Question for My Readers: In Your Opinion, What Have Been the Biggest Controversies in the 15-Year History of Second Life?

No virtual world is without controversy, and Second Life is no exception. Note that this is not any sort of attack on Linden Lab; I think overall they do a pretty good job as a company (even if they do make the occasional blunder now and then; every company does). In fact, a good many of the controversies that have erupted over the 15-year history of SL have had nothing to do with Linden Lab (e.g. disputes and lawsuits between competing vendors).

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But I was curious and I wanted to know what long-time SL folk thought. So, on August 14th, I posted the following message to the official Second Life discussion forums:

I’m curious, and I thought this forum would be a natural place to ask the question:

In your opinion, what have been the biggest controversies in the 15-year history of Second Life?

I have found a website with an interactive timeline of SL controversies, but it only goes up to 2012. What do you think have been the major controversies since then?

Thank you in advance for your comments! I’ve also posted over on That Other Forum Which Shall Not Be Named 😉 and I am hoping to trigger some lively discussion and (perhaps) I may write up a blogpost for my blog on the topic.

And I posted essentially the same question in the General SL Discussion section of SLUniverse.com: In your opinion, what have been the biggest controversies in the 15-year history of Second Life?

Please join in the discussion and debate on either forum, or if you prefer, please leave me a comment on this blogpost, thanks!

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LearnBrite: A Brief Introduction

LearnBrite is similar to many other products which I have already covered in this blog, such as Apertus VR, Engage, Edorble, Rumii, and NeosVR, in that it offers tools for people wanting to build virtual worlds for educational purposes. LearnBrite bills itself “The only VR-Ready authoring tool designed with Trainers in Mind”:

With LearnBrite, you simply author once in the VR-Ready Workflow and it automatically brings your micro-learning and instructor led training to life on mobile, tablet, desktop and VR/AR without writing a single line of code.

That means you can create immersive 3D (for flat screens like mobile & desktop) or AR/VR experiences that put your learner right in the middle of the action to fully engage their senses as they PLAY through your scenarios.

This is your opportunity to design active learning modules that will help solve performance issues & behavioral challenges in a fun & engaging way vs the “point, click, quiz” method that has most learners “checked out” after the 1st slide.

Here’s an example of LearnBrite in use at Curtin University, where it was used to help train students on how to do a home visit on an elderly woman that aims to provide support to allow her to continue to live at home:

What’s surprising to me about LearnBrite is how expensive it is:

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Obviously, they are targeting customers with large budgets! And they do seem to have a rather impressive list of customers:

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They also outline what they call “premium complimentary” services available at each price point:

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That line of fine print along the bottom reads, “Because of the high demand for these services, we can only guarantee availability for the next 20 subscribers.” Which, of course, is a standard sales technique: “Act now, supplies are limited!”

What I find odd is that most other platforms provide “built-in conferencing” for free, as a part of the platform (hence the term “built-in”), so why is LearnBrite charging for it, and why are they limiting it to only a certain number of hours per month?

Here’s a quick list of features and a look at their avatars:

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Hmmm…sure sounds (and looks) an awful lot like Second Life to me, which has had educators using it for teaching purposes for well over a decade now (here’s a list of resources from their wiki and they even have an Educator’s Portal set up).

If you’re interested in building educational virtual worlds and social VR experiences, you might want to take a look at LearnBrite, but you might also wish to consider other, potentially cheaper alternatives like Engage and (of course) Second Life.

A VRChat Avatar with Full-Body Tracking Dances to Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why VRChat is still pulling in the crowds: a simply mesmerizing YouTube video of an expertly-rigged custom avatar operated by a user wearing an HTC Vive VR headset, hand controllers, and three Vive Trackers securely attached to his feet and body:

This video was posted to the VRChat subReddit. When asked about his setup, the user said:

Usual HTC Vive setup + 3 trackers and strap belts for them. I used to have a wireless adapter, but the cables kept breaking (lose contacts from jumping around, 30 bucks for each cable set…), so I just ditched it and got used to dancing with cables around me LOL!

And when asked how to managed to secure the trackers to his feet, he replied:

I have them strapped really tight a bit above my ankles. My feet are too thin for tracker straps and stepping on the straps gets uncomfortable after a while.

I honestly cannot wait until the day that other virtual worlds like Sansar support Vive Trackers (or a similar technology) to allow for full avatar body movement. Can you imagine what fun we’ll have?

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Sweet E’s August Hunt at the Free Dove

Every month, The Free Dove freebie store selects three designers who place hunt items throughout the store for you to find (sometimes, the free hunt items are also found in their mainstore locations). Savvy freebie hunters already know to drop by The Free Dove once a month to pick up some fabulous hunt goodies!

One of the designers participating in the August hunt is Sweet E’s, which has some truly delightful and well-designed items available as free hunt gifts, either at The Free Dove or at the Sweet E’s store:

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In both locations, you are searching for a cupcake with bright pink frosting and an “E’s” on it, which looks like this:

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Vanity Fair models some of the amazing hunt gifts that Sweet E’s is offering up—everything from ballgowns to a bikini to a comfy men’s shirt and matching socks! (Please click on each picture to see it in a larger size.)

To pick up the hunt gifts at The Free Dove, you must join the Free Dove group (there is no join fee). To pick up the hunt gifts at Sweet E’s mainstore, you must join the Sweet E’s group (also free). So the total cost of all these beautiful items is zero, zilch, nada! Best of all, these items come in sizes to fit all the major mesh avatar bodies (Maitreya, Belleza, Slink, The Mesh Project, Tonic and eBody) and classic system avatars too!

Remember, you only have until the end of August to do this hunt. Happy hunting!

Linden Lab Built a Wanna One Fan Experience in Sansar for 2018 KCON

Linden Lab was at 2018 KCON in Los Angeles (the annual Korean pop music convention), showing off a new Sansar experience! The experience is a game for fans of the popular South Korean boy band, Wanna One. Here’s a YouTube video of KCON attendees taking part in the interactive Wanna One experience:

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Menswear by Bakaboo

Bakaboo (in-world store, SL Marketplace) is a Second Life brand known for their vibrant, colourful patterns in clothing for both men and women. But did you know that you can pick up a small wardrobe of fabulous freebies for men from their Group Gifts section at the back of the store?

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If you join the L’Homme Magazine SL Readers group for free, you can pick up four articles of men’s clothing! Here’s a complete suit, which is one of the four gifts:

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And, if you join the Bakaboo group (also for free), you can pick up an additional three gifts for male avatars! The following outfit consists of a jacket (another group gift from L’Homme Magazine), plus matching pants and shoes (both group gifts from Bakaboo):

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And finally, if you can find the black moustache from the Men Only Hunt hidden somewhere in or around the store, you can get this sweatshirt and sweatpants outfit for free! The clue is “The wisest and deerest one”. The hunt ends Aug. 18th, so hurry down!

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Here’s the SLURL to take you to Bakaboo.

Decentraland Sets Up $5 Million Fund for Blockchain Gaming Initiatives

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A report from CCN (a cryptocurrency news website) says that Decentraland is setting up a five-million-dollar fund to support blockchain-based gaming projects:

Decentraland, a decentralized user-owned virtual world on the Ethereum blockchain, plans to invest $5 million to fund blockchain gaming projects built on the Decentraland platform. To this end, it created the Genesis Content Program, through which gaming developers can submit proposals for “blockchain games” and “interactive experiences” that can be built on Decentraland.

More information is available from this Medium post by Decentraland:

We’ve been thinking hard about blockchain games in Decentraland, and have identified several key characteristics that we think will have a big impact on how these games are built:

  • Small parcel footprints — Given the fact that LAND is scarce and that developers can only host their games on the LAND they control, the “play space” that each game may take up is limited. This means that as a developer, you will have to design your game to fit within the parcel boundaries of your LAND. Decentraland does provide the opportunity to build decentralized item or collectible based games, like trading card games, that can be accessed “remotely” from anywhere in Genesis City. However, even these games still require at least one LAND parcel to host and run the game.
  • Distributed ownership — Unlike traditional MMO games or VR platforms that are created and controlled by a single company, Decentraland is a shared, open source hub for user generated content. Because we want to encourage diversity in the games that are built for Decentraland, LAND developers (as in real life) must respect the property boundaries of others. However, Decentraland makes it possible to build distributed games that are hosted across multiple parcels.
  • Limited graphics — We are building Decentraland with a “web-first” approach, following Google’s lead in incentivizing a low-poly aesthetic. This will optimize the quality of the experience for as many users as possible without favoring any single device or binding Decentraland to any particular app store.

All funded projects must be built on Decentraland’s parcels of virtual land (called LAND), which can be purchased using the platform’s cryptocurrency MANA. This could, in theory, get quite expensive, as the minimum price for each 10m-by-10m parcel of LAND is currently 6,000 MANA each (which works out to US$443.48). I still think that Decentraland’s LAND is outrageously expensive, and that cost is going to severely constrain any game-building that takes place on that platform.

However, I am glad to see Decentraland putting its money where its mouth is, and finding ways to attract developers to its platform. I wish them every success.