I may have mentioned before that maths isn’t my strong point – when it comes to facts, I’m fine, but numbers leave me numb. So I’ll start this post by mentioning that today’s title is either a) correct or b) hopelessly incorrect (no doubt, some helpful soul will tactfully point out whatever error of miscalculation I may have made). Either way, it doesn’t really matter, as will hopefully become clearer once I’ve stopped wittering on nonsensically and start talking sense.
Like many of us, I can’t resist the dual allure of a freebie mixed with a challenge – if that wasn’t the case hunts wouldn’t exist in SL, neither would that staple of inworld shopping trips: the Lucky Chair. I’ll admit that to assert that the latter carry an element of ‘challenge’ is probably stretching it a little, but seasoned chair jockeys will tell you that being in the right place, at the right time can pose its own problems, as can the presence of another avatar – or more – sharing the same initial… it’s a case of fastest finger first!
I wouldn’t say I’m a seasoned chairophile, but I’m not immune to the attraction of the occasional dalliance, although if I’ve something better to do, I’ll do it. However there is one particular chair that’s caught my imagination, and I’m sure that the fact it has says much about the state of my mind. I found the chair, tucked away in the murky corner of a store specialising in the arena of fantasy apparel. I’d actually only paid a visit on the strength of a rather cool hairstyle I’d spied another avatar wearing, which I simply had to own myself. As luck would have it, this particular lucky chair happened to be sporting a great big letter ‘S’ as I passed, and so it came to pass that I became the proud owner of precisely one fifth of an outfit that, under normal circumstances, it’s highly unlikely I’d ever even consider.
That’s right – you read that correctly: One fifth.
In a particularly devious twist of marketing, the outfit being proffered by this instrument of retail torture had been split into five separate prizes, each randomly paired with a randomly allocated letter at 60 minute intervals. And this is where the maths – and the challenge – comes in: 5 items, 36 possible letters/numbers and, for the sake of some sanity, let’s assume nobody else bothers attempting the chair, so that’ll equate to 24 changes every day, and all five items to collect for a full outfit. Which means if I was to pay a visit once a day, that works out at, erm… I think it’s odds of 1:21600, but I have a horrible feeling it’s really several orders of magnitude greater than that. I did attempt a quick trawl of the interweb to try and work it out properly, but being fundamentally a thicko when it comes to calculations, I ended up with results that varied between a few hundred and well over 500 million! On that basis, I could visit that perishing chair every hour of every day and watch the universe fizzle out and die around me before managing to collect a full outfit!
Told you I like a challenge!
My strategy was simple – pay two visits a day, once when I logged in and just before logging off. Which is how, in a perverse mangling of physics, fortune and all the known laws of the universe, I managed to amass the first four prizes within a ridiculously short two weeks! However, two months later and I’m still no nearer number five. So be it… we’ll see who dies first – me, or the universe.
There is something inherently challenging about SL and those of us who choose to go beyond the very basics of the virtual environment will be pretty well versed in getting to grips with the mental gymnastics that SL forces us to get our heads around. Right from day one we have to grapple with an experience that can be far from intuitive: The viewer alone has a level of complexity to rival jumping into a car for the first time and attempting to drive around a busy city centre at rush hour. Even getting dressed can be far from the simple experience it is in RL – I vividly recall the days of my noobhood, having neatly sorted my shoe folder into the various different ‘types’ of shoe, only to later realise that shoes and foot-shapers were not different kinds of footwear, and I now owned a wardrobe full of broken shoes.
Even if we master the challenge of the viewer, settings, clothing, building, scripting and the myriad of other physical and mental challenges that SL constantly throws at us every time we log in, there’s also the underlying leap our minds have to make in order to make sense of and accept the virtual as something approximating ‘real’, and it’s a leap that a great many of us very successfully make – unfortunately then we’re faced with the challenge of returning to the real, physical world when we log out, and that can sometimes be the most difficult thing of all.
However, challenge is good for us, and even if it’s of the most ridiculous kind, against insurmountable odds, sometimes we just have to rise to it.
Which is why, no matter how long I have to wait, I’m determined to get the complete set of components for that damn outfit, no matter how unlikely!
I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
Billy Preston – Satisfaction