Will Steam kill Zindra, and what age are gamers anyway?

I’m usually the blog that -DOESN’T- talk about the same hyped up stories as everyone else, but rather finds my own hype to get overworked about. πŸ™‚

But here’s a second time I’m breaking that.

Been a while since I’ve blogged…

But some recent news is curious. Hamlet noted it here:
Second Life Coming Soon to Steam with Improved Graphics in Apparent Move to Position Virtual World as Gamer Platform
And:
Second Life on Steam as Expressed in a Single Screenshot
– Which is where I discovered this just today. A bit late to the party as I’ve been offline a lot of late.

Here’s the official announcement:
Second Life is Expanding to Steam

So this is some kind of gamer platform thingy I gather. As in “OMG, TEH GAMERZ, TEH IS INVADING! HIDE YOUR FURRIES!”

(Actually the only group of hardcore gamers I’ve ever found in SL -is- the furry community, a fact that drives me nuts as I go there and want to talk about ‘stuff’ and they’re all talking about ‘pwning’ each other in ‘mass result 47’ or something. πŸ™‚

Annnnyyyywwwaaayyyy…

Average age of gamers is 37:
Study: The average gamer may be older than you think

Yeah, your kid has moved on to Facebook and wearing his jeans around his ankles…

Video games are for OLD PEOPLE…

Like Disco and mood rings…

By contrast average age of SL players is mid 30s from what people keep claiming.

Are we the same, or 2 years younger then them? πŸ™‚

Probably the same. We’ve been telling ourselves SL is the older crowd, but this probably actually -IS- the gamer crowd already. We’re just the ones who were too slow to escape the zombies and orcs… So we’re in SL instead.

So what does this mean for the content we “love” in SL.

You know… the live music and philosophy and artisti… yeah right… who are we kidding?

The porn, bdsm, gor, furries, fashionistas, bloodlines, gothers, builders, and tinies… But mostly… the adult stuff…

I’m not in that scene, but we all know that’s the heart of this place. And I -do- SL-live on Zindra. It has the better neighbors these days…

By some odd twist of logic I’ve yet to wrap my head around, Zindra looks nicer than a lot of SL now… Somehow those adult builds that looked so amazingly garish I used to post about it all the time have gone. In 2009 it was all that ‘fugly WTF’ look. Now: something a lot better. They have the best looking land now, and often more pleasant or at least not -in your face- neighbors.

(I still won’t touch the groups over there, those folks went toxic from fighting each other, but the land is better.)

I kind of like how its evolved into a settled and mostly pleasant area over time.

Will all these Steam “gamers” they’re bringing in care about the ‘porntopia’ around SL… If they bother to show up?

Since they’re really just as old as us, maybe they’re already really past the ‘hormone age’ -not likely to do much harm- and possibly already here?

BUT… the public and game companies still think they’re selling to kids… so the real fear is… Will Steam force LLs to remove ‘A’ rated content and zones?

No idea…

I don’t think the people using Steam will care. But the public looking in and seeing a “porn game” listed on the Steam platform might force Steam’s hand to put a ‘damper’ on ‘that video game’ in some false belief that video games are still for kids.

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Meh… Its just a video game. amiright? Second Life need to own what it is – a game

Meh… Its just a video game. amiright?
– Or isn’t that what they keep on trying to say with all of this stuff.

Second Life needs to own what it is; a video game.

Denying that puts it in a strange middle ground where it cannot get any traction.

It doesn’t help matters that SL, in trying to be seen as serious; flips the situation and tries to pretend that it is -not- a video game when its really not all that different from any other ‘massive multiplayer online world’.

SL actually hurts its popularity and potential by trying to pretend to not be a video game in world where half the people expect video games to be serious entertainment and social venues – all the things SL can provide, and the other half look at anything with animation or 3D and dismiss it out of hand no matter what it claims to be.

