The fourth Sansar preview video arrived on Wednesday, July 19th, and is the shortest to date. Focusing on SL creator Blueberry (aka Mishi), the 79 second video takes us into one of the experiences she’s developed in Sansar – Blueberry Town – and gives some further brief glimpses of the platform’s tools – notably the Atlas as seen when using a VR headset.
When viewing this video it’s important to remember that Sansar isn’t primarily intended for the Second Life audience; as such some of the statements made should be treated as such. But that said, given the fact these videos focus on “Second Life creators”, they also tend to come across as speaking directly to the existing Second Life audience, and I’m not entirely sure that’s a positive move.
If nothing else, statements that Sansar presents an environment to do things that are “not even possible anywhere else” are liable to have SL users at least hiking an eyebrow or two, if not rolling their eyes across the floor, given what is being shown in Sansar is more-or-less precisely what SL users have been doing for the last 14 years; just because it cannot offer the same depth of immersion as Sansar will actually doesn’t change this point.
Some of the promotional videos released to date have already been critiqued on precisely this ground. While there have been some good insights in to Sansar – such as with the preview featuring Maxwell Graf (which I reviewed here), the repeated focus on Second Life creators like this does appear to carry with it the risk of a greater degree of negative feedback about the platform than seems necessary.
At the most basic level, statements that Sansar allows people to do things that “are not even possible anywhere else” may not only cause much eye rolling among SL users, they also run the risk of hyping Sansar well beyond what can actually be achieved within the platform at this point in time. As the Lab has tried to make known: when the doors open, this won’t be a final, finished product – it will take time for capabilities to be added and to mature. Nevertheless, there’s a risk people will see the gap between promotional hype and current capability as a negative to be repeatedly pointed out. This negative response could be increased by Second Life users when, despite the repeated statements from the Lab that it will be some time before Sansar matches many of the capabilities taken for granted in Second Life, they are confronted by the realities of that fact.
Now, in fairness to the Lab, the lion’s share of applications to the Creator Preview have come from Second Life creators, so a focus on their work is understandable when promoting Sansar (they’re also likely to be the most amenable to being the focus of these videos). But it has also been indicated that applications have come from elsewhere. Further, the Lab has also repeatedly indicated a hope that Sansar will be adopted by those market sectors where there is a clear potential doe VR – education, design, architecture, training, simulation, healthcare. So I’m actually surprised there isn’t more of a visible push to directly engage with these sectors; particularly as some are starting to get excited by Sansar’s potential.
On July 22nd, for example, Steve Bambury, writing in his VirtualiTeach blog waxed lyrical about Sansar’s potential in education (and as an aside, it prompted one SL blogger to have the realisation Sansar isn’t “about SL users”). So putting together promotional information on how those in education could practically leverage Sansar – as well as some of the other markets the Lab has pointed at – would seem to be in order.
Of course, this might be happening under the covers, or it might be that the technical wherewithal of Sansar at this point in time causes the Lab to be wary of promising more than can be delivered when the doors open, or it might simply be that those partners from these specific market sectors don’t want their experiments in Sansar highlighted. But this doesn’t stop the Lab crafting suitable messages.
Take their collaborations in using LiDAR mappings of an Egyptian tomb to recreate the entrance of the the tomb in Sansar, and in building a model of the Villa Ortli excavation in the Crimea, or the LOOT Interactive Sansar Apollo Museum. All of these could form the bedrock for helping to visually promote Sansar’s potential through video whilst helping to reach beyond what can appear to be a Second Life audience focus.
It may yet come that we see these videos cast their net a little wider; I’d just like to see it happen a little sooner than later, and see more meat put on the plate of Sansar’s potential.