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Showing posts with label role-play. Show all posts
Showing posts with label role-play. Show all posts

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Inside the St. Elizabeth’s University – Zack Wonder reporting

St. Elizabeth’s University is one of the seats of higher learning in Second Life (SL). Zack Wonder was invited to stroll the grounds with Tikinova Adonide (Tiki) who is the Senior Administrator at “St. E’s” as the University is often called. “Miss Elle Gedenspire and Miss Rae Summerisle founded St. Elizabeth’s five years ago,” she explained. “Elle is our media teacher and the president of the university and Rae contents herself building and running the sim. She makes things so pretty. As the Senior Admin, I run the daily operations. 

We have about 115 events each month, so I schedule and vet them all. I also do student admissions.” St. Elizabeth is a ladies’ college but has male staff as the Cardinal, renters, and lecturers. It is a role-play (RP) community for female avatars that look and play the part. “We make sure candidates look agreeable, and if someone has objectionable groups in the profiles, we will discuss that with them. For example, I would not have a student with curse words on her profile page, or a group about misogyny or racial supremacy. Students get a trial period before they get full status.” Admission requirements also state that the avatars applying must be over 60 days in age, and they should look 18 to 24 years of age. 

St. Elizabeth’s is tuition-free for the students. Donations are channeled to charitable causes such as the Harambee school  which has received 144,000 L$ so far.  “I also recruit staff,” Tiki continued. “Usually 1 or 2 people each week come to us asking to teach, so I have a process: they come to do some observations, they have an interview with me and submit a lesson plan. If I approve, they get a trial class.” She also told SL Enquirer that the staff is about a dozen strong, for the 45 to 50 active students at the University.

Tiki took Zack around, from the foyer to the classrooms, auditorium, and across the yard, to the Cathedral as well as the dance studio and the gym. Zack met a St. E’s student, Ailsa Stromfield, at the gym, for a brief interview.

SLE: What brought you to study here?

Ailsa: Well, to be honest, I discovered St. E’s by accident, but when I landed here was greeted warmly and never left. This was back in December [2019].

SLE: What made you so attached?

Ailsa: The staff and students are a great family, and there’s the bonus of real lessons too.

SLE: A sense of belonging?

Ailsa: Yep, a “belonging” is right. I have some great friends here, and there’s a lot of time and effort put in by others.

SLE: Can you tell what benefits you get with the lessons?

Ailsa: I can convert binary! Laughs… I’m not university educated, but it’s been interesting listening to art and media appreciation.

SLE: So, how do you see the students grasping the topics covered, if they come from a varied background?

Ailsa: There are some big brains here, some of the girls are real-life students and are well versed with the subjects. Its’ nice listening to them discuss the subjects.
Ailsa further explained that she wishes to stay on the classes for the time to come, and that even though she is from Europe, classes from 9 pm until midnight UK time work for her. She has had to be selective with activities, though, as sometimes committing to set hours for stage productions etc. left her feeling lacking in her effort compared to the US-based participants.

Sitting later in Tiki’s office, she continued explaining the benefits for avatars studying at St. Elizabeth’s. “Like most of the SL experience, St. E’s is about community, friendships, and support. People who come here have a great chance to make themselves better. First, there are our academic offerings. A class takes between 3 and 6 hours to prepare, for a 1-hour presentation - our students are very bright, so the teachers have to be experts and prepared, so the quality is high.” As if this was not convincing enough, she kept on: “…and then there are the cultural pursuits. We have a creative writing class, where students get instruction for a published RL author, writer's club, where students simply share what they've been working on, informally; poetry class (instruction), poetry readings (presentation), art appreciation class, and also a gallery on campus where to display [pieces of students’ creations]. Our own dance company recently won 1st place in the Paragon Dance Animations Contest.”

Later, we met together with Tiki and St. E’s Housemother, the Dean of Student Housing Pat Wheelwright on the University premises.

SLE: What's a "Housemother"?

