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Archive for January, 2013

Last week I wrote about the age demographic of Second Life in a post that has led to some discussion.

Second Life's Secret Users?

Second Life’s Secret Users?

Following on from the questionnaire I ran earlier this year about land, I thought I would explore the issue of this demographic a little more, by setting up a survey designed to explore what attracts older residents to Second Life (and keeps them there).

If you are over 30 in real life and a resident of Second Life, please complete this survey – results are anonymous. But if you think there are important questions we are not asking, let us know!  And do add your thoughts in the comments.

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Cap Ferret at Arcachon

Cap Ferret Lighthouse at Arcachon

No apologies for posting another picture of Arcachon, the stunningly beautiful Francophone region that is currently struggling to avoid closure while simultaneously working hard to develop itself as a resource for language teaching. We were over there filming Designing Worlds last night, and it’s going to make for a stunning programme in a couple of weeks.

This is a region that so repays maxing your phototools out to the full, choosing a nice sunset windlight setting and taking pics until your computer whimpers at you.  This is the famous Cap Ferret lighthouse, close to the real Arcachon, and part of the Aquitaine  area that Second Life Arcachon is seeking to present to the visitor.

It makes for a great jigsaw too.

Click to Mix and Solve

Cap Ferret Lighthouse at Arcachon

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Catch up with your Prim Perfect jigsaws (showing images of Second Life and other virtual worlds).

If you’d like to submit a photo of your own to feature as a jigsaw, send it to the Prim Perfect Flickr Group. It should be sized 800w x 600h, or else it will need to be re-sized.

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Now available on the web – our latest episode, as we explore the architectural beauties and the seamy underbelly of 1020s Berlin.

While Saffia browses the high class shops in Unter den Linden and muses on the wealth of art, architecture and cinema, Elrik explores the alleys and shabby apartments that show vividly what life was like for ordinary people in the Weimar Republic, and in a city that was open to experimentation and innovation like no other. And, hand in hand with that, went the famed decadence of Berlin’s clubs …

1920s Berlin - looking down Unter den Linden to the Brandenburg Gate

1920s Berlin – looking down Unter den Linden to the Brandenburg Gate – photograph by Wildstar Beaumont

It was a time of political upheaval too, and we catch glimpses of that – although the Nazis were still a comparatively small and disregarded faction, engaging in street fights with the Communists. But this was a society dancing on the edge …

Jo Yardley, the creator of 1920s Berlin, talks about all this and more as she gives them a fascinating guided tour of the region with a soundtrack of authentic music of the era. It’s an amazing show – don’t miss it!

Berlin, the Alexanderplatz - photograph by Wildstar Beaumont

Berlin, the Alexanderplatz – photograph by Wildstar Beaumont

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Forgotten City

Forgotten City

Today’s jigsaw is another fromHonour McMillan’s excellent blog, Honour’s Post Menopausal View (of Second Life). Today she has been exploring a fabulous location – the Forgotten city – and she explains in her post: Ruins Discovered Near Second Life’s Forgotten City.

If you love steampunk, this ones for you.

It makes for a great jigsaw too!

Click to Mix and Solve

Forgotten City, photograph by Honour McMillan

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Catch up with your Prim Perfect jigsaws (showing images of Second Life and other virtual worlds).

If you’d like to submit a photo of your own to feature as a jigsaw, send it to the Prim Perfect Flickr Group. It should be sized 800w x 600h, or else it will need to be re-sized.

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Now you can enjoy the new episode of Happy Hunting! with Cinders Vale and Rosamoo Mendelsohn and an interview with Chimo Ruby who will be talking about her new hunt for Valentine’s – the Bubbly Heart Gridwide Hunt!

Rosamoo Mendelsohn of Hunt SL, our hunt reporter, rezzed a house full of hunt goodies for you to enjoy – and the house itself was a hunt item! She will be sharing all the latest hunt news with our host Cinders Vale, and some examples of the wonderful items she’s found. And there’ll be news of upcoming hunts too.

