Archive for April, 2009

Tell Me Baby…

Posted in Op/Ed, Satire, SecondLife® with tags , , on April 22, 2009 by Rosie Shark

Once upon a time, the adoption agencies that populated the grid were the answer to the prayers of some of the barren residents of SL. SL child welfare authorities were busy and happy… matching loving avatar couples with the creepy-grown-adult-playing-a-child spawn they so craved. The sounds of “Sissssssssssssssyyyyyyyyyyyyy” and the lilting “I love you buh bye” were music to the ears of parents to be everywhere.

Sadly this is no longer the case. As adoption agencies now turn away the rising number of unwanted and orphaned child AV’s due to overcrowding, one must wonder what the reason is.

Meet Baby Chris 1.0. Previously known only for peddling pets, Zooby’s has launched onto the child-for-sale scene with their introduction of      Baby Chris.

“Things used to be so complicated,” explains Baby Chris in a rather gravely and raspy voice. He throws back a shot of whiskey as he ponders his next words. “With kid aveez, parents were always havin to deal with personality and crap….,”

BC erupts into a coughing fit and stares at the lit end of his cigar accusingly. “Me? Well, I’m the new generation. HA HA HA. There’s no ‘person’ behind this baby,” he continues, punctuating the air around him with his finger quotes. “Log out for a few hours a day so I can get some damn peace and quiet and I’m good to go.”

Touted as SL’s best babies, Zoobys are quickly taking the grid by storm. One look at their angelic faces and guaranteed cooing and awwing will follow. Plus, there are so many options, your SL will be fun-filled with an adorable accessory you can show all your friends!

Amazingly life-like, they can sleep, crawl, talk, sit, and even breastfeed! “Except that Morgan one!” BC sputters. “Poor sap all handicapped with those fangs… good thing he doesn’t care he’s missin all that melon action. Know what I’m sayin’? HA HA HA.” Once again, Chris is interupted by coughing fit as I subtly roll my eyes.

Seems like these itty bitty, cooing, sweet-smelling angels are a dream come true, right? We were not convinced. We decided to get another perspective from one orphaned child avatar, named Star (real name changed to protect the wanna-be minor).

Star explains her need to explore her inner child through the use of a creepy child av,”I didn’t feew wike I had the reaw wife chiwdhood I detherved. Sure, my parenth were rich, and I wath thpoiled but I need to feew dithipwine, and I kinda wike getting thpanked.”

What did the unanticipated arrival of Baby Chris 1.0 mean for Star?

“My parenth were no wonger interethed in me,” Star says and the corners of her pouty mouth turn down. The details of the ordeal that followed are horrifying.

“I wath wocked in a cewl while they pwayed wif their new toy,” she says. I can see the big puppy dog tears welling in her eyes at the memory. “My SL parenth woved me I thought.” One fat tear rolls down her face.

It was the natural progression of your slife. Be a noob, find a poseball partner, make it official by adding that person to your lil box, then the palatial estate and marriage. The next step will always be to start your new family. Perhaps with a repressed guy from South Dakota who would like to rp as your new bouncing baby boy.

For one child who had enjoyed such a charmed existence – safe in the loving picks of her ‘parents’ – thoughts of driving cross country in her own diaper to gain closure over the failed parent/child relationship began to seem reasonable.

“Messy!” declares Baby Chris. “Folks are so needy. You won’t get any of those nagging emotional needs to fill with a Zooby Baby.” He winks as he looks at me, “what you will get is a guaranteed bundle of motha effing joy, pink cheeks and the silencing of your biological whosit.”

“Thure, theth babieth are great if you’re a thocially awkward, materiawistic fathionithta who needth a lil thomething new on their arm,” adds Star bitterly.

This has  been a collaboration of JellyBean Madison and Rosie Shark. We’ve all seen the craze. What are your thoughts on Child AV’s and prim babies?

Is SL a version of paper dolls?

