The Crafted Welcome by Sword Starfall and Anouk Koray

Sword Starfall and Anouk Koray elevate friendship-building to a craft. As the consummate hosts, their clubs comfort through a casualness that can make Second Life® so much fun. The virtual world is not just a place to be creative, to experiment, to develop connections, but also to escape from seriousness.

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The Crafted Welcome by Sword Starfall and Anouk Koray

Anouk: “Sword is the music man and the corporate schmoozer. He keeps the customers looked after. I build stuff and mess about. He is amazingly patient with me. I almost hardly ever drop heavy objects on him when he’s being ‘helpful’ during my building sessions.”

Sword: “If I keep a decent distance, we manage to work well together. I’m useless at building. Anouk is brilliant. However, we are extroverts, and can both get crazy if needed.”

Anouk: “Sword is more discreet and …Portuguese! We are both committed to this club too. This is actually our third club incarnation in the last four years. Our first, Mirage, ran for about two years. Then I wasn’t online as much, so Sword had his own little place—Cafe Bleu. Since I’m back more—Marcel’s came to be. Sword wanted the cozy French bistro.”

Sword: “And we created a full story for it. Marcel’s is the essence of what we’ve learned.”

Anouk: “We keep our places small, welcoming, and friendly— where we can be just ourselves. We enjoy chatting with guests and providing a place where they can do the same. A club becomes popular due to the people—ours is like a family. But new folks, hopefully, also feel welcome and comfortable.”

Sword: “The quality of the DJ’s also makes for popularity.

Anouk: “We are fortunate to have some amazing guest DJs.”

Sword: “The biggest challenge is how to make people that come in once want to come back again. This is the key. So we take time to talk to all that come in.”

Anouk: “We’re not doing this for money—we do what we love, and others seem to like it too. There’s no hard-sell—no sploders or flashing boards or any of that stuff, and no awful gestures. Folks can actually talk to each other.”

Sword: “I must admit that I have no musical skills, play no instrument, have no special musical instruction. I am a dilettante DJ, I guess. But I am a compulsive collector. It would be impossible to DJ if you didn’t listen to a great deal of tunes of all genres. And most importantly if you are not sure of what you like. I also learn from great DJ’s—such as Chriscloud Loon, Rhianon MacKenna and Calvin Hapmouche, G-Winz. G-Winz taught me that I must bring to the listener what I’d like him/her to listen to, not what is popular.”

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Anouk: “SL is my creative outlet. I like being able to form magnificent things at the touch of a button.”

Sword: ”And lovely ones too!”

Anouk: “Thank you. So if I could, I would do this same thing in real life. Can’t I run a club or build massive sets in reality? Umm…no—I can’t. We are limited by time, money, space, physicality…. But the sky is the limit in SL— and beyond. Here we have freedom.”

Sword: “I never considered being a DJ in real life. But here… there’s a quality to music in SL: you listen more carefully. Most people wear headphones and the association with screen images makes them focus. So if they are focused on image and sound, why not put them together? We built sets for special themes for years.”

Anouk: “Sword did a great set based on tunes about weather. And I work very hard to make the set give the feel of the music.”

Sword: “Marcel’s uses building and music (sight and sound) to establish a frame of mind.”

Anouk: “I’m very sociable in real life too. I like to make people laugh. SL allows me to do this on a totally different level. Nothing makes me happier than when folks turn up at one of my special show sets and go ‘wow!’—then leave with a smile. And meeting folks from all over the world— even making dear friends in real life—because of it. I’ve met several wonderful real life friends through SL. The friendships are real—110%.”

Sword: “We share that happiness around the world. You can meet a Portuguese guy here and a British woman in a French bistro.”

Anouk: “Socializing in SL helps folks do the same real life, particularly people who are shy and reserved. Socializing here helps them break that barrier. It is confidence building.”

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Anouk: “I used to play a silly little thing on Facebook called Yoville— incredibly basic. And someone there suggested I try SL instead— for it’s versatility and realism. I got here and was hooked. The colors, the scenery, the possibilities—beyond all imagination! I still marvel at it today.”

Sword: “The closest I got was Farmville on Facebook, so imagine the shock! I first found SL by chance, I was curious about the name: ‘second life.’ What could that be? A new game?”

Anouk: “(He’s very innocent.)”

Sword: “I realized the potential. If you consider SL a game, then I’m a good player.”

Anouk: “(I found him wandering in the woods and dragged him to his first SL wedding.)”

Sword: “People really try to make this look real. Realism is a way to respect your fellow avatars—if you do your best to treat them like they are real (which they are), then you will get empathy.”

Anouk: “Our places are popular because people are kind and pleasant. There’s no nastiness.”

Sword: “The champagne I gave you is not real, but I did my best to make you feel I was giving it to you, especially. The more you feel actually in a Paris bistro having champagne, listening to music, the better. You leave with the sense you really did that, as you would real life. Would it have been for real, it wouldn’t have been much different—not in the essence.”

Sword: “Mixing real life with SL is not an important issue.”

Anouk: “We did spend more time with each other than our real life partners or colleagues!”

Sword: “Although we disagree in mixing real life and SL, it doesn’t change the experience.”

Anouk: “We developed a good balance. Sword worries I might find out he’s not 32 years old with a six pack! When I make friendships, I have no problem taking that into real life. Why would I? I now have more great friends I didn’t have before.”

Sword: “I don’t feel the need to bring SL in my real world. Although some of it eventually does. Anouk and I do exchange gifts.”

Anouk: “But I respect Sword’s wishes and never (much) push it.”

Sword: “We have never Skyped or met in person. But we do text daily. When I think of Anouk, the image I have of her is the one you see now, maybe without the hat…”

Anouk: “Even if I’m not online for a few days, Sword buzzes me regularly.”

Sword: “It extends the fun beyond SL time. And we do know each other well.”

Anouk: “We know pretty much everything there is to know about each other—friends, family, grandkids, likes, dislikes…. Perhaps we are more purely ourselves here. We talk more, and don’t waste time with the day-to-day mundane stuff. We can be totally absorbed. This is a complementary place when we’re both working on the same project.”

Sword: “As a barkeeper, I have the same kind of relationship with visitors here as a real barman has.”

Anouk: “People like pour out their troubles to Sword. He’s a good listener.”

Sword: “Marcel’s is probably popular because people relax.”

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Anouk: “Sword likes to keep me on my toes with building projects. It’s NEVER finished.”

Sword: “Although an excellent builder, Anouk hates when I say ‘I’ve got an idea!’”

Anouk: “As soon as I finish one project (or before), he’s got something else in mind. I get a nervous twitch when he says ‘wouldn’t it be great if….’”

Sword: “(She loves a challenge!)”

Anouk: “I bought an animation for banging my head against the wall. It’s come in handy. But, much as I hate to admit it, most of Sword’s ideas are great, and quite a challenge to make happen.”

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Anouk: “We don’t get much drama here—our clientele are ‘grown-ups.’ They appreciate good music, good company, and good conversation.”

Sword: “The club’s atmosphere, the music, the shows, eventually make the difference on who stays.”

Anouk: “You either like it or your don’t. We don’t get youngsters. It’s not their kind of place. And that filters out most of the trouble.”

Anouk: “To those new in SL, I have this advice: have fun—don’t take anything too seriously, don’t get involved in other people’s dramas, and don’t ever try to run a club or business just to get rich.”

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Sim Street Journal explores the relevance of second to first life. © 2014 by Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal.
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