Pat: I am responsible for the general well-being of the students, and I manage the dorms as well as supervise the Prefects (senior students who have extra duties). Prefects assist staff in matters of discipline, most of them have a dorm that they manage. I also DJ here, and do the coffee house once a month.

SLE: Do students have residence requirements, and are they expected to stay on campus outside classes?

Pat: Students have a dorm bed, for role-play (RP) purposes. Some of them also rent houses here, they are not required to stay on campus.
Tiki: They also often have houses elsewhere, but it's nice to have a dorm to belong to. It's a place to hang out on campus and be casual - it is no issue to get them to stay in the dorm, trust me. The girls like to come to school.
Pat: This place is more and more about community. Many of these girls are here, seeking that.

Since Pat and Tiki both are involved in the administrative and disciplinary aspect of running the University, SLE was curious about any disciplinary issues they might have encountered.
Pat: Yes, there are adult features - but only if you want them. You can enjoy St. E’s without.
Tiki: Everyone is adult here, so naturally there are romances.

Pat: We try to keep it as much like a RL college as possible - I had a student who asked if they could have a dorm with bondage toys in the dorm - I said "no" without any hesitation!  If it is RP acting out, that is different than someone who is just plain hard to get along with. We try to screen out people who we think might not be good for the community. If someone is disruptive, they are going to get booted out!

Tiki: We have a code book that dictates the rules. It tells students their rights and responsibilities.

Pat further explained that the University does not suspend students for trivial reasons, and only the President can ban a student permanently. St. Elizabeth’s has a school uniform that apparently the students wear gladly, out of the sense of community. Even though it is laid out as a Catholic University, expression of faith is not a requirement, and religious people as well as agnostics alike participate in the University life, including Mass. 

The campus is now two full sims and is looking to expand to twelve – with a sailing experience that spans eight of the sims. Students run their own newspaper, “The Chronicle” that focuses on community events and stories, including photo journals and creative stories. As the curriculum is varied, from humanities to science lectures, the students spend their time willingly in classes and doing homework, having a sense of academic advancement.  Having toured the premises and talked to staff and students, it became clear that the lofty goals of this establishment are being met, for the advancement of avatars in Second Life to the better.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Spotlight on Cumberland City- A virtual City based in Maine, USA- Lanai Jarrico Reporting…

Imagine a place where a global community comes together to roleplay life experiences in a detailed simulated virtual world. That is the definition of Second Life. 

We all rezz here to create our own story and experience cultures from all over the world.  Within each of our stories we meet people with their own. We learn from and share our innermost thoughts with each other.  We experience things that we may or may not have the opportunity or courage to do in our real lives. That is what makes SL such a unique timeless place. 

One thing we can do here and not in the real world it change our stories at any time, engage in adventures that would require an income of a millionaire or realize our own creativity.  We can build our worlds around us based on our own imaginations or see and play directly in the creativity of others. 

No two communities are
 the same. Cumberland City is one of many in Second Life where dreams and creativity is shared among the residents. What separates it from the others is the heart and souls of the people who concentrate on making it as realistic as possible. This great community is also a proud supporter of the American Cancer Society - having donated over 150K L$ this year.

This 27 sim community is based on a real community along I-90 in Maine, USA.  With government services such as a Capital building, district court, Department of Children & Family services, houses and businesses,  Cumberland City offers community members the opportunity to start a business and thrive in a SLife where neighbors are friendly, helpful and care about their environment.  Best of all the creator is not absent. She is as immersed in the daily activities just like everyone else who call Cumberland City their virtual home.

The SL Enquirer met up with Traci Gassner , the governor of Cumberland City.

Hi Traci, it is a pleasure to interview you. Can you please share with our readers how you discovered Second Life?

Traci: That’s a fun story…  I have always been involved in IT related things all my life and collaborating with peers globally for work and was in a IRC chat room one night back in January 2007 when one of the people in the chat room discussing some perhaps boring IT stuff says OMG I found this thing called second life it’s like a chat room but your a “Cartoon!” you and be this thing like a character and see others and chat like in a virtual kind of thing…  I was like .. ya ok .. sure..  and got the information logged in made my avatar and was a certain thing in me sparked to life.  An entirely different way to interact using a computer.  I grew up in the computer revolution and finding SL has helped define me and also to help me reach out and help others.

