Thursday, April 23, 2009

Everything Old Is Virtual Again

I don't know if it's unusual, but there's only one person I know in real life and in the virtual world. In Second Life he goes under the moniker Geoff Novi—and, although his "rez date" in early 2007 makes him only kinda old by Second Life standards, Geoff Novi is actually the (ahem) "new" Geoff. He dates back to early days of Second Life, although I guess he's been known to step away from the virtual world for long stretches. Presumably to, oh, I don't know, have a real life or something. Imagine.

Geoff introduced me to Second Life by kinda halfheartedly suggesting I might enjoy the in-world trivia games. (I had admitted to him I was burning out on real-life pubquiz.) Geoff doesn't live in my town, but work usually brings him here a couple times a year and we've made an effort to do pubquiz together when he's around. We have a bit of malicious fun playing trivia as a "team of two" and beating out teams of seven or eight people. We share a few other interests, and, thinking about it, I've known him longer than almost anyone in my life who's not family. Which is kinda weird. We aren't even the same nationality.

Anyway, when I started Second Life Geoff made an effort to be in-world and show me how a few things worked, and would often be available via real-world instant messaging when I had questions or problems. Although email and instant messages often go back and forth, he'll go missing from Second Life for long stretches. So imagine my surprise last week when I log into my computer and find an instant message from him: "Hi, I'm checking out those AM Radio spots in your blog. Let me know if you're online later."

Wow. My blog has a reader!

So I dropped everything—which, really, was just some laundry—and popped into Second Life to hang out with a real life friend I see all-too-rarely. We went to a couple low-key trivia games (where Geoff aced me out, as usual) and he caught up with some of his in-world friends. But the best part of the whole thing was that I got to play tour guide! Geoff is in-world so rarely—and usually just for specific events—that he doesn't explore much or check out new things. So I tried to drag him around to my usual haunts, my favorite places, and some music shows.

I have to admit we struck out on music performers—my faves weren't playing that evening and none of the acts we randomly picked out proved to be tremendously engaging—but I did drag him relentlessly from one cool sim to another until he finally begged off and we just chilled at dark-yet-brilliant sim Omega Point, chatted for a while, and I got a bit of an infodump on the history of Second Life and how live music streaming works. Gotta look into that.

Geoff and Lou hanging at Omega Point—Geoff called these "womb chairs."

One thing Geoff said kinda struck me: "everything old is virtual again." I would show him a place I think of as incredibly familiar, and he'd turn around and do some little bit of scripting magic and tell me about how a place was built, what software the sim was running, about active scripts in the place, and other esoterica. It was fun for once, in all the years I've known him, to get to play the expert and show him around something besides my hometown, and at the same time pick up new-to-me stuff from him.

A day unlike what I seem to normally do in Second Life. Since you're reading this, Geoff: don't be so scarce. Or I'll zap you. Or something.

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