A Haunted Hollow in Second Life

Haunted Hallow 2021

If you fancy a weekend of spookiness and horror stories, then be sure to head over to Haunted Hollow, presented by Elite Equestrian, Seanchai Library, Tarot @ Teatime, and Virtual Community Radio.

Once Upon a Time there was an Enchanted Hollow somewhere between the Hudson River Valley and the land of the Brothers Grimm. It was here, under the glow of the Hunter’s Moon, that the tales gathered. They settled in as cooling breezes whirled the falling leaves, nestling between the autumnal heights and that place where the brook waters blend with the salty sea. Mind your step! In the centuries between this moment and when these stories were born, some few of them may have begun to twist, just a very little.

The introduction to Haunted Hollow

Having opened on October 7th, the event actually runs through until the end of the month in a celebration of all that we associate with Halloween. I was asked not to blog about the event until after October 13th so as to give members of the organising groups the opportunity to explore and appreciate the sky platform setting for the event, although there is still the rest of the moment in which to enjoy things.

Haunted Hollow 2021

Highlights of the event include:

  • Not one, not two, but THREE treasure hunts.
  • Pony rides with adorable free gifts.
  • Participating in Free Bird’s annual live trick or treat event.
  • Presentation of author Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October.
  • Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree.
  • Special story sessions, and “A Grimm Brothers Halloween” on the day itself.
  • Two Live Tarot@Teatime episodes.
  • Live Tarot Readings.
  • A dedicated “Spooky Music Stream” provided by Virtual Community Radio.
  • Three viewing rooms to stop and watch short features on the theme of death and transition.

As well as these activities. visitors to the Haunted Hallow can take the rambler tours (aerial or ground based) of the Hollow, or stop by for one of the trick or treat events hosted by Elite Equestrian. Join Seanchai Library as they present hours of stories for the season, including an encore presentation of Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree.” Explore the caves and discover video screening spots.

Haunted Hallow, 2021

Details of activities can be found at the landing point and via the event’s calendar. So, if you fancy a spooky visit or sitting down to a tale of terror, do be sure to hop along over the weened or through the rest of the month.

SLurl Details

A Spoonful of Sugar 2021 in Second Life

via the Spoonful of Sugar website

Currently underway in Second Life through until Saturday, October 2nd, 2021 is the annual Spoonful of Sugar festival in support of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)).

Also known as Doctors Without Borders, MSF was founded in Paris, France in 1971 as a non-profit, self-governed medical humanitarian organisation delivering emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare around the globe, based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

Since its founding, MSF has grown to a movement of 24 associations, bound together as MSF International, based in Switzerland. Thousands of health professionals, logistical and administrative staff – most of whom are hired locally – work on programmes in some 70 countries worldwide to provide medical and social care and support for a staggering 10+ million people annually. Much of this work is focused on third world countries where the likes of tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS continue to be major health threats to people of all ages.

How donations to SOS Help Every 3 seconds, someone in the world dies of malaria, many of them children. A donation to SOS of just L$100 gives one child a potentially live-saving treatment against the disease. 

In addition, MSF is often one of the first organisations to have feet on the ground following a disaster, and is also to be found carrying out vital work in work-torn countries such as Yemen, where over 91,000 people have been killed and many more wounded, injured and / or displaced in a 6-year-old war than gains little world-wide attention.

Spoonful of Sugar 2021

Since its foundation in 2016, Spoonful of Sugar has year-on-year consistently built on the amount it raises for MSF, with 2020 seeing the event contribute US $27,879. In all, and up to the opening of this year’s festival, Spoonful of Sugar had raised over US $80,000 for MSF, where over 80% of all funds raised by the organisation in turn go directly into its social and medical programmes, the remaining 19.5% being split between administration and management (4.5%) and global fund-raising initiatives by MSF (15%).

The 2021 Spoonful of Sugar opened on September 18th, 2021 with a special message from Greta Doucette, the Digital Marketing Associate for MSF Peer-to-Peer and Streaming Programmes, followed by the start of the events rolling music and entertainment schedule. Covering a total of six regions, the event combines shopping, entertainment, fashion and breedables in and event that has something for everyone.

