welcome here. With a feeling that your existence is looked down on, and the threat that they would love to have us swinging from trees by our necks again."
A number of New World Notes readers have defended the continued sale of the flag in the SL Marketplace, and she had a comment on that as well:
VR Hater Bingo Card: Cute, But Doesn't Cover Warren Spector's "Fear of Being Blind to the Outside World"
This VR Hater Bingo Card by @curleyswirly is pretty funny and on point, and should encourage virtual reality skeptics to at least come up with newer objections than these:
At the same time, it doesn't include one of Warren Spector's key concerns:
[T]he big one I see are the isolating effect of simply wearing a headset. I believe most people will be genuinely frightened of and disoriented by being effectively blind to the outside world for the sake of entertainment.
I've seen VR advocates respond to this point with, "Well, when you're sleeping and dreaming, you're blind to the outside world too!" Seriously.
Master Virtual Builder Shows What SL Means to Him
Here's another great must-watch machinima for Linden Lab's "What Second Life Means to Me" viral video campaign:
The machinima and the Rose Theater are from Angel Manor, created by Kaya Angel, who shot another excellent machinima at the Manor earlier this year, and explained in detail his approach to virtual community creation:
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
Game Design Pioneer Warren Spector on the Cultural Roadblocks to Virtual Reality That Few Are Talking About
VR will be a game-changer (as it were) in many aspects of our future lives but not necessarily in gaming. I want to see VR succeed as a gaming device, but see potential roadblocks being ignored.
Which is a provocative thing to say, and stirred up a lot of controversy, especially by game industry admirers of Spector who are also boosters of VR. So I asked Warren what roadblocks he was talking about, and he put it this way:
"If you use any of this," he said at the start of his message, "PLEASE don't paint me as the anti-VR guy. That's all I ask."
So noted: Warren Spector is not the anti-VR guy. And so said, Warren then went on to explain VR's challenges as a gaming platform that aren't being addressed:
"[I]t's important to emphasize that content, tech and price point aren't challenges at all. Smart people are working on those problems and I'm 100% confident they'll be solved. "
He also sees virtual reality having a number of valuable real world applications that are feasible and important: "I also see great value in VR for certain uses where putting on a headset and separating oneself from the real world are appropriate and even necessary. Among those are business meetings, training sessions of all kinds, long-distance relationships (familial and friendship) and so on. Those are situations where entering an alternate liminal space and leaving the real world behind are entirely appropriate. The problem with the responses to my comments is that they all think I'm saying VR content will always suck when I'm not saying that at all."
And then Warren went on to describe the challenges that the VR industry has yet to address -- not technical, creative, or commercial, but deeper, bound up in the basic fact of VR users having to literally block themselves off from the rest of the world, and the people who are supposed to matter to them:
Wet Hot Second Life Summer Shots, Perfectly Staged
These are some really well-staged shots depicting a virtual Summer in Second Life (from French language SL blog Plu Belle La Second Life). Note the dude caught mid-dive, adding motion to the scene. For that matter, note the lifeguard who is a giant furry, which is still significantly less ridiculous than a lifeguard who is David Hasselhoff. Many more virtual Côte d'Azur-esque pics here.
Second Life's 12B Birthday Cake is Not a Lie
It's more like a 8 bit Nintendo fever dream acid trip by Mikati Slade [with some scripting help by] Mac Kanashimi. Ziki Questi explores the massive installation, and we do mean massive - if you squint, that's her avatar in the upper left of the hot pink carpet. Click here to confirm the cake isn't a lie for yourself. (By July 4th, that is.)
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Linden Lab Declines Comment on Continued Sale of Racist Confederate Flag Items in Official Second Life Store
I've e-mailed Linden Lab three times about the sale of Confederate flag items in its official Second Life Marketplace (which I blogged about last week), but have still not received any kind of reply. At this point I'm forced to conclude Linden Lab is declining to address the issue -- either publicly, or in the Marketplace itself, where Confederate flag items are still quite easy to find and buy, both through searches of "Confederate" and "rebel flag". This is disappointing for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that the flag was, in fact, created and enshrined as a symbol of white supremacy, meant in great part to intimidate African-Americans:
[I]t's not a coincidence that white Southerners were embracing the Confederate battle flag just as the South's system of violently enforced white supremacy was under its first real threat since Reconstruction. President Truman had vowed to do more to promote civil rights, integrating the military and telling the NAACP that civil rights could not wait.
In response, the Ku Klux Klan surged. Southern politicians displayed the Confederate battle flag when they railed against Truman. College students who supported Strom Thurmond's segregationist presidential campaign in 1948 waved Confederate flags at campaign events.
The civil rights movement didn't change the flag's meaning — it simply made the hate underlying the heritage more explicit. After the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, white Southerners used the Confederate flag to intimidate civil rights activists and demonstrate states' willingness to protect segregation at all costs. The flag no longer represented just a 19th-century battle to preserve white supremacy, but a 20th-century one as well.
The KKK waved the Confederate flag. So did the Citizens' Councils, white supremacist groups of prominent and successful people who opposed integration. White mobs at the University of Alabama carried Confederate flags when they threw rocks at Autherine Lucy, the university's first black student, before the university decided to expel her rather than protect her. Mobs fighting to protect segregated schools wore Confederate flags in Little Rock and New Orleans and Austin and Birmingham.
And again, compare this next to Linden Lab's own Community Standards in Second Life:
Intolerance Combating intolerance is a cornerstone of Second Life's Community Standards. Actions that marginalize, belittle, or defame individuals or groups inhibit the satisfying exchange of ideas and diminish the Second Life community as a whole. The use of derogatory or demeaning language or images in reference to another Resident's race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is never allowed in Second Life. [Emph. mine]
By contrast, while the Second Life Marketplace has a number of Nazi-related items (mainly WWII-era props), there does seem to be a concerted campaign by Linden Lab to remove the Nazi flag itself from the store: