Monday, July 16, 2007

The Venice of Second Life: Day 1

I am going to take some pictures in the Venice of Second Life, Anshe Chung's continent of Plush. There are places with higher standards of building, there are posher avenues, there are more fantastic visions. But for sheer ambition, drive, scope and scale, Chung's Plush is the one that says "this is what SL could be like." And I might add, should be like. I don't blame Anshe, more power to her. She didn't call up LL one day and say "you should make SL's base experience terrible, that way I can sell a somewhat better one at a big mark up." She merely exploited what was there, and has held in mind what I think is the most important principle of commerce: don't pursue your dreams, charge other people for pursuing theirs. The road to other people's dreams, is paved with money.

Second Life's Anshe Chung realized, perhaps better than anyone, that "dreams" in the sense of visualized desires, is the bright day lit half of the world of SL. She spent time in the other half, and if she has anything to say about it, she hasn't said it publicly.

Her rise has provoked a great deal of jealousy, many people know that, if only they had been in SL earlier, they could have done what she has done. Many of them think this despite being squeamish about many of the things which Anshe did with abandon. She didn't just scoop up money from escorting, she was one of the guys about it according to people who knew her at that time. She didn't just do it, she clearly seemed to be having fun, and no one will ever know if she was faking it. So the answer to the critics out of jealousy is: you weren't here, and you don't know what she had to do, with a smile, to get where she is now. It is certain that if not Anshe, someone. But then that is true of many things.

The first picture is, naturally, centered on the Anshe Chung Studios tower, which sits in the middle of an artificial lake on the Western side of Plush, from here is visible a cathedral, and the beginning of the vast shopping district which is at the center of Plush.

This picture, taken at local dusk, captures the audacity and simplicity of what Chung is doing. It is, shall I say, the highest common denominator. As good as it can be, and leave almost no one out who wants to play. If LL allows the Lowest Common Denominator in the form of orgy rooms and camping to pump up statistics, it is Anshe's Plush which offers a view as to what SL could look like, if only it had a mass audience. The failure of LL to realize this is costing it dear, other virtual worlds are racing ahead by offering content that is "good enough" as opposed to content that is atrocious for free.

These features of Anshe Chung's output as a sim auteur are not to be triffled with. Here is a smoothness, and ease of entry. It is like good journalistic prose, almost invisible as a medium between author and reader, without stumble. Well almost, in my time here there were numerous building twitches that detracted from the polished image, gamma among them. However, the were in places and in ways that only a refined eye could see. One of the things about the world of commerce, as opposed to art or leisure, is that it is important to know when something worth doing, is not worth doing well.

Simplicity, democracy, audacity, scale. These are the pillars on which Chung has built an empire. Good enough, but good enough for everyone with the money to play.

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