Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Christmas Spirit in Second Life

As befits a world devoted to fantasies of every kind, Second Life began to exhibit the Winter Holiday spirit quite early. On Thanksgiving Day, Wolves Bain gave the members of his group an exquisite chapel. Various groups have begun to announce special Christmas items. The most generous of these have been attaching small gifts to their notices.

At both Castle Row and Paradise Pets, the owners and their partners have created Winter Wonderlands. Darks Adria has created a wonderful skating rink in the centre of an idyllic landscape, complete with ice gazebos and winter displays that exhibit both beauty and great humour. At Paradise Pets, candy canes form the foundation of a special holiday gazebo. Beneath the dome, incredible animated Winter creatures disport themselves on the ice. They are the creations of Don Bricklin. His partner Deborah has created reindeer for the season. The buyer can choose between a reindeer with the traditional black nose and one with a red nose! The reindeer are not stationary, but raise and lower their heads to browse the frozen earth for food and when touched, they will 'speak' in reindeer fashion.

Wolves Bain and Darks Adria always offer an assortment of free items to their visitors and Darks' Winter Wonderland is a place where many delightful treats can be found. Deborah DeFarge has created an entire booth filled with free items for the holidays. Within, you can find an exquisite tree, nativity creche, basket of pine cones, plate of mince pies, wreath, garland, Christmas stockings, bows and candy canes and sprigs of holly and mistletoe.

I have enumerated some of these gifts here to demonstrate the generosity of artists such as these. Where many merchants and artists in Second Life view the Winter holidays primarily as an opportunity to exploit the sale of products they create, the best artists are filled with the true spirit of Christmas and Yuletide and give freely of their bounty.

It is a great pleasure to support the creative efforts of an artist who is willing to share his or her creations with the public. There are many 'Christmas' bazaaars in Second Life where each of the items Deborah is giving to individuals would carry price tags on them. Landowners in Second Life must pay monthly fees known as tier for the most part, whether or not they build or sell ANY items. One recognises the need for landowners with large shops to make enough money to sustain their presence in Second Life but to me, the attitude of the artist is as important as his/her talent. When one purchases any item in Second Life, a small part of the creator is to be found within that object. I would not like to surround myself with objects created by mean-spirited or mercenary individuals, however beautiful their work might appear to be at first glance.

The second booth displays the animated figures created for the Christmas skating scene. It is impossible to capture the delightful versatility of these characters in a simple photograph. Each skater has a distinct personality. The Snowman and Father Christmas are more serene as they circle the gazebo, but the children engage in numerous skating feats and tricks and as often tumble to the ground as they succeed. It is very entertaining and extremely clever, like all the creations of Bricklin & Defarge.

Second Life is a living organism in a way, comprised of all its residents. Second Life therefore is defined not only by its objects and landscapes but by personal interactions as well. As a truly international venue, those who are open-handed and exhibit a spirit of kindness and generosity improve our world in general. A virtual world is a mirror of the real world, even if it may differ from this world drastically in form and appearance. As griefers in Second Life actually can cause emotional damage to real people when they target an avatar, the actions of those who give freely of themselves and their art must have a positive effect in both worlds.

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