Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Story Waiting to Happen

Toshigi Japan Cibercity

... Toshigi Japan Cybercity (click here for full text).

This post is part of a series of monthly articles for the Virtual Writers about sims in Second Life that could be the source of inspiration for writers. My goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. Enjoy!

Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite different, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided. 


Toshigi Japan Cybercity

Amidst the growing hustle and bustle that precedes the NaNoWriMo and a wrist stress injury (take breaks when you’re writing, seriously… especially if you’re doing the NaNo), I have decided to escape the imminent Halloween craze and take you to Toshigi Japan Cibercity.

Toshigi, owned by Neos Klaar, is an urban environment with a strong sci-fi feel to it.

I have been to this sim several times and I do believe some Roleplaying (RP) is taking place, although I have not seen that explicitly stated anywhere. For that reason, just in case, I ask you to visit this location taking into consideration that residents are possibly RP’ing.

So far, to find ideas for our stories, we have visited whole sims, we have combined several specific areas of a simand we have visited one single plot.

Considering that time is ticking away, that I’m running helplessly late with this month’s column and that many of us do have some heavy outlining to do before November catches us off-guard, this time we will consider one single area within a sim. I’ll take you with me to Toshigi’s cybercafé.

As I walk in, it’s impossible to miss the police “Keep Out” line. It blocks the way into an empty back lot. I perk up to see if I can spot anything unusual, but I notice nothing from here. So, I decide to go inside the cybercafé and check through the side windows. I still see nothing out of the ordinary.

While sitting at a computer, I can’t seem to shake off the feeling that this cybercafé is eerily empty for a reason. What happened here?

I decide to look around. Perhaps our story will be about spies, cyber spies. Or perhaps it’ll be about hackers who sit in silence, side by side, and create irreparable havoc throughout the world from this seemingly placid place. Maybe our hackers get entangled in a messy situation and are forced to become spies for a government, for a corporation or even for a crime organization.

Three computer screens flicker with frantic lines of code on the left side of the room. A few pots with plants contrast sharply with the Spartan display of chair, screen, keyboard, mouse, a balanced repetition linked by two single cables that cross the room.

The ominous bluish tone engulfs me and the immersive sounds of the city promise a fragile sense of anonymity which might be the reason for the growing boldness of our hackers.

On the counter, the open tray of the register reveals an interesting amount of money, perhaps too big an amount for this type of venue. Where does the money come from? What is it used for?

Next to the register, a line of books draws my attention. These could be a few stories by themselves. It’s a curious mix and match of titles that sparkles a strong suspicion in me. Tales of Cupid, North American Indians, Pictorial Life of Washington, Poems by W.B. Yeats, Wheels of Change and Harry Potter.

Now, why would a cybercafé have paper copies of such a diverse array of books? Nostalgia? I seriously doubt it. Maybe the owner of the cybercafé hates computers. Well, that’s an interesting possibility. Or perhaps these books are used for some old-school cryptography.

It’s intriguing (for the sake of our story) that there are several copies of each book on the shelves. Why would more than one copy be needed? Does each hacker have his own specific copy to work with? Have the books been modified somehow? Are they only the covers?!

Another intriguing detail is the fact that there is a newspaper vendor at the cybercafé. It might be just a vendor, yet this apparently innocent anachronism could be, in reality, a mailbox. Yes, let’s make it the place where payments are dropped. It’s also the place where any exchanges that need to be made under the radar are made, especially when the hackers realize they are being hacked themselves!

Suddenly, I’m very hungry. Across the street, the pink neon sign of Clair de Lune is tempting. I can almost smell fresh croissants from here.

I don’t think I’ll come across any hackers there. Hackers aren’t into pink too much! Although… That red sports car parked in front of the coffee shop is slightly suspicious. The place looks like a family business run by a sweet granny. What is that luxury car doing there? Perhaps the granny is not that sweet. Perhaps she has something to do with the comings and goings at the cybercafé.

I peek through the windows of the cybercafé. I promised I’d take you with me to one single area in Toshigi, but I’m already looking beyond it, a storm of ideas threatening to make me break my promise. It’s a writer’s thing. We are hopeless, aren’t we? It reminds me of that saying. Curiosity killed the cat.

And with this soothing thought in mind, that our lives might be in constant danger, I wrap up this month’s column. We’ll come back to this sim looking for more stories soon, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Toshigi Japan Cybercity!

One final note, this column will be put on hold in November. I’ll attempt, once more, to complete the NaNoWriMo and that will be quite a task. To write a novel at least 50.000 words long in 30 days is the goal. Crazy? Yes, absolutely. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure. Virtual Reality is an extraordinary resource for writers. Its immersive features provide an endless amount of ideas for our stories.

Good luck to any NaNoWriMos out there and see you again in December!



Disclaimer: Virtual Writers Inc. and I are in no way affiliated with any shop located in the sims featured in this column nor do we intend to promote them.

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