Cat, Twitter, and the alternate ME

Posted on October 9, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Games, Musings |

I’ve been on a long(ish), strange journey for the past couple of months: It all started with a Tweet (a short text message using the social networking provider “Twitter“) back in mid-August from Carocat, who (and I may actually forgive her for this; haven’t decided yet) posted a link to a music video. “Nice”, I thought, “I like Cat’s taste in many things. So, I clicked. I watched. And listened. I was enthralled. I was a little embarrassed. Why?

In addition to being a great music vid with a catchy tune and good production values, it poked fun at online gamers. Until recently (more about that in a minute) I hadn’t played ANY online role playing games, although I was, and am, an avid adventure gamer. I knew about these people, though: They spend hours of every day forming alliances, protecting their virtual land, and virtual virtue (not!), and engaging in battle and/or skills tests and/or wheeling and dealing. And hooking up! This didn’t SOUND like something I’d be interested in.

Still, the music video was hilarious, sexy, and, unlike a lot of game related items, did not gratify the male gamers at the expense of the female. Although the star (and lyricist) of the video is a woman, I felt that both genders were equally exploited. (That was a joke. Although it’s true. The video is a spoof, after all.) (I’m being awfully parenthetical in this particular post. These things write themselves, you know. Oh, wait, I’m supposed to say “These things don’t write themselves.” Except, they sort of do.)

The video is Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?. Since the day Cat foisted it on me made me aware of it, I must have watched it 20 times. I began to be curious about the people behind it. Heading on over to YouTube, I found the video featured the cast of a web series, The Guild. I feel I may have been among the last of the gamers to know of The Guild. They were already producing Season 3! This video series, if you don’t know, which you do, because I’m the only one who didn’t, is about a “guild” of six players of a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (that’s a real term, with its own acronym: MMORPG), and their lives on- and offline. It’s full of cliché and wit; disturbing distortions, and utter truth. The characters are engaging, and while I hadn’t been an MMORPG’er, I could relate to many of the situations. The game appears to be the central focus of their lives. Oh my.

Back on YouTube, I watched the entire series from episode one. I watched about three or four episodes a day (they’re between 5 and 9 minutes in length) until I was all caught up and as restless for Season 3 to begin as were those viewers who’d been there from the beginning. What to do? There were still ten days until the new series!

A new fan waiting for the next fix, I started hanging around the fora on The Guild‘s website (WatchTheGuild.com), and, while there, I came across a spoof/tribute video called I’m Too Busy To Date Your Avatar. This was all in graphic images, was very well done, and very strange, I thought. The Avatar Star, I was told, is a prominent events organizer in a thing called Second Life. Vague stirrings of memory fluttered at my brain. I’d known of this…game? virtual world? alternate reality? for a while, and had mostly heard two things about it: People build stuff there!, and, It’s ALL about cyber-s e x!!!

Quite honestly, up until that moment, the idea of Second Life kind of frightened me. I wasn’t sure I would know how to “be” in a place like that. The Guild resonated with me on many levels, although I don’t like to play games involving a lot of weapons and shooting things, and “hooking up”. Hopping over to Second Life‘s website, I found that, while one can do all those things there, there’s so much else to do as well. It’s not a “game” in the traditional sense. There are no outcomes; no particular goals; no winners. One wanders around, and learns how to design and render virtual buildings, or clothing, or other useful objects. Sounds kind of dull, actually. It is kind of dull, actually…but…

After snooping for a bit, I finally signed up for a free account. It really is free, but there is an in-world economy one can participate in if one chooses. I won’t go on about what Second Life is or is not; there are plenty of reviews which point out the joys and foibles of the place, and SL’s own website gives a great overview.

I will say I was positively influenced by the fact that, some time before I joined, they moved all “adult” or X-rated content into a protected area. While the whole site is for age 18+ (they have another version for teens), a player (or “resident”) must prove their age in order to enter the “adult” areas. These are pretty wild, (so I hear) ;) and fully deserve the reputations they have earned. I’m fine with them being there, I just appreciate the ability to choose.

It’s very much fun to “tweak” the appearance of my Avatar. I have a lot more to learn. I have this sort of…well, you’ll have to go see if you want to know what my Avatar looks like. It resembles the “real” me quite a lot, actually, but, I’m even more attractive in person! (You’ll have to take my word for that.) Of course, I have the ability to completely change my Avatar at any moment, so the next time you see me I might be a Gargoyle, or something.

