Always The Right Time For This

It is too early for Christmas carols. Yes, it is. Too early for the local radio station to be all carols all the time. Let us eat the turkeys first, please. But… my plurk friend posted this today. It is never to early to stand and sing Hallelujah, no matter WHAT your belief or lack thereof.

That, my children, is what proves the mettle of a true soprano – the ability to stand up there FIRST, ALONE, and hit those glorious notes. I’m watching for the 4th time in a row and she STILL gives me chills. Just watch the smiles spread on the crowd. You have to love the bass carrying the wet floor sign. *grin* Look at the rapt expressions. Look at the joy spread by people singing together. All those shopping bags, the junk food, the possessions – watch the music transcend that all. I wonder how many of those people singing sitting down are former choristers who have NEVER forgotten their part or their cues. I know *I* remember mine (alto). (Check out the gentleman in the unzipped gray sweatshirt sitting down – I’m guessing tenor.)


I’m very bad at most card, board and electronic games. I don’t like to lose. My idea of fun does not include getting stressed out over strategy and deal-making. I do not seem to have the patience for learning all the rules and applying them. One of my earliest recollections is listening to grownups berate each other over the bridge table. There was nothing that I heard there that sounded “fun”. My idea of fun seems to need physical activity, which makes it even more odd that I like SL so much, I suppose. But the games I like all involve many people working in teams: volleyball, softball, team charades, team Trivial Pursuit and the like.

Lately I have been viewing videos and attending discussions on gaming theory and game development as applied to business applications. Since I’m not really technical, most of what I watch is relatively “high-level” and so in many ways it’s not telling me something new. What I do find new and fascinating are all the ways in which people have been developing “games” that model real situations. Playing the games teaches the players more about the subject and often exposes fundamental fallacies in accepted wisdom.

(Let me make an aside. When I was a mere lass in elementary school, I had a wonderful game. I don’t remember the name – I’d love it if someone out there knows it, but since I can’t remember the details…. *grin*…. Anyway, this game was a race against time. The ball would drop down a given question such as “The longest river in Africa is:” and you would have to put the pin (blocking mechanism) in the slot with the correct answer: Nile. I loved that game and learned so much. So even in the archaic days of my youth there were fun educational games. )

Now I do see some issues in modeling real life into a game. One of the speakers I heard talked about his six year old son greeting him at the door saying “Dad, we need to talk.” And the issue was that the child had amassed so much stuff in his virtual world room that he couldn’t move. And he could either sell items or buy a bigger house, but that would necessitate a second mortgage. /me blinks. Yes. A six year old grasping the concept of mortgages. I like it. And I also think that maybe, just maybe, we are doing a disservice to our children. When I was six, I was a child. No one expected me to be other than a child. My world was about playing and learning to socialize and learning to learn. I believe the biggest trauma in my life when I was six was that Anne W. got to be the tight-rope walker in the 1st grade circus when *I* wanted that role. /me smiles smugly. I became the bareback rider. *grin* Hardly the stuff of mortgages and trade-offs of space/materialism.

A friend directed me to Ian Bogost’s video from FORA tv’s Growing Up in a Digital World series. (He is the one with the 6 year old financier.) Ian Bogost is a professor at Georgia Tech, a Founding Partner at Persuasive Games (a videogame studio), and a Board Member at Open Texture (an educational publisher), among other things. Bogost was talking about educational games he had helped create. I was fascinated by his description of the “game” they created to illustrate just how DIFFICULT it is for a virus to become a pandemic. He mentioned many other games that described such real life scenarios and actions, from modeling the most efficient way to pack (use) the Soccer-Mom minivan to how to train store employees.

Persuasive Games is an award-winning independent videogame studio that makes games about social and political issues. Our work covers a wide variety of topics not usually found in videogames, including airport security, disaffected copy store workers, global petroleum market, Christmas shopping, tort reform, suburban errands, and pandemic flu.

Ahuva’s Update: Β  I was a bit rushed yesterday and did not realize and mention that you can PLAY some of these very very cool games from Persuasive Games online at their website. Β For free. Some can be downloaded for free. Some are phone apps. It’s definitely worth a look-see. You will be amazed at how many interesting games are there.

Yesterday I attended Metanomics Masterclass on Game Development. This was a panel discussion with 3 game developers: Tony Walsh, founder of Phantom Compass, Colin Nilsson of the MadPea Productions, a game and adventure destination in Second Life, and Oni Horan, one of the developers of the Logos collectible card game. At least two of these companies develop games that are played within SL. Again the interesting factor to me was their take on how games relate to learning and to life. It was interesting to hear them discuss whether they thought the non-player characters would/should become more “human” or less.

