The theme for July’s Month of Machinima is “Games in SL”.
Or at least, that’s the theory; and tbh I’d been looking forward to seeing a set of films showcasing the magic of games and role play in Second Life, and perhaps even learning about elements of rp or other games in SL I’ve not previously encountered. As the very least, I was anticipating seeing glimpses of stories involving fantasy, science-fiction and the rest. Sadly, this was not to be.
Don’t get me wrong, the entries on show this month at the LEA Theatre are visually impressive, and demonstrate skill and artistry I probably couldn’t hope to master; it just that – well, almost none of the have anything to do with Games in SL.
In The Red Shoes we have a superb demonstration of Second Life as an outstanding medium for storytelling, as we do with Someone Called – but to my mind, storytelling isn’t really related to games in SL. Similarly, Travelling presents an excellent travelogue to Second Life – but travelling through SL, seeing the sights and the means of transport isn’t directly related to games in SL. I’m honestly not at all sure what to make of bRaiNwasHer, but it’s hard to frame it in the conext of games. The Wavey Sea is a great music video, but – well, you can guess where I’m going.
Dedication gets somewhat nearer the mark, insamuch as it tells a story that might be said to be framed in a role-play environment, and again, it is a fabulous piece of work in itself, but I still cannot help but feel something is missing…
To me, games in SL offers up an opportunity to highlight the deep, immersive richness of game playing within SL: role-play, steampunk, combat – dare I say, even Gorean. There are many other forms of games in SL – Tiny Empires and the like – which could, with a little imagination, form the foundations for revealing and entertaining films. Arcade Boy and When Warriors Gather go some way towards this, but there still seems to be something missing.
Again, I’m not blaming the film-makers for this lack of game-related depth: as I’ve stated, every film in this month’s entrants is skillfully executed and worth watching. I’m also not necessarily pointing the finger at the LEA judges; MoM is an excellent idea and worth pursuing; and truth be told, it’s hard to guarantee that what will work theme-wise. Even so, it’s a little disappointing that more did not rise to the challenge and present films more directly related to this month’s theme – I’ve certainly seen a fair few films on subjects such as combat games and RP in SL elsewhere, so it’s not for lack of potential content.
In the meantime, here’s Dedication, by CadenceDVE, which I really like as a story and which comes close to the ideal of the theme in a visually impressive manner. You can see all the entries above on the MOM YouTube channel.