Its like folks in the ghetto who try to bleach their skin to be white or change their dialect to be WASP… you end up failing in both worlds. Own your roots (be they hood or redneck or reservation or whatever).

Some folks will not accept you no matter how much you try to change yourself to be like them. Its wasted energy to appeal to these folks. Focus instead on catching those who are already amenable to you and your ways. Being mixed maybe gives me a benefit here. There was one small set of the white side of my family that refused to accept my presence, and still remains cold towards me and mine to this day. Those relatives who would ask my step-father to only visit with his younger whiter-looking children…

Taught me the lesson that you’re better off not wasting time trying to be what some who will never accept you want…

(That is not saying you should be your RL self in SL – that’s a very different thing. Though I do think people should not be ‘fake’ about the ID they choose: don’t pick one to hide yourself. Pick one to be more yourself, even if that makes you a floating blue ball.)

(And mind you, one of the people who most helped me see that you should claim yourself as yourself was another of those white relatives from my step-father who was so into his roots and culture it drove him to be a traveling history buff and civil/class rights activist.)

Back to SL, games, and cross-over media…

– Video games are -THE- future of entertainment. TV, Radio, Movies,and all that other stuff is dated – it is very viable, but its not where the main focus should be anymore.

Now I’m responding a little to a blog of Hamlet’s, which got me thinking on my own, different, topic today.

You shouldn’t use a video game for added value for a TV show or movie. You should use the movie or TV show as an added bonus to the video game. The profit, the money, and the audience; will come to and from the game first and most. Hamlet sees this as a happy marriage either way – just happy to see the kids playing together – and I guess I’m looking at it from the ‘are we getting exploited here’ POV.

Denying that and be-littling things for being ‘games’, is like the decades Jamaica spent refusing to air Ska, Rocksteady, and Reggae on its radio shows because it was ‘black music’ or ‘ghetto music’… its denying the reality around you.

If SL were to own what it is more, it might be able to get better media than a couple of movies and shows about people portrayed as ‘weird sex freaks using it for escape‘…

SL’s deeper nature would make it -perfect- for a cross-media project like Hamlet mentions here. Where you can expand in near real time on both sides and have them influence each other more.

Again; some people will look at SL’s 3D cartoon graphics and online nature and see something they will dismiss out of hand no matter what you do with it. So stop wasting your potential by trying to appease them.

They don’t like you, live with it.

Focus on your own crowd; people for whom such graphics are not a stain. Gamers, and the game potential of what you have and are.

SL needs to stop trying to rub off the black.

Or at least its users need to stop. The company behind SL at least, in the last year, seems to ‘get it’ with who they can appeal to. Linden Lab is trying to move the ball – we need to help them move it, not resist it. Because all the folks who want to play ball are over there in the ‘game’ camp, not in the ‘this is srs bsns’ camp.

Blizzard, the company behind World of Warcraft, takes open anti-gay stance in gay-bashing video at Blizzcon

EDIT: Updated news at end, CEO issues apology.

Long title.

This needs to reach beyond the Warcraft community into the larger media and in particular needs to be seen by the LGBT community.

Blizzard is the company behind the very successful online game, World of Warcraft. Second Life fans, that might not be your thing, but it -is- a leader in online virtual worlds.

Every year they have a convention where they invite their fans around the world to come by, meet up, hear about community news and upcoming products. At this years convention they ended with a closing ceremony that had the band ‘Foo Fighters’ play. The opening act for Foo Fighters was an in house ‘band’ made up of Blizzard employees, known as L90TE, or Level 90 Tauren Elite – a game reference as ‘Tauren’ is the ‘noble Minotaur’ race of WoW, and level 90 is 5 levels above the game’s current limit (the band changes its name every time a new expansion comes out to up the number).

L90TE, at one point in their act, aired a bleeped version of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW_Lv0r-l4c
(original interview uncensored)

The concert version they aired:
http://youtu.be/pGsNsSX-iO0
(footage from concert)

This was also streamed on Blizzard’s ‘Virtual Ticket’ stream to fans around the world.