And you can find the details of all the hunts discussed right here.

bubbly-hearts-huntThen Cinders will be talking to Chimo Ruby about the hunts Chimo organises – including her new hunt – The Bubbly Heart.

It’s a great show packed with exciting gifts you can find across the grid – so don’t miss it!

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News story submission form

News story submission form

This is your chance to submit news for Prim Perfect’s Valentine issue which will be out at the beginning of February – and at the moment we are looking for news stories to feature in our popular News from the Grid feature.

If you have a news story to share about your store or your sim, you can use the special Prim Perfect news service, to submit your news story directly to the magazine.

All you have to do is to go to www.primperfect.net/news_form.html and complete the simple form. If you want an image included, send it to primperfect@gmail.com.

To appear in our next edition, we must receive your news story by 12 midnight SLT, Thursday 31st January, 2103.

The news story might also appear on this blog, especially if the story concerns, for example, the kind of time-defined event we like to cover – a special store promotion, or a charity concert.

So what are you waiting for? Send your news to us – and see it in print very soon!

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1920s Berlin - looking down Unter den Linden to the Brandenburg Gate

1920s Berlin – looking down Unter den Linden to the Brandenburg Gate – photograph by Wildstar Beaumont

Join us at 2pm SLT today, Monday 28th January, for our new episode of Designing Worlds at our studio in Garden of Dreams as we explore a really fascinating region – a thoughtful and incredibly detailed recreation of 1920s Berlin.

This is a fascinating slice of history. Weimar Germany was a place of immense social deprivations and great wealth; a time of fiery politics, riots, rebellions and the growth of political parties that would dominate the coming decades. But it was also a time of enormous artistic creativity in art, architecture and the comparatively new medium of film. It was also a time of tremendous decadence – a time when all sorts of previously hidden or repressed behaviours were permitted, sometimes encouraged … and often viewed on the stages and in the cabarets.

1920s Berlin - the Alexanderplatz

1920s Berlin – the Alexanderplatz – photograph by Wildstar Beaumont

All of this vibrant life took place in a beautiful European city – a city also teeming with slums and a vibrant working class culture.

Jo Yardley, the creator of 1920s Berlin, talks about all this and more as she gives Designing Worlds viewers a fascinating guided tour of the region with a soundtrack of authentic music of the era.

It’s a show you really won’t want to miss! So do come and join us at 2pm – and see how the Designing Worlds studio has acquired a Bierkeller!

1920s Bierkeller in the Designing Worlds Studio

1920s Bierkeller in the Designing Worlds Studio

Or – if you can’t attend in person – tune in at 2pm SLT on Monday for the live show on http://treet.tv/live – where you can now chat with other audience members and even some of the participants during the show – or catch it later in the week on our shows page on the Treet.tv web site at http://treet.tv/shows/designingworlds – our very own version of the iPlayer!

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Berlin comes to Designing Worlds!

Berlin comes to Designing Worlds!

In today’s Designing Worlds show, we will be visiting 1920s Berlin. And 1920s Berlin has returned the compliment by coming to the Designing Worlds studio – as you can see in today’s jigsaw!

Jo Yardley, the owner of 1920s Berlin, has created a Berlin Bierkeller (the popular 1920s – and later – beer cellar) on the stage of the Designing Worlds studio. So tonight the audience will be able to enjoy a pint of beer as they settle down to watch the show in the studio.

But for now – you can all enjoy the jigsaw!

Click to Mix and Solve

Berlin comes to the Designing Worlds studio!

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Catch up with your Prim Perfect jigsaws (showing images of Second Life and other virtual worlds).

If you’d like to submit a photo of your own to feature as a jigsaw, send it to the Prim Perfect Flickr Group. It should be sized 800w x 600h, or else it will need to be re-sized.

Read Full Post »

In my extended family, the children (pre-teens) sign.

This isn’t because they are deaf – or include a deaf child.  No, they have evolved sign as a secret meta-language in which they can serenely communicate, undisturbed, unheard and uncomprehended by adults.

