Roomkey: A Brief Introduction

Roomkey (formerly called Teooh) is a free virtual world platform that is available for Windows and Macintosh desktop computers, as well as Android and iOS mobile devices. Much like Mozilla Hubs and VirBELA, Roomkey supports a wide variety of devices, which make it a good choice for applications where you need to reach as many different kinds of people as possible. (There’s no virtual reality mode, though.)

You get to set up your profile, design your avatar, and then you visit rooms where events are taking place. For example, I have been invited to attend a presentation with Twitter cofounder Biz Stone on May 27th, 2021, which is when Roomkey will be launched at a press conference. Although you cannot walk around, you can move your avatar from one seat to another to get a better view of the stage (a feature similar to Bigscreen and vTime XR). You can also use your finger to change your viewpoint in the three-dimensional space.

Here’s a couple of views of one of the conference rooms:

You can use either text chat or voice chat to communicate with other avatars around you.

One example of how Roomkey is being used is the Yale Career Panels, a series of discussions created to give Yale students and alumni a candid view of a variety of professions, the myths and misconceptions about each industry, its outlook, the types of people who do well and are happy in the career, and how to succeed in the profession. More information and a registration form is available on the Roomkey website.

For more information about Roomkey, visit their website, or follow the company on social media: Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube. Here’s an example from their YouTube channel, a one-hour video of a conversation with Reebok founder Joe Foster:

I will be adding Roomkey to my ever-expanding list of social VR and virtual world platforms (which I promise to reorganize and recategorize soon!).

I Have 200 Invitations to Join Clubhouse

If you have been waiting for an invitation to join the hot new drop-in audio app Clubhouse, here’s your opportunity to check it out for yourself!

Please remember that Clubhouse is currently only for iOS mobile devices (iPhone or iPad), although Android support is coming in the next month.

I have 100 invitations to join Clubhouse and become a member of the Ask a Librarian club, just click the following link:

https://www.joinclubhouse.com/join/ask-a-reference-libr/Zv2dv6nJ/P9WGkbov

And I have second batch of 100 invitations to join Clubhouse and become a member of the Winnipeg Manitoba Canada club, just click this link:

https://www.joinclubhouse.com/join/winnipeg-manitoba-canada/wkl8qOeA/mgJVQEab

See you in Clubhouse! Even though the initial honeymoon period is over, I still find lots of interesting conversations to listen to and participate in! When you do join, search for me (I am using my standard red-background icon), and follow me!

Sinespace Creator Spotlight: Some Truly Gorgeous Gowns by ELL and BlakOpal Designs!

I was so impressed by the amazing ballgowns on display at the recent Formal Royal Music Event in Sinespace that I was inspired to write up a blogpost showing you just a few of the beautiful gowns available to purchase from the Sinespace Shop, either in your Sinespace client or via the website. Time to trot Vanity Fair out for some more modeling!


First up are a couple of absolutely stunning ballgowns from ELL. The first dress is called a wedding gown, and obviously it comes in various kinds of white, but it also comes in this stunning black colour with gold bodice accents!

Here’s a second look at it, under a different light, Isn’t it simply gorgeous?

All this luxury for only 100 Gold, from the Sinespace Shop, so it’s not only beautiful, but it’s also affordable! The dress comes in black as shown here, and in six different white versions, each with different colour accents: gold, plus black, blue, green, pink and red.


The second gown from ELL that I wanted to show you all is called Trina, and it is a showstopper! Trina comes in two versions, plain and glitter, and the best part is, they are tintable! You can also adjust the glossiness to go from a plan fabric to an almost latex gloss. Here’s what they look like on Vanity:

The plain (non-glitter) version of the Trina ballgown, tinted red, and with the glossiness turned all the way down
The truly stunning glitter version of the Trina ballgown, tinted gold and with the glossiness set to 50%

Check out the glitter effect in this video I shot in Sinespace! You will definitely turn some heads at your next elegant party! (Vanity is wearing a body light to enhance the effect.)

Both versions of the Trina gown can be tinted in the Outfit tab as shown (see the green arrow):

The Trina gown is available on the Sinespace Shop in both plain and glitter versions for only 200 Gold each.


The following black silk gown is called Allegro, by BlakOpal Designs (199 Gold in the Sinespace Shop).

But the Allegro gown is special in that it features working in-world cloth physics. Yes, you heard that right! The skirt of this dress drapes and flows naturally with the avatar as she moves, in much the same way as real-world cloth! Here’s a video showing you what that in-world cloth physics looks like on Vanity Fair, wearing the cream colour of the Allegro gown:

Mighty impressive! The Allegro ballgown by BlakOpal Designs comes in 10 different colours, for only 199 Gold each, or you can purchase the complete set of gowns for 1,399 Gold. You can purchase this dress from the Sinespace Shop, or from the in-world BlakOpal store (more information here).


This blogpost is sponsored by Sinespace, and was written in my role as an embedded reporter for this virtual world (more details here). 


