Monday, October 25, 2021

Survivors of Suicide Closes, Impact Mental Health Opens

 By Bixyl Shuftan

On Saturday October 23, the Survivors of Suicide, probably the best known depression support group in Second Life, had it's last meeting. It was a week before in which it's leader and owner of it's sim, Sebastien Bouevier, announced that the group would soon be closing. Sebastien cited a need to focus more on real-life and no one else stepping forward whom could run the group for long.

The meeting started at 3 SL time. The various people there thanked the others for helping them through difficult times, some telling detailed stories. There were also a few lines in group chat. Among them, "... we are just starting a new chapter, not closing the book."

Sebastien himself would only speak near the end:

"Hearing all your stories tonight has been very touching, and has really hit home just how much of a difference SOS has made to so many lives over the past 13 years. I hope you will continue to be there for each other and keep the spirit of SOS going for years to come. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be a part of this. I love you all."

The meeting ended at 4PM, and people began to slowly leave, some TPing out, others getting one last look at the island. Shortly after came the dreading DING! and screen shaking signaling a sim restart countdown. But logging back on, I was in a different sim, and was unable to teleport back to the Survivors of Suicide sim. It was closed. I was also no longer able to check the group for any chat messages. 

While the Survivors of Suicide group may be gone, another was started to take it's place: Impact Mental Health by Kitten Stratten-Jaks (Kitten Meridoc). 

We know this is a sad time for many of you, but we'd like to extend a heartfelt welcome to all of our new members.

This week, the focus is on SOS and saying goodbye and so Impact may be quieter than we expect it to become. We're also working on populating the group, so please have a little patience.

In the mean time, keep an eye out for notices about our opening day! We're really excited to show you what we're putting together for you guys.

Welcome to Impact our new warriors.

The group soon had a location, on Urban Dream, and an opening event was planned for Sunday October 24.

Join us for the Grand Opening of Impact Mental Health; a Peer Support group right here in Second Life. Offering Information, Mentoring, Group Chat and Support Meetings throughout the week. Come visit our brand new location. The Impact Community are here and we're listening.

The event, hosted by Sherridon Mercury,  was scheduled to start at Noon SL time. But people were arriving early. Dropping by, I was complemented about my appearance. She confirmed about the group being created in response to the closing of the SoS, "we wanted to give the people some support and some familiarity after that news." 

We were next to the main building. Besides Kitten and Sherridon, there were six mentors as group staff. Sherridon was greeting people, "Hello and welcome to all those just joining us, we will be kicking off our celebrations with a liver performance from Ugly Bill at the top of the hour! In the meantime, feel free to get acquainted with our new land and new organization!."

Eventually, Noon approached, and people were invited to head to the dance area in a nearby part of the sim. "Ugly Bill" soon got on stage and started performing while the audience danced away.  "We're so thrilled to have you here at the grand opening of Impact Mental Health!" people were told as they arrived.

Besides that many were at the party, the Impact group chat also saw a lot of chatter that day. Some would talk about their real-life issues. Others would say they were happy and relieved there was still a mental health support group for them.

There are also other mental health support groups around in Second Life. And someone messaged me in IM that she was starting still another. So for those who know where to look, mental health support groups are still around.

It's been spoken before that the only thing that's constant is that there is change. And in a virtual world, even more so. A valued mental health support group has closed after thirteen years. But in it's place, a new one has arisen, one that has had a good start.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, October 22, 2021

A Look At The Sci-Fi Expo

By Bixyl Shuftan

From Friday October 8 to Sunday October 17, 2021, the Sci-Fi Expo took place in Second Life. Subtitled "A Journey to New Eden," it was a celebration of science-fiction (and to some extent fantasy), it also had the purpose of raising money for Making Strides for Breast Cancer. 