The video goes on a rant that is inspired by player rivalry between the two ‘sides’ in the game. Players either play on the ‘Alliance’ side of Humans, Elves and Dwarves, or the ‘Horde’ side of traditionally monsters but done more as tragic heroes: Trolls, Undead Zombies, Minotaurs, Orcs, Goblins, etc.

So the video is one player talking smack to the opposing side – a typical sort of ‘smackdown’ challenge speech, common in sports rivalries.

However in this case the video includes a series of anti-gay references by talking the other side down via accusing them of being gay (using less polite wording) or of certain ‘gay-like acts’ the repetition of which on WordPress might not be good for the health of my blog’s account access…

Important things to note here is that L90TE is composed of key ‘community figures’ among Blizzard employees; people the fans have long admired. For years they’ve been making music themed for game events and fandom ‘service’. The person in the video is -NOT- a Blizzard employee, but a regular player.

Like it or not, people are entitled to be hate-mongers. The transgression here then is not the video speaker, but that Blizzard aired his video, and in particular aired it in so public a way, as something put up by their community leaders in front of hundreds of thousands of fans; adults, children, straight, and LGBT. Fans all over the world.

There’s a petition to get some kind of on-point response:
http://www.change.org/petitions/blizzard-entertainment-apologize-for-homophobic-statements-made-at-blizzcon-2011

Since that started Blizzard has issued a sort of vague half-apology that admits no blame, no error in judgement, and holds no one accountable:
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3424906852

They need to be held to further task.

Media companies, and online gaming and virtual world companies in particular; have a responsibility over the messages they put out. And this kind of hate-speech has no place in those messages.

Spread the word.

Blizzard’s CEO, who was in the band in question, finally issued a more direct on point apology:
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3424798330
The post is by a Blizzard staffer, but is a letter ‘signed’ by the CEO.

Dear members of the Blizzard community,

I have read your feedback and comments about this year’s BlizzCon, and I have also read the feedback to the apology from Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain. I’d like to respond to some of your feedback here.

As president of Blizzard, I take full responsibility for everything that occurs at BlizzCon.

It was shortsighted and insensitive to use the video at all, even in censored form. The language used in the original version, including the slurs and use of sexual orientation as an insult, is not acceptable, period. We realize now that having even an edited version at the show was counter to the standards we try to maintain in our forums and in our games. Doing so was an error in judgment, and we regret it.

The bottom line is we deeply apologize for our mistakes and for hurting or offending anyone. We want you to have fun at our events, and we want everyone to feel welcome. We’re proud to be part of a huge and diverse community, and I am proud that so many aspects of the community are represented within Blizzard itself.

As a leader of Blizzard, and a member of the band, I truly hope you will accept my humblest apology.

– Mike Morhaime
President, Blizzard Entertainment

Alts… Gotta love my alts…

Alts.

There’s always some kind of alt drama in Second Life. I’ve always been a little confused and baffled by it. I came to SL because MMOs weren’t doing it for me. I came to MMOs because MUDs weren’t doing it for me. I’d found MUDs because I’d been invited to one of those table top role-play things and found it… alienating (we could have a blog post here about the inherent race and gender problems in RPGs, but you can find that plastered all over minority gamer blogs elsewhere by people who didn’t just give up like I did). I’d been invited to that because, akin to many fellow “race-minorities”, I enjoy writing fiction.

So…
Alts are normal in MMOs
What all that means is that its natural for me to relate to different aspects of myself by creating lots of ‘characters.’

But that makes me something of an oddity in Second Life. If you’ve come to my blog from reading my Getting Started guide – then one more piece of advice I have for you is that in SL your avatar is your account… and each avatar is her own account… and much of the community has issues with people who have multiple accounts.

