Africa in Virtual Worlds

…Journal of our Experiences with Social Media and Virtual Worlds to date…

Fishing in 3D into 2011

From Uthango here in South Africa, we would like to wish you a wonderful New Year in 2011. May it bring many good developments for humanity and technology in service of humanity. Hope that the challenges of 2010 will be turned into opportunities.

If you feel like chilling before the clock strikes at midnight, we will be fishing from 9pm SLT/PST with the great 7Seas Fishing Game in Second Life, at our Virtual Africa – where else. Aayia Jun, our estate manager, will be your host. There is a special spot next to Crocodile Creek at the jetty and also another (for the same contest) in the metaAfrica Township Pond between the shacks. Click to Teleport to our river if you have a Second Life account. Fishing in Second Life has always been enjoyable to me, ever since I first experienced it at Extropia. Here is Crap Mariner at another beautiful fishing spot – of which there are numerous all round the grid:

From the Flickr Group for 7Seas Fishing – Picture by isfullofcrap with some Rights Reserved.

We hope to see you soon when we throw in some virtual bait and hope to get hold of something other than junk and pollution, cause in all honestly, there has been some of that going around lately in our beloved Second Life.  Outside of SL, we have a serious problem here in Africa with pollution of our riverbeds and wetlands and many governments and conservation agencies are making appeals to intervene. Recently a report out of Ethiopia by Melanie Preiser stated:

The quality of river water in general is not good and rivers can’t be used for any purpose at all anymore!….(and later) As per the independent researcher, village people still use river water for drinking purpose, cooking and washing, because they don’t have access to purified water. Also the cattle will drink from it.

We are keen to understand more about issues of conservation and the environment, and even though this area is not core business for the social impact of Uthango’s programmes in South Africa, we would very much like to actively support organisations working on matters of food and water security, and hygiene and sanitation.  So, in the mean time, as we strategize how to do this effectively, we can fish in 3D in Second Life and enjoy an ideal clean river with herons and reeds, and artificial crocodiles. And when there, we can think about other virtual streams to swim. Come join us…

All kinds of Chickens in Virtual Worlds

There is an extraordinary group of musicians in South Africa, called Freshlyground and today they release the official online video of their brilliant song ‘Chicken to Change’ to inspire the President of Zimbabwe to change his ways:

The sliding economy of Zimbabwe and lack of regard for ordinary citizens and their economic freedoms is serious business in this African country – affecting the image of the continent. We found ourselves thinking about Second Life and the way in which its leaders (too) disregard citizens and their efforts to date. Now look, here is a recent example with Linden Lab entering the virtual pet industry and partnering with Ozimals to provide breedable pets – bunnies! I first saw a reference to this via Twitter, when Phaylen Fairchild posted about the collaboration and commented on it extensively and critically. Daniel Voyager also wrote about the deal to get more bunnies out there in the virtual lands of Second Life’s uninhabited fields.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am all for supporting artificial wild life in virtual worlds (no pun intended). From our side, we sure would have liked Linden Lab to acknowledge our own meerkat that roams Virtual Africa, developed on request by SL Inworld Productions three years ago when we could not find animated animals and few others were thinking of such clever virtual pets on the Second Life platform. We would have given our front teeth (or theirs!) if residents could log in and get spammed with an offer to adopt a meerkat, name it, send it away to climb acacia trees, dig holes for food or sleep to feel better. Since 2008, our meerkats have been doing just that and survived various SL updates without being re-scripted ;) They are no breeding bunnies (and this post is NOT one to sulk about LL choosing ‘breedable” pets and not an once-off meerkat experiment, because the virtual pet business is not ours), but I have to say the meerkat sure have character, as this videoclip from LifeFactory Writer shows:

In fact, there are many very talented creature creators in virtual worlds – and certainly more animated ones outside of Second Life in the wonderful world of gaming. (Let me not even go there now).  We wonder what the impact will be on this latest collaboration and if it is any indicator of where Linden Lab is heading. Should we read anything into the alignment with breeding bunnies at the exclusion of other more advanced species? Prokovy Neva sticks to his chickens from sion and we will stick to our meerkats and support many wild life creators on the grid.  Our policy at Virtual Africa has always been: “If it is the best of its kind, we will showcase it there in the savannah“… so, indeed, we may have to try out these bunnies if offered :p Also, consider this an open invitation to come and display and sell your animals at Virtual Africa free of charge (Terms and Conditions do apply). Contact us via email: a.recreant@gmail.com or tweet us @VirtualAfrica.

Phaylen Fairchild questions how arts could be passed over for bunnies and reflects on a few other decisions by Linden Lab to withdraw support to prominent initiatives, and a professional pet developer (withholding his/her name) replies poignantly:

I was sincerely disappointed in LL’s decision to get behind Ozimals and support them solely, although there are about 20 of us developers of breedables now…

This is the crux of the matter – a deep lack of understanding (or conflict of interest) between creating an enabling environment for virtual enterprise (and making your money from doing this well enough) or running a competing virtual enterprise. In a tough economy, Linden Lab may have opted for the latter – to compete with its residents and content creators.This narrow-minded vision may very well be one of the reasons why co-founder Philip Rosedale … well, was chicken (?) and left the chicken coop  – something we  all still need to digest after being told not so long ago how Second Life will tackle the future and go ‘back to basics’, and how it will continue to grow… umm, breed?  Or maybe, he was simply NOT chicken to change and has moved on when the bunnies came out to play with …. (what next?).  Maybe Lindens should pass out bunnies instead of bears now?

In the mean time, you are always welcome in our virtual township  in Virtual Africa, where we have replicated a small food garden complete with free range chickens – these are a popular food source in African communities. With food security such important topic world wide, we should all start to think about multipliers – and not only in the virtual worlds ;)

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