I've been trying out some different things lately--this is Alsium--I'll tell you more about it soon.
~~~Not too terribly long ago, I was talking with my friend Aldo, and he mentioned that he had gone in-world to pay his rent on the Falling Anvil pub in Tamrannoch, Caledon. While doing so, he got an IM from Prokofy Neva, who he has known since our days in The Sims Online. Prokofy isn't perhaps the easiest person to get along with, but Aldo seems to do pretty well at it, and Prok seems to have respect for him. He said that Prok asked him if he thought that SL is dying, and Aldo replied without hesitation, "no...but it definitely is changing."
So he and I kicked that around some: how it is changing; the evidence for why it isn't dying (unless the labsters seriously settle down with the intention to kill it, once and for all); and speculation about why it is changing. And the thing that I came to conclude is that, yes, Second Life has certainly changed, but perhaps more importantly, a great many of us have changed and are continuing to change, both in how we approach our virtual lives and how important those lives are to us.
Of course, all I can really give you is personal anecdotal evidence for this. I wish I had hard numbers based on serious research and extensive surveys of former and current SL residents...but I don't. All I have to go on is what I am seeing and what I have experienced myself. So yeah, this is yet another opinion carefully extracted from the recesses of mine own middle-aged ass, and its ultimate value should be judged within that highly questionable context. But I can say that I have witnessed--and experienced--some things that make me think that an awful lot of us have changed, much more so than the platform itself has.
For starters, you probably noticed that I haven't written anything in a dreadfully long time--since June. I'm sorry about, but there's a great many factors that influenced that: I took on a new job that has been very intense, one that required me to move again, and that has involved some energetic kicking-of-ass-and-taking-of-names to get things on track. So, by Gawd, I just haven't had the mental energy (nor sufficient time) to actually sit down and write more of the palsied drivel that I was regularly spewing here. More importantly, I felt like I didn't have anything to say that was even remotely worth you all taking the time to read. Not like that stops lots of other bloggers from wasting their readers' time, but hell's britches, y'all, I got more respect for you than that.
To be honest a big part of what was going on was that SL just didn't seem all that important in the larger context of the real life shit that I was dealing with. Yeah, I kept showing up in-world when I could, and I even tried out some new stuff, which I will tell you about in another post. But an awful lot of the time I was angry, and I transferred a lot of those feelings about real life stuff into how I was acting and interacting with people in-world...and, yeah...jeezuschristonafuckingpogostick, I became the original Holy Roman Bitch.
Partly this was because I was having to be a ball-bustin' beeyotch in my rl work, in order to get shit done, to shut down the forces of vile self-interest that were torpedoing the work that needed to be accomplished, and to make sure that the agencies I was working with would not be pissing away the People's money.
I guess I kinda found it hard to shut that off at the end of the day.
And you know, it seems that a lot of friends and acquaintances are going though a similar thing: if you have a job, more than likely, the pressures of doing it well and making sure that you keep it will have an impact on what you are like when you go in world, if you go in-world at all.
I know Aldo is going through something like this. Hell, he is planning on getting rid of the Falling Anvil--that's the oldest continuously operating social venue in Caledon--the home of what may have been one of the first (if not the absolute first) storytelling series in Second Life. His partner Betty has already abandoned her shop next door to the Anvil. She tells me it hadn't been profitable for a long time, but she had held on to it for sentimental reasons, because it was her first place of business in SL, and she and Aldo met there in Tam and wound up getting married irl. But now, it apparently just doesn't seem that important to her in the same way...
Another interesting aspect of this is that Aldo checked in with Desmond, his landlord, to see if there was anyone still on a waiting list for land in Tam, and Desmond replied that no, he actually had quite a bit of land available throughout Caledon. So I take that as another indication of many of us having changed what we consider important--like having a piece of property in a certain place...
Oh, and I had a sad bit of news from another one of my good friends--the kind of news all of us have had recently. My old friend Roku--yes, that Roku, the inspiration for the cynical, gunslinging, hard-ass woman security guard/courtesan in my stories--told me that she was giving up on SL. Leaving her dancing job, selling her land, pullin' up stakes and headin' out. To some extent this is because she's got some health issues going on (and I regualrly say a prayer for her continued progress with it). But most of all, she said she "just wasn't having fun anymore."
Another friend of mine--a very smart and creative lady, an academic irl, dedicated to the idea of education in SL--suddenly announced to me not long ago that she had given up on a particular sim that she had been associated with for a long time. This was a project that from its inception had been meant to have educational value, but the organizers never really quite figured out how to make it work. This friend of mine had nonetheless hung on--literally, for months, if not years--always hoping for an improvement, working to help make the sim live up to its potential. And then all of sudden she decided it wasn't going to happen. She shook the dust from her sandals and moved on. And I don't think it was about SL changing, or the sim changing (if anything, it was perhaps that it wasn't changing). Something changed within her....I think...
I know what that feels like. For a long time, I cut way back on spending time in Deadwood, and it wasn't because of what was going on there. There new build is SUPER, the folks there are working hard to make good stuff happen and to do good rp... so it wasn't the sim or them...it was me.
Likewise I have now left Hogwarts. Why? Well, a lot of people I liked to play with aren't there anymore. But at the same time, some very good folks--folks who I am extremely fond of--are still there. But I found it hard to keep going and putting in the kind of commitment it took to play one of the adults in that set of storylines. Again, it wasn't the sim or the people or the stories--it was me. I think I just got tired. And mean.
I think you can see these kind of changes in the personnel at the Lab as well. While I was taking a break from blogging, M took his leave. Mind you, I never had issues with M the way some folks did. I liked the fact that it appeared that he was trying to make LL run in a more business-like fashion. Of course, he was fighting with a corproate culture that had essentially embraced irresponsibility and elevated fecklessness to the level of an admired virtue. But I wonder, was he forced out, or had something changed inside of him? Had he gotten burned out and tired...or simply saw that what he wanted to happen just wasn't going to happen?
And woopdefuckindoo, now we have Phillip back. Except he's changed too. Did you notice how the whole Emerald thing was handled? There seemed to be none of the old Phil Rosedale style, hippy-dippy, warm and fuzzy, "well kids, let's see how we can work this out with you creative little rascals" type of response, where things would drag on and nothing would happen and you would know that in your heart of hearts, somewhere, a group of miscreants was getting mollycoddled in the typical overly optimistic, California mollycoddling tradition. Nope. Instead it was a fast and hard response, with Phil himself coming forth and saying "hey motherfuckers. You CAN"T DO THAT SHIT. Now cut it the fuck out, RIGHT NOW, or I will make castanets out your testicles."
And lo and behold, the castanets were made.
So either Philip has really changed, or maybe his understanding of how things have to work has evolved.
But things do keep changing. Including us. I'm starting to spend some more time in Deadwood again. I am really enjoying my experiments in NEW STUFF in an ancient Roman sim (which I will tell you about soon, if you would care to listen). I've come to grips with the fact that even though I need to be keep being ol' Blood and Guts in rl, I can get back to being a bit more reasonable in-world. And I am going to get back in the habit of writing here..not as often as I used to, but more often than once every three months.
And I definitely want to get a set of those new Philip Rosedale-brand castanets.
Hmmm. I guess maybe I haven't changed that much. I'm still pretty mean.