The selected theme for Spoonful of Sugar 2021 is Mexico, with the shopping regions each featuring a little town in gay colours, complete with fund-raising kiosks along the broad streets. Some of these are of the “traditional” click-to-pay variety, others are more novel, offering the opportunity to buy special items such as the Astralia Taco Party set or grab yourself a Mexican recipes cook book.

Spoonful of Sugar 2021: fund-raising kiosks

All of the five shopping regions can be reached via a teleport station at the main landing point for the event (further stations can be found in each of the shopping regions). The landing point also provides information on the the festival and offers the opportunity to join the event’s chupacabra hunt that is packed with rewards from leading creators, and offers s free plushie on joining the event group.

Also to be found at the landing point is extensive information on a part of MSF’s work that is year-on-year becoming increasingly significant: dealing with the humanitarian crisis of forcibly displaced people. Those who are,  due to war, political or religious extremism, gang violence, terror, or other life-threatening circumstance, and unable to live safely within their preferred parts of their homelands (some 48 million people), or have been forced to flee their homeland entirely (30.3 million). At a time when those of certain politic stripes present the displaced and the homeless as some form of blight on society, the MSF information at Spoonful of Sugar is an important reminder of the reality of the plight of 82.4 million people world-wide.

I’m here to tell you that nobody wants to leave home. They love their cities, their neighbourhoods. They love speaking their own language. The people fleeing their home countries are running because their home countries aren’t safe. They are fleeing for their lives.

– Dr. Ahmed Abdalzarag, MSF neurosurgeon

Spoonful of Sugar: MSF information area

As such, Spoonful of Sugar is an event well worth the time taken to visit. Event if you don’t find anything to buy in the shopping regions, the donation kiosks will welcome your Linden dollars, and you can be absolutely sure that your money is going to a very worth cause..

SLurl and Links

CVL celebrates 15 years in Second Life

Community Virtual Library, Second Life

Sunday, April 18th will see the Community Virtual Library celebrate its fifteenth anniversary with the opening of their new in-world library building and resource centre.

Founded in 2007, the Community Virtual Library (CVL) carries the tag line of “a real library in a virtual world”, and is affiliated with the American Library Association. As a library, it includes all of the facilities you might expect: the ability to select and read books on a wide range of subjects (courtesy of the Gutenberg project) and categorised as one would find in a physical world library; a reading room, resources to help with research, links to world literature presented by country / language that reflects the international nature of Second Life, and so on.

However, CVL is far more than just a virtual reproduction of a physical world library – it is a community hub offering opportunities and resources for learning, resource-sharing, and exploration. It offers facilities and presents opportunities for CVL members and affiliated groups to mount exhibitions and presentations and hold events and meetings. It also connects with library communities throughout Second Life, bringing together digital citizens with the information and resources they seek, and provides support to educators and educational organisations.

Community Virtual Library

CVL’s Full region provides a range of facilities operated directly by CVL and also by affiliated groups, offering a rich mix of literature and arts, and is a core member of the IRC 501(c)3 non-profit New Media Arts Inc. In addition to a presence in Second Life, CVL has also extended into various virtual worlds utilising OpenSimulator, including 3DWebWorldz, Avacon, CybaLOUNGE, and Kitely, either by establishing a dedicated facility within these worlds or by partnering with libraries already operating within them.

To mark CVL’s 15 years of operation and the opening of the new library building, there will be a special 2-hour event visitors and CVL members alike are invited to attend. Commencing at 12:00 noon SLT, on Sunday, April 18th, 2021, it will include opportunities to tour the new building and hear from staff and volunteers about CVL’s history and future plans.

SLurl Details

Community Virtual Library (Cookie, rated Moderate)

Commemorating a tsunami through art in Second Life

(now) Ten Years After, March 2021 – Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

Ten years ago, on March 11th 2011, the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900, took place off the coast of Japan. The epicentre of the magnitude 9.0–9.1 megathrust ‘quake lay some 72 kilometres east of the Oshika Peninsula of Honshu, at a depth of around 32 km below the surface of the ocean. It caused an upthrust of between 6 to 8 metres that gave rise to a massively powerful tsunami.

The wave front of this tsunami struck the northern islands of Japan at speeds of up to 700 km/h and a maximum wave height of 39 metres (Omoe peninsula, Miyako City). It travelled inland up to 10 km, creating widespread devastation and caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accidents. As of 2019, the death toll as a direct result of the tsunami was put at 15,899, most killed as a result of drowning. A further 6,157 were injured and 2,529 remain missing.

(now) Ten Years After, March 2021 – Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

In the aftermath, national and international relief efforts were launched, and people around the world sought to help those affected by the disaster through a wide variety of fund-raising efforts. In Second Life, Curator, who was still relatively new to the platform at the time, put together a special art exhibition with funds going to a number of charities dedicated to recovery efforts.

Entitled One Year After, the exhibition featured the paintings of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and Katsushika Hokusai, two of Japan’s foremost exponents of the ukiyo-e genre of woodblock printing and painting. Yoshitoshi’s career spanned the end of the Edo period of Japan and the rise of modern Japan following the Meiji Restoration, and he was the last great master of ukiyo-e. In particular, the exhibition featured his major series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. Hokusai preceded Yoshitoshi (their lives overlapping by just ten years), and he was largely responsible for transforming ukiyo-e as an art form, with his greatest work being 36 Views of Mt. Fuji.

(now) Ten Years After, March 2021 – Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Tōhoku earthquake and its tsunami, Curator once again offers one Year After for people to appreciate. Hosted at the gallery space above Bagheera Kristan’s Bohemian Underground store, it also has the alternate title of (now) Ten Years After to mark the tenth anniversary of the tsunami. And if you’ve never encountered either Yoshitoshi’s or Hokusai’s work before, I highly recommend paying a visit.

Ukiyo-e first rose to prominent in the late 1670s and continued to flourish through until the Meiji Restoration saw it enter a sharp decline in the rush towards modernisation. As an art form, it initially focused on portraiture featuring courtesans, geishas and kabuki actors. However, Hokusai, however, broadens the genre to include landscapes, plants, and animals, a broader expressionism Yoshitoshi would embrace.

(now) Ten Years After, March 2021 – Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

There is particular relevance in using Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon to commemorate the tsunami.  While he was fascinated by all that was happening as a result of Japan opening its doors to the rest of the world, Yoshitoshi became concerned with the loss of many aspects of traditional Japanese culture, so much so that towards the end of his life he turned more towards Ukiyo-e, using it as a means to comment on the passing of Japan’s traditional ways in its headlong rush to modernise.

Thus, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon as presented here provides a poignant means of commemorating both the washing away of translational Japanese ways in the tide of change witnessed by Yoshitoshi, and the loss of life caused by the tsunami.

(now) Ten Years After, March 2021 – Katsushika Hokusai: 36 Views of Mt. Fuji

Each image in One Hundred Aspects depicts figures from Japanese and Chinese legend, history, literature, folklore and theatre captured at a moment in time, often in a poetic dialogue with the Moon. The presence of the Moon additionally references the role it played in the pre-industrialised Japanese calendar, when specific events on both a national and personal level being marked by the lunar phases. In this, the choice of this collection for the exhibition adds a further layer of meaning, marking as it does an event and point in time that affected some many lives and a nation as a whole.

Similarly, Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mt. Fuji has a certain poignancy in the context of commemorating the tsunami. It’s a series in which several of the images embody Japan’s long relationship with the seas around it – the most famous being The Great Wave off Kanagawa, depicting a large rogue wave about to overwhelm three boats. They also, as the title of the collection suggests, feature images feature Mount Fiji – the enduring symbol of the nation, the people and the spirit of Japan throughout the ages.

