Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sayumi in Wonderland

Fushigi no Kuni (不思議の国) is simply Japanese for Wonderland... which is one view I have of Second Life.

Oh... by the way... I don't actually speak much Japanese at all, and read not a single word!

I came to Second Life almost two years ago with no serious intent. I was actually born to spend time, mainly frivolously, with a friend from a MMORPG the only MMORPG I have ever played, and one I have long since left behind and in fact now shudder to recall. 'Nuff said on that topic! When that relationship didn’t flourish as I had hoped, for a time I chased the wind and achieved little. Eventually I toyed with some sporting activities – sailing, motorcycling, a little snow skiing… all sports I have so far no experience of in the other world we sometimes need to visit. I marvelled at the building and terraforming skills of others in creating the lands and oceans where I played. Eventually I grew bored and didn’t return for many months.

I came back a few months ago, and quickly formed a very special, though at times tempestuous, relationship with a clever, exciting and creative European woman. Once again I admired skills I could never imagine having, mainly through lack of serious time to develop them, though maybe also doubting my own creative talents in three-dimensional media.

Soon after re-entering this strange, incredible, many-gloried world, I discovered that my own University - the University of Western Australia, from which I had graduated in the other world with an Arts degree some little time ago - had a presence in SL. Indeed, more than a mere presence - in fact, a large part of the other-world campus had been created by persons then unknown to me, and in its centre was what I think has to be the most pleasant sandbox in all of SL. For some time I did little more than fly around the campus a couple of times and then return at intervals to mercenarily use the sandbox. Eventually, though, I discovered that the campus had a dimension it doesn’t possess in its other-world incarnation – a number of floating platforms where, in fact, some of the most important work was being done. Most especially, I found the platform for the UWA 3D Art Challenge.

And soon after that, I encountered Jayjay. That’s Jayjay Zifanwe, of course… the chief architect and manager of the whole UWA enterprise in SL, though he is quick to assure anyone that he has much help from others. Not that I have actually met Jayjay yet! My first encounter with him was when I discovered that he had spoken to me in an IM while I was intently playing with the colour scheme of some shoes on a pose stand I had rezzed in the UWA sandbox. Just what Jayjay had established the sandbox for, of course! I replied but he had wisely decided to leave me to it, and so began a series of messages back and forth. Incredibly, despite living in the same time zone and indeed the same city in the other world, we haven’t yet connected in-world… but now he has given me the opportunity to participate in my own small way in the great adventure of UWA in SL.

I do this with pride. My university – for indeed I will, as a graduate, forever be a member of the community that is UWA – seems to be at the forefront of the penetration of academia into virtual worlds, of which SL is at the moment the best known. I have little real knowledge of this whole endeavour, though I am sure I will learn more. But the role I have taken upon myself at this time is to provide occasional glimpses into what UWA is doing in SL from a very personal viewpoint, and in my own blog here probably to also critique other aspects of life in SL from time to time, as well as my responses to them.

I begin now with some personal perspectives on the November 2010 Round of the UWA 3D Open Art Challenge.

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