SecondLife’s 12th Birthday celebration, SL12B, was a grand tribute to the creativity, passions, perseverance, and strong sense of community of the virtual world’s residents over the years. What’s more, it reflected a positive look to Second Life’s future through its theme: “What Dreams May Come.”
SL12B’s final day of events, for me, brought back childhood memories of the close of the local county fair—the lights, sounds, and excitement crescendo, then diminish into silence. But for SL12B, the party isn’t truly over. Although the schedule of performances and talks has concluded, residents can visit the 15 regions of 200 exhibits through July 4.
One of the highlights of SL12B on June 28 was the ChangHigh Fireshow of Light, Life, and Love, featuring Melvin Starbrook, Yman Juran, and Jennylinn Capalini. The audience was treated to a stunning combination light show and circus performance—twirling rings, highwire act, balancing balls, elephant riding, all against fire, particles, and a soothing soundtrack.
ChangHigh Fireshow of Light, Life, and Love
Melvin Starbrook walks the highwire
Jennylinn Capalini dances on elevated rings
The resident volunteers, clearly, worked hard to create a spectacular event in celebration of SL’s 12th birthday. So, I decided to turn the tables on them and ask what their favorite events and exhibits were. Two volunteers chose the Welcome Center/train station. “Walton F. Wainwright (Faust Steamer) did a great job of creating a mood with the dark night and dreamlike quality of his train station,” said Pybar Bu, who served on the SL12B land team and took care of infrastructure.
According to Wainwright, “The Station is a scene from a personal graphic novel concept about an unnamed journalist seeking out answers to explain the disappearance of a long missing colleague by following the advice from various bar dwellers speaking of an urban legend surrounding an abandoned train station in an alternate roaring ‘20s. Arriving there at midnight as instructed, the journalist encounters the Ghost Train, along with passengers seemingly appearing out of nowhere for boarding. He leaves his bench and follows them to find the conductor for more answers to curb his curiosity.
“The Ghost Train is an entity that transports souls to the world beyond. Upon leaving the old railway hotel hill, patrons will first notice the face of the train, accompanied by orbs of light flowing along the station. These orbs are the spirits ready to board the the Ghost Train: a machine used to take souls to the unknown...or so the journalist has seen. The overall feeling of the station would be dark, yet, still holds the essence of magic and wonder with the mysterious souls that walk endlessly through the station, the dimly lit lanterns that light the area, and the machine grinning widely -- whose intentions can only be assumed from those who face it.”
“When I was given the theme of the event "What Dreams May Come," I made a project proposal that eventually lead my thoughts to this early story. It held significant personal meaning as a benchmark to pursue my dreams in my youth, as well as conveniently holding a similar theme with what the [Shakespeare] quotation originally meant: the afterlife.”
The Welcome Center/Train Station
“The other place that really wowed me was ADudeNamed Anthony’s auditorium, which he named the Dreamitarium,” Bu said. “The details throughout the building are plentiful, and the build itself is a marvel of efficiency and style. It even has restrooms!” According to displays, Anthony’s vision was a building “where dreams and ideas are shared.” It was created as an inverted planetarium in which the outside is looking in, such as in a dream. It became a venue for performers and speakers.
The Cake Stage confection for performances and the Pod Tour to shuttle residents around the sims were also noted by volunteers. But Treacle Darlandes, an SL12B hostess, remarked, “Most of all, what strikes me about SL12B is the happy mood, the hard work, and how much people love it and get excited for it.”
Bu further commended the staff of SL12B volunteers. “[They] are the most amazing people in SL. Dedicating their time and talent to inviting the entire Grid over for a huge weeklong birthday party and keeping everyone happy and cheerful is a huge undertaking. I'm hugely grateful for each one of them, and look forward to working with many of them next year too. They built excitement for any event we had this week, at whatever time it occurred, and made sure that all time slots were full.”
So, what’s in store for next year?
“We do always have a different theme each year,” Bu said. “Some of what we plan has a lot to do with what [Linden Lab] has updated or added to our world. For instance, this year we took advantage of materials rendering being more widely used. We also rely heavily on what the exhibitor applications are offering, though this was the first year we proactively asked exhibitors ‘make sure your exhibit is new stuff.’ I think that challenge helped make this year's exhibits as amazing as they are.”