Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Presents From the December FaMESHed Event (Plus a Few Advent Calendar Gifts)

The December round of the FaMESHed Event in Second Life is upon us, and once again, most of the vendor booths have beautiful Christmas gifts for us! There is some really lovely stuff, both for your avatar and for your home. You do have to join the FaMESHed group for free to pick up all the presents.

Here Vanity Fair is wearing two gifts from vendors at FaMESHed: the Christmas Deer sweater from Just Because and the Hanna red heels by Phedora. (The blue leggings were part of the Dec. 4th Advent calendar gift from Appliqué Chic, and are still available today for free, but they will be L$10 after today):

The red Joy throw pillow and the neon Santa hat on the wall behind Vanity are also gifts from FaMESHED, by Fancy Decor and EQUAL respectively.

Now we have the Merry plaid blue zipper skirt (part of the same Dec. 4th Appliqué Chic Advent calendar gift as the leggings in the previous picture), plus a lovely cropped sweater, the FaMESHed gift from Giz Seorn:

Here we pair the red cable knit mohair sweater by COCO Designs with the sexy red thigh-high Cate boots by Garbaggio (my favourite shoe store!):

Next we have the Shayla robe in green from Ricielli, which comes in both closed and open versions (obviously, I’m not going to show you the open one!):

The Scandalize gift is the Nairi dress in black with a separate black lace bralette:

The gift from Neve is this lovely outfit consisting of two separate pieces, the top and the matching skirt:

This is the Jane sweater by RIOT (which comes in green as shown and also in red), paired with the Adriana red glitter shorts by Bombshell. (The RIOT gift box also includes Jasper sweaters for the men.)

Next up is the Scarlett bra and panties, the gift from Belle Epoque, shown with the Punta Cana shoes by Essenz, which comes with a HUD to change the colour of the shoes themselves (3 options: grey, blue, and red), the sole (4 options), and the tie around the ankle (18 options):

Here’s a closeup on the shoes, which like everything Essenz sells, is wonderfully crafted, with much attention paid to details!

Finally we have the Cindy dress in mint green by Kaithleen’s, paired with the Dec. 5th Advent calendar gift from Essenz, the sand-coloured Honolulu shoes:

Here’s a closeup of the Honolulu shoes, which are bit too frou-frou for my taste, but they might be perfect for you!

You do need to join the Essenz group for L$350 to pick up their daily Advent calendar gifts, but all are beautifully crafted footwear, and I think that L$350 for 24 quality pairs of shoes and boots is a bargain.

The hair used in all these pictures is the Dec. 5th Advent calendar gift from Firelight Hair, a curly hairstyle called Melvena (you will have to join the Firelight group for free to use this calendar). The hair comes with a 3-colour HUD to change it to brown, black, or red:

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UPDATED! Editorial: Decentraland Is Paying for Contest Entries (And Why This May Backfire)

On Nov. 8th, I wrote about the Decentraland Builder Contest, which is currently underway and runs until Dec. 15th, 2019. You can refer to my previous blogpost for all the details on the contest, or you can check the Decentraland website.

One thing that I did not know about the contest is that each accepted entry will receive 200 MANA, which works out to about US$5.00 at the current exchange rates. I understand that you can submit up to 20 entries per person, which means that a user who submits the maximum number of entries earns 4,000 MANA, worth about US$100. (This information comes from a recent blogpost on the DCLPlazas blog, which is a good source of news about Decentraland.)

This reminds me of how High Fidelity was offering US$300 per accepted entry to an avatar contest at one of its final big events (this was before its abrupt pivot earlier this year to promote business use of HiFi for remote workteams, and an attempt to rein in runaway costs). For a while there, High Fidelity was spending money like a drunken sailor, and I am starting to wonder if the same thing is starting to happen over at Decentraland, which has been extremely generous with its contest prizes this year.

I have absolutely no problem with large cash prizes for contest winners, and I know that contests encourage the creation of good content, which drives usage of the platform. But in my opinion, paying for every single contest entry is only going to encourage a flood of people gaming the system with the maximum number of contest entries, just to collect the most money they can and then cash it out.

This is essentially bribing people to use your platform, which means that as soon as the money stops flowing, fickle users, who were there only because they were paid, will abandon the platform (which is exactly what happened to High Fidelity).

One of the things that is starting to concern me about blockchain-based virtual worlds like Decentraland is how they seem to encourage a rather mercenary approach to their in-world economy. It doesn’t help matters that land is such an expensive commodity in DCL, which almost makes it imperative to be able to use it to generate revenue. (A year ago, DCL even launched virtual land mortgages, for those who could not afford to pay for their LAND up front.)

Want to play a hunting game? You’ve got to pay for the arrows. Want your choice of avatar username? You’ve got to buy one. One person on the official Decentraland Discord server recently asked whether they would be allowed to erect a paywall in front of a constructed scene, so you couldn’t even look at it without paying. Everybody seems out to make a buck.

The blockchain/cryptocurrency community is a world apart, and most current Decentraland users and investors do not see this sort of setup as strange. But I wonder how well this will play out with the casual, non-crypto visitors which DCL needs to attract in order to survive and thrive long-term. Will potential users be put off by having to pay for everything, even buying their username? I guess we’ll find out once the doors open to the general public.

UPDATE Dec. 6th, 2019: Ari Meilich, the Project Lead at Decentraland, says:

The idea behind subsidizing content creation is trying to crack the chicken and egg problem. A lot of people have been building in the absence of incentives, but other are more likely to create better scenes provided they receive tokens, particularly before we have launched and there isn’t an immediate flux of users. In the previous contests it has worked out great. This contest will be the last one before launch, Ryan. And it’s looking like there’ll be enough interactive content to put us in a good position to open the world publicly soon 🙂

Thanks, Ari!

Bryn Oh Opens a New Artistic World in Sansar: “I See Our Movement As the Immersivists”

Canadian artist Bryn Oh (whose work in Second Life I have written about before) is opening a new art installation in Sansar on Friday, December 6th, 2019, on which she has been working over the past year, thanks to some financial assistance from the Ontario Arts Council.

Titled simply Hand, Bryn Oh describes the artwork as follows in a recent post to her blog:

Hand is the story of a girl named Flutter who carries something precious in a suitcase.  You follow her story in the same world that my others characters inhabit, and some of these you will recognize furthering their story and place within the world I have been working on for over a decade. 

Bryn created Hand to be best experienced in a VR headset, and she has some insightful observations on the use of virtual reality as an art form:

I believe that the virtual reality medium is a new art form which, in my case, focuses on immersion.  Throughout art history many artists have striven to immerse the viewer in their sculpture, painting or even cinema. They want you become lost in their artwork whether it be compositional methods such as the eyepath leading the viewer around a painting, to cinema where they turn off the lights, turn the sound up high with a screen large enough to reduce the peripheral vision distractions to a degree where the immersion is strongest. They overwhelm or control your senses, then tell you a story which, if well written, will take the viewer away from the world for a while.  We had the Cubists, Impressionists, Surrealists, Modernists and I see our movement as the Immersivists. 

Having been very impressed by Bryn’s art to date in both Second Life and Sansar, I look forward to experiencing her latest creation!

If you want to visit Hand, here is the Sansar Atlas entry for the world.