It happens that a couple of the adults in the family can sign.  One taught her very bright eight-year-old and he picked it up and ran with it, teaching it to his contemporaries across the family so that the younger cousinage, when they meet, can communicate.  And, like most meta-languages, it has evolved to meet their needs.  I’m not sure if people fully conversant with conventional BSL would be able to follow their evolved dialect – it serves its purpose in that none of the familial adults can.

Second Life's Secret Users?

Second Life’s Secret Users?

Private generational communication has been an aspect of the evolution of social media (and perhaps one spoken about anecdotally, but less studied than other issues, such as online gender). Here’s a couple of examples.

Back in the day, we were all on Live Journal, chatting and sharing.  A friend of mine would, occasionally, complain about her job. Then one day, she was shocked to read a helpful response from her aunt who had recently joined. And then, suddenly, a load of strange people started appearing, offering chirpy advice – and occasionally referencing the aunt.  “Yes, dear,” said the aunt when questioned. “I told my bridge club. They’re all on Live Journal now – such fun! And I told them my niece had a wonderful Live Journal so they all friended you!”

Back to my family again … and a generation that was cheerfully sharing on Facebook had a Moment when they realised that parents were starting to make accounts – in order to share family info and gossip. The look of naked shock and horror when the young adults realised that aunts, uncles, parents … were there, in their play space, invading their cyberspace fun … well, it was quite something.

People looking at Second Life from the outside (especially journalists and doubly journalists working in the tabloid market) look at the avatars in Second Life and are fascinated by the gender choices of residents. The men who choose to explore their feminine side. The women who choose to take on a masculine role in a virtual world.  Even in Second Life, apocryphal tales abound about the prevalence of Gorean slave girls with surprisingly gruff voices, or the discovery that this or that well-known Second Life Lothario is, in fact, female.

Second Life's Secret Users?

Second Life’s Secret Users?

And let’s not even get in to the questions asked about people who choose to live their online lives as vampires, dragons, or children – and maybe cross-gender there too.

Suffice it to say that over the years, the question of gender in virtual worlds has formed the fodder for a wide variety of newspaper and magazine articles and several well-regarded academic studies in the wider world, some fascinating blog posts from inworld and a hideous amount of Outrage and Shock and Hurt on numerous twitter and plurk streams.

But one area that has been comparatively overlooked – and it’s one that I think has an important bearing on some of the problems that Second Life faces today (and some of its potential strengths that could ensure its longevity) is the demographic of age.

First of all, let me make one thing abundantly clear – this has nothing to do with avatar age as it is conventionally understood, with adults choosing to play juveniles.

This is about something quite different.

It was some years ago that Tateru Nino looked at the demographics and said that, given the preponderance of the demographic, skewed to over 35 and female, it was clear who was using Second Life – “It’s your mother.”  And that hasn’t changed.

Let’s think about this …

You are a brilliant software engineer.  You create – or help to develop – one of the most advanced and stunning game systems that exists.  In many areas the capabilities of your product outstrips the top ranked and best selling computer games of all time. Cutting edge? You are so far the other side that the cutting edge is a flashing light on the horizon behind you. Be proud because you have made something so unique and exciting that it’s the favourite game for … your parents.

And when things go wrong – and, oh boy, do they go wrong – you have your parents on your back, or your aunts and your uncles and their bridge club … except it’s not a bridge club any more, because they’ve discovered Second Life and so it could be their night club or their sex club, or their dragon clan, or their pirate chapter or their very upmarket yacht club … but it’s their community and it’s going wrong so – Do Something About It, Young ‘Un!

Second Life's Secret Users?

Second Life’s Secret Users?

As is often the case with avatar gender, many people know – it’s just not something that’s generally talked about.  Occasional references give the game away: college aged children. Grandchildren. Sometimes even the fact that people have ample time for Second Life without the urgent need to make a living suggests … a period of life when the drive to support a growing family has passed – although this is not to discount other reasons why people may spend a large amount of time inworld.

