Sunday, November 4, 2012
Ginette Pinazzo Interviews Nalates Urriah About Second LIfe, Adult SL, Blogging, Virtual Worlds and More
Tell us about your SL 'Career Path' so far! Accomplishments, defining moments, turning points, etc
My first MMOG was Myst Online:Uru Live (MOUL). When MOUL closed in 2008 a portion of the community came to Second Life™ (SL). There was already a community of MOUL people in SL. I hooked up with them and eventually found the Exporers’ Community Research and Development (ECR&D) group then run by Thend Destiny. For a time I facilitated the group. Its purpose was to explore the creative limits of SL.
Most of my first two years in SL was spent exploring and learning how to build. During that time I remained active in both the MOUL and SL communities. Toward the end of that time I was starting to blog. My blogging has grown over the last couple of years and is now a significant part of the time I spend with SL.
Sometime in my first year I opened a few shops in-world. Later I changed over to XStreetSL and now the Market Place. The sales pay my rent and a little more.
For a time I experimented with role play in a region named Devokan, which came from the MOUL game’s story. I was mixing PG-RP from MOUL with Adult-RP from NoR. The overall experiment for the Devokan group was in learning how to combine and handle role play from numerous virtual worlds. Both the ECR&D and Devokan were experimenting in how to keep people interested in a game and carry the story forward. How does a new player catch up and what would make them want to? I’m not sure we a simple answer yet.
As the economy collapse worsened the Devokan region was moved to OpenSim on OSGrid. I got curious and set up a server that hosts 9 of my own regions in OSGrid. OSGrid’s early adoption of mesh was enticing. I’m building a mesh castle there. I still use OSGrid as my ‘preview grid’ for mesh buildings and objects. I only have the regions online when I’m working there.
As the Mesh Deformer project has moved forward I’ve been more interested in making mesh clothes. More of my SL time is spent in Blender making models and weight painting.
Exploring and meeting people has always been a favorite part of my time in SL. Flirting is a favorite past time.
What are a few of the lessons you think residents often learn from being in Second Life a number of years?
I think we can learn about the types of human behavior. They become more obvious in SL. Also, the nature of business and how it works becomes obvious. Social evolvement in SL is like RL on steroids. My belief is people can learn a lot about human nature and behavior while in SL. I’ve certainly increased my collection of lame pickup lines.
One can experiment with gender, preference, and race. Diversity and tolerance are not strongly adopted values in SL. So, people have an opportunity to learn about human nature and if they are self aware, their own nature.
What are some trends you think we are seeing in SL right now, just beginning to develop?
People are spending more ‘SL time’ outside of SL. I think that trend will continue. The peak concurrent logins (63k) continues to decline. I’m unsure of minimum number of concurrent logins because system crashes each month throws off the numbers. But, the minimum login for the day (31k) seems to be very slowly declining.
The number of new people to long-timers seems to be changing. That may be a perceptual thing on my part and the paces I visit. But, I run into more new people.
Viewer development has changed since I started in 2008. There are more viewers being developed but fewer new features and new features seem to be taking longer to get out.
Mesh is being adopted in more places. A materials system is in development, which will let us place 3D textures on surfaces and mesh clothes.
The Lab’s open communication with users is an odd mix better and worse. The new generation of Lindens seems to mostly avoid user groups… and users in general.
What are some trends you would like to see begin/develop in the years to come?
The Lab is spending some time trying to figure out how to improve player retention. I would like to see more effort going into player retention. The Lab would need a good psychologist familiar with computer games and the studies that have been done. Player retention is somewhat the holy grail of game development.
How do you see the SL target demographics, past and present? (if you could guess)...and how would that compare with your own sense of how it could/should be?
I don’t think I can give you any idea of what the SL demographics are or should be… MOUL was a community of older people and parents playing Myst with their children (it is a non-violent game). SL seems to be a mix of a much broader age group and more diverse interests.
If you could 'bend the ear' of LL decision-makers and shout 3 top concerns/proposals to them, what would those 3 be?
My first would be about communications. In some departments/groups the Lindens do very well communicating with users. In others they are horrible. However, this is not a one way street. The SL users share responsibility too.
Communication is not a skill everyone has. Technical professionals in fields dealing with people tend to learn communications skills, think healthcare. The professionals that deal with ‘things’ don’t develop the skills, it isn’t required. Computer programmers and civil engineers are in this latter group. Some have a natural ability. Others need training and education to understand how to facilitate groups and confrontational situations. How well they do, affects the company image.
My second would be the ‘Money Issues.’ I mean the Market Place and Rights Protection. I am not sure how the Lab goes about deciding on philosophy… these are messy issues. But, money is what all this is about (think of money as a measure of blood and sweat – effort put in). Failing to handle them and lead with a clear stated philosophy guiding employees and users has been a disaster. The idea that search is to be ‘fair’ is socially and technically naive. At best it can be honest and unbiased.
The Market Place is horribly broken (from a merchant’s viewpoint) and no one has any idea what or how much is being done to fix it. Even worse no one knows if there is even a Linden that knows what to do.
Because the Market Place affects people’s income, pocketbook, it is an emotionally intense subject. Ignoring it seems to have aggravated the situation, which goes back to communication.
My third point would be about handling the user community. The Lab has many levels of users and the Lab must deal with all of them. Understanding there are segments of the user base with unique traits and dealing with them in unique ways is important.
