Sailor Naxos

Players: Naxos Loon, Alpha Auer. Second Life, 2011. Photographs by Elif Ayiter.


A horrifying storm! High waves! High winds! Rain! And like as if all this is not enough there is also a huge Kraken rearing its ugly old head in order to devour us! But, amid mayhem and impending disaster Naxos remains utterly valiant! Refuses to succumb to the terrors of the abominable beast…

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Building is Play

Player: Alpha Auer. Second Life, 2008-present. Photographs: Elif Ayiter


What Lego is for a child in Real Life, the totally ingenious atomistic building system is for avatars in Second Life. This consists of geometric primitives that can be combined to build all sorts of crazy stuff. What makes this system into a play world that very closely corresponds to how a child plays with building blocks is that you do your building in situ, inside the world in which these constructs will then live.

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Alpha’s Toys and Virtual Roommates

Player: Alpha Auer. Second Life, 2007-2012. Photographs: Elif Ayiter.


From Alpha’s Flickr set of toys:

So what exactly isn’t a toy?… would be a more appropriate question I guess: I was asked the other day what artistic style I was pursuing at Syncretia and, quite frankly, I was a little gob-smacked both by the question as well as my inability to give it a proper answer. Syncretia and Klein: Is what I do in my two SL homes “art?” If it is, this is one kind of art making activity that I have never indulged in so wholeheartedly and contentedly in my life…

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The Demise of the Pig

Players: Alpha Auer, Hardwarehacker Hoch, wolfgeng Hienrichs. April/May2008, Second Life. Photographs: Elif Ayiter.


It all begins when my neighbor Hardwarehacker Hoch decides to install a somewhat ominous security system on my island Syncretia – a drone which at first glance looks innocent enough. In fact it sort of resembles a cute little piglet: To the extent for it to be called as such in German – Das Syncretia Schweinchen…

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The Slide and the Ball and Truck Races

Players: MosMax Hax and Alpha Auer. April 2008, Second Life. Photographs: Elif Ayiter.


Die Rutschbahn (The Slide): It is a long long slide from a great height all the way into the water. You touch a red ball and land inside of it and get catapulted down. If you are in mouselook it is a somewhat grueling experience. The construction itself is a beautiful red wireframe. I went down quite a few times…

The Ball and Truck Races: The objective is to drive along an underwater canyon that goes around the virtual islands of “die Angewandte” and Synthetic University and synchronize the passing of the truck precisely to the falling of the red ball that belongs to the slide.

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Players: Alpha Auer, Hardwarehacker Hoch, MosMax Hax, wolfgeng Hienrichs 2007 – 2012, Second Life. Photographs: Elif Ayiter.


This post shows moments, captured mostly as souvenir shots which I somehow had the presence of mind to take while I was engrossed playing with my three closest play companions in the metaverse – Hack, MosMax and wolfie.

The images are in no particular chronological order, although I have tried to place them under 2 categories which are the games we played at Klein and those we played in the archipelago. However, much also occurred somewhere in-between these locations in that the play sessions were carried from one place to the other. Many other events took place at neither location but happened elsewhere on the grid.

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Operation Hasi

Player: Alpha Auer. January 2008, Second Life. Photographs: Elif Ayiter.


The ‘Hasis’ (which my friend Hardwarehacker Hoch made for me) are rabbits – albeit of a somewhat abstract type: Small, shiny spheres of varied color their resemblance to the real thing is achieved through their motion, which comes about as a soft hop as they follow avatars about. This compulsion to follow any avatar who comes along is precisely the reason as to why they will also frequently get lost.

The following is the documentation of a tale of make-belief: I could have just deleted the lost ‘Hasis’ and pulled out some new ones out of my inventory of course.


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Nuke Farming

Players: Hardwarehacker Hoch, and Alpha Auer. April 2008, Second Life. Photographs: Elif Ayiter.


One of the choice forms of entertainment are playing with “nukes”, which are particle systems that come together with deafening explosive sounds and sometimes even earth tremors and which do a very satisfactory job of simulating physical explosions.

So, we merrily attack sims, buildings and one another – although in our own defense we have usually tried to draw the line when it comes to attacking others. Added should probably also be that no matter how odd it may be for a girl avatar to thoroughly enjoy these wild games, nonetheless I am always first in line when it comes to anything that has to do with nukes!

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OK, enough of all the melodrama such as the unexpected alchemical side effects of unrequited love, the merits of middle age versus youth – and all the rest of that malarkey! Time to talk about some really important stuff – such as friends and friendship, which brings me to a currently absent friend, wolfgeng Hienrichs. (Incidentally, I think that I am probably the only one around who has the bloody cheek to call wolfgeng “wolfie” or sometimes even “wolfiekiens”; but to his credit, he does seem to tolerate this with high good nature. Everyone else calls him wolfgeng or wolf – as would indeed be quite appropriate!)

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The fallout rate of the metaverse is high. While there are well over 10 million Second Life accounts, only about 10% of them are active. Of these active accounts a sizable proportion belong to those individuals who access SL for “what is in it for them”. Projects, teaching, networking, amongst much else, is what I think, compels the majority of users to initially come into Second Life. I, with my PhD research, am certainly no exception to this.

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Nearly all MMOs hook players by making them invest in their character’s reputation, and SL is no exception. (Pearce, “Emergent Authorship” p.23) However, where other MMOs define reputation by an achieved experience level- a number- SL has redirected the fervor of leveling-up into the creation of impressive content that attracts attention and reputation. The detail of an SL player’s virtual home and avatar are status symbols that are physical evidence of that player’s technical skill and creativity.

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