Sunday, June 5, 2022

Looking Back on Twelve Years

It was twelve years ago that one chapter in Second Life journalism ended with the close of JamesT Juno and Dana Vanmoer's Second Life Newspaper, and a new one began with the start of the Second Life Newser. The four of us, Gemma Cleanslate, Shellie Sands, Grey Lupindo, and myself had some big shoes to fill. The Newspaper had covered Second Life in it's golden age, as well as many of it's people, places, and events that helped define it. We arrived at a time when not only had the virtual world seen better days, but with the layoff of a third of Linden Labs, it was one in trouble.

Twelve years later, much has changed. Of the original four, just Gemma and I are left. Thankfully others such as Penny Shuftan and Marcel Mosswood have stepped in to help fill their void.  Sadly Gemma and I have also had real-life difficulties. She had some medical issues of which she is still recovering. And as I write this, someone dear to me in real life is very sick and will likely pass away very soon.

So what keeps us going? Why spend so much time writing about a "game" as some have dismissively called Second Life, one that gamers often dismiss as having inferior graphics, that some dismiss as too difficult and troll-ridden, and whose owners sometimes act like they don't care about it's users other than how to make money off them?

Because of the good it allows people to do.

Yes, there are a *few* punks here whose purpose in life seems solely to be to make others miserable. But the ill they do is outweighed by the positive others accomplish. Sometimes it's artistic, the ability to build here either with inworld or external tools allowing artists to make creations that others can admire. Sometimes it's therapeutic, those with mental problems or just mentally weary can get together with others in peer support groups, sometimes aimed at others like themselves.

It can allow those to meet others like themselves and form virtual communities. Not just a channel where they can chat, but a three-dimensional landscape they can interact with each other in, in avatars more or less whatever they want to look like, and in surroundings either made completely by other users, or in the case of Linden Home areas at least customizable by other users. In particular, it can allow the physically disabled to interact with others much easier than can be done in real life.

And one can raise money here to help combat real-world problems and illnesses. Homes For Our Troops for instance helps disabled veterans not just keep a roof over their heads but a house they can live independently in. And of course there is the Relay for Life. Ever year, it raises thousands of dollars to research treatments for cancer, as well as helping those stricken get such treatments.

With recent events, I personally have more reason to write about the Relay than before.

So what does the future hold? Predictions of Second Life's end have been made time and time again, and time to time they never came to pass. It's safe to assume baring some global catastrophe, the virtual world still has some years left. Yours truly has gotten a little older, and grayer. But I should be able to keep writing a few more years as well.

Special thanks to our sponsors, Lorena Chung Estates, the Montecito Bay communnity, the Deathlands roleplay sim, and the Safe Waters Foundation. To Farshore Radio to helping spread the word about the Newser. To the Sunweaver community to helping give our office a home. To the Lindens without which this virtual world would not be possible. And you the readers for giving us our purpose.

"And that's the way it is." Good day from the Second Life Newser.

Bixyl Shuftan
Second Life Newser

1 comment:

  1. It has been my privilege to be on the SL Newser from the first day of its life. It is well respected across the grid. I have had many adventures exploring and met some wonderful friends doing articles all these years. Bixyl has been a wonderful boss and friend all the way. He is patient when I have writers block LOL. I hope to continue writing about sl and all its growing .