Coming Soon: Drax’s Our Digital Selves Documentary (Plus Another Plea to Release the Outfits!)

Draxtor 9 May 2018.png

Did you know that Draxtor Despres (Bernhard Drax in real life) has been hard at work on a documentary about how people with a disability use virtual worlds like Second Life, High Fidelity, and Sansar? The title of the documentary, which will be released free to YouTube on May 18th, is Our Digital Selves: My Avatar Is Me. Drax describes the film as follows:

Our Digital Selves: My Avatar Is Me tells the story of 13 global citizens and their avatars as they transcend their various disabilities by making a home in the VR metaverse.

Filmmaker Bernhard Drax travels all over the world, from California to rural South England, to explore why a diverse group of people ranging from 24 to 92 years of age find solace, inspiration and deep friendship that in a user-created digital wonderland that only exists inside their computers.

Drax sends his intrepid documentarian avatar Draxtor Despres into the virtual universe of Second Life as well as next generation VR platforms like High Fidelity and Sansar and – among many other adventures – he finds out why a 40-something Chicago native feels best represented by a colorful gecko complete with superhero cape or why Cody LaScala – confined to a wheelchair his entire life – feels his avatar should look exactly like him. The film follows researchers Tom Boellstorff and Donna Davis as they lead discussion groups and facilitate deep connection between real human beings in virtuality through artistic expression.

We follow along as they travel to Silicon Valley to find out how leading technologists design the future of online communication with disability in mind.

As Boellstorff and Davis finish up their 3-year study, made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation entitled Virtual Worlds, Disability and New Cultures of the Embodied Self, the film presents a compressed compendium and visual guide to a seemingly unlimited array of possibilities for borderless human interaction.

Unique in its narrative approach, Our Digital Selves weaves together physical and virtual cinematography as the protagonists backstories are re-enacted via Machinima technique – real time animation – in the virtual world and next generation VR platforms.

The film will be available for free on YouTube come May 18th and has been submitted to film festivals around the world for the 2019 season.

Here’s a preview of the documentary Drax put out on YouTube about six months ago:

And here’s a great screen capture from the video (of which I saw an advance screener) of Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg sitting in front of some Sansar Studios concept art for avatar outfits.

Sansar Art Concept 9 May 2018.png

And once again, I make my regular plea, ever since I first saw glimpses of this concept art from Sansar Studios: Release the Outfits! 😉 Don’t hold back on us, Ebbe… even with a healthy fashion market full of user-created content, a few more outfit choices from Linden Lab would be much appreciated by this Sansar fashion blogger!

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UPDATED: Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: Free Mesh Heads and Skin Appliers from Genesis Lab

UPDATE Sept. 24th: Please note that the group join fee for Genesis Lab is no longer free; it is now L$99. I have pulled together all the information I have on free mesh heads and bodies for female avatars into this blogpost.

I learned from the Nessmarket Freebies and Sales Blog (which you should be following if you’re interested in Second Life freebies) that Genesis Lab has just made their group free to join, which means you can pick up all their group gifts for free from their store!

Among the group gifts are skin and makeup appliers, a demonic set of mesh eyes, and several mesh heads (note: as far as I am aware, these are not Bento heads). Here is a look at two of the mesh heads, a striking albino one called Makena and a very attractive one called Kenna, which comes with a HUD with quite a few makeup options for lips, eyes, eyeshadow, eyebrows and hairbase:

And here’s a shot of a third mesh head called Lara, which is also quite attractive. The mesh eyes are included and you can change their colour using the included HUD, as well as several makeup options and hairbases:

Genesis Labs Mesh Head Lara 9 May 2018.png

So if you’ve been wanting to get a nice mesh head, now’s your chance! I don’t know how long the Genesis Lab group is free to join, so I’d take advantage of it as soon as you can.

Here’s a SLURL to the group gifts wall at the Genesis Lab store.

UPDATE May 11th: Genesis Laboratory has changed the group that you must join to get the group gifts. It is still free to join (for now). The new group is called GenesisLab and you can link to it via this URI:

secondlife:///app/group/f92affa5-abd8-7124-b9a5-f70669e58688/about

(I have told Nessaja, so she can update her Nessmarket blog.)

Occupy White Walls: “The Weirdest MMO I Have Ever Played” and “Hipster Minecraft”

I haven’t talked about Occupy White Walls (OWW) for a little while now. According to an article on the blog Massively Overpowered:

Most recently, the game has patched up to version 1.666, which is “filled to the brim with fixes, improvements and new assets for you to play with,” the devs write in their email blast. The patch reportedly includes new concrete walls and doorways, turntable assets, trees, modular grass floors, neon text, cabinet assets, and bars – but “no drinks (yet).”

