Taking a Break

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

I’ll be taking a break from blogging until at least the weekend, perhaps longer. I find I need a little more time to recharge my batteries, so I can come back refreshed and re-energized.

Have a wonderful week, and we’ll see you sometime next week!


Editorial: Seeking Comfortable Places in an Uncertain World (Like Second Life)

Image by iha31 from Pixabay

Oatmeal is my comfort food. A bowl of hot oatmeal, with brown sugar and cinnamon, makes me feel warm and comfortable. (I just had some this morning, as a matter of fact. I am rediscovering all kinds of tastes cooking and baking for myself, staying home and flattening the pandemic curve as we Canadians are being asked to do by our federal, provincial, and local governments.)

Longtime followers of my blog know that my blogging journey has taken quite a few twists and turns over the years. You might have noticed that I have slowed down my formerly blistering pace of blogging a fair bit.

I think it’s normal to have a sort of ebb and flow over time—periods where you write four or five or even six posts a day (I think my personal daily record was eight), and other times when the ideas for new blogposts don’t come quite so freely. Sometimes, you just need some time to sit back, let the ideas percolate a bit, and wait for inspiration to strike. All creative people know this process well.

And you might also have noticed that I am covering Second Life a lot lately. I mean, I am covering Second Life quite a bit more often than Sinespace lately, and I am getting paid to cover Sinespace! So why is that?, I ask myself.

I think one of the reasons that I keep coming back to Second Life, time and again, is that (much like oatmeal), I associate it with comfort. And I find myself seeking out comfortable places more than usual lately, places where I know the territory intimately, know my way around, and where I feel some (weird) sense of normalcy in this atypical, unprecedented time of coronavirus pandemic, when everything in the real world seems out-of-balance and precarious. At a time when gathering in crowds is potentially dangerous in the real world, many people are gathering in virtual worlds like Second Life. I find places like FogBound Blues, Frank’s Jazz Club, and Muddy’s Music Café are more popular than ever.

For example, yesterday evening, I spent a very companionable evening in my favourite SL watering hole, the Pino 1971 bar, where I chatted amiably with the customers and the dancers for several hours while the (virtual) rain poured down in the alley outside, and the (real) rain came down outside my window. I could put aside my worries and concerns about the pandemic and just have some enjoyable, wide-ranging conversations.

I made a new friend, a cigar-smoking, snappily-dressed anthropomorphic wolf in a fedora and a three-piece suit, and we chatted about where he got his absolutely awesome avatar (JOMO) and why, ironically, he didn’t feel a part of the sizeable furry community in Second Life. (I wish I had thought to take his picture. He looked magnificent. I really appreciate those people who put time and energy into their avatar appearance.)

Every so often, a certain favourite dancer he liked would pull out her fans on the red crushed velvet stage, and he would saunter over and enjoy the show, leaving a good tip of Linden dollars to show his appreciation. Then he would come back to where I was sitting, on the sofa near the neon jukebox, to continue our conversation. (It sure beat the hell out of your average text chat with emojis in Discord or on the Second Life community forums.)

I’ve noticed a definite uptick in Second Life traffic on my blog over the past three weeks, and Linden Lab has also reported an increase in both new and returning users to SL. Perhaps others, too, are looking for a place of solace, refuge and escape—a place of comfort in an uncertain, perilous world?

Image courtesy of 1920s Berlin landlady Jo Yardley (source)

P.S. Expect more coverage of other virtual worlds and social VR platforms in the next week, including Sinespace and Decentraland. Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten you!

A Few Housekeeping Changes, and a Return to My Original Focus

Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

I have decided that, effective immediately, I will no longer be using this blog as my pandemic diary. While the experiment over the past three weeks has proved interesting, and some people have commented that they liked to see some aspects of the real life of the blogger behind the blog, I also realize that they detract from the main purpose of this blog which is, as the tagline states, “news and views on social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse”.

I will also refrain from writing about the coronavirus pandemic in general, unless it also has something to do with my main focus: social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse.

I will also be taking a few days off from this blog, because I need to take a break.

My Top Ten Blogposts of All Time

And the winner is…
(Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash)

While I am quite certain that I do not have anywhere near the same amount of traffic as popular, long-established fellow bloggers such as Wagner James Au of New World Notes or Strawberry Singh, my WordPress stats are telling me that I am now consistently getting between 1,100 and 1,300 views per day, which is a significant increase in just the past week. Thank you for your support!

Apparently, a lot of people who are trying to find ways to cope with social isolation policies, lockdowns, and quarantines during the coronavirus pandemic are busy setting up new accounts on Second Life, or dusting off old ones to pay a return visit! Almost all of that new traffic to my blog is Second Life-related, especially my continuing coverage of Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies. And there have certainly been a lot of high-quality freebies that have been given out by various stores during the pandemic, to encourage people to stay home and play Second Life instead of going out! (If you’re looking for one handy summary of my best advice for finding freebies in Second Life, here it is.)

I am endlessly amused that my all-time most popular blogpost of all time is one that is the top Google search result when you search on “vrchat adult” (which, apparently, quite a lot of people do):

  1. UPDATED! The Dirty Little Secret of VRChat: Hidden Adult Content (with 26,728 views as of today; that link is quite safe for work)

The remainder of my Top Ten are:

2. UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: Free and Inexpensive Mesh Heads and Bodies for Female Second Life Avatars (17.096 views)

3. Meet the Man Who Has Lost 200 Pounds Playing Beat Saber in VR (this is one of my posts that actually got picked up by Google News; 10,598 views)

4. UPDATED: NOW AVAILABLE! More Details on the Upcoming Ability to Change Your User Name in Second Life (9,843 views)

5. UPDATED! Linden Lab Announces a Mix of Good News and Bad News for Second Life Users (6,456 views)

6. UPDATED! Oasis: A Brief Introduction to a New, Adults-Only Social VR Platform (link is safe for work; 5,969 views)

7. UPDATED! RyanSchultz.com Reader Poll: What Social VR/Virtual World Do You Spend the Most Time In? (5,568 views)

8. UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: Free and Inexpensive Mesh Heads and Bodies for Male Second Life Avatars (5.052 views)

9. Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: The Four Best Freebie Stores in SL (4,751 views)

10. Comprehensive List of Social VR Platforms and Virtual Worlds (4,750 views)

Five of my Top Ten are blogposts about Second Life, which is far and away the most popular part of my blog. For someone who once swore up, down, and sideways that I would never become a Second Life blogger…guess what, Mom? I’m now a Second Life blogger.

I even joined the Second Life Blogger Network, and every so often, Strawberry Linden (formerly SL superblogger Strawberry Singh) kindly spotlights one of my blogposts on the official Second Life Community News feed, thus bringing me even more traffic. (Thank you, Strawberry!)

And (once again), two of my Top Ten posts are about adult content in social VR platforms and virtual worlds: VRChat (#1) and Oasis (#6, which was a sharply critical review of the struggling platform, which I do expect to fold at some point). It would appear that sex sells…or at least, it attracts readers who are searching Google for adult virtual worlds, which is a niche that, as I wrote in another popular blogpost (this link is also safe for work):

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.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has proven to be a game-changer, an unprecedented global health crisis that has had completely unanticipated impacts on all kinds of businesses (for good or ill), disrupted all kinds of practices and behaviours, and upended all kinds of conventional wisdom. So, perhaps, adult social VR platforms and virtual worlds will see an increase in usage if people can’t swipe right on Tinder? Who knows what will happen. It will be fascinating to watch.

But no, I still don’t plan to cover adult/sex-based platforms in the same way I write about other niche and more general-purpose social VR platforms and virtual worlds. Despite my very rare past forays into that market on this blog, I will be leaving that field to somebody else to cover. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

I’m pretty certain that the adult virtual world Oasis is really struggling financially, and it will probably fold. The link to watch the trailer on their website homepage, which is located just under the blue “Play Free” button on this screenshot I took, no longer works, something that should have been fixed months ago, if things were going well. If nobody from the company has even bothered to fix something that potential customers see on the front of their official product home page, to promote Oasis, things must be very, very bad indeed.