Sudane Erato: Nature as Redefined

pioneer profile

by Sudane Erato, New England Estates, Blake Sea
(Please see the in-world release or download Sim Street Journal#4 for more photographs, articles, and functionality. Also available on MARKETPLACE).
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Getting my feet wet
Eight years ago, fascinated, I watched over my nephews’ shoulders as they played Warcraft. But I knew that games were not for me. Then I read a story in the New York Times about Second Life®. I knew that was it. I spent two weeks on Orientation Island before I had the courage to enter the Real SL.

There was a lot here in 2004—just fewer sims. At first, I explored, and after a month, I joined a community (called then Neualtenberg, now the Confederation of Democratic Sims). I still belong and serve as EO, but I am not the owner. A democracy—a community who sets their own laws mutually while owning their own sims—is like a real town meeting. The group has found it needs LOTS of laws.

I began New England later, which is a simple, normal estate. I own it, and I have maybe four or five very loyal, long term residents who help as EMs. We are very close and have a great deal of control. We can toss out anyone who doesn’t follow our rules, though in the CDS, we must tolerate all sorts. Perhaps we are all benevolent dictators, though separate. We have the shared principles, so we support each other in those.

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The owners in the United Sailing Sims also go back before Linden Labs established the Blake Sea. We are one of the first three and share a clear common purpose, which is what keeps us together, even though we have plenty of fights. We resolve our differences because we are mature adults. Also, we will exclude new applicants who seem immature and not capable of common action.

For a community to last a long time, principles and goals must both align and be consistent. This close group has been together six years—a very long time in SL! Although the land is expensive, we value what we do together. We all want a beautiful and peaceful estate to enjoy, so we are willing to work together to get it.

Yet we struggle to keep our sims and break even. New England had 45 sims in 2009-10; now we have 25. We can never again grow back to what we once were. We depended on the tier grandfathering to stay alive. I’ve slowly had to give sims up—too expensive, even at the grandfathered rate. A homestead resident has to pay $110US/month— that’s much! It would be hard for me if I wasn’t able to make a business of it. I fear the expense may someday cause SL its end.

With a staff of almost 50 people, we work hard to attract and help new residents. There are two fairly equal sized groups in New England—those who stay for years, and those who stay only for a month or two. Sometimes new people flood in, and then sometimes they flood out. It’s hard to predict.

Both communities in SL keep me really busy. A bit restricted by real life responsibilities, I normally spend a few hours each day logged in, and all day on the weekends.

In real life, I’m a finance person for non-profit companies, and that’s basically what I do in SL as well. Managing people and money flow together. But I have never been so involved with so many people as I am here, and the people relationships…. I’ve learned a whole lot!

SL mirrors RL
I love New England, and I have always lived in adjacent New York City. But I am not a sailor. I’m very good at riding with someone else. However, I DO understand why people love it, and I’m happy to share a place where sailing is so wonderful. I like swimming too—not much good at it in real life—but I love it here!

Many sailors in SL are also sailors in real life. When they just can’t get to really sail, they log in here. We work to make sure the sims are adjusted for the best sailing. With the connection to the Blake Sea, you can literally sail for hours!

The owners of properties bordering the Sea support that kind of use long-term. However we control our lands, we can’t control what activity is on the seas.

Today there is a new kind of problem on the open water—it can become a battleground that blocks sailors. We set up defense lines for our own lands against such warfare. We also share information when there are griefers. If people want wars, there should be designated areas for their battles, and not blow up peace-loving sail boats.

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Rules are for a reason
We are committed to preserving the advantages here. Maintaining a truly beautiful environment requires a lot of rules. Many will chaff at them, but they are necessary for theme and harmony. The culture of SL is very much “Do things your own way.” We restrain that here. Many love it, and say how beautiful it is… but then don’t wish to follow the rules to keep it beautiful. Those people should not live here.

New England is the strictest. We feel we must be. Many users are very self-centered, and have no concern for the ability of others to enjoy sailing here too, i.e., some bring in HUGE boats which block entry to everyone else.

Although I would love to expand, adding new USS estates is very hard. New estate owners must be of like mind, and accept all of our principles, and there must be a place to put them. Linden Labs has its many challenges. It is our premise that USS estates offers the kinds of activities that LL seems to encourage.

Many leave SL because they are unrealistic about “community.” They feel that the virtual world should be utopia—that everyone should love everyone. But people are people— same in real life and SL. This is not a game.

To do well in SL, realize that you are on your own. Despite the LL attempt to build playgrounds, find your own enjoyment… it won’t be handed to you.

This is a world community. Be open minded. There are people from all positions, opinions, religions. I love  how this is like an extreme New York! Now, I have dear friends in every corner of the globe.

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Passion for greater reality
Perhaps I express my “mother-side” when caring for community members. I have no children in real life, so they are substitutes! Yet, though I deal with a lot of people, and dearly love many close to me, I’m a recluse.

My favorite place in New England is on my beach with its little house. It is inspired  by Great Island, which is a real place in Wellfleet on Cape Cod. I love it now in both real life and in virtual life. The seagull is my spirit bird—nasty, noisy and beautiful.

Because I love shaping nature, I built most of New England myself. My preference is to be authentic. This is a dream of what we imagine to be real.

But I feel differently about my avatar. This is my real size and approximate shape, though I am not black. Rather, I’m a mix of German and Greek. This skin was so beautiful, I adopted it years ago. The original was much too young. The artist who created it has aged it along with me. I commissioned this adjustment when I was 63, two years ago. I have no desire to pretend to be 29. I am who I am, and very happy to be 65. But I do think the artist is too flattering! 🙂

One way or another, we all wear masks in the virtual world. These masks are fascinating! SL is real life—don’t kid yourself. We are real people with real feelings. People are just as complex as in real life.

Nothing is easier here—except moving earth and building houses. The evidence is that I have more close friends here than in real life. There must be something to this environment that is so healthy. It has two sides, like everything, but with greater choices. I do wonder when someone is not willing to voice. And I wish we had better gestures and expressions. I am part Greek… body language is everything!

Many people I meet are mature and generous, but those coming to New England are self-selecting. I’m sure we emanate a “mature vibe,” and many may want nothing to do with that, except maybe to sail through.

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Published monthly in complimentary versions: in-world and online.
(Please see the in-world release or download Sim Street Journal#4 for more photographs, articles, and functionality. Also available on MARKETPLACE).

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