Art Galleries in Social VR and Virtual Worlds: An Overview

Virtual worlds are natural homes for art galleries. Artists can design galleries and installations and reach whole new audiences using the various metaverse platforms. In this blogpost, I am going to provide an overview of art galleries in various social VR platforms and virtual worlds.

Second Life

Second Life has long been home to dozens of virtual galleries and exhibit spaces. You could easily spend the better part of a week just visiting galleries! In fact, there is an Art Galleries of Second Life website and even an in-world HUD you can pick up at any participating gallery, which allows you to teleport from gallery to gallery in-world! I have spent many an enjoyable hour doing exactly that.

MissDrag at the Fractal Insanity Art Gallery in Second Life

In addition to the Art Galleries of Second Life HUD, there is also the Arts section of the Second Life Destination Guide to explore, as well as sims with dozens of small art galleries, such as the Virtual Hotel Chelsea and the Windlight Art Gallery sim.

The Virtual Hotel Chelsea

OpenSim

Like Second Life, OpenSim is home to many virtual art galleries. The best way to find them is to use OpenSimWorld’s excellent directory service.

Parc Des Arts, FrancoGrid (OpenSim)

Occupy White Walls

Of course, no discussion of virtual art galleries would be complete without a mention of Occupy White Walls! This is a virtual world focusing on art gallery building and art collection curation, which already has many fans. I can recommend it highly. It’s great fun!

Sansar

Sansar is already home to many art galleries. The best way to find them is simply to search the Sansar Atlas on keywords like “art” or “gallery“.

The Urban Art Experience in Sansar

High Fidelity

One of the problems with High Fidelity is that, while there is a listing of domains sorted in order of popularity on their website and in their tablet UI, it is not possible to do a keyword search for “art” or “gallery” as you can in Sansar or Second Life. This makes it difficult to find art galleries and installations in HiFi. There are a few art installations I have blogged about, such as White Moth, a High Fidelity domain created by the well-known Second Life artists Bryn Oh and Cica Ghost

White Moth

VRChat

VRChat is also home to many art galleries and exhibits, including several curated by Godfrey Meyer III (a.k.a. GM3). Your best bet is to do a keyword search for “art” or “gallery” under the World tab in your pop-up user menu.

Blogs

Another way to find art exhibits in many different social VR/virtual worlds is to follow blogs. One good one to follow is Travel AgentM83, who covers interesting locations (including art) on a multitude of platforms.

What about you? What art discoveries have you made while exploring the metaverse? Please feel free to leave a comment, thanks!

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Linden Lab Is Looking for an Online Community Manager for Sansar

Have you filled out our reader poll yet? The deadline is midnight Feb. 28th. The question is: Which social VR platform or virtual world do you spend the most time in?


Well, it would appear that Linden Lab has finally posted the position of Community Manager for Sansar:

If uncharted territory excites you and you are ready to take on growing a global audience for Sansar, the world’s leading social VR platform, we are looking for you to help us build the future.

“Uncharted territory”, indeed! Being the community manager for such a fractious, demanding and restive bunch as us is not a job for the faint of heart.

If you meet the qualifications (ideally, Linden Lab is looking for someone with a B.A. in Marketing or Communications) and you’re interested in working in the San Francisco area, why not apply? I figure, it’s so expensive to live in the area, so the salary must be competitive, right?

Sansar Comedian Brody Stevens Has Died In an Apparent Suicide

Brody Stevens (from Instagram)

This is tragic news. A comedian who appeared as part of last week’s episode of the Comedy Gladiators stand-up comedy series in Sansar has been found dead. Police are treating the case as a suicide.

Brody Stevens, a Los Angeles-based stand-up comedian, who had been very open about his issues with depression in the past, had confided in friends recently that he had taken himself off his medications because he felt they “dulled” his creativity as a comic. The news report from The Blast also says:

After hearing of his passing, comedian Patton Oswalt said, “If you are depressed or feeling suicidal please please please please please reach out to ANYONE. I never get to see Brody Stevens again I can’t stand this.”

Fellow comedian Steve Hofstetter, who hosted the show in Sansar, posted a series of tweets about his friend:

I had this VR show we were doing live from my house. It was the second time we’d ever done it, but after a few comedians asked me about how it works, I invited everyone over to hang before the next show. Brody was one of the first people to tell me he was coming…

Brody somehow figured out that if you sat down in real life and pushed forward on the hand control[lers], your avatar runs around on its butt. It was hilarious. And he did that of the next two minutes, just crushing with how goofy it looked.

As somebody who has dealt with chronic clinical depression in his own life, and who has sometimes had to fight back against thoughts of suicide, this is heartbreaking. As Patton Oswalt says, you need to seek help if you are suffering. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It is not a solution.

I’m going to repeat a list of resources from an earlier blogpost (a rant about BetterHelp.com):

If you are currently experiencing a mental health or addictions related crisis:

If you are not in crisis, but still need help, here are some other good places to get started:

When you absolutely need someone to talk to online, one of the best places to try is The KindVoice subReddit and Discord channel, both of which are staffed by volunteers:

“Sometimes we need to hear a human voice on the other end of the line telling us that everything’s going to be ok. This subreddit is for people that aren’t in a suicidal crisis, but feel depressed, alone, or want someone to talk to.”

A similar service is called The Haven, another Discord channel for people who need someone to talk to. Both Kind Voice and The Haven are free, volunteer-run services.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. NEVER. Give. Up! There is always hope, even when things look their bleakest.


Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

UPDATED! Editorial: Which Social VR Platform Will Be the First to Allow Adult Content?

