April 23, 2007

Second Life: My New Life in Pixels, Part 4

On my fourth visit to SL, things go not quite as planned. On an innocent visit to Porn Island to grab some pictures of the Hot Dog Stand, I was the victim of a sneak-up er, "yoga session".

On this visit to SL, some kind of bug caused me to be rendered as a female in a skin tight version of my regular "Male Furry" Fox costume. I didn't want to be a chick, but apparently, SL had made up it's own mind.

I visited a grassy area and clicked "Sit Here" on a coloured dot, and found myself doing this pose. I guessed it was some sort of Yoga or stretching exercise.

I hit "Print Screen" pasted the pic into Photoshop, and began cropping it to fit in this blog.

After a few minutes, I flipped back to the Second Life screen, and discovered that another avatar had come up behind me on the blanket, and was, er, participating in the exercise with my avatar. Completely uninvited, I must add.

No words passed between us, and while nothing was actually happening per se, I felt this was inappropriate, so after taking a moment or two to collect my thoughts, I flew way up in the air, above the scene of the sordid encounter. He watched me fly away.

In Second Life, you can talk to people, or you can shout at them. I shouted "I'm a guy!"

A system error, combined with a minor error in judgement on my part (e.g. sort of being in the wrong place at the wrong time) resulted in a bizarre, slightly uncomfortable moment in SL.

I felt dirty.

Standing out in the rain for a bit, seemed to make me feel better.

April 20, 2007

Second Life: My New Life in Pixels, Part 3

On my third visit to SL, I did a search for "porno island" - and found it.

Strolling down what resembled a carnival midway, with little booths on either side, I did see a lot of barren, lifeless little huts - mini shops, advertising a variety of online adult services - all completely bereft of customers, except for me.

Walking down the midway, I saw what was on sale at many of the little kiosks: genitalia. In SL, avatars are born naked and without genitalia, kind of like a Barbie doll, or G.I. Joe.

As a pre-teen, my favourite action figure was the curiously-named "Big Jim", who had permanently attached swim trunks which, while intended to de-sexualize him, actually amped up the curiosity factor on account of Big Jim's big bulge. But I digress. In SL, you have nothing down there - not even a "Made in Japan" stamp on your butt.

So in Porn Island, female avatars can purchase the vagina or their choice, and males can buy the dick of their dreams. Oh, and you can buy some kick-ass gold chains and other bling there too, because in addition to having a big fake, snap-on wiener, you're apparently expected to dress like Mr. T on spring break.

Speaking of wieners, I found an Oscar Meyer hot dog cart, and got myself a large hot dog. I discovered later on that this hot dog could talk, as it proceeded to tell me how tasty it was. My avatar just kept on eating the thing, while I watched in fascination. I had been hoping for a corn dog, not a porn dog, but remembering where I bought it, I considered myself lucky that all it did was talk dirty to me.

I decided that, except for the genitalia kiosks and talking tube steaks, Porn Island reminded me a lot of the Richmond Night Market.

The main structure on Porn Island seems to be the triple-X night club, a black two level structure that was also deserted when I walked in. Downstairs was all about the dance floor, disco atmosphere and the bar. Upstairs, as I began to expect, was a series of small private rooms. Each room was windowless and devoid of furniture or decoration except for a single chair, bed or clump of pillows. In each case, the furniture had a couple of small spheres - hotspots of a sort - that were labelled for a man or a women. Right-clicking on a hotspot and selecting the 'Sit Here' menu option placed me in whatever position was programmed into that spot. So, all by myself, I was on top, I was underneath, pumping and humping the empty air. Now, my avatar resembles a 5 foot tall Fox wearing baggy plaid pants and a party hat, so my pre-scripted auto-erotic (?) contortions looked completely ridiculous and did nothing for me. Sex, if you could call it that, is stupid in Second Life.

I capped of my session on Porn Island by laying on a nearby beach listening to a digital sample of a crashing surf, eating my talking hot dog, and enjoying the colour gradation of a lovely fake sunset.

April 16, 2007

Second Life: My New Life in Pixels, Part 2

On my second visit to Second Life, I began to notice the wide diversity of shapes sizes colours and species of fellow inhabitants: Winged, fiery, ghoulish, punkish, cute, normal, and in a few cases, large, hairy and stark naked.

Nudity seems to be frowned upon generally in SL - at least in the places I've visited. Billboards ask citizens to stay clothed. It's nice to know some things are just like the real world.

I suspect that SL probably has a nudist habitat or a "porno land" where nudity is a hard and fast requirement, but I have not yet found seen it in SL.

So, I just ended up doing the same thing in Second Life what I usually end up doing in Real Life:

Check out this guy's less-than-thrilled first visit to Second Life. Maybe he was the naked lard-butt that I saw walking and flying around Help Island...?

April 15, 2007

Second Life: My New Life in Pixels, Part 1

After hearing about it on Daily Show and on the web, I decided to join the online community known as "Second Life".

Second Life (also called "SL") is a virtual world in which apparently millions (!) of online citizens live virtual lives, interacting with each other in a variety of 3D landscapes. I think that some citizens even buy "real estate", build "homes" and run "businesses". I placed quotes around those words because, like the characters, objects and effects in The Matrix, none of those things have any reality in the physical world. At least I don't think they do.

Second Life is a 3D simulation that offers a great escape: an alternate existence in a virtual world using a custom-designed character ("Avatar"). Second Life could be considered a form of social networking, but with significant differences: In social networks like LinkedIn, you can sort of see who you are networked with. You can often read their names and who their contacts are.

In Second Life, you will likely run into other citizens, but unless you chat with them (or interact in some other way), they might just ignore you or act in some slightly anti-social way. You know - like hanging out at the mall or any other public space. I think that in SL, you probably get out what you put in.

After signing up, I picked my character and name. I was born into my Second Life as a cartooney, fox-like character named 'Earnest Oh'. Initially, simply wandering around the world, admiring the scenery and inspecting nearby objects was enough to keep me interested. I also spent a few fruitless moments trying to talk to a rat on the street in front of me. Someone must have created the rats and bits of garbage on the streets, but who, and why?

Looking around me, I began to notice the rats on the street, graffiti and something that resembled trash on the ground. Why did my first corner of town have to resemble a ghetto?

After reading some instructional signs, I drove an abandoned car around the block a couple of times, and then headed out to explore the rest of the world.

I learned that in Second Life is comprised of various islands and regions. Some regions are rated PG and some are rated Adult. The run-down little city block I had been exploring was actually part of a tutorial island on which I was beginning my new existence in pixels. There are multiple such newcomers tutorial islands in Second Life, and many other regions to explore once you're ready.

Characters can "talk" to each other by text chat, and you can see their chatting on the screen when you're close enough - rather like overhearing a spoken conversation. Soon enough, I did "hear" two women characters talking about me as I watched them for a moment ("He must be new", etc). Surprisingly, I hadn't expected even this natural sort of human behaviour in SL.

April 14, 2007

Palm Sketch: Starbuck's Afternoon

Girl at Starbucks, April 14, 2007.

Girl at Starbucks, April 14, 2007.

This sketch was done on a Palm Treo PDA.

April 08, 2007

Palm Sketch: Sylvester's Head

The back of Sylvester's head, April 2007.

The back of Sylvester's head, April 2007.

This sketch was done on a Palm Treo PDA.