Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Little Brony

It takes a lot to impress me these days. After being on the grid for almost five years, I've pretty much seen it all.

Enter Bronyland, started by, of all things, 4chan?

That's right, started by a 4chan meme on /co/, the "My Little Pony" incarnation currently all over Youtube and TV is now in SL as the "Bronies", a beerslam of "bro" and "pony." Joining the group and rooting through the notices gets you a easily-edited Brony avatar (the hud is unusual, you color the spaces on the hud itself, click sync, and it does the work for you, rather than you editing each individual prim), and searching a bit more you'll come across landmarks to the Bronyland sim.

Curious, I teleported over. And holy HELL, the place is bustling and packed. It's packed with cuteness and sweetness, the perfect spot to unwind when you're in a cute-sy, kiddy mood. I tracked down Twinkle Swizzle. the Lady Of The House, and we got together for a little interview.

Xymbers Slade: Ok, my first question is, how long has this place been up? This has to be a "new meme", and yet the sim looks -really- fleshed out right now.

Twinkie Swizzle: We've been here in this sim for about a week. It was formerly My Little Project sim, but decided it would be better served as a home for the Bronies. We currently have a ticket in to change the name to "Bronyville."

Xymbers Slade: It's certainly become that home. It looks like it sprang up overnight. How did this whole thing get off the ground? I saw a pony in a sandbox a few weeks or so ago and thought "Ok, THAT'S cute." Just a random idea cribbed from 4chan?

Twinkie Swizzle: The week before we moved here, Curly had a little house on a 1024 lot in "Sim." It was interesting packing 30+ people in there. We needed to spread out! Hee-hee.

Xymbers Slade: Yay lag then. I just came from the Korea sims and they're laggy a bit.

Twinkie Swizzle: It all started in late 2010 when Lauren Faust released the Generation 4 “My Little Pony” on The Hub. Because of the super cute art style and fun personalities of the characters, it went viral. 4chan has a weakness for cute.

Xymbers Slade: How many members does the group have right now? Worried that things will go out of control if there's too many to keep track of?

Twinkie Swizzle: We currently have 1681 members, and it's growing by about 100 members a day.

Xymbers Slade: I think the Mentors had something like 2500 before Linden Lab told them to screw off ... heh. Since this whole thing started on 4chan, do you get hit with a lot of griefers who don't like the idea of "cute and sweet"? Most people don't equate 4chan as having a weakness for cute.

Twinkie Swizzle: We went from 30 members to almost 1700 in about two weeks. I'm totally blown away by how many fans are actually here in Second Life. Curly's pony avatar really helped bring everybody together.

Xymbers Slade: It made me want to build a little again or at least edit, hence what I have so far. (smile)

Twinkie Swizzle: We do deal with the occasional griefer. However we have a mod team made up individuals with a lot of previous Second Life moderation experience in other communities such as Furnation and Luskwood. We are not a furry community per-say, however quite a few of our members are furry.

Xymbers Slade: What do you have planned for the sim? Will it become a place to roleplay? Seeing it's based off a popular show and all.

Twinkie Swizzle: We want to give the fans of “Friendship is Magic” a really fun experience here, if roleplay is what they want, I'm sure we can provide some venue for that.

Xymbers Slade: What's the biggest thing that has surprised you since this first got off the ground?

Twinkie Swizzle: Besides the astonishing growth rate, just how amazing the members are. When you think of chan culture, you think of LOLcats, goatse, and internet memes. The Bronies hold friendship and caring for each other in high regard, so it really defeats the stereotype.

Xymbers Slade: This seems to be a big thing on TV right now. Are you worried about repercussions from the creators of the cartoon if they get wind of this, especially if the avs start selling?

Twinkie Swizzle: We see this sim as more of generic interpretation of cute vectorized ponies and their home, rather than a direct copy of Hasbro's intellectual property. We would never sell anything actually branded as "My Little Pony."

Xymbers Slade: Hence the Brony label? (smile)

Twinkie Swizzle: Exactly!

Xymbers Slade: Do you think this is just a fad whose star will fall to earth just as quickly as quickly as it rose? All this work only to go poof if interest dries up?

Twinkie Swizzle: TV shows come and go, but the messages they carry last forever. With Season 2 in the pipeline, we don't really see things slowing down right away. Of course everything has an expiration date, but we're going to have fun while it lasts!

Xymbers Slade: Well, that pretty much covers the questions I had in mind.

Twinkie Swizzle: Sounds fantastic! Thanks for stopping by Xymbers. Brohoof!