(now) Ten Years After, March 2021 – Katsushika Hokusai: 36 Views of Mt. Fuji

Although some of the pieces are slightly blurred as a result of the reproduction process, these are genuinely engaging copies of an evocative series. Each piece has a a richness of narrative to it and a deep sense of history, and those that you find attractive enough can be purchased for L$100 each.

SLurl Details

A festival for live action role-play in Second Life

Courtesy of SLarp Fest

On Sunday, March 21st, Second Life will play host to SLarp Fest, a one-day celebration of live action role-play (LARP). The event is a co-production by IndieCade International Festival of Independent Games and the Playable Theatre Project, and is the latest in a series of events traditionally held in the physical world to leverage the potential of Second Life as a means to provide attendees with a unique digital experience.

For those unfamiliar with it, IndieCade is the only standalone festival for independent games in the United States. It was founded in 2005, and held its first showcase event at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2007, with its first festival following in 2008. Between 2009 and 2015 the festival took place in Culver City, California, moving to Santa Monica City College in 2018. A “sister” event, IndieCade Europe was held in the UK between 2007 and 2009, before being rebooted in 2016 as the IndieCade Conference and Expo, held France.

Regarded as “the video game industry’s Sundance“, IndieCade gives invited independent video game developers the opportunity to showcase their work alongside of a conference track featuring classes, panels, workshops and keynotes related to games development. In doing so, it has become a major attraction for independent game developers and others in the industry.

As with so many events the world over, the SARS-CoV-2 situation forced the IndieCade organisers to “go digital” in 2020, hosting events and activities through various on-line mediums. As a part of this IndieCade 2020 Anywhere and Everywhere festival, a presence was established in Second Life: IndieCade Oasis, which for 2021 will play host to SLarp Fest.

Part of IndieCade Oasis – the in-world venue for SLarp Fest 2021

Conceived by IndieCade and the Playable Theatre Project, SLarp Fest is an experiment in adapting live action role-playing games – a long-standing part of IndieCade’s repertoire – to a digital format, the idea being to allow experienced and novice role-players alike to join is a series of specially-adapted live action role-play scenarios, and to participate in a number of other activities.

A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically portray their characters and enact a plot of the game. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world environments while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules or determined by consensus among players. Event arrangers called gamemasters decide the setting and rules to be used and facilitate play.

– Live action role-play definition, via Wikipedia

SLarp Fest is curated by Celia Pearce (Artemesia Sandgrain in Second Life), one of the co-founders of both IndieCade and the Playable Theatre Project. She is also the author of a number of books and papers on viral worlds, including Communities of Play (MIT Press 2009). Working with IndieCade Oasis region designer Jenn Frank (Nova Conundrum in Second Life) – herself a long-term Second Life resident through her main account and a writer focused on games and technology – Celia has sought to provide an environment that is more interactive and immersive than can be achieved through the more “traditional” approaches to digital engagement, such as Zoom.

I was growing increasingly frustrated by the limitations of the Zoom proscenium, so I invited some of my favourite LARP designers to experiment with avatar embodiment to see if we could adapt their work for a virtual world. Jenn and I worked with the creators to take advantage of the capabilities of the Second Life, along with the massive amount user-created content, to build something truly unique and immersive. Our play testing thus far has indicated that the experiment is working!

– Celia Pierce (SL: Artemesia Sandgrain) on the origins of SLarp Fest

SLarp Fest will feature four live action role-play scenarios attendees can play, including Angel Falls, developed specifically for Second Life and the event
Commencing at 09:00 SLT on Sunday, March 21st, SLarp Fest is open to anyone who wishes to attend. Throughout the day the festival will present a range of activities for attendees, including card games, a carnival, pirate ships, the chance to play MadPea’s Escape Room and, of course, the opportunity to participate any of the four live action role-play scenarios that are the focus of the festival. These are:

