The Drax Files Are Good Documentaries About Second Life

By Graham Smith on July 3rd, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

Second Life is too easy to make fun of, be it for the failed gold rush when advertisers gambled on the future of the metaverse or for the sleazy commercialism that still defines many in-world locations. These things, while true, make it too easy to dismiss the creative projects you can find within that world if you know where to look.

The Drax Files: World Makers, a series of documentary shorts available on YouTube, is useful assistance in knowing where to look. Created by ‘machinima journalist’ Draxtor Despres, each episode mixes Second Life and real-world footage to profile some of the people devoted to making interesting things within the long-running MMO. I’ve embedded a trailer and linked some of the episodes I’ve enjoyed so far below.

First up, the trailer, which gives a good idea of the diversity of work and people profiled:

There are currently 20 episodes in the “World Makers” series, each 5 minutes long. I’ve enjoyed this episode about a couple making an AI-driven fantasy village populated by dwarves, this one about Elie Spot who makes her income running an in-world boutique clothing store, and this about Abramelin Wolfe who sells motion captured animations he records himself.

Obviously every one of these episodes is putting a positive spin on Second Life, making it appear as if the virtual world is all about unfettered creativity and the magic of people and community. That’s lovely, but perhaps won’t be apparent when you first connect, struggle with its still-clunky interface and stumble into a blandly decorated building aggressively advertising sex toys and trashy clothing. The current future of the game isn’t clear, either. Developers Linden Lab have recently shut down some of their products such as Dio, Creatoverse and Versu, announced that a spiritual successor to Second Life is in-development, and former Sims boss and Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble left the company back in January. (Humble was interviewed in the series last June).

None of that cancels out the lovely experiences I’ve had visiting Second Life. You can connect, teleport to a random part of the world and, every now and then, discover something amazing. And even if you never intend to do the same, these are entertaining, well-edited and concise videos, so well worth watching. There’s also a podcast series, which I haven’t tried.

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8 Comments »

  1. Chuckleluck says:

    Second Life is a lot like EVE Online – I have no intention of playing, but I love the stories that come out of it.

  2. draxtor says:

    Thx for a nice and concise post. One thing in regards to content: Second Life simply provides what you are looking for, kind of like going to Amsterdam = it is a party town with drugs and sex for some, but when I went with my family last year we focused on museums, friends and the outdoors! My stories are designed to highlight folks who find enjoyment by taking the blank canvas that Linden Lab provides and fill it with their imagination. I’d love for the mainstream media to pick up these stories as well. Of course there are stories of spouses cheating let’s say but for some reason I only hear and find stories of folks finding each other, falling in love and staying together for a looong time, like my upcoming story for August. So, yeah, one might call that spin or selective searching, I simply call it advocacy journalism, giving voice to folks who are ignored by a press core fixated on the sensational and salacious.

    • Graham Smith says:

      Hey draxtor. I agree with you, and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to link to the series and point how it’s too easy to dismiss Second Life because of the negative stories.

      That said, I somewhat disagree with “simply provides what you are looking for.” A real world red light district exists in a single, fixed location which can be avoided. In Second Life, with teleportation and the fragmentation of the world, it’s all too easy to stumble into things you definitely didn’t want to see.

      That randomness and the exploration of the unknown is part of the fun, but still worth warning people that there’s another side to the world than what’s depicted in the videos.

      Anyway, good work! I wish there were more YouTube series of this quality.

      • Kuromatsu says:

        Chuckleluck’s comparison to EVE Online is more accurate than you’d think; much like in EVE Second Life requires you to have friends or a social circle willing to guide you to points to interest. in the right locations SL has rich, funny culture and a lot of user made content unlike anywhere else. it’s probably the closest thing to a 3d irc.

        for those interested , id say firestorm or singularity are good starter 3rd party clients, much how like you don’t HAVE to use mIRC for irc.

        A place to visit that’s fairly beginner (and mind-friendly, it’s a PG-rated area) is the Build box in the sim Live, it’s a fairly creative sandbox intended for folks that aren’t far away from the RPS mindset. It’s a touch furry but they’re pretty open to everyone. There’s a lot of abstract object head characters and humans as well. Everyone there is pretty helpful and easy to talk to, as well as interesting. It’s a good place to start out if you’re curious about SL.

      • draxtor says:

        Completely see your point Graham and especially as a father I am always worried about these things and would love to see Linden Lab create some sort of mechanism where we could bring young folks to this incredible creative playground [there are actually some amazing examples done today with SL's cousin OpenSim, concepts for elementary and middle schools!].

        That being said: I have never in 7 years involuntarily been exposed to offensive content or content I did not seek out, not even on long bike tours through the mainland. Now “offensive” is a subjective term and I had American friends who would object taking their kids through the central train station area here in Munich because of the occasional flashing lights advertising adult movie theatres [same in San Francisco btw]. This can happen in SL as it can in Minecraft [where players unbeknownst to most parents who are utilizing this game-changing game as babysitter for VERY young kids - I have seen it trust me!!! - swear like sailors and bully like there is no tomorrow].

        So what is my point? Simply reminding us of the fact that SL adult content is zoned in adult regions so it is NOT interspersed with G-rated content, but, yes if you like to find it, it is certainly not more difficult than using Google and finding YOuPorn and lying about your age – or as Rod Humble said in my interview “the world’s biggest adult search engine is Google” [I cut it from the piece but Jo transcribed the full interview here http://joyardley.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/the-rod-humble-interview/ ]

        • Chromanoid says:

          When I was active there was a Teen Grid.

          I had some loud neighbors (nasty sex talk all the time in global channels) and there was an age play shop I reported. But this was 2003…

          SL is great, it always felt like an exploreable visual version of the internet.

  3. Arglebargle says:

    The one time I investigated Second Life, the interface was so awful and pathetic that I promptly uninstalled. If you are going to make my every single moment a struggle and pain, I am not going to continue with your game or experiance. That’s for the hair shirt brigade.

  4. Reapy says:

    I always thought that when it first came out it was an amazing idea, but playing around in it, it turns out things seemed to only work about half of the time. Even scripts would just plain fail to execute at times, breaking most interesting things I’d try to make.

    Still I found a nice group to hang out with for a while and the idea of sl was something I kept waiting to be implemented correctly, but really it never was. Now, I’m not quite sure the metaverse as a thing run by a single company in their own systems is the best way to do things, but still the idea was great in its day, and I still recall many of the great builds I saw in my time there.