So the celebrations of SL’s 10th have come and gone and once again it’s time to cast a final personal look back at the event, as is my habit. Well, actually, it’s an overdue look back, considering I had intended to get this piece out a week ago; but as the famous saying goes, In proving foresight may be vain: The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ Peys Gang aft agley, or so Robbie Burns wrote. Honest.
SL birthday events tend to be a fair mix of the good, the bad and – it has to be said, I’m afraid – the downright ugly. The builds are many and varied, the entertainment generally rich and diverse, the regions expansive and seemingly never-ending, the crowds numerous and, as a result and despite the best efforts of the Lab and the organising team, the lag ever-present and waiting to mug you at almost every turn.
All of this is to be expected enjoyed and, in the case of lag, countered. In this latter regard, kudos to the organisers for not only providing people with clear and concise instructions on limiting the impact of lag on their experience, but also for provide a set of “low-lag” and retrospective freebie avatars to adopt if one wished. Ah, Ruthie and friends, how we’ve missed you! I admit, I didn’t use any of the supplied avatars although I did wander around as a Primitar for the part of one visit.
There was much to be admired and enjoyed this year; so much so, that my own reports only really scratched the surface of things as I explored the regions. If your own piece didn’t appear in my updates, my apologies. It doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t like it – rather that time was frequently against me and I didn’t actually get to see everything.
This year’s celebration installations were especially good. I’ve already waxed lyrical in these pages about Flea and Today’s magnificent A’stra main / live stage, and will resist the temptation to do so again because, quite frankly, all of the stages were magnificent. I loved the echoes of SL9B’s lake stage within Kazuhiro Aridian’s mesh lake stage, which was simply awesome and brought something of a new meaning to getting high on magic mushrooms, with people dancing up in the air and over the water on the huge mushroom cups…
Marianne McCann’s History Walk was simply stunning, offering many of us who have been involved in SL for a good while a trip down memory lane, and was another part of the celebrations I found myself returning to on a number of occasions.
The theme for this year’s event was Looking forward, looking back, the idea being for people to look back at the last 10 years of SL’s history, or to look ahead to what the future might bring – or both. One of my personal criteria in exploring the regions was to seek out exhibits which reflected all or some of the theme and presented it in a unique or fun or immersive or personal way. I also kept an eye out for exhibits which, while not obviously reflecting the theme, offered an eye-catching, fresh and clever insight into Second Life or the community / persons behind the exhibit.
And it is here that I had my first feelings of disappointment. Walking through the SL10BCC regions I found myself coming across exhibits which I’d more-or-less seen before at SL9B and / or at SL8B and in several cases even as far back as SL7B. Some made little attempt at redressing themselves. Others had a thin veil of “retrospective” painted across them which, for me, did little to hide the fact that they were retreads.
Of course, it could be argued that such exhibits were a part of the theme, as they are “recreating” something from the history of SL Birthday events. Unfortunately,they spoke to me more of a lack of imagination on the exhibitor’s part, and I found myself wishing those responsible for them had taken the time to think a little more deeply about the theme and what they might say to reflect it.
I admit my feelings in this regard ran deeper than they might have otherwise were this any other year, But this was SL’s 10th birthday and something of a landmark event – who knows if we’ll (or the platform as we know it) will be around to celebrate its fifteenth year? So coming across exhibits which appeared to be little more than the same ol’, same ol’ did give rise to disappointment. And it’s not as if the fact that this year does mark SL’s tenth anniversary popped up out of the blue, giving people little time to think about things.
Another disappointment was the number of exhibits that were clearly little more than commercial advertising. It is always hard to police events like this effectively, and however hard you try, things will slip through. Even so, the number of builds which did pass inspection again this year which amounted to being little more than billboards did get my thinking as to what might have otherwise occupied the parcel had it been handed to someone else more willing to immerse themselves in celebrating SL’s achievements and / or their involvement with the platform.
I’m also less than convinced that the 175 metre build height worked. I’ve often felt that something like 25 metres should be the maximum at events like this. Building tall doesn’t necessarily mean building better; all too frequently – and to use Crap Mariner’s expressive (and accurate) term – it can result in some builds resembling little more that a middle finger raised in the face of the surrounding exhibits.
Of course there are exceptions to this – Gwark Allen’s Space and Time Telescope being a case-in-point, as I mentioned in one of my daily picks features. Not only did this reflect the theme of the event – looking back over past SLB celebrations, it did so quite imaginatively and in a way that justified building tall.
Even so, were I to be given a choice, I’d opt for a much lower height limit than was the case this year, and perhaps a tightening of the exhibitor application criteria – such as specifying exhibitors need to provide original builds and describe something of how their build reflects the year’s celebratory theme.
But then, when it comes to expectations, this year’s event faced a huge challenge. Not so much because it was to mark SL’s tenth anniversary, but because of what had come before. SL9B in 2012 had been truly unique, a huge event put together in a matter of five of six weeks after the Lab opted to abdicate its role at the eleventh hour. For many of those involved in organising SL9B and bringing everything together, it was very much a voyage into the unknown and what amounted to on-the-job training. And it was a resounding success, thus making it a very tough act to follow. Because of this, any holes appearing in SL10BCC were bound to appear larger than perhaps they really were.
So in that regard I’ll put my niggles aside and state that overall, SL10BCC succeeded in what it set out to do: provide a venue in which people from across Second Life could come together and celebrate SL’s tenth anniversary. Yes, there are still lessons to learn and things which may need tweaking in the future, but that is the way of these events. Leave us not forget, this was only the second time an SLB event had been organised by residents for residents; given this, the organising team are to be congratulated for their time and effort in making it a reality, as are the many, many volunteers who worked so hard to get and keep things running – the hosts, greeters, moderators, stage managers, gofers, EAs, press team, bloggers and all.
If nothing else, the measure of an event’s success is the amount of fun people had when attending. In that regard, the SL10BCC numbers tend to speak for themselves. And kudos, as well, to the Lab for embracing the event into their own promotional activities and linking-up with SL10BCC through their celebratory gift offers.