Tuesday, July 7, 2015

SL12B - So, What’s the Problem?

SL12B's exhibit by Lesly Elizabeth Rotaru (leslystarbridge)

I am not a Second Life blogger, nor do I intend to be.
This post is the result of my observations and opinions.

A few years ago, when Linden Lab decided to drop the organization of Second Life (SL) Birthdays (SLBs), like many others, I felt the responsibility to do something about it. And I did. I (along with London Junkers, my SL accomplice) took part that year.

I had a strong admiration for the herculean effort of both organizers and volunteers who stepped up and took matters in their (our!) own hands. The SLB celebrations didn’t die. As a matter of fact, it seemed that there was a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

Well, things happened and I was faced with a few issues I shared with the organizers back then. Then, I saw those I respected leave the organization team, for whichever reason (I’m not implying anything one way or the other) and I never applied again. Nevertheless, I continued to visit the sims, even if only teleporting in to see specific areas.

This year, I decided to visit every single exhibit in the SL12B.

SL12B's exhibit by Lesly Elizabeth Rotaru (leslystarbridge)

When It Comes to the Crunch

The Hunt

I love hunts, so I thought a good way to start would be to do the SL12B hunt. It’s a good idea to host a hunt and I believe it’s not the first time one happens on SLBs grounds. So, I was hopeful to find something interesting.

Problem 1: The maps. I’m bad with maps and that’s why I delegated the task of navigating through the different parcels to London. However, even I realized that the option of placing a star on top of each parcel offering a gift was a tricky one, not to mention the rather chaotic placement of the sims’ names on each bit of the map.

Problem 2: Identifying the gifts. Some were designated SL12B[something]. Others had been completely renamed. Some were inside folders. Others went to the Objects system file. Suggestion – name the gifts according to the sim where they are located, for instance SL12B Sp[ectacular] #1. It would be easier to know whether we had missed a gift. It would be easier to organize them in our inventories.

Problem 3: The prizes. I am not the ungrateful type. I believe that when someone offers a gift, he/she does it from the heart and that we should receive it candidly and be thankful. Some exhibitors are amazing creators and are able to offer extraordinary prizes. Others must rely on someone else’s skill or their own. And that’s fine. Having said that, the SLB is a window into what SL has to offer. Special attention should be placed on what people take home with them from their visit to an SLB.

The Exhibitions

The impression I got when I arrived at the SL12B for the first time (remember, I was doing the hunt) was that it was a sandbox.

A certain visual cacophony is inevitable, especially with small parcels in such close proximity. Yet, some of the exhibits looked incomplete. Others were simply too ugly to look at, I’m sorry to say. But even the ugly ones belong in an event like the SL12B. “Ugly” is a debatable concept and besides not everyone is a building master. I get that.

Problem 1: Product displays. I grabbed a few landmarks along the way and teleported to the creators’ stores only to see the exact same items there. I understand that the theme “What Dreams May Come” was general enough to accommodate practically anything, but if I wanted to see a store display I’d go to a store. I am not against people using their creations. However, I’m strongly against people using their creations without making an effort to present their interpretation of the theme.

Problem 2: Recycled exhibitions. Some of the exhibitions were previously featured at other events. One thing is to have a specific, very identifiable style. And many in SL do. Another is to show the same over and over again.

Problem 3: Cliché-ridden exhibitions. Not everyone is a creative genius. Not everyone is skilled enough to present something unusual and clever. Beds, pillows, sheep and other sleep related options are always dangerous. Unless you have an original way of working with those elements (and a few did), you’re stuck. The line between being utterly ridiculous and totally ingenious is a fine line to tread.

Problem 4: Lag. Unavoidable? Yes. It’s SL. There’s lag. Period. Could we reduce it? Yes. Was that done? No. What I saw was tons of people walking around with impossibly high ARCs. I found that disrespectful towards other visitors, but… what the heck… what’s really important is to look good, right? I walked like a duck, removed all my attachments and wore an invisibility layer. That lowered my ARC to green and I managed to survive.

Problem 5: The exhibits looked amazing in the photos! I hate being unfair. Since my first impression of the exhibits was so poor, I started checking blogs and other social media channels. The photos published there were amazing. When I teleported to the exhibition itself, things often looked different. This is the problem of changing the Windlights to get a nice shot. I have nothing against nice shots, quite the contrary. But… well. I figured I wasn’t being unfair after all.

Applying to take part in a celebration of SL carries within itself a lot of responsibility. You’re expected to show your best. I’m not sure everyone understood this.

The Concerts/Shows/Other Events

I can’t comment. I didn’t attend any.

The Volunteers

I visited the SL12B sims throughout several days. I only encountered two volunteers in the welcome area. They were very nice, very polite and welcoming. They offered assistance and encouraged me to visit all the exhibitions. Good job!


A few doubts did come up. I'm sure there's a logical answer to all, but... Ok, so...

Q1: Why did some exhibitors have parcels twice as big?
Q2: Why did members of the organization also have parcels? Considering that there’s a selection process, this seemed slightly… awkward.
Q3: Who paid for the sims? Perhaps the answer to this question would provide some clarification to questions 1 and 2? If yes, I withdraw the comment I added to Q2.
Q4: Were the exhibitions reviewed after they were set up in order to verify if they complied with the Exhibitor Policies?
Q5: Was the hunt trail tested in order to create a cohesive event?

The Upside

I did not single out anyone in my criticism and I will not single out anyone in my praise. I can tell you nevertheless that I’m glad there were exhibitors who did make an effort. They interpreted the theme their own way. They allowed us a glimpse into their worlds, their experiences in SL and their dreams. Well done!

SL12B's exhibit by Lesly Elizabeth Rotaru (leslystarbridge)

Into the future

I understand that organizing an event such as the SL12B is of a magnitude often hard to comprehend.
I understand that a multitude of factors can easily slip through the organizers' fingers.
I understand that the number of applications must’ve been far bigger than the number of parcels available (I hope my assumption is correct).
I understand that selecting or rejecting someone based on a descriptive paragraph and a name provides fragile ground for picking.
I understand and I don’t wish to declare SL12B a disaster area, far from it.

Those who put effort, commitment, time and most likely money into this community celebration are to be complimented.

To all who didn’t recycle exhibitions, who didn’t set up shop, hoping to draw people to their stores, to those who created something new especially for this event, I congratulate you. You deserve my respect. And believe me, I appreciate and value your work.

See you next year at the SL13B.


  1. Anonymous7/08/2015

    Congratulations, this is a very good review, even though I reckon it is a bit on the "light" side, IMO you have been "too nice". I also attended the SLB this year and the feeling I got was of huge dissapointment. Each year the organizers with their "mafia" approach of selecting people and the way they behave are taking away the spirit of what once was a celebration to all SL residents. I think that if they (the organizers) got their heads out of their butts and started using all the potentials a celebration like this has to offer to all of us. As for you (writer) good job and thanks for your efforts.

    1. Thank you for your feedback. One of the aspects that has always intrigued me is the selection process for the SL12B. I haven't seen it anywhere (yet?), but it would be interesting to have some sort of statistic on how many applications were received, how many rejected and on what grounds, how many accepted, how many were kept on a waiting list. I believe it would clarify a number of things and it would actually help to "feel the pulse" on how representative a celebration SL12B is. I would also be much tougher on store-like exhibits. This was one of the most aggressive criticisms the community made to Linden Lab back when they were organizing the event, and... after all these years, we still see those around.