Monday, January 9, 2023

2022 Year in Review

 2022 saw it's share of triumphs and tragedies, breakthroughs and pitfalls, and other things that stood out. Before closing the door, it's time for a look back at what happened.

In real-life, Europe would see it's bloodiest conflict since the Second World War with the invasion of the Ukraine by Russian dictator Putin's forces. People would protest across the world, and many in Second Life would show their support with demonstrations, fundraisers, flying Ukrainian flags, and the wearing of it's colors. Although there were less flags and people wearing blue and gold over time, moths later some places and people still were. When Britain's Queen Elizabeth passed, a memorial was set up in London City. Dana Vanmoer, the editor of the closed SL Newspaper, would make real-life news when her mailbox "toppers" were mentioned in the Daily Mail website.

Twenty years ago, Second Life was in beta. And this year, the oldest objects on the grid would start to turn twenty. On January 25, the first prim to be created (and remain) turned twenty. On February 11 came the oldest textured object's 20th anniversary. In July was the 20th anniversary of Second Life's oldest existing structure, "The Man."
Linden Lab and Second Life would see some developments. There would be two new levels of accounts in addition to Basic and Premium. There was Premium Plus which offered perks such as fewer fees and higher weekly Linden dollar allowances. Later in the year, Premium Plus residents could get a low-capacity homestead sim without getting a full one first. The Lab also stated there would eventually be Linden Home lots in a new 2048 square-meter size just for Premium Plus residents, though they hadn't arrived by year's end. There was also a Plus account option, which basically allowed people to get land for cheaper outside the Linden Home area. 
The price of Mainland was lowered. Europeans no longer had to pay VAT tax. Name change fees were changed so one no longer had to get a Premium account to do so. High Capacity sims announced in April, offered to residents in May, the initial high price of $999 and $899 a month after lowered the following month to $499. Linden Lab announced Puppetry feature was being worked on for avatars. It was also announced new starter avatars, NUX avatars, were in development, but six months after the SLB have yet to be released. In January, the 360 snapshot feature available already in the Linden viewer was accessible to more when it became part of the Firestorm Viewer. Not all changes were for the better. Sim rollbacks would no longer be free, but cost $25, each. 

The Grid has always seen glitches. But in late January there were so many that on January 31 the Lab felt compelled to issue a statement apologizing for them. Linden Lab would get it's founder Philip Rosedale/Philip Linden back in January as an advisor, and would add a Chief Marketing Officer and Information Security Officer in May. In September, Linden Lab would acquire Caspertech, an inworld company best known for it's rental-fee vendors. In October, a deal was worked out with the makers of the Speedlight text viewer, making it free for those with Premium Plus. 
Also in October, a deal was worked out between Tilia and JP Morgan bank, in which it would get a cash investment in exchange for a share of the profits. Tilia had been created by Linden Lab a few years ago, but was now separate though still controlled by it's owners the Waterfield Network.

The Bellisseria continent would continue to grow. In May, a new type of Linden Home, the Asian-themed Sakura, would be released in a new area with a tall, snow-capped mountain in the middle. In April, around the time of it's third anniversary, there would be more of the Newbrooke (suburban style) homes made available. Expansions in August made it possible to not just sail from Bellisseria to the older mainland, but continue traveling up the shore.

A couple feature-length movies made in Second Life would get attention. Draxtor's "Virtual Cultures in Pandemic Times" depicted people going to SL and Animal Crossing as ways to socialize while it was unsafe to do so in real life. In December came "Waarheid," a science-fiction cyberpunk film made entirely in Second Life. Both were featured at the Film Threat theater. 

Second Life would see many events over the course of the year. The Lab would host some, including "Hug or Dunk a Linden," two Linden snowball fights, The Music Fest, and of course the Second Life Birthday - the SL19B. The theme for the anniversary event was Steampunk. Bay City would hold some, such as Mole Day, the Bay City Parade, the Bay City Christmas party, and the Prim Drop. There was also the One Billion Rising, the Bellisserian Valentine's Day boat cruise, the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference, Naturecon, New Babbage's Burning Barrel Race, and more. The Relay for Life would host many events, such as the Home and Garden Expo, the Sci-Fi Expo and Con, the Fantasy Faire, the Christmas Expo, the Renniasance Festival, and of course the Relay Weekend, in which over a thousand avatars braved the lag on an "H" shaped track that when through over a few dozen sims. Patch Linden would host a barbecue on the Relay track in the "Days of Relay" a few days before that. 
One notable location in Second Life, Tempura Island, closed down after 14 years. But a tribute place quickly emerged, and the Lab would bring the place back under it's preservation program. But other places would not be as fortunate. "The Dirty Grind," a music venue that featured numerous live musicians would close after over a decade. The East River Community sims in Sansara shunk in number after a major landowner left. A few were saved, but some were not. The Mieville Steampunk community faced a crisis when it's founder Perryn Peterson was declared missing and presumed dead. As there was no plan to preserve the sims after his death, the long-term fate of the estates and community remains uncertain.

