The Drax Files 34: life and love through Second Life

Isla Gealach
Isla Gealach

When you’re in a virtual world, it’s not just your avatar, it’s not just the storyline. It’s the furniture in the room, it’s the building around you, it’s the trees you see. That’s what makes immersion possible; that’s what i create, an environmental space.

These are the words of Isla Gealach, known throughout Second Life for her in-world brand of Cheeky Pea, which open the 34th segment of The Drax Files World Makers. But this is not simply an examination of another’s creator’s on-line life and activities in Second Life; anyone who is familiar with this outstanding series of video shorts by Draxtor Despres will know there is far more of a story to tell here.

While Isla’s creative is a focus of the segment, it shares the time very much with her physical world life, because the two share an inseparable intertwining which demonstrates that – contrary to idea that our on-line lifestyles are increasingly isolating us from the “real” (whatever that is) – there are situations and circumstances which occur every single day where people who know one another on-line are drawn closer together, and that that for some, it evolves into a relationship which spans both the virtual and the physical.

Ewan Mureaux
Ewan Mureaux

For Isla, this is clearly demonstrated in her relationship with Ewan Mureaux. Starting out as colleagues collaborating together on Second Life products, Isla designing and creating them with Ewan scripting them whilst also working on SL land deals, the two of them struck up a friendship which eventually led to a real-life meeting which evolved into a relationship spanning both the physical world and the virtual.

In some ways, their story almost sounds like an office romance, with both Isla and Ewan noting that the time they spent working together was as natural as being colleagues working together in the same environment, even if they were actually miles apart and (at that time) only seeing one another through their digital personas. Like work colleagues, they came to know one another working together and that naturally lead to spending time in-world together at social events, and so things grew between them, just as relationships naturally grow between people in any aspect of the physical world.

Given this background, both Isla and Ewan are keenly aware of how digital relationships inform us differently when compared to those occurring purely in the physical world; a fact which can lead to people reaching a greater depth with one another than might otherwise be the case. “Second Life can cut through societal constraints,” Ewan notes, “And it gets more to the heart of who you are.” Isla then adds, “You get a feel for the personality first.”

Isla's Cheeky Pea brand offers many items for house, garden and environment, and is a favourite among many SL users
Isla’s Cheeky Pea brand offers many items for house, garden and environment, and is a favourite among many SL users

It is this ability to make emotional connections which can be as genuine as anything we experience through any other medium, which Isla sees as the real power behind Second Life. It’s a view I agree with fully, because above everything else – the democratising of content, the freedom of creative expression, the myriad of things we can find to do in-world – ultimately, Second Life brings people together. It doesn’t matter if this is as friends, companions, or lovers, as couples or in groups; the platform allows us to form relationships and connections with other which are quite unique and with the power to outlast anything which might be experience through less immersive on-line social environments.

Within this broader story, we do also gain insight into what it means to be an effective successful creator in Second Life. And contrary to the hype which spread about the platform being a place of instant riches which grew up around Second Life back in 2006/7 and which did much to fuel its rapid growth, the reality is far different – as every content creator knows, and Isla encapsulates perfectly:

The illusion that I sit around in my pyjamas all day and eat cake and look at the sky and get inspiration is … not true. My job requires a lot of self-discipline, which I never thought I was capable of. I’m working from the time my daughter goes to school to the time she gets home, when i have to spend the time with her, doing her homework. Sometimes, when I’m on a deadline, I’m working until she wakes up! I don’t have that luxury of not completing things.

Second Life can greatly enrich our virtual lives and our physical lives
Second Life can greatly enrich our virtual lives and our physical lives

However, it is in the way in which Second Life has the power and ability to hugely enrich both our virtual and physical lives where this segment retains its power. Isla and Ewan’s relationship is almost a personification of the ideal that Second Life is a “shared experience” – although not at all in the manner the Lab might have imagined when applying the term to the platform.

Between them, and with Isla’s daughter, who gets to participate in the creative process as well, Isla and Ewan demonstrate very clearly home the platform can bring people together, presenting new opportunities for them to grow on both sides of the digital divide. In this, they are not unique among Second Life users, and there will be others watching this segment and identifying fully with it.

Such is the power of Second Life, that it really shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for the physical world as some who fail to understand the platform and those like it would all to quickly opt to dismiss it. The truth is that Second Life actually does more to eradicate the digital divide for many of us, allowing us free motion, from the physical to the virtual and back again, enhancing our lives in both. This is something Isla clearly understands and appreciates, as she notes in closing out the segment::

I think that in a world where virtual goods and services are becoming more and more important, we shouldn’t neglect excitement for the physical world in our kids. There are so many things you can do in your community; simple family walks, explore your town [and] its history.

At the same time, it’s not helpful to frame virtual reality as an escape. Because look, i live near Edinburgh, which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I still love to go into Second Life, have fun and express my creativity. You can have a balance of both, right?

Absolutely.

Second Life presents so many ways for us to share in experiences and activities together, on both sides of the screen
Second Life presents so many ways for us to share in experiences and activities together, on both sides of the screen

Given the subject matter of the segment, The Drax Files World Makers #34 takes a slight departure from previous segments. In part, it reverts to the approach to the early shows in the series in which he appears in his digital self, asking questions and providing an initial thrust to the video. However, with this segment, we also see a very subtle shift, as digital Drax is also joined by physical Drax.

By doing this, he adds a gently underlining of the central theme to the piece, again indicating how, for many of us, our identities – physical and virtual – are one in the same, with each informing and enriching the other.

Note: apologies to subscribers who may have received multiple notices about this post, some of which may have had invalid links when clicked. WordPress SNAFU’d on me when first published, and caused additional issues when trying to correct.

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9 thoughts on “The Drax Files 34: life and love through Second Life

  1. My ex wife and I first logged into sl in 2006.I was Riech Corinthian. We enjoyed a few years in sl together.
    She left me for someone she met in SL in 2008 . Just one day she was gone without a word or note. We divorced in rl in 2009. I deleted Riech and abandoned almost 3 sims on mainland and 3 music clubs. I left the life I had built.

    I came back in world in with a new avatar as Gonzo Tigerfish in 2009.

    Kavisha Quan was someone who knew my previous avatar Reich from a club where we both had been the DJ’s …”quantum”. She also knew Sipo my ex. We 3 were just acquaintances from the club and friendly towards each other. It was a nice place and I missed that when I deleted Reich.
    So I came back as Gonzo.
    i did not reveal who I was at first. There was still a lot of pain from the loss still and I wanted a fresh start in SL.
    I had no intentions of becoming involved with someone.
    Kavisha and I became Sl friends..then good friends..then very close friends over the course of a few months.
    Then one night it became romantic on a magical night while roller skating in Sl, leaping from one rooftop to another. As you do.

    Kavisha was what I really needed at that time and we became very romantically involved with many hours of talking long into the night. I was in the USA and she was in New Zealand 18 hours ahead of me.
    It was one of those Sl romances that start fast and get hot faster. SL and romance is 7 times faster than in real life.

    I knew I had to tell her. I had to tell her i had been Reich and she already knew me from “before”.
    I had to be honest if things were to get “real” well it was real in the SL sense but it was getting “realer”. Its Sl..I hope you know what I mean.
    We had not said the L word yet but we both knew it was getting serious. I was afraid of telling her. I anguished for weeks over it and even avoided her a bit. I even thought about just disappearing. But I owed Kavisha too much..she had saved me. When I was at the lowest point ever in my life she saved me.
    She did not know she was saving me as she did not know I was reich who was grieving still. The Gonzo that she knew wore a happy face and I knew I loved Kavisha Quan.

    So I told her everything(in voice). My heart stopped while waiting to hear what Kavisha would say. It was a lot for her to take in.

    She loved me. My heart beat again and I could breath. We fell farther in love. We married in SL on Halloween 2009
    I went to New zealand to meet her in 2010. Half-way around the world. I never left. We married
    in real life in New Zealand jan5th 2013. We now sit side by side in real life as we “play’ in SL.

    that was the short version..there as much more drama involving the ex wife and Kavis protective friends. After all It is SL and whats SL without drama

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  2. I am a huge MMO fan boi. I say nothing is wrong and everything is right with relationships in virtual worlds.

    I once teamed with a young man whose mother had died at age 16 and who had not taken it well, lashing out at family. He missed his mother’s side of the family but was afraid to talk to them because of how much he had lashed out. I suggested that anything a 16 YO does after the death of his mother is infinitely forgivable and talked him into contacting them. They sent him a round trip ticket for a 3 week stay at Christmas.

    I was the mother of 2 small children at the time. There are so few places a 21 YO and a 35 YO can get to know one another and offer different insights to one another. I’ve lost track of him, but I will always remember him. In fact, there is a world of people I’ve lost track of, all of whom have been wonderful influences on me and I can only hope vice versa.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After being introduced to Bloodlines (the vampire scene) I was just making friendly chat and noticed an avatar standing quietly to one side. After perving and looking on his profile noticed he was only 3 weeks old but looked incredibly too good for a noobie so I said Hi and we began to message each other daily and hang out occassionally. Turns out he was an “alt” after going through a tough time. and so the story begins…. occasional turned into definate log ons and we worked together on a few films i was producing. The relationship grew strong but slow and from strength to strength. Before we knew it we were skyping and having fun in the real world. We agreed to meet up HALF WAY as the distance was over 300 miles. We “clicked” so well on our first real date and then he started travelling up and down the country every other weekend. I braved the M6 and other horrendous roads between for 3 years before he decided to pack and leave his address and job. We now live together and still immerse ourselves into our second life creating and exploring new worlds. On the 10th of December (last week) he got down on one knee and proposed in the middle of a shopping centre….. I SAID YES !!!!

    From a producers point of view he has helped me considerably with new ideas and angles from a filming point of view…so i would say hes a great asset ! In more ways than you know. We are abit like ying and yang… and work extremely well together in rl and sl.

    Suzie Anderton & TheHellChild Resident ❤

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