What inspired you to create Cumberland City?

Traci:  I never intended to own a thing quite like Cumberland City.  I stumbled into it more than I set out to create it.  Ive in me tenure in SL taught people to create, build and share things…  I ran into the community role play scene and instantly found it a way to share, help people and help myself.  Several circumstances led me to taking the lead of a community and growing it that I would rather say became circumstances of “fate” and one I embraced with the assistance of very many along the way to “Create” what is now known as Cumberland City.  Its motto is “Unique by it’s people”  Past present and future.

A 27 Sim community is impressive.  It has to be a labor of love for you and your team. Can you tell me about your team and their roles within the Cumberland City community?

Traci:  Goodness, is so many who contribute.  I am more or less just a guidance counselor to what the melting pot we call Cumberland City has become.  The team of builders and managers - the Residents mostly who provide input and ideas is what makes Cumberland City special.  We are not a single “owner” like community who controls all things.   Yes the buck has to stop on my desk but I doubt you will find many who see it that way.  I love and encourage my team and the residents to take up the charge to create what we all share as a common goal.  A inclusive, safe, diverse open minded role play city.

What can visitors expect to experience here?

Traci:  First I would like to think a warm welcome.  The residents here are simply amazing.  I’m biased and would like to think say they are warmest in SL for this genre.  One the imagery as you have seen is welcoming, Cumberland is a very well made quality visual experience that we are constantly working on.  Nothing about this is easy and the community has suffered setbacks but it just comes back stronger and more resolved.  You will find as a visitor here very dedicated team of management and painfully loyal residents who have big hearts and willing to take new people in and help them become Cumberlonians! 

A government within Second life may seem intimidating to those who prefer experiencing Second life without a set structure. How would you describe your community and how government plays a role in daily Slife?

Traci:  Good question - Cumberland is amazing to me in how it is a micro democracy that works.  It is very rare an issue actually makes it to my desk as unresolved.  We pride ourselves in fact that most of the time our system functions in a open minded manner.  No system is ever perfect but even with our system of Government and covenants in place people are very free to express and live here with security and a sense that the Cumberland has their best interests in mind.  Those few over the history that fail in seeing that are usually met with applause when they leave.  That may sound tacky but reality is not every place in SL is for everyone but the majority here find our system comforting.

This is a realistic community based on Maine, USA in real life. Is anyone welcome to be part of the community or do you have guidelines for becoming a resident, excluding fictitious character?

Traci:  Cornerstone of Cumberland is diversity.  We are inclusive.  Generally we are a human reality based community.  We are furry friendly and Neko friendly as well.   I would say such things as “super-human” or para-normal will not fit in here by nature of the genre…  Aside from that we are a warm welcoming community.

The Cumberland City community prides itself on family roleplay. What type of amenities aid in the realism of the environment?

Traci:  We have a full menu of City services such as Police, Fire and EMS depts, a hospital, DMV, Court and city government.   We like to role play things out, for instance road work we have a Dept of Transportation to do road projects and when it snows you will see them out with snow plows.  Trash collections, phone service  and soon to be mail delivery system.  We plan weather events and alerts for various role play events.

Do you create community events where families can come together? If so tell us a little about them.

Traci: Absolutely, we have an events staff that sets up a variety of events from casual get togethers to full scale carnivals and festivals.  We will do Holiday events, dances and fun things like paint ball, car shows, fireworks shows, organized shows and impromptu random things and always open to ideas!  Flash mob anyone?

Second life is a constantly changing landscape much like things change in real life. How do you keep your community members actively engaging in the city?

Traci: We make changes in the community as well from seasonal changes to also from time to time taking a moment to recognize things that happen in RL we can all share here in SL - come together and celebrate and mourn even things like a real life community.   The key thing I like is our ability to adapt.  I listen to people and get the team and residents involved and if there is something people want to see and do … by all means will try it.