The event took place in six temporary sims near the permanent American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society 2 sims. They were Aperture, New Eden, Arecibo II, The Remnant, Genisis Spire, and The Old Dam. For those not familiar with the "Portal" game, "Aperture" was the name of the corporation. The "IPink ICan" sim was host to the "I Pink I Can" event that took place at the same time. 

One minor complaint I've heard from a few Relayers is that some of the Sci-Fi Cons and Expos seemed a little plain in how they were made, compared to events like the Relay Weekend. 

This wasn't so much the case this time. The sims appeared to me to be much better done.

Lately, my schedule can be occasionally unpredictable. While I wasn't at the opening day of the Expo, I was able to be at several events the following day on Saturday the 9th. From 10 AM to Noon SL time at the main stage in Aperture, "DJ Kayla and the Roos," members of the Roos team of the Relay for Life, were playing onstage to a crowd.


 "Who you gonna call?" The Roos in this case.

From 1 to 4PM, there were the "Combat Bumper Boats ... Grab your friends and your water wings for some fun on the high seas!  Rez a bumper boat and challenge your friends to see who will remain dry, and who will be all wet behind the ears.  This is definitely a fun time you don't want to miss!"

The rules were fairly straightforward. Click on the boat rezzer, sit on the boat, select a color, then go at it in a free-for-all with no score. 

The boats when rezzed all started with 100 points of health. When they hit the shore, they lost a little health. When hitting another boat, they would lose more health. If there was a method to make another boat lose more health than you, I never did find it. Occasionally, there was a cartoon "smash," "zoing," "boing," or some other animated effect floating in the air.

There was also a water gun one could squirt at other players. I wasn't sure if it did a tiny amount of damage, or none at all. But we were using them anyway.

From 6 to 9PM that night was the superhero-themed "Bat Dance." As the narrator put it, "Don your super suit and enter the depths of the Batcave for a party that will even put a smile on the face of the Dark Knight!  It's a super night of dancing that will be absolutely heroic!" 

We ended up having a, super, time.

 On Tuesday at 8PM, it was DJ Mattie's turn on stage.

 "It's time for another event at the Sci-Fi Expo Main Stage. Performing at 8PM is the talented DJ Mattie. 'Shi was raised on country music, blues, bluegrass and classic rock. Shi still has a great passion for these genres, country being hir favorite. Music has always gotten hir though some of the worst times in hir life, and now shi love to share some of these wonderful tunes with folks here on SL' Come on over as we kick cancer's behind and have a fun time doing it."

 Someone passed around a few hula hoops. 

And there was quite a diverse audience.

I also decided to give the Sci-fi Expo quest a try. 

The plot of the quest involves Earth trying to broker a peace between the various factions of the colony world of New Eden. But the global communication network is down, and one of the research assistants from Earth has gone missing with a data crystal with information the delegation needs to get things going.

But as anyone whom has done these kinds of quests before, it wasn't that easy. Even when you find the research assistant, your quest has only just begun. She plugged an ancient computer into the communication network. 

In trying to find out what's going on, you discover a powerful artificial intelligence in the alien computer, which doesn't necessarily put Humanity's interests as priority.

You also run into the Greslok, the planet's native race.

 Much of their home area is littered with starship debris, which the human government has promise to clean up, eventually.

As it turns out, the Greslok live simply now, but long ago were more advanced and created a powerful artificial intelligence they ended up going to war with one another resulting in the destruction of technology, including the AI.

With the AI now seemingly reactivated, you go to turn off the main source of it's power.

You don't succeed in turning off the power. But you do get the artificial superinteligence to think about it's situation. In the end, a truce is agreed to, and it agrees to share some teraforming technology.

That's pretty much what I saw at the Sci-fi Expo. I did hear on Discord that on the day before it's close, it had raised more than 1,750,000 Lindens, or $7000 US dollars.

 There was more of course. Wildstar Beaumont would take a number of pictures and post them on his Flickr. And one can check out more on the blog (here). 

Bixyl Shuftan