No matter how many times I see the drama wars over it on various forums and blogs, I am just not capable of understanding how anyone could have a problem with an alt. Its just like trying to explain equality to a Republican – they can’t grasp it, and I can’t grasp this. πŸ˜€

My mind isn’t wired that way.

Now… some people make alts to explore different characters. Some people make alts to role-play in different role-play operations in SL. Some people make alts just to hold their land or business groups together without going nuts. Some people make alts just to go through the account creation screen again. Some people make alts just to get a name they like.

Some people make alts because its Tuesday and that’s what they do on a Tuesday (its actually Sunday while I type this – so I didn’t make any alts today just so you know).

Some people make alts to explore different aspects of their ‘inner self’ while keeping these compartmentalized.

I’ve done all of the above. Except for the Tuesday thing, I think.

Some people make alts to stalk another user. Some people make alts to hide from another user. I have to admit that I’ve done neither of this yet. If I want to stalk someone I usually IM them asking them where they are (I’d make a bad psycho-stalker that way…). If I want to hide from somebody I just don’t tell them where I am.
– This coming from someone who had a rough upbringing and so knows what ‘drama’ can lead to in RL… I’m the person here who -should- be paranoid, I’ve been hospitalized from a violent attack before (only once because I chose not to go the other times), and yes I have used a knife on someone, once. And I know what its like to wake up to the sound of gunfire.

But I’m just not paranoid… so none of my alts come from this kind of drama (and actually sometimes experiencing RL drama can chill your paranoia by instead teaching you to judge a situation – this is why veterans become so much more effective if they survive even one conflict).

Ok…

So back to alts. I’ve got lots of them. If not for deleting old accounts I’d probably be in some kind of trouble with the lindens.

I also tend to be pretty open about having alts, and about who they are. In fact I’m thinking I might as well out a few of them and show why I made them.

First:

Pussycat Catnap.
Pussycat Catnap Dancing at Irie Vibes
Yep, by some people’s definition even this is an alt. Pussycat was made in 2009 about a month after I got ‘back’ to Second Life. One of the things that caused me to leave in 2006 was not liking the name I’d picked. At the time I’d read that you only ever got to have that one account, could never change the name, and if you even asked the lindens would send somebody by to kill your dog. So when I made a bad choice, I just figured that was it, and I left.

I know that must sound amazingly absurd… but I was a noob back then, and I read that -somewhere- (probably a blog because I’ve never found it again, not even on outdated linden pages, and I probably misread it too – but it stuck in my mind anyway)… so when I had to choose between ‘name I don’t like to stick with some weird MMO I don’t get’ and ‘shrug and move on because its probably just as bad as those MMOs’ – I chose the second.

Came back in 2009 when bored one day and forced myself to use that bad name again. Then I read the ToS and saw something about alt accounts… So I spent a week thinking hard to make one I’d like… and made a second one I didn’t like instead… but then I found a neko kit, and inspiration hit me. Those other two accounts are now gone. Well the 2006 one exists because I thought I might need that old date for something, but I’m not sure if I have the info on how to use it anymore. Oh… and in making Pussycat I made a long list of names, and went looking through the list of surnames for every catty choice I could and mulling over the combinations. Some of my possible choices were pretty bad… Lets just say I wrote down a few that didn’t have the ‘cat’ part in the first name… because like every newbie, at the time I was stuck in the pron clubs (the guide I’d read on starting said to go camp there for stuff… considering the horrid stuff I got, I ought-a go smack that guide’s writer upside the head)… thank goodness I rejected those almost as soon as I’d written them down. πŸ™‚

Pussycat is not the go-to account for me. She’s an exploration of the core of my inner self. As a child on a trip I once looked into a campfire and saw a lion staring back at me. As an adult I suspect I’d had a close encounter with one of California’s many mountain lions. As an inner-city child though, wondering about my half-native ancestry and having no points of reference but pop culture, I thought it was my totem animal… Resulting in me having a very close affinity to cats which holds even now as I’ve grown up and met many native people and learned more of what that means. So Pussycat is my ‘me’ alt. πŸ™‚