Sadly, some people would leave Second Life. Live musician Bat Masters would hang up his microphone after many years of singing due to declining health. Siddean Munro, the maker of Slink avatars, would close down and leave the grid on December 31 after content creating for about 15 years. Many would also pass away in real life, Curei of Whole Brain Health, Jimmy Branagh of New Babbage, artist Indea Vaher,  DJ Fritter AKA Hakura the Pup who was an SL and radio DJ, JasElm Merte of the Safe Waters Foundation and Insilico & Jinx, Teal Freenote of Raglan Shire, Breezy Carver of New Babbage. musician Paul Nowles, Ktahdn Vesuvino of Mieville, Minirainbow of Raglan, Waya Snowpaw a DJ and veteran who distinguished himself at HFOT benefits, Jenn Chant of the Sunweavers, and others.

Virtual Worlds would get attention in real-life news with Facebook/Meta's "Horizons." While Mark Zuckerburg tried to depicted his virtual world as new and nothing else like it, anyone even remotely familiar with Second Life knew this wasn't true, and he was demanding a far bigger cut from what content creators made, and of course the lack of legs which were lampooned on both late-night TV and Linden Lab's own "April Fool" gag. Horizons would turn out to be a disappointment for Zuckerburg, bringing in few people and little cash, which added to Facebook/Meta's problems as it's net worth went downhill. Social Media would also make the news as billionaire Elon Musk best known for his Telsa electric car bought Twitter. Some conservatives and populists saw this as good news, feeling the platform's censors had been biased against them. But Musk's moves such as demanding that employees work "extremely hardcore" did not go well and was seen as unfair to single mothers. Many advertisers would leave, and Musk would end up losing millions on both Twitter and Telsa. 

Outside Second Life, VRChat in July had a security update that disabled mods, much to the anger of many users who over time came to rely on them, and bringing an end to an unspoken agreement between the platform's owners and what came to be an underground mod community. Microsoft would announce it's plans to buy Activision/Blizzard, hoping to complete the deal by the middle of 2023, but it would have to be approved by the US Government's FTC. In the meantime, Blizzard would launch the latest World of Warcraft expansion: Dragonflight, with a new placer race, the Dracthyr.
For the Newser's neighbors, the Sunweaver/Angels community, it was an eventful year. The estates would see new features such as new train stops, the new Club Squeaks, and the Christmas theme park. The Relay season would be an active one, hitting Platinum at the start. Cynthia Farshore would be behind or have a hand in many of it's events such as the weekly Moon Dances, the Renfaire, and the Sunbeamer & Roos Air Show. The Sunbeamers would raise over a million Linden Dollars, making Emerald-Level fundraising and come out number thirteen of 138 Relay teams. For her efforts, Cynthia would be honored with a community trophy. ShinyWhiteDragon, a longtime regular at Club Cutlass, and LilyBethPatterson would be married in July. December had a crisis when Perri Prinz and RECoyote Mindes faced a real-life eviction. But in what was called a Christmas miracle, their friends quickly organized a fundraiser that got them the rent money they needed. There was also some fun and games to be had by the community outside Second Life, notably in the Angels server in Rust with the players seeing what they could build and having a couple races and a base defense competition. 

As for the Newser team itself, it was a challenging time with the editor/head writer having to deal with personal tragedy. But the publication continued, and was gifted with a new office by Ranchan Wiedman. As Second Life approaches it's 20th anniversary, we will continue to report the news, large and small, of the people, places, and events across the Grid. Special thanks to our sponsors at Lorena Chung Estates, the Deathlands, and Montecito Bay, our supporters at Farshore Radio and the Sunweaver/Angels community, and of course you the readers. 
*Addition* I forgot to include the split in the Burn2 community, with some artists forming their own Burner group, Burn ONe, which would hold a "Renegade Burn" in October and a few other events that year.

Bixyl Shuftan
Editor/Head Reporter
Second Life Newser


  1. So much has happened this year for so many in our virtual community. We count our blessings because it beats counting our challenges.

    Hugs and Fishes.. and may the new year bring us good times ahead

  2. Thanks for the synopsis. Also remembering the passing of the TRU owner, and once Linden Lab employee. I cannot recall her SL name. But do know her real life name.

  3. Thanks, Bix. Now, make a New Year's resolution to remember the difference between "its" (possessive form of "it"), and "it's" (contraction of "it is"). You sure you don't want a proofreader?