This is most definitely a place to visit. Join the Bronies group for access to the avatar and a LOT of modifications (just go through the notices, there are a lot of attachments and things to be had). This is SL Done Right at its finest, not bean counters and lawyers afraid of the aforementioned chan culture.

As of this being typed, all the fun is on the sim called "The Joint", but as Miss Swizzle said, they're getting the sim name changed soon to Bronyville. Go visit, you'll be glad you did.

Xymbers Slade.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trek Sim Holds RFL “Jail and Bail”

While the Passionate Redheads were doing their “Bid Me Human,” a Trek group was doing their own Relay for Life fundraiser, a “Jail and Bail” by the UFS in the Starfleet Sector 002 sim.

Commander Kermie Mistwallow is in the brig for the 2nd of 3 days on charges of aiding and abetting a known fundraising effort! As part of his punishment for his crime, he may have to shave his head - but only you will be able to decide that through your donations!

This jail and bail ends tomorrow, Sunday, May 22. At the end of that time, Commander Mistwallow will be freed and the punishment extracted upon his hair that you have determined! He's already going to go bald for a week. Will it be longer?

Deciding to take a look, I beamed over, and the two cells I saw were empty, with what looked like a cardboard cutout and a mannequin in their places. Also, the walls were missing, so I thought my computer was being slow and taking forever to rezz. One of the crewwomen, Zania Turner, was there. When I pointed out what I couldn’t see, she clicked on something, and the wall plus a number of details appeared, “We use a lot of rezzers to save on prims.”

I talked to Zania a little about the event, “Our jailbirds have left holograms up, as they are currently sleeping ... If we can get L$100,000 in donations, these guys will go bald, along with most of our Engineers.” As of late Saturday afternoon, they had raised 37,000 Lindens, “He'll be freed after 3 days, and the punishment will be extracted on his hair dependent on what people donated. And the CO of an outpost, and most Engineers, will also follow suit and honor that same hair punishment.”

Of how the idea came about, “I've heard of other jail and bail events that were pretty successful. We were trying to consider what we could do for our fundraisers for this year. When I saw something on TV for the St. Baldrick's Society, I figured that was the perfect ‘ marriage ‘ for an event. St. Baldrick's is a group where the members shave their heads and go bald to stand in solidarity with kids that have cancer. My brother had cancer as a kid, so this was something that kind of hit home in a sense.”

Zania expressed doubts that they could do another fundraiser like this anytime soon, “This is really the last fundraiser we can have as the group that we're in is in dire financial trouble. If we don't raise money for our group, we're going to lose a region. That's why we need to make this one for Relay For Life big. ... We just aren't getting the condo rentals that we need to support us having both regions. We may lose one, if not both, if we don't increase our donations or condo rentals very soon.”

Zania told me a little about the UFS, “We started out as one region, and actually were part of another group until differences in leadership resulted in a split. Since that time, we have forged our own future within the Star Trek universe and acquired a second region. Our RP is based around the Delta Quadrant, where we have picked up the adventures following the return of Voyager to the Alpha Quadrant. As an organization, we are similar to SFI or The Federation (IFT) in that we provide memberships to those who are interested - for free - and they can experience Star Trek in any way they choose. We provide ships and stations for people to be stationed at, and even have a fully functioning Academy that provides almost 200 classes for cadets and members to take.”

At one point, we were joined by another of the group, Simmyish Resident. Zania explained, “Simmy here is in the process of changing, but he's one of our members. He's assigned as the Chief Security Officer for the Pathfinder Research Facility, which is where we're standing (in the Security deck).” They told of some of the fun they had with the jailbirds, “teasing in general, like putting tribbles in Kermie's cell (grins).” Simmyish mentioned, “I've kind of not being able to access the locks for them.” He also mentioned that crew members were showing Kermie samples of his favorite beverage and joyfully drinking it in front of him.

To get to the cells, beam over to Starfleet Sector 002 at (189, 102, 71). For those coming across this article a little late, the sim is a good place to visit for Star Trek fans.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mystery Celebrates Fifth Anniversary with Week of Events

For week after week, month after month, Mystery has been one of the most active romantic-themed sims in Second Life. Every week, it’s Queen of Hearts riverboat club has held events on most days, sometimes two or more a day, both DJs and live singers. And the rest of the sim offers much to see from it’s mountain and waterfall, to it’s balloon ride, to it’s village shops and mystery manor, and much more.

On Sunday May 15th, following a few days of preparation, Mystery launched it’s Fifth Anniversary Celebration. A week of special events and the unveiling of new attractions. Sunday’s event began at 12 Noon SL time, with the ever-popular Debi Latte appearing on the deck of the Queen of Hearts to a large crowd both on the deck and on the dock below.