MusE Starsmith, Second Life resident

This is the first time I’ve had a game Avatar! I’ve only played first person (where one doesn’t see ones body) and third person (where one plays as the in-game main character) adventure games, so this is quite new to me. I run all over the place in this self-modified body! I can also jump, turn somersaults, fly, and teleport! Whee! I’m a person who believes we could do all those things in real life, too, if we only believed we could. One of the things I’m doing in that “other” world is using my experiences to examine consciousness! Really! It’s a fascinating psychological and social study.

For social networking fans, there are text chat, voice chat, and group discussions. I’ve already met some really thoughtful and intelligent people—almost as nice as the ones that read my blog! ;) My very favorite features are these: I can explore many types of environments from ancient ruins to futuristic spaceports (check out the Star Trek Museum, and the detailed representation of Stonehenge). There are groups of like-minded souls who wish to discuss science and consciousness; my favorite things. I appreciate all the nice beaches, as I’m generally in the desert, miles from water.

So, far, I’m finding the experience exhilarating, disturbing, strange, compelling, potentially addicting, unnerving, awe-inspiring, and fascinating. Sounds like a good fit for my personality. :) I’m taking a class from MIT! That’s another thing: There are quite a few universities and businesses that have a Second Life “presence”. Virtual classrooms abound. Any subject matter; almost any place or fantasy you can imagine can be found in Second Life. It is a guilty pleasure, but since my belief system doesn’t put much stock in guilt, I don’t mind! I like that the whole world in SL is user-generated content. I don’t know if I’ll participate in starting a business or building a home, but, you never know. One can spend a lot of money in there, but it’s not necessary in order to have a fully immersive experience.

So, if I’ve been a little preoccupied, this is (one of the reasons) why. If you’re already a Second Lifer, and hadn’t told me (!) come on over and say “Hi”. If you haven’t taken the plunge, yet, one of the fun things to learn is how to find people and say ‘Hi”. Considering how much I *don’t* care for networks like Facebook (sorry, FBookies), that’s how much I DO like this virtual world, where I can do or be anything I can imagine. Much like…life!

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15 Responses to “Cat, Twitter, and the alternate ME”

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Wow Muse.
If you’re more attractive than your avatar,
you’re a real beauty :-)
Is the word ‘parenthetical’ your original? It’s great! At first I thought it meant parent ethics.
I’ll surely look for you first when I join Second Life.

A fascinating post, Muse! I’m just barely navigating this life, but have friends who love being second lifers. I often wonder what’s more real about the first life, since many people never let their real them out anyway – and get kind of squirmy when others do. I can’t say I’m about to take the plunge – maybe after my classes are over – but then again, I just learned I probably could have done them in my second life. How cool is all that!

Big hug, you beautiful adventurer!

Peace in and out – with or w/o adult content. ;-)

I never imagined I’d have this much of an impact on you!

Second Life is something I’ve never touched in the past. In fact, I’ve only ever tried two online MMO’s, Star Wars Galaxies and Eve Online. I always fear that it’ll suck me in too much. However, there is an MMO coming out in the coming years that I’m looking forward to: SWTOR – Star Wars The Old Republic, set thousands of years before the films in an era that’s already seen two games [Knights of the Old Republic I and II, both amongst my favourite ones] and a comicbook series spanning several years so far. But overall I’m much more for console gaming!

Anyways, I hope you’ll forgive me for tweeting a link to the video!
:)

second life sounds like the sims, have you played that before? probably not as diverse as sl but it was sure addictive for me when i discovered it some years ago.

you got me curious about sl now… i might want to pick it up. i could map out my dream world there, lol. what do you do there?

Every time I come here, I get another side of Muse! This one unexpected. Where to begin.
That video made me laugh. Very funny.
Your Avatar is stunning. Muse is a beauty inside and out. Somehow, I just knew that. You probably radiate.
I think I’ve heard of that game before. It sounds like it could be a lot of fun. I could see myself getting way too hooked on it. If I were single I’d be in there like a dirty shirt! But…since I’m married, I could see myself getting in a whole lot of mess…hehehe. I got hooked on Sims (not the on-line one, so I could just imagine SL! Might as well be honest, right. So, for now I’ll pass, even though I soooooo want to try it. It sounds like a blast.

Oh, gosh, Muse, know I have to talk myself out of joining it. Thanks,or not ;)
I love building games! Designing a house and stuff. Grrrrr…

Just downloaded a game called FreeCol and am hooked on that right now.