A YouTuber named Fevir has posted a really great video about OWW, all from the perspective of an MMO player who describes himself as “art indifferent”, and how playing OWW has altered his perceptions of art. I’d encourage you to watch this seven-minute video, titled The Weirdest MMO I Have Ever Played:

As Fevir notes in the video, the real game changer will be when people are allowed to upload their own artworks to Occupy White Walls, and integrate them into their own personalized galleries. I asked on the official OWW Discord channel about when that would happen, and I was told by Community Bear:

We’re currently getting ready for limited testing with user uploaded works. We don’t know what the AI will do. So we’re not that far off, but at the same time we’re not quite ready to pin a date. I do wanna clarify that we do know what the AI will do, its just that it’s not exactly clear if everything will work as smoothly as we’re expecting. It is an Alpha, after all…:wink:

Here’s the website to get you started, from where you can download the software. It’s free and it’s fun (the blog Inventory Full actually went so far as to call it “Hipster Minecraft”) and you might learn something about your tastes in art, so what more could you ask for? Tell them Ryan Schultz sent you 😉

Sansar Dives Into Esports with a Partnership with the Overwatch League

Sansar_OWL_Team_Partnerships

Today, Linden Lab announced a partnership with multiple professional teams from the Overwatch League (OWL), including the Houston Outlaws and the San Francisco Shock. According to the press release:

This first-of-its-kind collaboration goes above and beyond what traditional two-dimensional chat and streaming allow, and will give gamers a deeper way to connect and communicate – enabling fans to interact one-on-one with popular players and personalities, stream matches in virtual watchspaces created by their favorite teams, and show their support through exclusive branded merchandise.

Sansar’s latest offering arrives right as the global demand for esports reaches a new peak, and while teams everywhere face increased pressure to deliver memorable fan experiences, VR has remained noticeably absent from the broader conversation – until now.

Sansar offers esports fans an immersive, interactive viewing experience on par with a real-life event – complete with virtual photo opps, meet-and-greets, and exclusive giveaways. Fans can use Sansar on both PC and VR to connect in their team’s branded virtual watch space, tune into live stream matches, and buy custom skins and merch. Other features coming soon include real-time stats integration, in-match player audio sharing, and more.

“We’ve seen a real need in the esports market for a deeper, more engaging fan experience – something that can go beyond normal spectatorship to really draw people in,” said Ebbe Altberg, CEO at Linden Lab. “We feel social VR is perfectly poised to meet this need, and we’re thrilled to find forward-thinking esports partners that feel the same – trailblazing teams that recognize VR’s potential and are willing to evolve and innovate to deliver world-class experiences. Their investments in Sansar are investments in their communities.”

Now, I am not an esports expert, and frankly, I’ve never heard of the Overwatch League before today. (Why, yes, I do happen to live under a rock! Excuse me while I take a swig of Geritol and shake my cane at those darn kids on my lawn!) Here’s an introduction to Overwatch, which is apparently a very popular video game:

How popular? Well, according to reports from a year ago, they have over 30 million players, and they also have a very active Reddit community. So Linden Lab is obviously hoping that there’s a market for Overwatch fans to gather together in VR and watch gamers play against each other.

Here’s more from the Esports Observer blog:

  • Linden Lab’s Sansar announces partnerships with multiple Overwatch League teams.
  • Houston Outlaws and San Francisco Shock will help to create virtual watch spaces where fans can interact with players and personalities.
  • Sansar’s future esports integration will include real-time match stats, and in-match player audio sharing.

Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life, has decided to deliver virtual reality experiences to esports fans. It will partner with multiple teams in the Overwatch League to build virtual watchspaces through their VR social media platform, Sansar.

In the announcement, it was stated that the Houston Outlaws will name its virtual clubhouse “The Hideout,” while the San Francisco Shock will have a VR arena called the “Epicenter.” With both spaces, fans will be able to buy custom team-themed skins and merch for their Sansar avatars. Both OWL teams will open their virtual hangouts with real-life launch parties in their home cities.

My ears did prick up at the mention of “skins”. We’ve been waiting for custom skins for Sansar avatars for a while now. Could that be coming soon?

NOTE: You can install the Sansar software client, if you don’t already have it, at https://www.sansar.com/download