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Blog by Ina Centaur » Death and Tier


To pay or not to be…

Written by ina on Thursday, 26 of May , 2011 at 12:24 am

So, the issue of the day with Ina Centaur is something that sounds… rather not so trippingly on the tongue, and it’d probably make you groan horrendously or have you shake your fist or make you feel absolutely compelled to slap me.

It’s… “To pay or not to be…”

In short: Ina Centaur’s account is due for deletion because she’s created way too much in an expensive virtual world called Second Life and can’t figure out what to do with her creations, and it’s both emotionally debilitating (she locked herself in a room for an entire year and a half to build everything herself, so it’s like parting with a pound of life-flesh) and technically painful (no easy way to back up entire sims without losing script functionality, missing prims and texture defunc’s).

In a civilized real life, if you get into money trouble, you can declare bankruptcy or get put in jail. In the jungle and in the mafia, they’d send you sleeping with the fishes. In Second Life, it’s kind of like that — if you can’t pay up on land tier, Linden Lab will kill your avatar. Or, in more technical terms, they would deactivate your prepaid account prematurely and delete your avatar and all its inventory items.

Anyway: The most heartwrenching screenshot of the month:

To pay or not to be ... that is the question
 And now, the FAQ
  • I donated X to Primtings Museum or I donated Y to mShakespeare. What happened to my X or Y? Shakespeare and Primtings island sims are safe! Shakespeare is divided up into land shareholders — the actors and top-supporting patrons, who are contributing with the understanding that this overseeing group’s goal is to keep Shakespeare Shakespeare. Primtings is completely funded by you via the pCampaign. (Go Primtings!)
    • This is absolutely amazing because these two sims are totally nonprofit and absolutely rent free. Oh wait, so are the other ones!
  • What happens to sLiterary? Since 2008, sLiterary, Inc. has tried to create and envision what Second Life can be, and has done its best to further the arts in Second Life. Tier aside, sLiterary is grateful for its founding members absorbing the RL fees in establishing a RL nonprofit. But, a real life nonprofit can’t exist purely in SL with no further external funding. Creating a nonprofit organization dedicated to “furthering the arts in Second Life and beyond” was a pipedream. The sLiterary sim is currently not funded, and is due to go down.
  • What happens to my rental at __? Our defunct rental manager has not been collecting rent from you for the past year or two, or you haven’t been paying. Second Life can be a totally creative place that’d inspire people to create, but Linden Lab makes it expensive — and it’s like a pyramid scheme, where the landlords become slave to tier, and the landworkers become slave to the landlord’s tier, and so on. We’d like to offer everyone free spaces forever and ever to create, but we’re not sure where or how the money to pay Linden Lab to not pull the plug would come from.
  • OK, Primtings is safe, pCampaign went well. Why don’t you run more fundraisers? Well, I don’t like holding failed fundraisers without a contingency plan. Long story short: Several years ago, mShakespeare held a SOS Fundraiser that included a number of creative events, but in the end, it was really one major donation from a sudden patron that made the story — the contingency plan was in piquing the interest of large-donors. It’s basically symmetrical with RL theatre fundraising demographics — it’s the big companies that sponsor the bulk of the show, and since there are no big companies in SL, it’s just high-paying patrons.
    • Long story long: Despite being virtual, land in SL is expensive, and everyone does their own thing on their own land. mShakespeare absolutely needed a dedicated theatre space for live theatrical shows with full-avatar costuming, interactive self-rotating stage sets, and a 4-sim Globe Theatre (now to be demolished to single sim), and as I summarized in my SL Shakespeare @ SLCC 2009 presentation, beyond just engaging the community to help raise funds just to pay tier, but for a cause that tried to create a good within Second Life — to be received by people, everywhere — we got a lot more people interested in mShakespeare and its quixotic endeavor. In that one failed fundraiser, I created a nyotaimori sculpture and asked a certain SL celebrity to “wear it”, as people “purchased” fundraiser virtual sushi off this virtual avatar. It took about a week to painstakingly arrange all those sushi pieces in place, given SL’s limited creation tools – lacking basic align and 4-camera-port features commonly found in other 3d modeling tools. It was a creation spree that I’d really hope could have raised a certain amount, but it didn’t. Oh well, so what, it’s a failed fundraiser, but… I didn’t feel very good about it, because from the perspective of efficiency, even the lamest thing I could have done in RL could have helped raise more funding for this cause that everyone always looks at me with these sorry eyes for in RL — I could, as Naergilien point out, go work at McDonalds or somewhere @ minimum wage CA for a day, and even then, raise more funding for Shakespeare.
