My Second Life: Steampunking in the Steamlands
One of the first things I discovered about Metaverse Mod Squad that really turned me on to the company was that it was born and raised, so to speak, in Second Life. You see, I had been an enthusiastic inhabitant of that virtual world since 2009, and the thought of working for an outfit that not only knew what Second Life was, but actively valued my involvement there, made my geekish heart leap for joy. (MMS must have felt likewise about me, because by March of 2011 I was invited to come on board.)
Second Life is a huge virtual space, and to this day I continue to discover new and fascinating communities and subcultures within it. But its the community that has come to mean the most to me. The place I call “home” in Second Life would be the confederation of steampunk-themed “micro-nations” know as the Steamlands.
Steampunk is a vast and hard-to-pin-down literary/artistic genre. A full exploration of the topic is far beyond the scope of this blog, so I recommend this Wikipedia article as a serviceable introduction. The TL;DR summary: imagine a world where technology and Victorian sensibilities intermix, where the proto-science-fiction ideals found in works by authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are the dreams that worlds and nations are built upon. Think airships and submarines and other remarkable inventions powered by steam and Tesla coils; mad scientists building sekrit deathrays with which they plan to rule the world; gentleman adventurers and ladies of derring-do exploring mysterious new realms … and everyone getting together at the end of the day to enjoy a civilized cup of tea.
Needless to say, the virtual world platform provides a terrific setting in which to create a steampunk community. It is within virtual worlds where all these airships and inventions and adventures, can today be fully realized and enjoyed. Here, for instance, to the right is a snapshot from one of the Steamlands communities to which I belong, the Independent State of Caledon.
Another SL Steamlands micro-nation where I spend a great deal of my online hours is Steelhead City. Whereas Caledon is eclectic steampunk with a quasi-British Empire flavor, Steelhead is more “Wild Wild West” Americana steampunk, set in a fantastical Pacific Northwest where Sasquatch, elves, werewolves, and humans peacefully coexist, in the shadows of a Mount St. Helens that regularly blows its top on the command of its chief (mad) scientist.
If, at this point, you find murmuring, “ZOMG, that sounds like more fun than a barrel full of Frankenstein-augmented monkeys! How do I become a part of that?” join Second Life! The basic membership is free. And then find your way to the Steamlands. I recommend Caledon’s popular newcomer’s portal, Caledon Oxbridge, as a starting point. There you can get a wonderful walk-through tutorial on Second Life (in general) and the Steamlands, plus some fabulous freebie avatar accessories that will have you rocking the steampunk style in no time.
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