Sunday, July 20, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
It's a lot longer than I expected to be away, but c'est la vie. Rest assured I will be back on the appointed date.
Until then, drop me a line here and I'll be able to shout back occasionally. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, June 13, 2008
For those of you unfamiliar (listen to me talk, like I've got a huge readership), one of the things many kid avs in SL do is participate in family groups, having others as parents or siblings. These families form sometimes by themselves; other times, adults can go to SL adoption agencies, where they can view profiles of kids (and vice-versa sometimes). The profiles tell the potential parent or child what the candidate family member's interests and expectations are. For a fee, the adoption agency will then coordinate a meeting between the adults and kids to see if they're compatible. Some families are families in only the most technical sense, treating each other more as friends than relatives. Others, I'm told, role-play family life in very detailed ways.
When I first got into SL as a kid, I checked out all the kid-related stuff there is to do; that included the whole adoption business. I asked around and looked around. I found the whole thing a bit fascinating. I began to think about what it would be like to have a SL parent...a place to live and rez stuff, someone guaranteed to talk to me and hang out when things got boring. As over time I've done kind of good for myself - I've got a house and stuff, and I've got enough friends that there's always one or two on when I am - the appeal of having a family sort of waned. What remained were the disadvantages - parents are parents, after all. Should I give up my urchin life so some adults could impose a bedtime, and make me comb my hair (or - black horror - even CUT it maybe), make me take baths and change clothes once in a while, make me eat vegetables, make me go to SCHOOL....?
OK, so I'm being hyperbolic. Lots of that stuff has no meaning within the context of SL But I've been told by people whose opinions I trust that sometimes SL parents can be a drag. Being willing to call somebody in SL "mom" or "dad" is not something I think I would be capable of when dealing with someone I've only known for a week. So, for me at least, an adoption agency is out of the question.
That leaves friends. One of my kid friends, Soki, belongs to a family that just sort of gravitated together. Her, and her parents and brothers, were all friends to begin with, which makes having to put up with each other that much easier I guess. I suppose if I were to ever get adopted, it would have to be by someone I'm really good friends with.
But, that's exactly the problem. There's a couple of adults in SL I consider REALLY good friends, and I've tried to imagine myself calling them "mom" or "dad" - and it just doesn't work. They're too much my friends; the title "Mom" really redefines a relationship - to me, at least. It implies a heirarchy, a situation of a superior and a subordinate. Friends are equal. I like that.
If I think on it, it occurs to me that brothers and sisters are also "equal", in a sense. I suppose I wouldn't mind picking up some siblings. But parents? I think I'll hold off.
But for those of you who were kind of asking me about adoption - I sorta blew it off and I'm sorry about that. I don't want you to feel bad because I'm not interested - it doesn't mean in any way that I don't like you, or that I like you less than someone else. I've just been seduced by the urchin life. The long and short of it is, you're too COOL to be my parents.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I've gotten third-hand word that some group or other was planning on building a seperate kid-themed event concurrent with SL5B, as a way of protesting the ban. Since the ban is lifted, I would suppose the need no longer exists; however, other third-hand information tells me they will be continuing with their designs anyway. Perhaps I'll stop in and have a look there as well.
In any case, I was duly and truly amazed at the response from the SL community as a whole to the alleged ban. As I've alluded in some of my earlier blog posts, I've ever believed that kid avs were more accepted in SL as a whole than many kid avs seemed to think; but the number of voices raised in support was something even I never expected. It feels good to be liked!
Thanks to all those who added their support to our plight. Party down!
Monday, June 2, 2008
Although it hasn't been explicitly stated, many people have extrapolated that the motivation for LL's decision is recent bad publicity; to wit: a certain US Congressman's insistence that SL, because of its enormous wealth of adult-themed content, is dangerous to kids (RL kids, that is). The argument is that there are essentially no measures in place in prevent minors from pretending to be adults and accessing all of the explicit stuff. Therefore, says the Congressman, Second Life should be banned from places like schools and libraries.
Others have determined that the motivation for LL's decision is past bad publicity, in which some news outlets have exposed the fact that some people who use kid-sized avs in SL are using them for sexual purposes. This activity (called "ageplay"), though not explicitly illegal in many places, is still considered scandalous by the world at large, and is specifically prohibited by the SL Terms of Service.
Frankly, I tend to think it's the latter; simply because I don't see what the former really has to do with anything - unless the fear is that the two seperate issues will become juxtaposed should people with mercenary motives see a kid's build in one corner of a sim, and find a mature-themed build in the opposite corner, and proceed to draw the kind of Rube Goldberg-inspired conclusions that such people are good at coming up with. Yes, that could be very bad for LL.