Posted in Op/Ed with tags , , , on April 21, 2009 by hawksrock

I had an interesting revelation the other day which I am sure that many if not most people have caught onto long before me. Paper dolls is a large part of what makes the SLeconomy go round. I have heard many references to SL as playing barbie, which holds a lot of truth because you can have your malibu dream home, your anatomically lacking boyfriend, and even a pink corvette to drive around town. However, I think that my observations of Jell’s spending habits of late represent more of a 3 dimensional rendition of paper dolls. (You know the game where little girls make paper cut out dresses to put on various cardboard doll frames.) She literally reads the feeds, finds something she thinks looks hot or interesting, logs in to buy it, puts it on her virtual frame, admires her cuteness, mayhaps even takes a pic for flickr, then logs back out. Something about this ritual really fascinates me.

Jell finds a tremendous sense of satisfaction in knowing that she logged out with something new and looking hot – even if she is the only person to ever see it or know that she even owns it!   I find this very hard to relate to.   Mayhaps it is because I am male, or just the fact that I am pretty loathe to spend money in SL these days, but my general approach is to log Hawks in with the same outfit for up to a couple of weeks at a time.   At some point I get tired of seeing him in what he is wearing, and I will change out for something else in my inventory.   I have tons of clothes, and probably 50% of my total inventory is from the Block back when the Block was the cool place to get clothes.  Regardless, I can find something for any occassion and I am good to go.

I got to thinking about how much money this game of paper dolls is generating into the SL economy.   I would say it is a pretty safe estimate to say that Jell buys on average about 3 outfits a week, 2 new hair styles, a pair of shoes, and probably a third of a skin (meaning she buys a new skin at least every 3 weeks.)   Using an estimate of 500L per outfit, 250L per hair style, 250L per shoes, and 1000L for a skin.   She would be spending about 2,500 L per week.   Using an exchange rate of 260L per USD$1, this would be USD$9.61 a week.    However, it doesn’t stop there.   Nobody likes to change their clothes in a store all the time (especially since the easiest way is to get naked.)   Now you need a place of your own to set home, where you can change clothes in semi-privacy.   Let’s assume you go middle of the road and pay around 1,000L per week in tier, you are now looking at a grand total of 3,500L or USD$13.50 a week just to play paper dolls.    USD$13.50 turns into USD$700 a year.   It doesn’t take too many individuals to start to really add up and make a significant contribution.  For every 1,000 people you are adding USD$700,000 pumped into the virtual economy.

These individuals are not heavy players.   If you think about it, you can log into a slurl from the feed and be there, rez the store, find the outfit, buy it, tp home, put it on, look at your cuteness, take a pic, and be out of there in probably a 15 minute window.   This is done multiple times throughout the week.

Although, I don’t relate to it myself, I do understand that there are certain emotional benefits that come from seeing how cute you can make your doll.   By dressing her up in the latest trends, you can enhance your self-esteem through your sliderized version of perfection. Quite a few take a step even farther, and like to take pictures of their own dolls to share with the world through blogging the latest styles to the world.   For me, I will dust off that old vintage t and pair of jeans that fits just right.

Oscar vs. X-Prize Why SL Resident Choice Awards Miss The Mark (X)

Posted in Op/Ed, Real Life, RL, SecondLife®, SL® Business, Virtual Worlds with tags , on April 19, 2009 by Valiant Westland

Just Another Popularity Contest

Are You A "Cool Kid?"

Are You A "Cool Kid?"

I think award programs are fine, as long as they are well constructed and care is taken to make them as objective as possible.  The current Resident Choice Awards FAILED in this regard.  Unless of course you truly believe that one individual out of thousands of other similar artisans truly is the “Best” in multiple categories…

These awards reminded me of the “come vote for me, I’ve just entered myself in a contest” “scams” (I mean invitations) all of us have received.  If you believe these contests are fair and impartial or don’t give an unfair advantage to those who know how to “game” the system, I have a bridge to sell you!

What About Objectivity?

Win Or Lose Do It Fairly

Win Or Lose Do It Fairly

Take Machinima as an example.  I would love to see the awards for best Machinima production / producer, based on the number of votes qualifying entries receive.  Each entry should be posted on the contest site, for viewing/voting by SL users.  All submissions should be limited to 30-60 seconds and be an original, unsponsored production.  They should also be a standard size/resolution, thereby eliminating as many variables as possible.

“Artsy” Oscar vs. Business X-Prize

Why Not Shoot For The Moon!?