  • What will you do? How will this work if you forfeit your avatar — and yet Shakespeare and Primtings are prepaid and still up? Well, Shakespeare and Primtings are prepaid six months in cash already, so, hopefully, Linden Lab will respect these prepaid islands. It’s a mess — on one hand, Ina Centaur has like 100,000+ inventory, most of which she created herself. But, much of this content, being created for Second Life, can’t really be used elsewhere, and if Ina Centaur has no future in Second Life, I guess the natural thing to do is to have her simply not be… in Second Life.
  • Wait, didn’t you talk to Rod Humble the other day in RL? Surely, he can’t say no to Shakespeare?! Shakespeare can save SL! Short answer: alas, no, he doesn’t see it. But, I did get to catch up with Rodvik at this academic conference, but he wasn’t officially there for Second Life / Linden Lab , so he deferred my pitch to email. So, I sent the obvious email pitch — 1 line summary: mShakespeare imagery and other mShakespeare press can really help improve SL’s image, press, (etc), but, it’s a painful struggle to pay tier to keep making these productions live and wonderful… please exchange for something like tier amnesty? No reply from him, but since you mentioned this, I’m faced with an alternative interpretation of the above. Maybe it’s his sadistic way to say I’ve stepped out of my bounds, that he thinks mShakespeare and the SL Shakespeare legacy is worth mere pocket change to him (i.e., the screenshot amount above)… and I either have to pay his pocket change or lose it all. What a choice.
  • Ina, are you serious? You have to snap out of it. Go walk into their office and yell at them or something. I mean, they’re in your town, anyway! Well, I’ve tried that. They wouldn’t let me in, and they wouldn’t believe that I’m Ina Centaur with these epic islands… since I kind of have this issue of being carded everywhere I go, looking like I’m a 12 yo schoolgirl in RL.
  • That is so B.S. about how you can’t get the RL nonprofit equivalent of big corporate donors. There are sooo big SL companies in SL. Have you contacted Stiletto Moody or Anshe Chung?  I’ve tried IMing Stiletto to no response, but other than that, I have no idea how to contact them. I’ve tried following up on Anshe after SLCC, but she seems to have gone into stealth mode in RL. Big donors are always appreciated — they make things like this work. mShakespeare certainly has the nice donor perks booklets and such to entice them, but I don’t know how to reach them.
  • So, you’re starting to go to events in RL as Ina Centaur. Surely you’ve picked up external funding by now... Unfortunately, I’m not very good at articulating things in RL, and most of the events I go to don’t seem the right venue for this stuff. Every time, I’ve had the chance to show people (strangers!) my creations in Second Life, they’ve gone zOMG wow. Unfortunately, the busy, busy people with the money don’t usually have time for this. :-(
  • This is insane. You are way too flip about this. What’s the point, anyway? The moral of the story is to keep in mind that SL is an expensive place to create virtual items in, and don’t go crazy creating stuff for it. Lots of more impressive builds and creations have gone down — including the Rezzables legacy. It’s less personal when it’s creations owned by a company, and created by a bunch of hired workers … and it’s different in my situation, and it’s very personal, since I just went off on a long term spree and created all that myself. I guess I just got too obsessed with creating things for a bunch of people I don’t know, and who might not really be real people anyway. The point is to… don’t do that!

Category: Reflections

Who is Ina Centaur?

A 25-year old American polymath of Taiwanese ancestry pretending to be old and Caucasian in Second Life. Semi-retired independent scholar also dabbling as an independent artist in new media, particularly theatre and the humanities—notably Shakespeare. Programmer, playwright and novelist. Formal academic background in, philosophy, and bioengineering.

This is largely a personal blog which isn't always up-to-date. There's no one definitive way to stalk me ;-).