Cumberland City is a mix of commercial and residential opportunities. Do you currently have homes and business space? If so what do you have available?

Traci:  Oh yes we have plenty of both - we just conducted a remodeling effort to kind of freshen things up and are many shops and homes for residential and commercial.  As many are aware LL just upgraded the prims we have available we just did a rebalance on the cost and prims to give more to our resident as a benefit of that change without trying to cram more parcels for the sake of “profit”  Cumberland City is purely not for profit community. 

Jobs are also an important part of sustaining a home and lifestyle in second life. Do you offer your residents job opportunities?

Traci: All of the “jobs” here are purely role play volunteer based aside from some of the managers who get a modest discount - even they however are here purely for the fun of it !

With a mix of adult and child avies, how do you monitor your sims to keep griefers and SL criminals from causing problems within your community?

Traci:  All eyes and ears on deck is the answer.  We have a brilliant base of long term residents and eagle eyes managers and dept heads and some pretty cool systems “watching” things for us to keep an eye on things.  Is a few “skunk works” things that keep our community safe.

With the new year fast approaching. Are there any new projects in the works?

Traci:  Well one is concluding - we are finishing up a massive remodel effort and some of the centerpieces will be set in place by end of the year.  After 1st of year our focus will be full bore into role play - the winter seems to be the time when the role players come inside and Cumberland is perhaps the best canvas in SL for reality based community role play - certainly the largest.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about Cumberland City?

Traci:  Cumberland City is kind of like …  a community that has seen a lot a of up and downs and challenges but it fights back and its people is what matters.  The spirit of the City is what matters.  I am simply a keeper of accounts..  I even removed the role of “Owner” from the titles here.  I am not the owner of Cumberland - the people are.  I am responsible of course for it financially but what makes this place with is “you”  - if you want want role play come here and make it happen - your story.. your ideas are welcome in Cumberland City and fresh faces are something we embrace..  the long term residents here for whom I love dearly will help mentor anyone who comes here looking for a reality based role play community.   I am a firm believer in that people will often not recall what you did specifically in SL but they will recall how you made them feel and we sincerely want people to feel welcome here - that’s my vision and “our” desire. 

Thank you for adding your creativity to Second Life and sharing your time with us. We wish you and Cumberland city all the best.

Friday, October 21, 2016

BUSY AS BEE - Luc Fray Reporting...

Bee Dumpling in her Dellhaven Sprite* clothes.

If you’ve been role-playing for a while in medieval and fantasy sims, there’s very little chance that you’ve not heard of The White Armory (TWA).

A popular store, not only because of how long it’s been on the grid but because of the quality of its products as well, TWA offers a variety of dresses and weapons in its massive building.

Bee Dumpling, TWA’s co-owner, was gracious enough to grant me an interview to offer me an insight on what it is like handling this kind of SL business aside from the RL make-up business she already has.  

Luc Fray: You have been in SL for nearly 9 years now, Ms. Dumpling. What were your early days like?

Bee Dumpling: The year 2007 was still part of the early days of Second Life. It was still a “new” thing to be a virtual person and explore a virtual environment. The commerce at that time was not like it is now. Places to visit and explore were rare, and avatar clothing and accessories were just beginning to show signs of quality. So I took advantage of what was available and explored, while defining my virtual personality.

Luc Fray: I see. And how did you first find out about Second Life?

Bee Dumpling: I had heard of SL, but it was my uncle that sent me a url and prompted me to join so we could hang out.

Luc Fray: What made you stay?

Bee Dumpling: My uncle and I have always been buddies, so SL was a way we could hang out and chat. Both of us did our own thing as well and would hit up the popular spots like Franks, Botanical Gardens, Bogarts, etc.  I started to visit Avilion regularly and thus began my passion for the medieval role-play aspects in Second Life. It was after meeting Colton and embracing the charitable aspects of Second Life and the real life impacts that could be made, even in a small way, that my involvement with Second Life became a part of my every day.

Bee Dumpling*, January 2015.

Luc Fray: How did you come up with the name Bee Dumpling?

Bee Dumpling: In the early days of SL, you were not given the option of deciding your last name. You had to choose from a list that was provided. My first name was easy. My RL name is Deborah, which means “The Bee” in Hebrew. I think I chose “Dumpling” because it sounded cute and lighthearted, which is the kind of person I am. I could have been hungry too.  *laughs*

Luc Fray: *chuckles* How did you start out with your SL business? Was it difficult?

Bee Dumpling: Colton and I decided to become business partners. We had hit it off right from the beginning and he saw in me a head for business and creativity, so he purchased a small piece of land on a sim called Emerald. We set up some affiliate kiosks, and Colton had been tinkering with making weaponry for role-play. I am a graphic artist in RL, so I would design the texturing and promotional art for the swords, and he would build and script them.
I asked Colton one day what we should call our business and he didn’t even hesitate. “How about The White Armory?”  So, The White Armory it was, and has been ever since.

Building a business in SL, just like RL, is a very incremental process. It takes time to build a brand. We started a group and got our SL friends to join. I began trying my hand at making men’s apparel.  Medieval and custom tunics with personalized colors and heraldry.  My first creations were just awful. No really, seriously just bad! If I ever want to remind myself how far I’ve come, I can pull one of them out of my inventory and wonder how anyone could have ever gave me a single Linden for them. *laughs*

Anyway, we kept growing and growing and eventually bought the entire sim.

Luc Fray: I think great achievements are usually dealt with a lot of hard work. It’s great that you guys came a long way! But who are usually your customers? Who do you cater your business to?

Bee Dumpling: You would think only role-players would come to our store to shop for their characters, but we get folks from every genre. Our creations have even been featured in the Miss Virtual World shows, as well as dozens of other high fashion and avant guarde fashion events in SL through the years. So, it’s across the board when it comes to our customer base.

Bee Dumpling in Seraphim Orion-Floral*.

Luc Fray: I noticed that your RL Business is named after your SL avatar. Tell us about Bee Dumpling Organics.
Bee Dumpling: Colton is my husband in RL, and, 2 years ago, he was having some real problems due to his diabetes. The doctor told him that if he did not modify his diet dramatically, he would lose his eyesight.  I took it upon myself to find a way to eliminate all the processed food, sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, pesticides, wheat, and dairy from our diet. During this time, I began absorbing vast amounts of information about what is in the foods we eat and the products we purchase every day. The picture that was painted was not a good one.  We had gone completely organic with our diet, but what about the other products I used? Namely, cosmetics?  The FDA takes a real “hands off” approach to the cosmetic industry. That being said, the ingredients in most cosmetics are carcinogenic. I was already very passionate about organic food and began researching how to create organic, vegan (I am a strict vegetarian) cosmetics that were void of the chemicals and carcinogens prevalent in most OTC cosmetics.

This was a lot to take on. There really is no “cook book” for cosmetics. I had to literally learn what the hundreds of ingredients in cosmetics are and what they did.  You can find books on “how to” but they only scratch the surface. It really comes down to trial and error. I’ve had a lot of failed attempts. But I learned something from each one of them. I am still learning, and always will be. But it is something I really love, and there is something pretty cool about knowing exactly what you are putting on your face!

Luc Fray: *nods* Understood. You are responsible for your body after all...How do you come up with the ingredients and the making of those cosmetics, by the way?
Bee Dumpling: This depends on the product I am making. Lipsticks use a combination of vegetable waxes and oils, and mineral products like eye shadows, foundations, blush, and highlighters use mica, iron oxide, and vegetable/mineral powder combinations. Even the slightest variation can change the entire batch!

Luc Fray: How do you usually market them and where can they be found?
Bee Dumpling: I market almost exclusively using social media. Especially, Instagram. I can be found on all social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter as Bee Dumpling Organics. My products are sold almost exclusively from my Etsy shop.

Bee Dumpling looking like a sorceress*.

Luc Fray: You and your RL husband run your SL and RL business together. How does that work? Is it like he’s in charge of weapons and you of clothes, or is it more like he does the meshing and you do the texturing kind of division?