Aw, thanks, poch, you’re making me blush. :oops: No, not my original word, but they probably could use some “parent ethics” in Second Life. ;) It would be fun to see you there. I wonder what sort of Avatar you will choose.

Thank you, Ronnie Ann. I think along the same lines. Sometimes I’m more real on this blog than in “real” life! I could certainly imagine classes in your field in SL (probably not in the adult area.) :) Thanks for hugs & peace. Delighted to accept both, and back atcha! :D

OK, cat, I have, after all, decided to forgive you. ;) It’s amazing how something like posting a link can start a chain of events like this, isn’t it? I didn’t think you were into SL, but SWTOR sounds worth looking into. (Oh no, even MORE time online!) You are the Twitter Diva; I have learned much from you. Thanks for being such a good sport, and sending me off in a new direction. :)

It is somewhat like Sims, sulz. I have one of the Sims games, it has not made it onto my computer yet. Perhaps I’ll look at it in a different light now. Yes, you could make your dream world there. You could also explore your business ideas, like the imports you were talking about a while back. Some college students have designed their senior business projects in Second Life. They get extra credit if people buy their stuff! ;) I like to explore places that people from other countries have set up there. I saw a museum featuring the history of the Malay people, for instance, with traditional music. :) There’s even a travel blog, which tells about all the traveling I can do without leaving my desk! I also like to attend classes and discussion groups. I’m still exploring and learning, so, not sure what I’ll do next.

Oh my, BD, if this keeps up I’ll turn into a hexagon soon, if I have yet another side. hehe. (That sounds like I used to be a witch, and now the hex-a-gon.) {groan. sorry about that.} Oh, thanks! That’s very kind. I think if you saw me in SL there would still be a few surprises, for instance, I have wings! They didn’t really show up in the snap. And, *ahem* I might *cough* be just slightly older out here, too. But, that’s how it is with Avatars. ;) I think you would have a wonderful time in SL, and you can bring your husband along. There are many couples that explore together. And who knows, you might just behave yourself, even if you went in alone! ;) :D

Weird! I posted a comment yesterday and it’s not reflected here. Sigh.

Anyways, what a different post from you. Unexpectedly great!

if you don’t know, which you do, because I’m the only one who didn’t…

That makes two of us, because I didn’t either.

You “should” get a PS3 and try shooters ;) You’d be always welcome to join our clan (recruiting much?) :D

Sorry, Kiran, I looked through my SPAM, and all, and you weren’t there, either. :( Thank you. This one is a bit different, as is my life, as it continues to unfold. :)

Well, I thought I was probably exaggerating there, Juan. I think you would really like The Guild, as you are a gamey one! ;) Ah, yes, VERY subtle, haha! Thanks for the invitation. If I ever *do* decide I want to play a shooter, I’ll be over. :)

Yeah, I know you were exaggerating…

You’d be most welcomed at our clan indeed, and now that Modern Warfare 2 is coming out, I bet you’d kick butt big time! :)

Behave? Well, that just takes all the fun out of it. Just kidding. Hubby would never join unless he could run around shooting everyone. LOL! He’s a Socom fan.

Hey, Juan. The last thing I shot was a target with a bow and arrow (in Real Life) …it didn’t go well. ;) Still, I’m open to new experiences. :)

Oh, what was I thinking, BD? YOU behaving yourself? {hahaha} Well, there are places for your hubby to do that in SL, but that would mean he’d have to leave you running around on your own. ;)

I haven’t heard of Second Life, but it sounds like it could be something I could get caught up in. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten caught up heavily in a game, but I always enjoyed it when I did. The networking part of it sounds very interesting as well. I may put this game on the list to check out :) I see some mentioning the Sims, but I don’t think I’ve ever really played it either. I always got caught up in either adventure type games, or shooters, all on gaming consoles rather than PC. And for shooters, I loved first person over the third person. But I think that is because it’s more realistic how you use the gun sights ;)

The avatar video is funny stuff! And the chicks dancing in it are hot, haha!

Thanks for sharing both! If I become a Second Lifer, I’ll come by and say hi!

Hey, Shane! I’ve found as I go on that SL is less of a game, and more of a social environment. I’m attending lots of classes, lectures and discussions. Other people like to build stuff, and there is a fair amount of clubbing going on. Of course you can roleplay and play shooters, too! Check out the Toombstone sim. And do let me know if you sign up—it would be fun to meet you there. :)

[...] done a couple of blog posts on Second Life before, namely this one and this one. I won’t spend lots of blog time on it, but I do want to report that the world [...]


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