Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Farewell to Sims

They say that “change is the only constant”, and that’s even more true in Second Life than it is in the Real World. Every few months, I open up a part of my Landmarks folder and go teleporting around from place to place. Inevitably, a lot of the places turn out to no longer exist, or the store or club that used to be there has moved to a new location.

Most of SL is user-created and the very existence of most places is dependent on continued user support…either out of the pocket of the creator, or through purchases of products, payment of rent, or simply donations by other residents. A great many wonderful places have been unable to afford their own upkeep and have vanished from the grid.

That’s brought home to us most strongly when we hear about one of our favorite spots, one we’ve known and loved ever since coming to Second Life, is gone, or is going soon. A couple of years ago, there was great consternation when the then-owners of the spectacular SS Galaxy announced they were closing. The Galaxy is SL’s biggest cruise ship, stretching the length of three sims. If you haven’t seen it, be sure to do so! Fortunately, you still can – the Galaxy was bought by new owners and did NOT close after all.

Two of my favorite stores, Style Starts Here and Simone, did not fare so well. They closed unexpectedly a few months ago. Early in my SL existence, another hugely popular store, Last Call, did the same. One of my favorite skin makers, Celestial Studios, vanished without a ripple. My favorite romantic spot, Secret Reflections, is gone too, as well as its sister region, Midnight Reflections. The whimsical Greenies sim, with its dissipated little green aliens and its giant-sized furniture, is gone. So is the stunningly conceived and executed space sim, PrivateerSpace.

I’ve just heard that the wonderful Help People Island, where so many mentors introduced so many people to Second Life, has lost its corporate sponsor and will be closing. That one hits close to home, because HPI was my first “official” mentoring organization.

The latest casualty of Second Life’s relentless economic Darwinism is another old favorite – Abbott’s Aerodrome. This sim, designed by Cubey Terra, introduced me to the joys of Second Life aerial vehicles. I have a lot of Cubey’s skydiving equipment, one of his hot air balloons, a delightful little two-seat helicopter, and any number of airplanes. I’ve introduced several people to the thrill of SL skydiving from Abbott’s skydive launch platform. It appears it's being replaced by "Abbott's Spaceport", owned by Novatech, but somehow I don't think it will be the same.

Although it’s sad to see old friends and the things they’ve created leave Second Life, it can’t be helped. Money gets tight, time gets tight, and Stuff Happens. Loss and change are an inevitable fact of life, and virtual reality hasn’t changed that. There are only a couple of things we can do. First: find, frequent, and give our support to fun, unique, and noteworthy Second Life creations and their creators. And second, when they do leave, keep their memory alive by telling new residents about The Old Days. If we’re lucky, our stories will inspire them (and maybe even ourselves) to create new and even more stunning places!

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