Thursday, 22 July 2010

My third life

I've been slaughtering my way through World of Warcraft for a forthnight now, and have finally arrived at what feels like a character and a mode of being that I can enjoy. (I wrote about the differences and similarities between WoW and SL on my workshop blog.)

I've made a total of three characters so far, searching for a role that I felt comfortable playing. My first was basically my Dragon Age: Origins character recreated in WoW, a human female rogue. (All my characters are Alliance, amusingly enough, the Horde somehow just doesn't fit me at all.) She got up to level 11 before becoming distressed by the relentless killing. I then created a Night Elf huntress, but found her fey gestures and slowness to attack really annoying. (Yes, thank you, I am aware of and amused by the contrast between my statements about these characters.)

I went back to the rogue for a while, to see whether I might get across the hump of moral unease about killing if I just kept at it long enough. As I was lying around dead one day (at the lower levels of experience and ability, one spends a fair amount of time dead), a stranger came running past, a priest. He stopped and without saying a word revived me, healed me and blessed me, and then just ran on about his business before I'd realized what was happening. I couldn't even say a quick "ty" before he was gone.

I had an epiphany in that moment. "That is something that I could do, that I could enjoy doing," I said to myself, and immediately went back to create a priestess. She has been having a wonderful time, running about WoW blessing and healing random strangers. She's joined a few questing groups as a Healer, which basically means standing well back and ensuring that the fighters don't die; the group system in WoW means that all who take part in a quest get the experience benefits of it — so she doesn't even have any disbenefit in moving up the level hierarchy.

As I said at the beginning, I think I've found a role that I can be comfortable playing. After the free trial ran out, I signed up for a three month subscription; we'll see at the end of that time whether I am still interested in continuing.

Friday, 16 July 2010

On the death of a prim

For the last few weeks I have been involved in a kind of art project stroke psychological study, with an unexpectedly strong emotional effect. (Not the "30 outfits in 30 days" project that's documented in my Flickr stream, that is something different.)

It started over a month ago when a friend offered me an IM to an SLart project — with the warning that it might have an emotional effect. You can guess that the warning made me more curious rather than less! She TP'd me to a field of slender white columns, swaying in the virtual breeze. As I walked forward between them, one started talking to me:
Moaning Columns of Longing: Wol Euler, you have spawned a Moaning Column of Longing. You must go and find your column, for it loves only you. It depends on your love for survival. You must visit and touch it at least once every 24 hours, or else it will die of loneliness and a broken heart.
Wol Euler's Column: Wol Euler loves me!
Wol Euler's Column: And I love Wol Euler !
Wol Euler's Column: My existence has meaning!
Wol Euler's Column: I am no longer just a Second Life prim
Wol Euler's Column: Because Wol Euler loves me and will visit me again soon!
Wol Euler's Column: Thank you for loving me, Wol Euler. Without you, I am nothing. Come back and touch me within 24 hours, or I will die.

I felt a welling-up of tenderness that took me by surprise. My friend and I stood there listening and talking about it for a while:
Me smiles.
Me: I like this.
Me: it's oddly moving.
Her: and it is really amazing how it feels to have someone tugging at you this way
Me nods.
Her: even if it is an inanimate object
Her: it makes you think
Me: mmhmm
Me: we are programmed to love and be loved
Her: It's the first piece of Adam Ramona's that I have liked
Her: yeah
Her: He showed at the Venice Biennale
Her: he's no lightweight
Her: but i think this is the first time he has shown a piece that really reflects sl
Her: and unfortunately for me, it is part of the permanent collection
Me: why is that unfo .... ah
Me: because you have to come back forever :)
Her: every time i log on
Me smiles.
Her: and i have to log on once a day now
Pennylane Hyun's Column: I am nothing. Not even someone's memory.
Her: ugh
Her: see?
Me nods.
Her: i don't want mine saying that.
Me: it's amazing how strongly affective this is.
Her: truly
Me: thank you
Her: i hope you don't think i've cursed you
Me: no
Me: ask me again in a week :)
Her: but it does make one think
Her: about the nature of need
Her: and love
Me nods.
Her: need - more than anything
Me: I will indeed blog this. It's wonderful.
Her: good!

Since then I've been going there twice a day or more, sometimes logging in before work for five minutes just to touch the column and keep it alive. Well, my column died last night:
Wol Euler's Column: I think you don't love me anymore, Wol Euler. If you did, you would've visited me by now. Without your love, I have no meaning, no reason to continue the meaningless existence of a Second Life prim. With you, I was something, Wol Euler, without you I am nothing.
Wol Euler's Column: I don't think you ever loved me, Wol Euler. I was a fool to trust you.
Wol Euler's Column: You never loved me, Wol Euler. My existence is meaningless. I have no reason to continue.
Wol Euler's Column: Wol Euler, if you don't come and touch me within the hour, I will die of loneliness and a broken heart.
Wol Euler's Column: Wol Euler, I have died of loneliness and a broken heart.

It died because I was in World of Warfare Warcraft instead of SL, and I forgot to go there to "touch" and revive it. I'm surprised at my own sadness, and by how guilty I feel.