And this is also not to say that everyone in Second Life is pulling down a pension – I doubt that many are. But there is a sizeable number of people who have followed the evolution of computer technology from the 1980s to the 2010s, and who have settled down in Second Life.

In marketing terms, these people are the grey panthers.  They have leisure and disposable income. They also have energy and creativity in bucketloads – and it’s coupled with life experience.  These people enjoy a Second Life because they can bring to bear a full First Life … and Second life gives them a chance to try something different. And they create wonderful things.

But, in computer terms, the obsession is always with the new.

Once, a group of us on our way to a holiday in Tuscany met up with an American couple. They expressed their dissatisfaction with much of what they had seen (they must have been a very unusual pair of American travellers in Europe – everyone else I have met adores it).  When they were asked why, they looked disgusted and said, “It’s not new!”

That became the catchphrase of our holiday. Looking at the Duomo in Florence, the amazing pavement at the Cathedral in Sienna, the towers of San Gimignano, the central square of Volterra … we would exclaim: “It’s not new!” and collapse in fits of laughter.

Of course, an obsession with the new has long been a feature of every attempt to sell anything – and so too has the desire to acquire a new audience by appealing to the young, the hip, the cool.

Second Life's Secret Users?

Second Life’s Secret Users?

But … what if Second Life wasn’t the place to attract a young audience? What if it was, instead, a perfect place for people of more mature years (with larger, if more shrewdly managed wallets)?  What if Linden Lab should be luring not the young gamers of Steam, but another audience entirely?

This isn’t to suggest that Second Life should be slipping ads into Saga magazine and Retirement Planning Monthly and ignoring all other audiences.  There are as many brilliant young designers in Second Life as there are more mature ones, and the same goes for event planning, sim ownership, club management etc. Targeting one particular audience at the expense of all others hasn’t worked so well in the past (remember the drive for the business customers, anyone?). But making Second Life more grey panther friendly (for example, making sure that the info hubs where newbies arrive aren’t packed with idiots shouting sexual abuse at each other) could certainly help.  As would some thinking about grey panther friendly policies for residents. Because these residents have the capacity to be long stay, faithful customers.

Growing your business by constantly looking for the young, trend-setting demographic is one way forward.  But there’s a very substantial business to be built on the discerning mature customer – ask any cruise line.

And yet … it’s not sexy (in so many senses of the word).  It’s also not the way most Second Life users would want to be regarded – they are here, after all, to live a very different life.  Ages ago, I made over a Second Life house for someone who told me, “Some friends came over to visit us, and said our house looked like it was created for a couple in their sixties. Well, actually, we are in our sixties – but we don’t want to be seen that way!”

Second Life's Secret Users?

Second Life’s Secret Users?

So there is a demographic that loves Second Life, and whose participation in Second Life could probably be expanded.  But … how to target them without alienating them? And is there any will at the Lab to sell the game to … well, their parents’ generation?

Perhaps it will remain Second Life’s little secret …

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Sunset on Gilmour

Sunset on Gilmour

Today’s jigsaw is another photograph by Honor Macmillan, one of three that she took when we were asking for your stories of how you met in Second Life.  A goodly group of people shared their stories with us, and you’ll be able to read more in the next issue of Prim Perfect, which will be out at the beginning of February.

And if you’d like more jigsaws with a virtual world flavour, the Metaverse Magic blog is starting to feature some stunning pictures made into jigsaws too!

This jigsaw is a rather unusual shape, and you might find it a little tricky … so … enjoy!

Click to Mix and Solve

Sunset on Gilmour, photograph by Honour McMillan

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Catch up with your Prim Perfect jigsaws (showing images of Second Life and other virtual worlds).

If you’d like to submit a photo of your own to feature as a jigsaw, send it to the Prim Perfect Flickr Group. It should be sized 800w x 600h, or else it will need to be re-sized.

Read Full Post »

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