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Burning Up

September 5th, 2010 by Marianne McCann

The Playa

It took me a while to warm to the whole Burning Life “thing.” I just did not get “it” on my first couple visits. It just seemed chaotic, of varying quality, and largely pointless. As a result, I only saw small amounts of the event in 2006 and 2007.

It was not until 2008 that I really started to “get it.” This was some months after the disaster that was SL5B and its constantly evolving anti-kid avatar policies. Burning Life that year, by contrast, has its own “Maturity Policy” that allowed for all, and saw child avatars as valued parts of the community. I opted to get a parcel and create “Inner Child Camp.” It was a small spot, somewhere around 512m in size, and I squeezed every possible prim – and a few extras from time to time – I could out of it.

I was back in 2009, which a bigger Inner Child Camp. This time I brought in elements from the First Life event, particularly the KidsVille Camp that springs up in the Black Rock desert. it, like its 2009 predecessor, was a home away from home for two weeks, a virtual playa treated as realistically as the dusty playa near Gerlach, NV. Me and my team came in through the main gate at the beginning of the event, and left at the end. content is only what we can logically “truck in” (bearing in mind, however, that a bunch of kids would not likely be trucking much of anything in, but assume we have some adult supervision).

Last year’s Burning Life was amazing. It was vast and huge, with a little of everything. It was region after region of camps and art installations from all over Second Life. It was about twice the size of Second Life itself in its earliest days, and more than twice as vibrant. Events this Spring and at SL7B celebrating the Burning Life culture made it clear that this was a growing, vibrant event that could not be matched.

Like everything in Second Life, however, the last paragraph ends with a “but then…”

Linden Lab, hungry for ways to quell a stream of red ink, and Burning Man, eager to stick to its own policies of decommodifcation, severed whatever agreements they had that allowed Burning Life to exist in its then current form. The scores of regions, amongst other things, were no longer going to come to the event for free. The vent went from Burning Life (sponsored by Second Life) to BURN2.

(An aside: can we someday have something – anything – happen where we don’t treat Linden Lab as if they’re the villain in an early silent movie, twirling their mustache and cackling in overdramatic glee? Not that they don’t make plenty of missteps, sure, but they’re not The Great Satan. Just sayin’)

Burning Man itself is not free. While there is some free camp space and low-income/scholarship ticket programs, tickets for the event range from a low of $210.00 each up to $360.00 at the gate. This money in turn covers Burning Man’s operating costs, including the rental of the land that Burning Man is held on.

I mention this because two of the biggest changes in Burning Life – that is, BURN2 – from previous years. For one, the parcels are going to be smaller and the virtual playa itself is shrinking dramatically. Also, gaining a plot for the event is, for most, not a free venture. Even the land lottery had a modest entrance fee.

Many have balked at this. Frustrated, some complain that the event is now only for the wealthy (land costs for the event include several plots being sold at L$8,000.00 each, or roughly US$25.00). It’s simply not as easy, financially, to be there this time.

BURN2 is being run in a similar fashion to the First Life event that spawned it. Those dollars are what gives us the virtual playa to play on. That is what allows us to spend the time on these regions. If you don’t have 25 bucks to put towards it, too, consider this: put together a fundraiser, and/or find collaborators who can offer up some of the land costs. People do it in first life, and we can do it here. DJ a party or do something else to bring in some Lindens, and make it happen. It’s where some of my Summer firework tips are going!

By the same token, it is less space than it was in previous years, and I will miss the vastness of Burning Life 2009. My own plot will be 32 x 32, as opposed to the space some four times than in 2009. Yet, I also know I’ll have about the same amount of camp space as I had in 2008, and we managed to squeeze a very suitable camp into that space without resorting to nearly as much sculpted trickery as I did in 2010. This year we’ve already got some ambitious ideas, and I look forward to including them.

If you’ve been on the fence about the event, I hope you will be there. Join in, host a camp, and be part of an event that — big or small – is unlike anything in Second Life.
Leaving Burning Life

One Response to “Burning Up”

  1. Lalo Telling Says:

    No, the Lab is not the Great Satan… as satans go, they’re pretty mediocre.

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