Why Not Shoot For The Moon!?

In his column “Killer ap,” Crap Mariner relays the question:  “If SL is such a killer ap for work, as M Linden evangelizes, why were the Resident Choice Awards conducted using a web-based polling system and not conducted in-world?” The comment about in-world tools is dead on.  There was only one overtly business-related category in the awards and it was for “Favorite place for BUSINESS COLLEAGUES.” Where are the award categories for “Best New Business Productivity Application,” Best Data Integration Tool/API” or even “Best Data Visualization Toolset?”

There should not only be resident choice awards for best-in-class new applications & tools, there should be significant monetary rewards involved as well.  Spurring innovation should involve profit sharing!  If you are unwilling/unable to dedicate internal staff to develop next-generation business tools for SL, at least cough up some coin to make it profitable for others to do the heavy lifting for you!

It’s STILL All About The Tools!

Having accurate, clickable URLs to additional content is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Giving people the ability to find and drill down/out to more information on the web is essential. If the information about a group is restricted, don’t show a link for it and waste my time!

Figuring out how to import the tens of billions of dollars worth of RW architectural, mechanical and process CAD content is one example of a project that would likely generate a far greater ROI, than some of the other pet/trivial projects that seem to get the most attention.

Maybe Next Year…

Drama seems to be the primary beneficiary of these latest Resident Choice Awards.  Hopefully next years awards will be less like the Oscars and more like the X-prize!  There is one good thing about these awards…   A shrewd marketer will position their products/services alongside the “winners” and give prospects a chance to say: “wow, you guys really are the best!”

Verification My Ass

Posted in Op/Ed, SecondLife® on April 11, 2009 by Orchid

In another time and space when I joined SL – you had to have a credit card.  You were charged a one time fee of $9.99(USD) to kick start your account.  If you wanted land then you paid monthly.  All in all, though – 10 bucks would get you a SL account.

Those days are gone.  Many of ‘those days’ are gone – but the days of knowing that everyone that joined SL wasn’t simply anonymous are gone.  Now LL wants you to fax them a copy of your passport to prove who you are.  Now LL wants you to ring them up (no matter where in the world you are or how many hours behind you in time they are) and then post them a copy of your driver’s license/photo id.  All this just to get on some exclusive rinky dink chunk of land that is no holds barred adult.

Once again LL has found a way to alienate its very own clientele.  I always find it funny how this company can shit on you every which way from Tuesday yet everyone always keeps coming back for more.  People kick and screamed when they opened the grid to everyone.  Well I could understand that because it only gave LL more opportunity to make more money.  That’s understandable.  But – then they started saying that rated PG is more towards the G side than the P side. 

Then of course there was the price hike on land.  Long story short – LL said “Oh okay we realize we gave this really cheap stuff to people who are already sinking hundreds of dollars into our business – but we aren’t going to let them use this ‘thing’ they purchased however they want.  No.  We’re going to restrict it to make it convenient for us because hey – whateva whateva we do what we want.”  And now there’s an exclusive ADULT area that’s only for adults or blah blah I don’t even understand it.

I started my SL account in 2005.  I don’t remember where I lived then (I’m a military spouse) and I don’t even remember what credit card I used (we change banks every time we change bases!)  … and for all I know I could’ve used my aunt’s credit card or some whacky shit.  But for the low low price of sending LL a photocopy of my passport or some other incredibly intrusive thing – they’ll let me on their new exclusive sexy times place. 

Verify my ass.

I won’t verify.  And if that means that I get to hang out with the furries making emote faces then rock on =^.^=

LL has enough of my RL money.  They have enough of my RL information when not only I started up the account – but when they charged me for making the account.  I feel they have more than enough ‘verification’ from me when I rang their San Francisco office about 2 years ago and had to answer weird questions about my account because they had reset EVERY SINGLE ACCOUNT IN SL‘s password and I had too many people on my friends list to be able to put a first name to a last name. 

Anyway – I think this is all bullshit and I just feel that over the course of almost 5 years that LL has enough RL information about me to verify my age, sex, location and position preference.  I can verify that LL pisses me off and I don’t understand why nothing is ever done about anything and they just do whatever they want and everyone eventually just forgives them.