Bee Dumpling: Colton and I do pretty much everything as a team. In business, you want to have people around you that you trust and are as passionate about the product and brand as yourself. Colton has always been that for me, and this goes for our RL as well.  Colton does all of the weaponry building and scripting in SL. I create his textures and promo art. I create all of the apparel. As for the Cosmetics, Colton has his own social media accounts that he promotes the new releases on so we can double up on promotion that way.

Luc Fray: Where do you guys usually find inspiration for your creations?
Bee Dumpling: We are both similar in the way we get our inspiration. Colton will focus on a shape or piece, and the sword will sort of be built using that as a center piece.  I will troll Pinterest, or just get an idea for a certain type of sleeve design, sketch it out, and then the rest just sort of builds itself.

Luc Fray: What are the newest clothes and weapons released at The White Armory?
Bee Dumpling: Colton has just released a mesh Viking sword collection called “Warriors of Odin.” I have begun collaborating with a mesh builder here in SL. She and I have been really enjoying the creative process of original design, mesh, and textures. We formed a secondary brand called Silvan Moon Designs. We enter most of the fantasy or RP-inspired events in SL. We also have a shop inside the TWA main store.

Luc Fray: Do you guys also get involved in grid hunts and events?

Bee Dumpling: Yes. Our secondary brand Silvan Moon Designs is in many of the established events in SL as well as some of the major hunts.

Colton and Bee.

Luc Fray: I saw that you and Colton met online. Tell us your story.

Bee Dumpling: Colton and I met in early 2008. Colton was looking for merchants to rent stalls in his market to help offset the cost of a ¼ sim called Majestic Heart. I had been helping a jewelry maker with his textures and marketing during that time, so I agreed to set up a shop on Colton’s sim. It was during this time that Colton and I started getting to know one another.  By the end of 2008, we were very much in love. He swept me off my feet one day in October of 2008 when he asked me if I wanted to get married (in SL). I was even more flabbergasted when he meant, like right then and there!  He had already arranged a RL pastor to officiate as well as witnesses to the union!  So we were married and began our Second Lives as husband and wife.

We Skyped every day as well. Colton is from the UK. So, we literally had a long-distance romance for many years. It helped that we could speak and interact as virtual people. We did a lot of charity work in SL, so we were very busy in those days with that. I was making good money from my White Armory Designs, and it was enough to fly Colton over here to the States where we met in RL for the first time. That was September of 2009. He was only able to stay a week. It was a tearful goodbye as he headed back to the UK again. He came back to the States in the Spring of 2010 for 2 weeks. Again, he had to return to the UK. He came back for good in February of 2011. We married in RL in June of 2011. The process was long and sometimes heartbreaking. And the immigration process was also long and frustrating. Not to mention expensive. But it was worth it!

Luc Fray: I'm in the White Armory group and I notice that there would be posts about services regarding Worship, Praise, and Fellowship to the White Cathedral, usually held by a priestess. I was curious, are you guys Wiccan? If so, do you think being Wiccan made a distinct difference on who you are now as a person both in RL and SL? [A/N: See Into the Cauldron]

Bee Dumpling: Actually, we began having the services to allow folks of every denomination and/or background to come and be encouraged or ministered to. Colton and I do not subscribe to any one religion but are both spiritual people. We believe that everyone should have a safe place where they can just come as they are and know that they can give their burdens a voice so that others can help to ease their pain or suffering through fellowship and positivity.

Luc Fray: What's next for Bee Dumpling, Colton Drechsler, and The White Armory? Any plans in the near future?
Bee Dumpling: As Colton likes to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” So we intend to carry on doing what we have been for as long as SL allows us to. Silvan Moon Designs is growing exponentially as well and I am very happy with that aspect as it allows for even more creative freedom. And, of course, Bee Dumpling Organics will continue to grow and add more products. These keep us both quite busy, but happy.

*Photos courtesy of Bee Dumpling. You can check out more of their clothes at the Marketplace here and their official website here.