Trying to be ‘fair’ and treat everyone the same doesn’t work. That is an idea of bureaucratic government offices to minimize their work load. Private businesses use live customer service people that can adapt to whatever situation is presented. Those people are provided flexible but limited authority and trained to provide unique responses to each individual.
While the Lab has limited resources, they only need to cater to a few categories of users; new users, long term users, adult users, educators, region owners, and creative types. The creative types I see primarily as artists and artist-merchants. But, the artist-merchants are an intense group and should likely have special handling.
They don’t have to have one person for each group of users. But, they do need to have someone that can be aware of the groups and their needs and desires.
There is simply no reason to treat everyone the same. I encourage the Lab to give up that idea. We see it working in the Changed JIRA. People that help the Lab’s technical people get special treatment. Because of the help I provide the community I was granted ‘read’ privileges in the JIRA. I have no doubt they that would be removed if I abused the privilege. Those that are abusive get special treatment too. That difference in response is practical human response.
It is smart to bias the treatment of customers according to the benefit they provide the Lab. It’s a business. I am not at all sure all of the Lab’s staff is aware of that.
What part do you see 'Adult SL' playing in SL and virtual worlds in general?
And then there is SEX. Sex sells better than anything else. Sex sells everything. But, the Lab has yet to figure out how to sell a sexy Second Life. If one creates a sexy fun thing to do, people are there.
There is a significant difference between selling sex and selling sexy. The Lab doesn’t want to sell sex and I think I understand that. But, selling SL as sexy, or any virtual world, is something I think will promote SL better than anything else… marketing data on that point hasn’t changed since people realized what was happening.
One does have to consider what people think is sexy. For horny people it is sexy people. For a merchant it can be a hot way to sell their service or product. For an artist it can be a glamorous venue for an art show. For some it is an adult environment where they can be free to experiment with their sexuality.
For many sexy is cheap, easy learning. Look at the number of DAZ and Makehuman like products on the market. There is no more fun or easy way to learn 3D modeling than SL. The Lab does little to sell that idea, which may be a good thing as it leaves the field open for users.
Sex and sexy possibilities are endless.
How would you characterize the history of LL's handling of 'Adult SL' to date?
I’ve only paid attention to the Adult Community for the last couple of years. I was hanging out on nude beaches, flirting, working as a dancer, and figuring out how sex worked in SL shortly after I came to Second Life. I was surprised to find friends of mine from MOUL working as escorts. Wow! Now that is a transition from a PG game. A whole new aspect of many came out in SL. Some had surprising preferences.
Whatever, in 2011 I started to look into what the Adult Content User Group (ACUG) was doing. I got there shortly after Viale Linden took over to ‘facilitate’ the group. I recognized that something was wrong. Vaile did everything wrong that could be done wrong. Whether that was due to his thinking or instructions he had been given, I doubt we will ever know. Whatever the case, his name is forever tagged to the demise of ACUG.
I think the best description of the Lab’s attitude toward the adult side of SL is: eeeewww!
How do you (ideally) define 'Adult SL' ?
Simple: it is the same as real life, anything ‘adult’ that is for those past puberty. It’s more of a maturity than sexual thing. In RL we tend to think of ‘adult’ as sexually oriented. I think the label in SL has caused problems by providing a connotation that Adult Content must be sexual. Things would probably have going better for the Lab if they had not designated part of SL as Adult. If they had reversed it and only designated part of SL for kids and left SL as adult by default, like life, there would probably have been fewer problems… or not.
If they had designated things as we do in RL things might have created a different perception of SL. If they had used; ‘kid safe’ for the teen grid, ‘teen’ in place of PG, ‘PG’ in place of mature and ‘mature’ in place of adult then things might have worked better. We’ll never know.
Our sports are designated for kids and adults and that is not sexual. Our entertainment is designated for kids and adults. That is a combination of violence and sexuality. Those distinctions are less sexual than they are about maturity and the ability to comprehend.
So, ideally… everything is ‘Adult SL’ that is not for kids.
How do you see your own contributions to SL and what do you envision as some of your future contributions?
For now my main contribution is knowledge and information. Mostly about what is going on in SL’s technical advancement.
Things like my Troubleshoot Your #SL Connection article and Second Life Mesh Clothes Blender 2.6 Setup 2012 Tutorial article are contributions to the ‘knowledge’ about SL. I am working on another tutorial for those making mesh clothes. I’ve run into a problem that no one seems to have a solution for, even in the retail tools. I am working my way to a free solution.
My mostly daily blog posts at Nalates Things & Stuff help keep people informed.
As to the future, I don’t know. Information is important. I find that people with good information make good decisions. Of course there are idiots that no matter how much information they are given they will make dumb decisions.
People that lack information seem to lack understanding and that seems to make them intolerant. The more ignorant they are then the more they tend to be rude, intolerant, and close minded. Of course some are just intolerant, bigoted, and too self centered to be bothered with facts and information. They can’t be helped. I see this most profusely in the political arena and the bad traits are not exclusive to any one party. SL has its share of these people too. In SL I divide people into civil or hater.
I think virtual worlds and 3D everything are where technology is going. I don’t know that SL’s future is secure. I do know that I will be working in 3D for the foreseeable future. I plan to be selling more clothes or clothes building kits in the future.
Thanks to Nalates for the time and patience in this interview! - Gina