So here we have it: a great, great many people are upset over this. Some of them blame LL for not "standing up" for those of its users - many who pay a considerable amount of money, I might add - who choose to innocently portray kids on SL. Others blame the Congressmen, and people who think like him, for drastically overstating problems and stoking irrational fears.
Well, my opinion on the matter is a bit different from most, I guess.
Firstly, Linden Lab is not an advocacy group. It's a business - in the business of staying in business. Businesses are inherently amoral entities; within certain ethical guidelines, their job is to make money for their investors, and to do things and change things in whatever way is necessary to achieve that end. What that means in this case, is that LL's duty, first and foremost, is to keep the Grid alive. If, in their opinion, directly supporting and advertizing the SL kid community would invite such criticism and scrutiny that it would be difficult for them to keep SL running, then (reluctantly) I can't begrudge them that decision. So, I don't blame LL for this, not really. Perhaps there is some culpability there, but it isn't a whole lot I don't think.
Secondly, the Congressman in question may be overstating things, true. But, he does raise some legitimate concerns - yes, there IS an exorbitant amount of mature-themed material in SL; and yes, it IS incredibly easy for a minor to gain access to it. Perhaps there's really nothing that can be done about those things, but they're still true. And why on earth would a library or school allow SL on their computers anyway? Playing on the computer isn't what libraries and school computer systems are for. Most of them probably couldn't even run SL, and in all likelihood those institutions wouldn't allow SL even despite Congressman Whatsit's rambling. All that is much ado about nothing. So, I can't even really say I blame the Congressman for this mess, either.
So who's to blame, then?
Well, it seems obvious to me. A lot of people object that so many see kid avs and automatically draw the conclusion that they're ageplayers. That is a shame, yes, but...who's fault is it? In my opinion - ageplayers. They, and those who (even today) openly advocate for their alleged "right" to do what it is they like to do. Yes, they exist - to deny the problem completely is at least as bad as overstating it, wouldn't you agree? Shoddy outfits like Sky News may have irresponsibly exaggerated the extent of the ageplay problem in SL - but they didn't invent it out of whole cloth.
The fact of the matter is, I get weary of contantly having to explain to new people that no, I'm not into that stuff, most SL kids aren't here for that, etc, etc. Why should I have to? I've done nothing wrong. I certainly don't remember having to assert my innocence constantly when I was a RL kid. But I do here. And I know well who's fault that is.
(Cody TP's into a new area, looking to do some exploring)
NOOB: ....ew! one of those freaks!
CODY: (spends a half an hour explaining that most SL kids aren't freaks)
NOOB: why u want 2 b a kid then?
CODY: (spends another twenty minutes explaining how he came to be a SL kid)
NOOB: .....ew! one of those freaks! (files an AR and TP's away)
It irks me.
Luckily, I've run into a few very cool people who've already gotten a good impression of kid avs, so it's not all hopeless. I have the tireless efforts of kids like Marianne McCann to thank for that.
But the rest of the time? I'm left to apologize for the actions and attitudes of sick individuals whose only connection with me is avatar height. Think about it: if they weren't around - if nobody had one day seen what THEY do and spread the word - nobody would look at SL kids and automatically think "one of those freaks!". There would be no Sky News reports. There would be no "controversy".
And kids wouldn't be excluded from SL5B.
So, if you're a SL kid, and in the unlikely event that you run into an actual ageplayer...please, try and take some of your frustration over the current plight of SL kids out on them. And whether you're a kid or adult, when you run into an ageplayer - for heaven's sake, AR them so they can be banned.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
So yesterday, after a bit of wandering around, I teleported to my house. Home is where I like to go when I plan on doing a lot of browsing in the search function, or doing some inventory work, or doing really anything else that would keep me from interacting with my surroundings for a moderate-to-long period of time. So I get there, and go upstairs and out onto the balcony, preparing to climb to the roof - it was a lovely evening.
At that point, I noticed the particles. Small square particles, consisting of pictures, the subject being unclear as the particles seemed pretty far away. I looked around and noticed a largish spinning cube hovering over a neighbor's house. This cube was acting like a kind of fountain, spraying the particles in all directions. Soon, another fountain-cube appeared, somewhat closer than the first - closer enough for me to see the particle-pictures. Disgusting stuff!
I flew up to the latest cube, flying through a barrage of pornographic horror. Locating the cube, I examined it and found the owner/creator (it was the same person in both instances), pulled up the fellow's profile, and muted him out of spite. Curiously, when I muted him, the particles disappeared. So now I know: muting somebody also turns off their annoying particles, at least as far as your own viewer is concerned.
And it was none too soon, either, for no fewer than a dozen of these spinning cubes appeared in short order, sometimes moving, sometimes stationary. They seemed to be concentrated around my house, though I can't say for sure if that was intentional. I do know that if I'd been able to see all those particles, the sheer number of them would've lagged me to the crashing point.
Checking the mini-map, I saw a green dot appear at some point not too far away. Thinking this might be the dweeb responsible, I tried camming over to the dot, and couldn't find any corresponding avatar. So I got up and flew over there. My intention was to ban the offender - even though he was not on my specific rental property, anybody in my rental group can eject/ban anybody from any land owned by the rental company. When I got there, same deal as before - I couldn't see anybody. I searched high and low, I turned on Show Invisible, I even switched to wireframe mode to see if the person was hiding inside a local object. Nothing. Creepy!
Another green dot appeared by my house. Angrily, I flew back and found out it was my landlord. Thank the gods, and I hoped he didn't think that I was responsible for the shape the sim was in - after all, this mess had been going on for a good 5 minutes or more and I hadn't PM'd him asking for help, which I probably ought to have done the instant I discovered the porn-fountain-cubes. I asked him what was going on, and he confirmed that the sim was under a griefer attack, and that he and the Lindens were working on the problem. I directed his attention toward the green dot without an avatar, and he informed me that it was a Linden. So not having an avatar is kind of a superLindenpower, I guess. Ah well. So I settled back on my porch as these huge cubes spun around the place. One especially huge one had materialized right off my balcony - it was nearly as tall as my house. I waited while my landlord and the Linden-Who-Wasn't-There did whatever it was they were doing. At length, the landlord told me it might be better to just leave for the time being, and he would tell me when it was all right to return. This I did, and about 15 minutes later I got the all-clear. Nothing has happened since. But it was a good ten minutes of excitement on an otherwise boring day.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
In SL, as I've before mentioned, you can look like anything you want. I - along with the majority of residents, I expect - rather enjoy seeing the level of creativity and originality (or, if not originality, then humor or all-round coolness) displayed by the way people choose to present themselves. I've seen walking popsicle sticks and talking dragons. It's lots of fun!
But of course, there are limitations. While there are a multitude of places where you are free to roam and mingle, the fact is that, depending on what you choose to look like, there are some places you may not belong as long as you look like that. If you choose to dress like a robot, for instance, you really don't belong in an ancient Roman-themed role-play sim, and probably oughtn't go there. If you go there anyway, you're likely to be removed. This can't fairly be termed "discrimination", since you choose what you look like in SL, and can change anytime or go somewhere else (options which aren't always available in RL). Someone's wish to build an area where everyone is exclusively medieval does not impinge on your wish to be an alien.
Being a kid in SL likewise places some limitations on where I can and should go. There are, shall we say, certain "adult-themed" places in SL where it's just plain wrong to take a child avatar. I think the vast overwhelming majority of SL residents, including kid avs, knows and has no problem with this. The remaining few - well, I have my own opinion of such people, and it's not a flattering one. In any case, not only is it just plain wrong to take a child avatar to those places, it's actually against the SL Terms of Service - something the wayward robot in the Roman sim doesn't have to worry about.
It's not always so cut-and-dried, either. There are other places where kids aren't welcome, for less-than-obvious but equally valid reasons. Perhaps it's an RP sim, perhaps not. There are some people who simply can not tolerate kid avs, and get highly (very highly) irate whenever they see one. They are just as entitled to their opinions as I am to mine.
I've explained how I came to be a kid av. I don't think I adequately explained, though, just what a surprise the whole "kid subculture" was to me. I had no clue it existed when I was looking around for my Twain-esque shape, and only found out about it by piecing together clues I found at the shops I visited. There's shops, malls, clubs, and other venues pretty much dedicated to kid avs. There are specific places kids tend to gather and hang out.
SL kids are a cagey bunch, though, and they have a right to be on edge. Certain tabloid news stories in some countries have exposed the fact that there are individuals in SL who choose kid avatars for less-than-innocent and frankly disgusting purposes. I don't think I have to worry about running into such people, and I'm pretty sure they're few and far between. The problem is, when people see a news story about kid avs being used in SL for such things, people often come to think of ALL kid avs in SL that way. It's gotten to the point where often, many (perhaps most) "normal" adult avs will simply refuse to talk to or acknowledge kid avs at best. At worst, they harass and grief us. A lot of the kids who have been here a while have counseled me against hanging out at too many "normal" adult places, for concern that I'll be ignored, griefed, or worse. It seems to me an awful, awful shame that just about anyone can be anything they want to be, and hang out anywhere they want with anyone they want with confidence - unless you choose to look like a kid, in which case you're pretty much limited to hanging out with other kids if you want to have that same feeling of safety. It just seems a bit unfair to me. Perhaps that's another one of the reasons that I stayed a kid av, after my original purpose had been fulfilled.