  • 09:00-11:00 – First Impressions (aka D&D Speed Dating): find your fantasy character their own adventuring group in a speed-dating-style event! A fast, zany take on conventional fantasy tropes. Game by Marc Majcher, Adapted for Second Life by Evan Torner (UC Game Lab).
  • 11:00-13:00 – Angel Falls: players attend a funeral as conflicted humans and comforting but flawed angels in a scenario about seeking resolutions when it is already too late to resolve anything. Developed specifically for Second Life and SLarp Fest by Celia Pearce, Jenn Frank and Annika Waern, and inspired by the film Wings of Desire.
  • 13:30-15:30 – Romancing Jan: a racial, orientation and gender inclusive take on a Regency era matchmaking game, played in full costume at a fancy outdoor tea dance in a period pavilion. Game by Athena Peters, who also adapted it for Second Life.
  • 16:00-19:00 – The Sleepover: play as adolescents learning and sharing knowledge about sex, sexuality, and gender identity at a sleepover party during summer camp” From the IndieCade 2021 Finalist anthology Honey & Hot Wax by Julia B. Ellingboe and Kat Jones (Candyland Games), and adapted for Second Life by the authors.
SLarp Fest will include a range of activities, including the LARP sessions, arcade games, MadPea’s Escape Room, a carnival and more

Those wishing to attend the event should register their intent to allow the organisers to get a feel for the potential number of attendees. In addition, registration will provide access to the sign-up forms for the LARP scenarios. Note that registrations will close at 23:59 SLT on Thursday, March 18th.

Further details on SLarp Fest and IndieCade can be found via the links below, and I’ll have more on the event, including the SLurl, ahead for the opening.

Related Links

Rare Diseases Day in Second Life

Rare Diseases Day exhibition, Community Virtual Library

It may not be widely known, but for the last thirteen years, the last day of February has been Rare Diseases Day – and Sunday February 28th, 2021 will continue that tradition, both around the globe in the physical world and in Second Life.

Approximately that one in every 20 people suffering with one or more of over 6,000 of the currently identified rare diseases, with the overall impact of such diseases impacting the lives of between 3.5% and 5.9% of the worldwide population.

Roughly 72% of these diseases are genetic in nature, with 70% of such diseases  starting at childbirth or during childhood, whilst the remain 28% of rare diseases are the result of infections (bacterial or viral), allergies and environmental causes, or are degenerative and proliferative.

Often diagnosis of such a disease can be complicated by the fact they can be hidden by relatively common symptoms,  thus delaying what can be vital treatment. Many are quintessentially disabling, dramatically impacting the patients quality of life as a result of the often chronic, progressive, degenerative, and frequently life-threatening aspects of such a disease.

Music event line-up

Treatment is made more complicated for a variety of reasons, such the lack of scientific knowledge and quality information on a particular disease; the lack of appropriate quality health care, or lack of access to treatment and care; and / or the fact that symptoms can vary between patients suffering from the same disease.

Given all this, Rare Diseases Day encompasses two aims. The first is to raise awareness amongst the general public and policy makers, public authorities, industry representatives, researchers, health professionals about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.

The second is to achieve equitable access to the diagnosis, treatment, health and social care for those affected by a rare disease and to ensure that have access to equal social and work opportunities.

Initially European-centric, Rare Diseases Day has grown to a world-wide event, with oner 100 countries participating in 2020, with thousands of individual events organised at the local level.

Within Second Life, three core events will be taking place on February 28th tied to Rare Diseases Day:

  • Midnight SLT, on  Saturday, February 27th through Midnight SLT on Sunday, February 28th: a mix of live performers and DJS on stage at the Rare Diseases Day music event. Details of those performing are available at the event and in the panel on the right.
  • 10:00 SLT: Research Pavilion, Healthinfo Island – Congenital Heart Defect Awareness,  presented by Gentle Heron (February is also Heart Health Month).
  • 12:00 noon SLT: a discussion at the Rare Diseases exhibition presented by the Community Virtual Library (CVL) in association with the Conrado F. Asenjo Library at the University of Puerto Rico, to be followed by a trip to the Rare Disease Day music event.

Links and SLurl Details