Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bowler and Wiser

Buccaneer Bowl XVII!

This past weekend was a biggy for Second Life's trivia mavens: it marked the 17th monthly Buccaneer Bowl! The team trivia event was as always marvelously captained by Lillian Shippe, Thornton Writer, and Lette Ponnier, $10,000L was still up for grabs, and a tremendously fun time was had by all. The often-champion Triviators managed to pull off another well-earned victory (congrats!), but the Trumpton Trivials—who let's not forget won the very first Buccaneer Bowl—gave them a serious run for the title, keeping up with them right to the very end of the tournament. We also had a bunch of new faces at the Buccaneer Bowl this month, which is great! I'm thrilled the contest continues to attract new players, and a lot of the newly-formed teams do very well!

Of course, there's also a lot of switching around within the established teams to account for players' availability. I almost always play for the Frivolous Corsairs—I sat in with the Triviators once, tho (which was a hoot!) and combined forces with half the BFSCs one time for a pretty solid game. And this month we got to add another BFSC member to the Corsairs' roster of ΓΌ supercool top-notch guest stars: we had the always-stunning Shale Nightfire along for the ride! One odd result was that we were (by far)) the, um, least vertically extended team at the Bowl! Everyone's seen enough pictures of me by now to know I'm no lumbering gigantasaurus. But here's our Captain Rain Ninetails and, even more dainty, Shale!

Shale Nightfire and Rain Ninetails at the May 2010 Buccaneer Bowl

We did pretty good! We won one of the five rounds and managed a fifth place finish overall, and with only three players on the team the prize money went a little further! But for more important than the money—to me anyway—is how the Buccaneer Bowl has become such a solid foundation for the SL trivia commumity. It really is an open, fairly run event that welcome all comers. Sure the competition is tough, but there's a lot of money at stake! And what's fabulous about it is how everyone gets along, works together to make the event a success, and has a great time. It's a great example of how a virtual community can come together and create something…well, more than the sum of its pixels.

Lillian's Second Rez Day!

Speaking of someone who is more than the sum of her pixels: yesterday was the ever-wonderful Lillian Shippe's second rez day! Rez days are like birthdays in Second Life—they're the anniversary of when someone's account was created. Some people let rez days pass by quietly, and sometimes there's a big bash (and sometimes people get surprised)…but Lill's was going to happen with style. So we all put together as hip an avatar as we could—this is more of a challenge for me than most—and…worlds collided! Dancing was done! Kungfu fighting commenced! Avatar attachments were repositioned! And everyone had a blast!

Folks reading this blog probably only know Lill as one of the quartermasters of the Buccaneer Bowl. You know, the one who might be dressed up like a Kabuki mime, a pig-headed dwarf, a (ahem) girafified version of herself. (Did I promise I wouldn't bring that up again? I can't remember. Too late now!) But Lillian is also one of the people who has truly embraced what it means to, well, I guess live in a virtual world. No: I don't mean Lill spends 24 hours a day in Second Life and never interacts with anyone who isn't an avatar. Quite the contrary. But Lillian has more than embraced the transformative and creative potential of Second Life—she's thrown herself headlong into it. Impossible fashion, impossible beings, impossible settings running the gamut from sheer beauty to the grotesque to the I-can't-look/I-can't-look-away. Check out Lillian's Flickr stream for a sense of what she's up to lately…it's kind of hard to believe, but even harder to describe.

And the turnout was fab! An hour into the event Lill ordered everyone against a wall. We were expecting to be mowed down in a flurry of bullets, but instead she took our picture! Not everyone who made it to the party is in the shot—some had to leave early, and some arrived later—but it gives you an idea of how many people were there at any given moment. I think I got all the names right—more images are available from both Lill's and Mako's photostreams…including some kungfu action.

Lillian Shippe's Second Rez Day (click to enlarge!)