UPDATED! Drug Culture in Social VR and Virtual Worlds: Some Explorations on 4/20 of Its Expression and Representation in the Metaverse

Photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

I have a confession to make: I have never smoked marijuana. (And no, I haven’t been tempted since my country, Canada, legalized cannabis three years ago.) When it comes to drugs, I am an utter square, a clueless noob, a babe in the woods. Instead of associating with the druggies in high school, I hung out with the kids you used to hang out in the library (which might explain why I became a librarian, come to think of it).

In fact (aside from my prescription medications (which I take for a list of ailments that only seems to grow longer the older I get), the only recreational drugs I have ever (ab)used are caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco (and the latter consisted of a mere handful of cigarettes smoked during my gay bar days, in a failed effort to look cool).

So I am probably the least likely person to write up a blogpost examining drug culture in social VR and virtual worlds. However, since I am (at least, by my own account) somewhat of an expert on social VR and virtual worlds, I thought it would be interesting to explore and examine those places in the metaverse which celebrate getting high. Why not?

So fasten your seatbelts, and let’s take off! 😉

Second Life

A natural starting point for our explorations is the venerable virtual world of Second Life, where there are no shortage of places featuring drugs (and which, no doubt, people have visited while high).

A quick search on “420” under Places in the Search menu pulled up Commune Utopia, a bohemian, hippie commune since 2011. There were only a few people hanging around, dancing to the music and just chilling out:

Commune Utopia in Second Life

A similar, laid-back vibe pervades the Free Spirit Farms hippie and bohemian community, The notecard you receive upon arrival states:

The idea behind Free Spirit Farms, is to surround ourselves with like minded people who consider themselves, or are free spirited, bohemian, modern day hippies.

Cool, man. However, it would appear that there were only a grand total of three avatars on the entire sim—hardly a Woodstock in the making!

All alone at the spawn point of Free Spirit Farms

One nice thing about Free Spirit Farms is that (if you join the Free Spirit Farms group for free), you can set this place to be your home location in Second Life, unpack boxes, etc.

A keyword search on “drugs” under Places threw up the usual inner-city crime roleplay sims, plus the aptly named Little Brown Mushroom, an absolutely deserted nightclub with a trippy 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s music list and a suitably druggy theme.

A Very Strange Tip Acid Experience Amusement Park was likewise deserted. If there were avatars celebrating 4/20 in Second Life, I completely failed to find them!

So I turned to what I considered my most likely spot to find drug culture in the metaverse:

VRChat

Once again doing keyword searches on “420” and “trip” under the Places menu brought up a few interesting worlds. “Drug” and “drugs” pulled up absolutely zero worlds (which led me to think that perhaps VRChat was censoring the terms). However, a search for “420” pulled up the promising-sounding “420 Forest”.

The 420 forest was nice enough, a winding path through a coniferous forest, lit by green fireflies, leading to a cozy central campfire, but like the places I investigated in SL, it too was absolutely and utterly deserted:

The 420 Forest World was deserted

I did find the Create a Trip world, one of many wonderful worlds created by TheArchitect. Create a Trip was certainly trippy in a kaleidoscopesque sort of way (but you’ll need to bring your own music, and your own drugs for that matter):

I was seriously striking out here, people. It occurred to me that perhaps, square that I am, I simply did not know the right people who could direct me to the right places? It also occurred to me that, on this high holiday of April 20th (see what I did there?), perhaps most aficionados of drug culture would be toking out in real life, instead of messing around in the metaverse?!??

Undaunted, I determined to persevere, and I moved on to… where? Where could I go next? I certainly wasn’t going to find any drug culture in Rec Room. AltspaceVR? Sansar? It would be next to impossible to find a 420 world in Sansar, even if one existed. So I decided to put my Valve Index headset back on my noggin, and headed into AltspaceVR. Perhaps the home of the BRCvr virtual Burning Man festival might provide some 420 content?

AltspaceVR

Success! SUCCESS!!! I finally encountered a group of 420 people in the BRCvr world, just in the final moments before they were shutting down for the day, and indeed shutting down the virtual playa in BRCvr completely, in order to build the next virtual Burning Man world for 2021! Here are a few snapshots I took using the in-world camera:

So, as you can see, there were indeed some people celebrating 420 in social VR!

What 420/drug culture worlds have you experienced in social VR and virtual worlds? I’m quite sure I missed more than a few worlds that were designed to feel like a trip, but as I said up top, I am not an expert. Anybody have any drug-themed metaverse locations for me to explore? Feel free to leave a comment below, thanks!

Photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

UPDATE 9:07 p.m.: Well, this evening I discovered that WOMBO had uploaded a whole whack of new song clips, just to mark 4/20, so I plugged a selfie of my main male Second Life avatar, Heath Homewood, into the app, and, well…I got to see what Heath would look like, stoned! (More info on WOMBO here.)

I am way, waaay too easily amused, folks.

UPDATE April 21st, 2021: I have been informed that NeosVR does have some drug-related content:

Ahh, I see you didn’t find our drug simulators. Neos has various types of object which simulate intoxicants. There’s also a shisha setup and a vape inside Neos Essentials.

And then I had to Google “shisha” to find out what that referred to (seriously, I didn’t know; it’s another word for a hookah). Apparently, NeosVR also has a series of colourblind vapes, which I assume would simulate various forms of colour blindness. Interesting!