But I'm a very foolish person. Unless there's an obvious reason I shouldn't, I don't feel reticent about going to a place that isn't a designated kid place. I'm glad for it, too, because I met some of my closest friends by going to non-kid places. My goal is not to start trouble, though - if I'm someplace and a resident explains that my presence there is not wanted, I leave. SL is huge, and there's lots of places my presence is accepted.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
As it currently exists, the Shrine is a series of buildings, each depicting a scene from one of Lovecraft's short stories. Each "exhibit", as it were, contains a portrait of Lovecraft which, when clicked, will give you a copy of the particular story depicted in notecard form (yes, the whole story!). Of course, things often change, and Taliesin is often building a new addition or replacing some old ones. If I know anything about him, it's that he likes to build. And he builds well and fast.
The Shrine is also home to the Cthulhu Club, a sort of gothic-themed dance club, and a similarly-themed mini shopping mall.
Sandy and Taliesin are the first adult friends I made as a kid avatar in SL. Although their Shrine certainly wasn't made with kid av's in mind, and although I'm not goth, they've really made me feel welcome there. They invited me to a party the very day I met them, in fact. And such of the group members as I've met so far don't have a problem with me either. Curiously, this puts my experience at odds with some advice I've been given about adults by other kid av's that have been in SL much longer than I have. That advice, and related stuff, will be the subject of my next blog post.
For now - check out the Shrine!
Friday, March 14, 2008
It's a viable question. In SL, you can be anything - male, female, black, white, or purple; you don't even have to be human. You can be an animal. Or something that is a cross between human and animal. You can be something else entirely - one of my favorite "disguises" is as nothing but a set of floating, rotating cubes. The sky's the limit, really. So, given that sort of freedom, why would an adult decide to be a kid? Allow me to step out of character for a minute and tackle this problem.
There may be as many answers to this question as there are kid avatars in SL (and there's probably more kid avs in SL than you think there are); I'll tell you how it happened with me. I started out as an adult human, like everyone else in SL. I did some wandering and exploring and bought various items and objects to change the way my avatar looked, experimenting with different appearances. I settled on one eventually - a Civil War-era Union officer (the Union Forever!). Of course, I remained open-minded about changing it.
One day, I came upon this unique (and free) vehicle - an old-looking wooden raft, with a makeshift sail, a tent, and a couple of barrels on board serving as seats. It was very Mark Twain-esque, and that appealed to me. I rezzed the thing, got on it, and spent an hour sailing around the incredibly expansive Mainland Waterway. It was calm, soothing, and unbelievably fun - to me, anyway. I had dreamed of getting ahold of such a raft and doing something very similar in RL, ever since I was a kid. Suddenly it occurred to me - wouldn't this look much cooler if my avatar was, indeed, a kid? I kicked around the idea for a while, and finally decided to drop some money on a (somewhat unconvincing) kid shape, and a cheap and bland kid "skin". I found that my adult clothes automatically shrunk down to fit my new shape, so I considered myself set. Off I went! I've said the shape and skin weren't all that great, but they were close enough to lend the desired illusion.
I noticed while shopping certain ads for kid-avatar "groups" within SL, and eventually I began to inquire about them. I found kid-centric places and sims, and visited them, and met many people who also chose, for whatever reason, to be kids in SL. I made friends with many of them - more friends than I'd made whilst having a "normal" adult avatar; so, I decided to stick with my new appearance, and that was pretty much that. I was encouraged to find a much, much better shape and skin, so I don't look so plastic anymore. There are shops which sell clothes geared towards kid avatars, but I mostly buy regular mens' clothes - they fit just as well.
There are certain advantages, and some perceived disadvantages, in being a kid in SL - I'll get to those in another post. But, I will say that being a kid doesn't limit me to places and groups exclusive to kid avatars. I belong to one active group, for instance, in which I am the only kid; but I feel accepted and welcome there all the same - I consider all of them good friends. So while I must necessarily avoid some things because of my choice of appearance, I don't feel that I'm missing out on anything I'll regret. I have my fun!
Well, that's enough for now. More to come later.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
So, I'm still a newbie. But I really enjoy SL; I've seen and done some amazing things, and I like to tell other people about them - but you know, chat isn't that good a way to tell a detailed (and sometimes long) story. So, I decided to shamelessly steal an idea from some other SL residents and start a blog. Here, I'll be sharing stories and pictures of some of the things I do, the places I go, and the people I meet. I might make some completely unrelated posts, too - I'm all random like that sometimes. My blog, my rules!
I'm just as new to blogging as I am to Second Life, so you'll have to pardon my dust until I find a groove. Hopefully I can catch onto it as quickly as I (seem to have) caught onto SL.