All of these game developers, whether for modeling rl or escapism, understand that games have a set of agreed upon rules and a goal. I think that is another reason why people like games. There are reasons, answers, goals. So much of life is less clear than a game. We may toss off aphorisms such as “Life is just a game”, but it’s not. Or rather – if it is, we still don’t have the complete rulebook.

Even Dervish Monks Care About Appearance

I know there are some of you out there who find my preoccupation with hair and boots a bit shallow. You are entitled to your opinion, of course (wrong though it may be). *grin* But I have pointed out to you time and again that most of my coworkers who come inworld immediately begin focusing on their avatar’s looks. I am in the process of moving my project from one grid to another. My host on the new grid immediately began raiding my inventory for clothing, AO and hair. I figure that is fair trade for hosting my work for free. *grin* And writing code for me.

It’s not just SecondLife and Opensim avatars, however, who worry about their appearance. My son plays Guild Wars. He is a Dervish Monk. /me nods indulgently. “That’s nice.” I have no idea who or what a dervish monk is, but hey, it sounds better than say “ogre of terror” or “orc” or something like that. This morning he came over to me and dropped $10 on my keyboard. I looked up at him, startled. “I used the credit card for my game” he said. “I needed to improve my outfit.” *grin* Ah, this IS my son, after all. *bigger grin* I replied “Far be it from me to criticize anyone who needs to improve their avatar, but you are right – *I* don’t need to pay that particular bill.” He invited me to his side of the table to see how he spent the money. (When he is home, we sit together at the table, laptops covering the surface. Yes, more than 2 laptops.)

First I got to see the plain vanilla Dervish Monk. I have to say that I thought the monk looked fine. Then the upgrade appeared – The Lich outfit. DEFINITELY much more impressive. (I could almost have been convinced to pay for that upgrade, it makes such a difference! *laugh*) Apparently the monk also has a fiery head costume as well. I’d never pay for THIS. Pumpkin head??? Fiery pumpkin head? Nah. I vote for The Lich.

Just remember – you only have one chance to make a first impression!

Kingdom of Sand

A few weeks ago I was catching up with a friend in SL. We’d not talked in awhile, had a lot of talking to do. While that occurred, I made the acquaintance of someone who is now on my friends list as well. This friend is rather shy, so I’ll go back to my early habit of identifying people with an initial. “B” in this case. /me laughs. For those of you who remember X, Y and Z, this is different. *grin*

B offered to take me for a ride. We found a grassy area that was not too laggy. We took a few spins about the place, then B suggested we go to Kingdom of Sand. This is a role-playing sim, so I needed to get a guest pass and be coached a bit. At some point along the way I decided that my current outfit needed to be updated to something more appropriate. πŸ™‚

B and I didn’t do much talking. We simply ran up and down the sand dunes, past the oases, around the tents and the city walls. It was wonderful. I adjusted my camera, sat back and enjoyed the ride.

There is no story here, nothing except a recommendation to go to Kingdom of Sand and see the beauty of it. I’d had a lesson from Honour in how to use Windlight (that is another blog post that is half-written). I experimented with Windlight as we drank in the desert air. Sunrise, midday, sunset. Shadows. I really should get out more often and experience more of this.

I hope you enjoy the photos! I have even MORE that I did not post, if you can imagine. They are all up on my Flickr account, *grin*, should you wish to see more.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I’ve told you goodbye. I’ve told you that it’s not going to work out for us. I’ve done the “drama queen” thing. I’ve raged to friends. I’ve wept. It’s been nearly two years. I was always so good at protecting my heart, until you came along. Would I roll the clock back and wish that I’d never found virtual worlds, found you? No. But I’m telling you – this on-again, off-again stuff is making me crazy.

Right from the start I was blinded. People warned me. I said, “Don’t worry. I’m a big girl. I know what I’m doing.” And I went right on. You came along a little more slowly, but soon you were as hot as I was. It was rocky at the start, but then we hit our stride. Every day was exciting. And then. Then. It cooled down. Things just weren’t “happening” for us. Oh sure, we were together every day. But there was no thrill. No joy. No reason to wake up smiling. But we never called it quits. We got lucky. The passion, the excitement, the thrill all came back. You were everything to me – sun, moon, stars, breathing. I thought we were really going to make it. This was IT. We’d beat those virtual relationship odds. We’d be the ones to prove to everyone that it DOES workout.

And then……. it died. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I expected more from you than you could give. Maybe you were never what I thought you were. This summer I realized that I was wasting my time on you. We weren’t going anywhere together. We were as so many others had been. Done. Used up. Over. So I broke up. I said goodbye. Unfortunately, I only did that logically. My heart still belonged to you. So it was a hard few months.

