Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Using SecondLife for abandoned roleplay

One of the ideas I was toying with -- and this is at a very basic brainstorming level, nowhere near intention, let alone plan -- was reviving some long-abandoned work on developing culture of a feline race. This originally was something I got into in Lusternia, which provided us with a sapient, bipedal feline race with some unique characteristics but without a well-developed culture. It just begged to be rounded out, and I and others set out to do so. This soon transformed from an enjoyable creative act to a source of endless frustration, thanks to the problems with the problems with Lusternia, and was abandoned.

The idea came to me in the context of SecondLife when people in the Elf Circle asked me about joining. This SecondLife group was described as a haven for dragons, elves, pegasi, etc. Humans, even those with a fantasy theme, were notably absent (though I was later given to think a few are allowed in the circle). The idea of adjusting my appearance to be elfen or dragon didn't appeal, and as I pondered other options (without any real sense that I wanted to be in, or not be in, the Elf Circle -- it was just the first opportunity I'd had to be welcome somewhere, which is itself worth note to someone as uncharismatic as me) the only thing that came to me was the aslaran race.

Well, brainstorming I had the idea of maybe making an enclave of people wanting to recreate this race and the work on culture we'd been doing; and the freedom SecondLife offers to build your own appearance and the objects around you made that even seem feasible (albeit awfully expensive). So just as something to pass the time, I set out looking for feline body skins.

Right from the start this was discouraging. The few people I talked to about this only could think of a few things I might mean: anime-style catgirls and kitsune, shops that offer giant cat jungle gyms to climb on, and everywhere I turned, "furries". The skins I saw either were humans with a few cat elements (interesting, but completely not what I had intended), or domesticated cats (stylized or not) on two feet, or anime-style things vaguely related to lions or tigers, but conveying exactly zero sense of being a fierce predator.

It's not so much the lack of an appropriate costume that was discouraging. I could feasibly find a better one (towards bedtime a fairly good source was found, not fully explored yet) or make my own. The discouraging thing was that there was no way to explain to people what I was looking for without them leaping into one of these very wrong impressions (catgirl, neko, anime, and/or furries). If I did go ahead somehow, I would be hard-pressed to find people interested, and harder-pressed to be clear that this isn't meant to be some wish-fulfillment fantasy or kinky sex den, but an exploration of and development of a culture of a race: a way of answering, what might a race be like that derived from felines rather than primates? Naturally, kinky sex could be part of that, as could wish-fulfillment fantasies, but only in context, and secondary to the overall intent. But simply setting the tone and purpose would be an endless uphill battle, and I'd doubt I could find people to participate.

I'll keep poking around -- it's a very big world, so maybe there are people who would be more interested in and understanding of this idea, and willing to participate, somewhere I haven't been -- partially because it's something to do. But it's not the only avenue I'm considering for things to use SecondLife for.

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