Saturday, 25 February 2012

Sucker Punch

As the more canny among you might have noticed, I have changed my blog name to match up with my Second Life username. I'm not really sure why I ever decided it might to clever for those two names to be different anyway, but now they match up, so...identity mystery solved. Wytchwood is revealed!

Moving on. Swiftly.

I know I have written before - and at quite considerable length - about roleplaying in SL, but when I agreed to write another short scenario with Sian Pearl this week, I realised that there were a whole host of things I had not even begun to touch on.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.
Sian and I agreed a couple of days in advance that we were going to rp together. Such isn't always the case, and sometimes, I think, I prefer it not to be. Since Sian usually leads our sessions, she suggested that I try this time, and let me tell you, I have not been that nervous for a long time. I wasn't that nervous about my university audition! I wasn't given unlimited scope, however - Sian wanted to use a specific costume she had put together, which created the character of, and I quote, 'a cyberpunk hacker girl'. Short dress, full-sleeve tattoos, headphones around the neck. Slightly Rooney Mara-esque, I suppose, but Sian wasn't going for that. I'm just aware of the link as I have been bombarded with links to various pieces from the soundtrack to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because my friends know I like (read looooooove!) Trent Reznor. So off I went and pieced together a little cyberpunk storyline based around a situation I thought I might be able to force onto this hacker-chick. 

When I say 'off I went and pieced together...', what I really mean is that I went off and panicked like Hell for two days that I hadn't got the faintest idea about cyberpunk or hacking, or what might be an interesting storyline to make out of the two. I was also petrified that I would mess up my opening or miss something out that was crucial or, quite simply, be so deathly boring that Sian would never want to speak to me again. I am, I suppose, a rather shy writer. I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of people reading what I write, particularly in the fast-paced format of SL roleplay.

I believe I have written before about the notion of paragraph rp - where the participants write great long paragraphs, presumably into a Word document or something, then copy and paste them into SL - and whilst I appreciate the style, it is not for me. The beauty of SL is its ability for live responsiveness, and I enjoy the turn-taking and the ability to do exactly that - respond! - to what is playing out before me. That doesn't mean that sometimes my turn will not comprise of five or six lines, but I prefer to be concise and energetic. Paragraph rp, in my eyes, is for forums. 

I put together my costume - which, I confess, was just too funny. I made sure that Sian wasn't around whilst I was doing it, and then, once done, I messaged a mutual friend to ask her to come over and tell me if she thought I looked bitchy enough. She said yes. All systems are go. 

Go go mega-bitch?
When I logged into SL and teleported to Sian's house on Thursday morning - the agreed time -, I was confronted with a scene that did not quite look how I'd imagined it would. Sian had turned a room of her house into a space for us to rp. Without asking me, it would seem, she knew roughly what it was I would want, and how rubbish I am at finding appropriate sims. That, or she has some interesting photoshoot for her own blog in mind and just wanted another excuse to use her set.

It - and Sian - were not, however, what I had expected.

I walked into the room to find it clean and shiny - as I had hoped - but also harbouring a kind of giant test tube, in which stood not the cyberpunk hacker girl I had pieced together a plot for, but a hi-tech, half-naked cyborg woman with eyes fierce enough to leave Tyra Banks stunned. Suddenly, everything that had made Kitti look like a bitch before meant absolutely nothing. I realised that I was going to have to tailor my story to fit this new character, this new setting. I don't consider myself to be the most creative of people - I am better at building on other people's initial ideas - and so it was a challenge for me to do this, and one I took to with relish.

Sian, I think, assumed in the momentary silence that I was panicking. We laughed about this later. Impatience is a virtue, huh? One I am intimately familiar with.

How sinister-looking is that tube?!
That is one of the most wonderful, and the most annoying, things about SL rp - the ability for that change. You have to have a degree of flexibility because you don't necessarily know what the other person will bring to the table. This proved to be exciting in this particular rp with Sian. I provided the framework, the setting up of the circumstances, and she filled in the details, bringing to life an interesting character for whom you couldn't help feeling sorry, and yet simultaneously be afraid of. It gave a new lease of life to the character I had placed on to Kitti for this scenario, undermining her oh-so-sure sense of self and creating an interesting power-play between the two women.

And then she punched me.

Okay, so Sian Pearl, the virtually-physical avatar, did not punch Kitti Wytchwood. If she had, there'd have definitely have been screenshots, because that would be incredible. She punched her using the '/me' function - but that didn't make it hurt any less. Sian is considerably taller than the rather petite Kitti, and Sian as 'P', the character she used for this rp, is enhanced and mechanised and strong in a way that could - and eventually did - make virtual-mince meat of the all-too-human and squishy Kitti.

The capability for violence in SL is something that intrigues me. It is used in many scenarios, as I'm sure you can imagine, but it felt like the right conclusion for this one, as neither Sian or Kitti were going to give up intellectually. It was interesting, too, to see how the roles reversed and how, in the end, it was Sian/P that was the human one. Kitti just wanted to save her own neck.

I should perhaps add that Sian then effectively gave Kitti electroshock treatment in that test tube. No, that is not an innuendo. So if you're messaging Kitti in-world, I wouldn't expect her to be very coherent for the next few days. I have no doubt that if we opened the top of her virtual head, we could have some virtual scrambled eggs for breakfast.

This has been a long post, and I confess that I'm not one hundred percent sure what you have learned from it. I'd apologise but, quite simply, no.

If you would like to see Sian Pearl's (infinitely better) screenshot of the event, please click here. I tried to take some mid-rp, too, but they didn't really come out. All of the images used here were taken post-rp.


  1. Sounds like the 2 of you have been having some fun....I shouldn't worry about the length of the post because the content is intriguing, although I am not quite sure I have hold of the right end of the stick - you may have to explain to your aged mother the next time we skype...

    Mum xxx

  2. Sian is lots of fun. If you have some questions, fire away, because it might be something I have not explained so well in the post. But we can skype, too :) xxx


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