Also there were Mystery’s owner Tygeria Mirabeau, dressed in a revealing white gown, and manager Amythe Moonlight, in a classy black dress. Several other staff were also there. They helped liven things up with a few jokes and comments. So did Tygeria with a few playful flirty remarks to Debi, which occasionally interrupted her songs with a few giggles. Debi sung a number of songs, including the one adopted by the club as it’s signature: “Queen of Hearts.”

Playin with the Queen of Hearts,
you know it ain’t really smart.

The joker ain’t the only fool,
who’ll do anything for you.

In the middle of the songs, the fireworks went off, and the dark skies over the club were showered with colorful lights. Late in the hour, someone appeared on the ship whom hadn’t been seen in a while: Jazzz Hermit. He was greeted with smiles and a warm welcome.

Debi was scheduled to play until 1 PM, but played one more song. She then turned the stream over to Jazzz. Some of the crowd left, but a number stayed to hear Jazz sing songs such as "What Have I Got to Do to Make You Love Me?" He wondered if he was a little rusty, not having sung in a while, but everyone enjoyed the music. Peoples' attention were also drawn to a little bear magician, "The Great Teddini," behind the singer.

Following Jazzz, those attending were invited to see the sights of the sim. This included some new builds, notably the roller coaster a little distance east of the riverboat. And many did.

There would be more events as the week went on, DJs, live music, and some 7Seas fishing contests. But Sunday was a wonderful start to the anniversary celebrations.

Playin with the Queen of Hearts,
Dancin on the Queen of Hearts,
Five years of the Queen of Hearts,

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Fight Like a Girl"

While I was growing up in the 1980’s, wrestling was fairly popular. My friends loved to watch the shows of “good guy” characters like Hulk Hogan beat up the bad boys. And when the bad guy was from Russia or Iran, the emotions could get pretty raw. There were wrestling video games, and even a cartoon show.

But later on, the wrestling scene changed. To paraphrase Jesse “The Body” Ventura, it looked like everyone was a bad guy and the heroes had left the scene. And so most of my friends didn’t watch or talk about wrestling so much any more. And when they did, it was often about it’s glory days, either of the 1980’s or 50’s.

It was probably inevitable that those whom looked fondly at those days would seek to bring wrestling into Second Life.

Not long ago, Sam Nightfire invited me to a wrestling match at the UWS Metrodome on the Virtual World Network sim. I was a little late, but there was still a special fight left, “glad you made it. This match is the ladies championship.” Now males have a reputation of loving to see women fight. But my reaction was a little different, “Um, why am I thinking this may be the most vicious, merciless of the fights?”

Some guys think women can’t fight. That all they can do is slap each other and tear at each others clothes. It’s my experience that this is far from the case. What women lack in strength, they often make up for it in tenacity and strategy, hitting where it hurts, and doing it again, and again, and again. A few can be quite brutal and ruthless at it. Years ago, I read about one tabloid reporter whom volunteered to go at it with a lady wrestler of a semi-professional ring, and the “bad girl” quickly had him begging for mercy.

The match was between Roxy Rockett and Gwenivere Swansong. Because of the number of people around, I didn’t see anything at first. Then one, and the other lady wrestler appeared through the rezz, as well as the guy referee. The action appeared slow at first, though the chat told it was anything but. “YOUR TURN GWEN!” ::catches her breath, closing her eyes from the pain:: “You a**hole!” Following a loud thump, “Hee-hee! You reaaally think it was going to be that easy? Wow, you are really stupid.” “Oh, I’m SO hurt!”

The audience, mainly men but lots of women among them, was not always better. “They fight like girls.” “Go Gwenny!” “Come on Rose! Get up... you can do this!” “You gonna go kick some *ss!!” “Let’s go Gwen get up and beat her *ss.” “Az get in there show ‘um how it's done!”

Before long, the animations weren’t so much affected by lag, and the actions became clearer, the grapples, the kicks, the body slams. I winced, imagining what damage and scars girls in real life would be getting. The two tigresses continued the carnage, one getting a brief hold on the other only to be knocked away. Finally Gwenivere pulled a “stunner” on Roxy, “And THAT, is how you get ROWDY!!” She then pinned her opponent, and the referee counter, “One! ... Two! ... Three!” Roxy then dislodged her, but it was too late. She cursed as the bell rang it’s victory chimes, and the audience roared, “HEEELLLLL YEAAAAHHHHH!!!” Gwenivere was awarded the championship belt, and raised her trophy up in the air proudly.

