A recent evening inworld was a little, shall we say ‘surreal’. Surreal in the sense that, had it been possible to behave in the same manner in RL, arrests would certainly have been made. Thankfully, this was not RL and nobody had to spend the night behind bars.
It all started innocently enough, meeting up with a couple of friends to chat and generally kill some time, until the fateful moment that one of us decided to wake up the sim’s resident zombie. Yours Truly, having become something of a nemesis to the brain munching undead brigade, it was just a moment’s work to whip out my ray gun, drop into a defensive combat stance and blast the creature into oblivion. And then we did it all over again. Several times. With a variety of interesting weapons, ranging from baseball bats and mallets, to nuclear bombs, flying pigs, beer cans, toilet rolls and Teddy bears!
Surprisingly, the flying pigs were tremendously effective zombie repellents – maybe you should bear that in mind, come the apocalypse!
When we tired of zombies, out came the War of the Worlds tripods, followed by daleks, flying taxis and blue whales. It was an interesting evening and we had an enormous amount of fun, although I can’t say whether the neighbours were terribly impressed! It’s the sort of thing I’d regularly get up to in my younger virtual years, but only rarely – if at all – in more recent years, but by the same token, as one of my companions remarked, the vast majority of the weapons and nonsense we were having fun mucking about with was, in virtual terms, pretty antiquated. And that started me thinking.
Perhaps it’s not so much me that has become more staid and grown up over the years, and therefore less likely to dig out the banana guns and blingtard launchers, but SL itself that has somehow matured, and I’m not so sure that I like it. There seems to me to have been a subtle shift from good old fun and games to more serious pursuits inworld: The proliferation of music venues with their DJs, dancers, hosts and greeters; the growing numbers of ‘professional’ photographers, models, and – I kid you not – even mesh beauty consultants. Then there are those who are in SL not for the fun of it, but for profit – land sales, fashion and content creation – nothing new, of course, but probably far more significant in terms of commerce than ever in the past; and the very nature of what we do inworld has become far more serious. Even games and having fun has become a glossy, corporate, experience-keyed mesh adventure experience, with organised and professionally produced creations that – for me at least – manage to suck all the life and fun out of having fun.
When did we all get so serious about mucking about in the virtual world? Who decided that tomato chuckers and all the other old school playthings should be locked away and never see the light of day again? And how did glossy, corporate, sanitised inworld play take the place of rumbunctious, anarchic, good old fashioned fun?
Only recently, a friend announced they were heading out of a club I was at because they at least expected ‘adult conversation’. Maybe they were just in a bad mood and weren’t finding the discussion about different varieties of popcorn particularly stimulating, but who logs in to an SL night club for adult conversation for Pete’s sake? (And why would Pete care anyway?) I, for one, have to put up with more than enough of adult conversation, grown up behaviour and being sensible in my day to day activities in the real world, and the last thing I want when I hit the virtual world is more of the same – I want to unwind, enjoy myself and have a laugh and if that means doing things that may be a little childish or silly, well why not? It doesn’t hurt anyone and if ever there was an environment where we should be able to do that without fear of criticism, it has to be SL.
So that’s exactly what I plan to continue to do, and perhaps it’s time I dusted down some of those old-fashioned, outdated and primitive toys that have been hidden away in my inventory for far too long.
Anyone fancy a cupcake battle?
That’s all they really want
When the working day is done
Oh, girls—they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have fun
Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun