Thursday, 8 September 2011

Role-Playing: Part Three - Denizen, Deviant

Almost an ideal world? (I jest)

I'm imagining that this is going to be the second to last post specifically dedicated to role-playing. Hurray! It could probably be the last, but I have a feeling that I'm going to have an awful lot to say about the Restrained Love Viewer that I promised to write about in part one, and I'm also concerned that I am far too wordy, and won't be able to get my oh-so-enlightening conclusion into this post, either. We shall see how it goes.

The most confusing thing about SL RP, in my opinion, is that the medium itself seems to require a level of role-playing, anyway. When I joined SL, I made it quite clear to those who answered my questions that I was a student, carrying out a kind of enthnography for my Performing Online class. Not long after I joined Laertes' crew, I met a lady who said she was a Sociology lecturer who was investigating the virtual world, too. I excitedly told one of my university housemates this and he replied "Or so she says". I felt a little put-out. What motive did this woman have to lie? Where was her verification that I had not lied to her? It doesn't sound all that likely, really, does it? What business has Theatre and Performance Studies in/with Second Life? But at the same a world where the only limits are your imagination (and maybe your bank account), what tethered her to the truth?

You've got to admit, though; Sociology sounds a lot more plausible than Theatre.

From what I have observed of SL, there seems to be a particularly large community of RPers who surround themselves in vampire lore - and I don't think it would be wrong to say that it is lore heavily inspired by Len Wiseman's "Underworld" films. Many of the vampire sims I have explored are very dark and blood-laden and, as much as I am totally in love with "Underworld", I wish I would come across something a little more inspired by Anne Rice and her beloved Vampire Lestat. But that's beside the point.

"Behold, the Queen of the Damned"
There is a system in place within SL that allows for avatars-turned-vampires to "scan" other avatars and see which ones are fresh, and which are blood dolls - that is, which have never been fed on by a vampire, and which are routinely fed on. Not being a vampire, I have no idea what this looks like, or what form the information takes, but I have friends in dark places, and they tell me it is so. 

If they wish to feed on you, they have to send through an attack request. A little message pops up on the bottom of the screen, announcing that "Dracula would like to attack you. Do you accept?". If you do accept, a whole system of animations are set into motion: the vampire will pounce onto your avatar and bite your throat. You as the victim will struggle a little, before collapsing onto the ground. I presume that, after a short while, you can get up and act like nothing happened. There is certainly no lasting damage to the victim. No lasting physical damage, anyway.

Disturbing as it may seem, I actually think that the system is really clever. Though the requests remove any kind of surprise or danger from the attack, the animations give it a slight tangibility that, say, the slavers text-shoving a grenade in my mouth did not have. It does not rely solely upon the text to make it happen, and I think there's a brownie point for SL in that.

It is more complex than that, however. As a vampire, you have a blood level of five litres that you must keep replenished. If it hits zero, you will be sent to a kind of limbo, where you have to pay an arm and a leg (not literally, I don't think) to get out again. What that basically means is that you have to find a willing victim and feed each night - or at least fairly regularly. I have no real clue how fast the blood level drops. But still: that seems like a lot of work, particularly if you weren't planning to do some vampire RP that night...

When I was told about this, I was concerned that my vampire friend was stuck in this system forever. She did assure me that there is a way out of the needing-blood system...she just doesn't know what it is. I'm slightly worried that one day I shall log in and she will have vanished from the face of SL because she forgot to get all deviant.

In the spirit of RP and sims with a dress-code, I tried to make myself over in vampire-style. I was not particularly successful. Perhaps I should stress that I spent zero money on this, made me laugh, at least:

The screenshot at the top of this post, "in character, no guns, no kids", is a sign from an RP sim that I confess, I cannot remember the name of. Those were the main rules for the sim, along with the suggestion that I pick a role type to play as:

"Lurker, Innocent, Deviant, Denizen". None of them sound particularly appealing, huh? And once you picked one, it send me a ream of information via a notecard, and asked that I submit my application to take on that role to this, that and ome other person. I checked the radar, saw that nobody else was around, and walked straight passed.

In their notes, however, it was suggested that this was a dark sim, where dark things can happen, and that we should dress according, so...

I put my dirt layer on:

Alarming poses in the background, huh? What was supposed to take place on this sim again?

You knew I was going to mention the dirt again.

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