The Escort Oasis in Second Life

I’ve been doing some thinking lately. Now hear me out on this.

Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, has gone on record that there will never be adult content in Sansar. Not because he’s opposed to it (after all, Second Life makes a not insignificant portion of its profit from the dozens of adult-rated sims on the grid, catering to just about every sexual kink imaginable). In fact, Second Life is so successful at this aspect of the business that it makes it almost impossible for any other adult virtual world to get a financial foothold (link is safe for work).

Ebbe is opposed to adult content from the point of view that he wants Sansar to be a success, a roaring success like Second Life was in its time, and that often means partnerships with other companies. Companies who are understandably very squeamish about associating their brand names with sex and adult content. The United States of America, for all the glorification of violence portrayed in its cultural exports like videogames and movies, is still remarkably puritanical (and frankly, somewhat hypocritical) when it comes to sex.

None of what I call the “Big Five” social VR platforms (or even the top 12, for that matter) allow adult content. Note that here I am talking specifically about general-purpose/multipurpose platforms, not the purely sex-oriented ones like 3DX Chat (all links in this paragraph are safe for work).

But what would happen if one of them decides to break from the pack and allow sexual content? Assuming, of course, that there would be some kind of permissions system in place to lock it down and restrict access to only those adults who want to see and participate in it (like what Second Life already has, but perhaps even more restrictive).

That social VR platform would probably get a huge boost in business, along with a burst of media attention (not all of it positive). And it might just get enough attention to actually become a major player, becoming in effect the next Second Life, with user concurrency figures to match.

It’s a risky gamble, and if it is not handled correctly, it will tarnish the name of whatever social VR platform makes the attempt (much the same as Second Life now has a certain disreputable reputation in some quarters, even though it is certainly possible to use and enjoy SL without ever stepping foot in an adult sim).

But for some company, sick and tired of being the underdog virtual world after pouring untold time and money into building a platform, only to have it ignored, it might be a truly tempting prospect. And it would probably up-end the marketplace.

Then again, perhaps somebody will just go and create a purely adult-oriented social VR platform. We’ve already seen a first attempt to support VR with the adult virtual world Oasis (link is safe for work), but when I tried it, it didn’t work very well at all. Furthermore, it looks like the company is having trouble attracting users (they recently switched from their initial US$20-per-month subscription plan to US$20 for a “lifetime membership”, which indicates a certain level of desperation setting in). After writing my profile on the platform (see link above), I uninstalled Oasis from my computer and I have no plans to return.

The adult virtual world 3DX Chat also says they support the Oculus Rift VR headset on their website, and I did try it out once, but it’s also pretty buggy. After writing my profile (link is safe for work), I uninstalled the client software, and I have absolutely zero inclination to want to revisit 3DX Chat. As I have said before on this blog:

…I want to make it clear that I am not going to get into the habit of covering adult/sex-based virtual worlds. There are literally dozens of them out there, and frankly, I find them boring as hell.

Will I cover sex/adult-oriented social VR platforms in future on this blog? If it doesn’t cost me anything to test it out, once, then I might do it again. I mean, I’m a 55-year-old out-of-the-closet gay man; it’s not like I need a note from my Mommy to see nekkid people 😉

So, what do you think? Which social VR company do you think will take the plunge into adult content? Or do you think a new, adults-only company will capture the market instead? Please feel free to leave a comment on this blogpost, or join the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, where nearly 200 members are ready and willing to discuss and debate these and many other issues around social VR and virtual worlds!

UPDATE Feb. 19th: SURPRISE! As it turns out, one of the top social VR platforms already allows adult content, and I wasn’t even aware of it!

A commenter to this blogpost mentioned that High Fidelity actually allows adult content, and I posted a question on the official High Fidelity forums.

According to the High Fidelity Terms of Service:

These Terms of Service for High Fidelity Domains are applicable only when you access or use High Fidelity Domains (content hosted by High Fidelity). HIGH FIDELITY IS NOT RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY ASPECT OF THE HIGH FIDELITY PLATFORM THAT IS NOT HOSTED, DISTRIBUTED, PROVIDED OR MAINTAINED BY HIGH FIDELITY.

So it would appear that you can have adult content on your own domain, as long as you don’t bring any adult content into HiFi’s own hosted domains. Furthermore, you can set an adults-only (age 18+) rating in the description section of the domain when you are setting it up:

Which leads to the follow-up question I asked: Are there already adult-rated/adult-content domains in High Fidelity? One person responded:

There are users who have adult content in their domains, but these are usually made private (unlisted) so that unaware users do not wander in… which is probably why most people haven’t seen them  🙂

I am pretty sure that most people are not aware that you can already have adult content in High Fidelity. I know that I’ve never heard of it before this! And High Fidelity probably doesn’t want to advertise that fact too loudly or too broadly, lest they get overrun with people setting up adult domains. Or maybe they do actually want that market! How interesting…

SECOND UPDATE Feb. 19th: HiFi user and unofficial High Fidelity Discord moderator Menithal has kindly given me a link to where Philip Rosedale talked about this back in October of 2017:

[High Fidelity] is an open source system where you run the servers. You can do whatever you want on your server. You are responsible for any local laws you might break, etc. We are just like an Apache web server.

Because we provide search services for placenames or domains on the web and in places like the go-to button on the tablet, we will use self-described ratings and other data we can collect to provide filters for those searches. Obviously you can opt out of using or being included in those search services. So these ratings will be used there.

Menithal suggests reading through the full discussion thread I linked to above, not just the part where Philip weighs in, in order to get the full context of the discussion.

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