The last several weeks I’d found a new interest to fill the time that had been filled with you. I have begun slowly to do other things, reach out to different people. Emotionally I had moved on. I was, dare I say it, feeling “free”. Darn you. Darn you darn you darn you. You called me this week. You said “We’ll just meet. No big deal. Really. Just talk.” I can’t say no to you.

We met. Oh my word, the difficulties in arranging a place to meet. Setting the time, getting together. It wasn’t like old times – so much of our usual routine was gone. But….. we were together again. Yes, we slipped right back into the groove. It felt so right. It felt so good. How could I ever think that I didn’t still love you? That I was “free”? Free???? OMG – I would be chained, not free, without you.

/me smiles. You know, don’t you, dear reader? I am talking about my project. My beloved, infuriating collaboration tool project. I demo’d it to someone new this week. I had no hope of anything happening. I was asked to demo, so I would demo. The project is dead. I’ve lost my volunteer team – they’ve all moved on. I have other work I need to do. I found what I thought might be an interesting career path. But…. she liked the demo. She wants us to demo it to a technical group. She wants to discuss it more for the original concept we’d had. I know, I know. Calm down, don’t get excited. But oh the thrill. The joy. While I played the 1 minute video that was shown to 4000 people this past June, other folk from the building walked into the conference room. They stopped talking and watched the screen, rapt. They said something like “How come our stuff is so dull and you get to do all the exciting stuff?”

Yes. You are exciting. You make me come alive. You are my passion. I can turn and try to walk away. But I will always love you. I will always come back to you, given any faint encouragement at all. Even if we never go any further than what we do now – the occasional demo, I count you as my true love. I am grateful, proud and thrilled that you are a part of my life.

And oh world please…… maybe THIS time we will find a home?

Why I Stay

Whenever I think of leaving SL or think of packing up my house and pool, karma intervenes. I believe it was back when I was thinking of moving off the mainland that LOLpande came around. The last few months I’ve been in my skybox more often than not. I do go down to visit the ducks, but mostly I’m away. I’ve been toying with the idea of packing up the house and simply moving the pool up to the sky. Everytime I think I might do that it seems too much effort. And I love my house. Even if I’m not in it as much as I was. So there it sits while I relax in the sky.

Last week I logged in to the usual bunch of IMs and messages. I noticed an unfamiliar name in the IMs and looked a bit more closely.

Sky: hey I found ur place by accident
Sky: it is great
Sky: like the pool

/me smiles. For me, this is one of the great pleasures of SL. Even better than someone enjoying what I enjoy is the fact that Sky took the time to IM me to tell me that. So I sent off a reply.

Ahuva Heliosense: /me grins. so glad you enjoyed the pool! thanks for letting me know. πŸ™‚
Ahuva Heliosense: feel free to use it often.

And I went on about my way, smiling. The next time I logged in, there was an IM from Sky, thanking me. About a week later, I was hanging about the skybox, relaxing, IM’ing with some folks, but mostly enjoying my morning coffee, when Sky IM’d me from my pool. *grin* I tp’d down right away. There was Sky, floating about in the pool. Apparently he’d figured out how to unhide all the pose balls. I settled down poolside and we chatted for a bit. I did offer him a bathing suit but he was quite content to float about fully dressed. *grin* Interesting that. Many of my other guests have ALSO declined bathing suits, but they floated about au natural. πŸ™‚

I realized that if I were going to run a swim club, it needed not only a name but some towels. I mentioned these issues to Oura and Faust. Oura found the towels and Faust named the spa: Villa sub Heliosense. *grin* I may have to change the name of my land group and set up different classes of permissions to accommodate the spa guests. Maybe add a shade umbrella or two. I’ll have to ask the ducks if they would mind visitors down on the sand.

Villa sub Heliosense: the home of sybaritic pleasures.

T-Mobile Flash Mob Advertisement

I am hopelessly out of touch with commercials and advertisements. I was probably the last to know about the Old Spice Man. I don’t watch TV. So most of my popular culture knowledge comes to me via the internet – youTube, Plurks, Tweets, and emails. (Please note I am avoiding a gratuitous insult to the social networking application I dislike. *giggle*)

Anyway, thank you to my friend Prad Prathivi who posted this advertisement. I was sipping my morning coffee and figured why not watch. And I smiled and smiled and smiled. So if you have 3 minutes for a T-Mobile – Welcome back Flashmob advertisement that will leave you feeling great, go for it. /me continues to sip coffee and watch some more feel-good videos.