Before i knew sl, if you’d suggested to me that it was possible to create a virtual world on the internet that the average person using a reasonable computer would find fulfilling and engaging, i’d have probably gone along with you but i’d have secretly thought you were being a little optimistic. If you’d then gone on to tell me that those same average users could create parts of this world themselves; places that you’d want to explore and photograph and immerse yourself in to the point where they almost became ‘real’, i’d have raised a questioning eyebrow and wondered whether you’d been indulging in some dubious practices with the recreational chemistry kit. Had you then gone on to tell me that some of these creations would blow my mind, inspire me and make me want to climb through the screen and set up home in a pixel world for the rest of my days, i’d have had no hesitation in calling up the men in white coats and sending you off to the the funny farm for a long vacation in a room with no view and cushioned walls. Oh, how my opinion has changed.
‘Jaw-droppingly beautiful’ is not generally an expression i’d use in the same breath as anything even remotely connected with the internet. Even in rl, it tends to be reserved for those particular sights, sounds, feelings and other sensory stimuli that leave us speechless and profoundly and deeply touched. For some it may be one of the earth’s natural wonders; others might experience the same feeling when faced with a remarkable work of art or music; whilst, for others, the feeling may be inspired by a sublime culinary creation… Whatever your own particular magical moment, you can be sure that it’s not something that we take for granted or stumble across every day. With this in mind, can the same feeling be evoked from simple pixels in a virtual environment?
Yes – i happen to think so. True, there’s much in sl that’s pretty dull and average; then there are just as many places that are way above the average, places that can capture our imagination and entice us into staying for far longer than we intended. Then, every now and again, we might find a real gem… Somewhere that captivates us, inspires us – a place that can stop us in our tracks and defies any real description other than the first word that finds its way to our lips: Wow!
One place that does it every time for me is XIV – somewhere that i’m actually loathe to share with anyone, if the truth be known, simply because it feels so special. i’ve visited it in a number of its incarnations and every time it’s left me overwhelmed by its sheer beauty. Here is a place that would be impossible in the real world and is breathtaking in its scope and execution.
Then there are the other places that completely defy description, yet undeniably have the Wow! factor – places that leave you reeling from the moment you arrive and make you wonder at the sheer nerve, perspicacity and even arrogance of their creators to contrive to give life to such enigmatic and inspirational ventures into the very extremes of imagination.
It was only very recently that i discovered Omega Point – and i’m completely and utterly hooked! The place is a bewildering and fascinating construct that brings together science fiction, fantasy, the elements and the surreal in a way that i’ve never quite come across ever before. There are a thousand tales to be told here and unlimited stories to discover. i’ve only just begun to explore this fascinating place and i think i’ll be spending a great deal more time uncovering its mysteries. One moment you’re crossing the sky on a suspended walkway, high above a city with a distinctly steampunk vibe; the next, you’re floating amongst ethereal spheres, amongst organic architecture that simply defies any sort of explanation – you really must seek it out… allow yourself a good hour, maybe two, and you’ll have only just started to scratch the surface!
In life, it’s all too easy to become complacent and to forget what an incredible world we live in – perhaps the same is true of sl too… Sometimes we need to be caught off our guard; to be wrongfooted by something extraordinary – just occasionally, we need to be blown away by what we see and experience, because life without the Wow! factor is a poor life indeed.
Here I go out to sea again
The sunshine fills my hair
And dreams hang in the air
Black – Wonderful Life