Back row: Thornton Writer, Lucinda Dollinger, Honey Potez, Juke Badger, Circe Falta, JoshuaStephen Schism, Mako Kungfu, Leroy Horten, eleanora Scribe, Jackal Ennui, Achariya Maktoum, Blue Revolution, Billy2Times Krams, Jewels Carminucci, Rach Borkotron, Cinna Xaris, and Cygnoir Blanc
Front row: someone short, Lette Ponnier, Allana Robbiani, Thurina Susa, Lillian Shippe, and Metro Voom

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Here's Looking at Lou, Kid

Ye Deare Readers may recall that I like making tiny prims and kinda dabble in creating jewelry in Second Life. Most of my projects are custom one-off items, sometimes commissioned by people as gifts for their friends or groups or partners, and sometimes things I do on a whim as a rez-day gift or a spur-of-the-moment thing. ("Uh, what's this for?" "Happy Wednesday!") Most of the time when I turn over jewelry to someone, it is literally out of my inventory: those objects are unique in Second Life and only exist in one place. The original recipient can usually give one of my items to someone else, but they can't make copies or sell it; similarly, once I give an item away, it's gone: I don't have it anymore. I like to think that those objects have a little bit of virtual value for being unique.

Anyway: people are always asking me if I have a store or if I sell items, and for well over a year I've been saying "Nope!" or "I can't be arsed." But now that's starting to change.

Beginning this weekend, a Lou Netizen jewelry item will be on sale in Second Life to anyone who wants to buy it. However, the proceeds aren't going to me: the item is being sold to benefit the ALS Association. It's a swanky vaguely steampunky monocle festooned with happy little tiny prims:

Oooh tiny prims! See the little teeth on the gear?

Buyers will get four versions of the monocle: one with a flexi chain and one with a nifty (non-flexy) ribbon, both in silver and gold variations to complement outfits. They come with modify and copy permission, so buyers can change them around into unrecognizable disasters…or just make the chains/ribbons longer or shorter if they like. The red lens is in theme with the ALS event.

The monocles will be on sale for $100L at the ALS Vigil, an in-world event at Second Life's Nonprofit Commons on May 16 running from 5-7PM SLT. The vigil coincides with a real-life candlelight vigil in Washington D.C. the same day. Other exclusive items from other makers will be on sale to benefit the ALS Association; I believe the items will also be available for purchase after the event. The monocles are exclusive to the ALS: they won't be available from any other source. The ALS Association also has an inworld office in Heath Commons.

Update: for a limited time, the monocle and other items exclusive to the ALS event are available at the ALS Association office in Heath Commons. Look up on the second floor.

So why did I bite the bullet and decide to put stuff out for sale? Part of it was timing: this seemed like a manageable project and it landed in my lap in a gap between other major bits of work. But a significant part of the appeal is that any sales go to support a good cause. I don't personally suffer from ALS, but I know someone in real life who is living with the condition. Trust me when I say it's no fun.

What is ALS? Formally it's amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but it's better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It attacks motor neurons: people with the condition lose voluntary control of their muscles, tend to develop uncontrolled movements, and eventually suffer from muscular atrophy. Famous folks with ALS include, of course, baseball's Lou Gehrig, but also physicist Stephen Hawking and musicians like jazz great Charles Mingus.

There is no cure for ALS, but research is ongoing, and the ALS Association is all about supporting research into treatments and cures as well as supporting folks with the disease. In the last ten years the ALS Association has put about US$50 million towards ALS research, and has developed an extensive care network for sufferers and their families. Of course, the ALS Association is an American organization, but the research benefits everyone.

I know the business of in-world charities in Second Life can be a dicey one: while the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life effort is very well-established in-world, the mostly-anonymous nature of Second Life means just about anyone can say they're collecting money for a charity, then just take the Linden dollars out to their own PayPal accounts. (This isn't a terribly uncommon tactic at infohubs to prey on new residents.) I'm satisfied the ALS Association presence in Second Life is legit, but feel free to do your own homework. Worst case, you're down $100L and up four extremely nifty monocles.

So now stuff I've made is for sale. Armageddon must be nigh.