Yesterday was my Rez Day; I’m five years old. Well – I may need to explain this more fully. I’m speaking of Second Life, and my rez day is the anniversary of my first day in that virtual world, five years ago.
Second Life is hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced it. It isn’t a game exactly, but that is probably the best way to understand it. I would say it’s a cross between World of Warcraft or the Sims and Facebook. Some have described it as a chat room with visuals.
People who have heard of Second Life in media reports may not be impressed. Such reports tend to focus on some of the stranger or more scandalous aspects – the escort trade, the gambling, the bank failures or the fetish communities — they seem to miss the vibrant arts and culture communities of Second Life. It would be hard to log in at any time of the day or night where there was not live music available somewhere on the grid – often original live music – and there are now so many art shows you would be hard-pressed to visit them all. Live theatre and dance, magazines and a radio station all have their place.
I got my start as an artist in Second Life. I wouldn’t be an artist had I not tried it out first in this virtual environment where I had such success and received so much encouragement that it started to seem possible, even reasonable, to go for the real thing. So, I submitted a piece in response to a “call for entries” at a local gallery and won first prize! I was surprised how much the opening reception was just like all the virtual art openings I had ever virtually attended. I was captivated and it launched my artistic career.
I know a lot of people find this whole story very strange, but I still frequent the arts community of Second Life. I’ve met a number of very fine artists there who I would have been unlikely to know any other way and who have become my friends. So to celebrate my rez day, I sent this image to my Second Life friends. It says something to me about knocking on doors that show up in your life, like the one Second Life offered me.