Not long afterwards, I had the chance to interview the athlete.

Bixyl Shuftan: Congrats on the win Gwenivere

Gwenivere Swansong: Thank you Bixyl.

Bixyl Shuftan: Interesting choice of a wrestling name, "Gwenivere"

Gwenivere Swansong: ::laughs:: Well, actually I began as a fantasy roleplayer. Plus it's a stem from my real-life name Gwendolyn.

Bixyl Shuftan: Oh really, that's interesting.

Gwenivere Swansong: I found out that there was virtual wrestling through my friend, and later mentor, Curt Bombastic.

Bixyl Shuftan: I wasn't aware of official women's matches until tonight. Is this something new?

(nearby wrestler): There's been women's matches about as long as there's been SL wrestling.

Gwenivere Swansong: Nope, actually there are women's divisions in most feds. even one designated to only women. Though, UWS is one of the first to make their women's division a priority and not something placed on the back burner.

Bixyl Shuftan: So how long did it take to become one of the wrestlers here?

Gwenivere Swansong: Not very long at all. Because of my history with roleplay, it was easy for me to understand the meter system and emoting. I was told I took to it pretty naturally, though everyone's training period depends on their own levels and time that they can dedicate to it. I spent , I think, about three weeks training. But still I learn new things everyday.

Bixyl Shuftan: Sounds good ... When people imagine guys watching women scrap, they usually think of guys drooling, staring off into space. What has your impression been?

(several laughs and boos from nearby bystanders)

Gwenivere Swansong: ::chuckles:: We all have fun here, and the occasional good spirited flirt has been exchanged. But when it comes down to the true grit of it, the women of the UWS are respected as equal wrestlers; not just pieces of tush in revealing clothing. We are allowed to be who we are and enjoy what we do without harassment, but on an equal playing field.

Bixyl Shuftan: Well put. ... Tonight's match seemed pretty tough. How long do most matches last?

Gwenivere Swansong: Our matches can last anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes, well, lag permitting. Though most matches do tend to run over, but it's mainly because we end up really enjoying ourselves out there and revel in the fan's reaction and the ambiance that both they, the commentators and the wrestlers create.

(bystander): Gwenny! Congrats on winning the title, Champ!

Gwenivere Swansong: ~ <3 ~ Thanks Drew!

Bixyl Shuftan: Sounds like quite a few memorable moments happen.

Gwenivere Swansong: Yes, I can honestly say that most of my most memorable moments have been in the arena. Whether it's training, performing or just goofing around with my fellow wrestlers. We love what we do here. I really feel like UWS is my home and I have a great time here. The wrestlers, they are my family.

Bixyl Shuftan: Goofing with the other wrestlers ... anything especially hilarious happen?

Gwenivere Swansong: ::laughs:: TONS! We have such a lively bunch of wrestlers here, it's hard not to have a good time. All the way from Derrick zane's many voices, broly's antics , the list just goes on. We are, well, a colorful group of people, to say the least. Falling out of the ring because someone accidently clicked the ropes, word goof ups, just endless.

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckles) In your opinion, what was the one most worthy for a sports blooper TV show?

Gwenivere Swansong: Aah, that's like trying to pick your favorite song. Hmm.. it would probably have to be a current one between me and Rose. We might be rivals but we also have our moments. We were in the ring a few weeks ago when we were practicing for the one on one match. Well, it was one of the times where the rope wasn't clicked and rose ended up ... eh ... le’ts just say, that for the position we landed in, ... well (blush) you might have seen on “Skinamax.”

But, as I said, that is just the current one that comes to mind. Between lag and hud malfunctions, there is always room for strange things to happen.

Bixyl Shuftan: So now that you've won, anything to say to your fans whom might be reading this?

Gwenivere Swansong: Only that through hard work, dedication and a positive outlook, anything can happen. People focus so much on negativity or think they have to be a jerk or bad*ss to make waves. I want my fans to know that class isn't dead. There is a saying: nice guys always finish last. Not the case... this time. The nice girl finished first.

(bystanding wrestler): Nice speech.

Gwenivere Swansong: Hehe!

Bixyl Shuftan: Thank you for your time, Gwenivere.

Gwenivere Swansong: Thank you for yours as well. I hope to see you coming out again to see us.

With Sammantha hanging around there, I’ll probably be back again soon. But still, women’s wrestling is not what I would call a spectator sport for the timid. “Catfight” my tail. More like pantherfight or lionfight.

Bixyl Shuftan