Bunny Gearz.
Bunny Gearz
Not long after making Pussycat I decided I wanted to explore steam-punk, and I was sitting in the shop ‘Hybrid’ (that has since gone away and been replaced by other businesses using that same name now). Hybrid sold neko kits, but also kits for other human-animal blends. One was a bunny-girl: Usagi. Double inspiration hit me and Bunny Gearz was born. Though I was still a cheap-newbie at the time and not willing to spend 300L on the Usagi kit… so I spent a month on freebie bunny ears and tail I’d cut off a ‘playboy bunny’ style outfit – it looked horrid… πŸ™‚

Finally got the usagi kit and was happy. Until I got into furries. Then I spent about 4 months seeking an indigo-black bunny – the shiny black look, inspired by the Black Rabbit in Watership Down. I failed in that search but eventually just got a ‘gray black’ – the black that everyone in SL uses to avoid the loss of good highlights that true black gives (unlike in print and web where we use blue-black blends to make a shiny black look).

Older image of Bunny Gearz
Oh did I forget something here? The steam-punk… yeah… I kinda lost track of that early on with Bunny. As soon as she got her basic usagi look down, she ended up with dreadlocks on… and she just hit me as reminding me of my ‘hardened self’ – that survivor part of me somewhat mentioned above about my upbringing. Bunny is where I end up when exploring my roots and how I didn’t let that reality drag me down. She’s an optimist from a place where she shouldn’t be one.

Reggae.
Reggae in front of her Jet bike and Bunny's Steam bike.
Outing a new one here. None of my friends know of reggae. But not for any bad reason. Reggae was made almost purely to capture a name when the single-name accounts came out. She had no other purpose for quite a long time. I bought her a raven furry, and a Twi-lek (Star Wars alien) avatar – and maybe 3 outfits plus AO, mostly because it felt weird to have a ‘blank’ account.

But I think anyone reading anything from me by this point might know that I have an affinity for Reggae, and in fact my theological views are close enough to call me a Rastafarian-sympathizer. So an account like ‘Reggae’ is the sort of thing, when in the hands of a person like me, that will just keep calling out until it gets attention.

Reggae forced my hand. πŸ™‚ She’s the little account that would not go away. After deleting a couple of other one-name accounts that I made and quickly regretted (and even more now I know that those names are still gone, new users can’t get them even though they were deleted…)… I couldn’t delete Reggae.

And that’s just a recipe for trouble for me. Because if the account’s there, I’ve got to explore it.

When I saw a skin shop with some really nice African female skins ([LS] – Lyrical Store), but had no human account… yep… I dug up my login info for Reggae and took her there.

And of course, skin ‘in hand’ now she needed good hair, and good clothes, and a vehicle, and… oops, she ended up with a better vehicle than my other avatars, so now she’s the one I drive around random exploration points in SL with…

And of course with a name like Reggae, she needed a dance HUD, which of course means needing dances…

A -LOT- of people have already seen Reggae. Her image is first on my Proportion Guide blog entry. Because well… I wanted to do my first test of good proportions on a full-human avatar to ‘make sure’.
Reggae in a science fiction leotard
Actually finding Reggae kind of fun to be on… What does she ‘explore’ about me, I’m not sure. But its something.

So that’s some alts for you.

None of them made for drama, none of them made to hide. And now everybody knows them so I can’t hide with them anymore even I wanted to.

Its all just about exploring different aspects of a virtual world with varying virtual selves. Imagination, use it, don’t lose it.
Pussycat Catnap on Shermerville Bridge

Why’d I post this? Well, I just kinda felt like it was time to throw my alts out there so I could more easily be social on them. Frankly I think there are a lot more people like me on this than many suspect – people who have alts just to enjoy them, and not for any silly drama. Sometimes its more of a pain to have them not interconnected by default.

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