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Sunday, June 23, 2013

THere Will Not Be a Meltdown with Her in Control: A Q&A with SL10B Senior Lead KT Syakumi

Every organization needs a leader. A leader who can manage the predictable and handle the unpredictable. For SL10B, KT Syakumi, has taken on that responsibility as one of the 2 Senior Leads. She has, also, done much more than that. KT is the creator of the Reactor, the DJ Stage that sits on the Awesome and Incredible sims.

I did not get a chance to sit down with KT for a personal interview. (17 hours time difference made that impossible to set up.) However, she was kind enough to answer written questions that I submitted to her. Here is my Q&A with KT Syakumi.

Who are you?

I'm an SL resident like everyone else. I run a small business here, take photos, build stuff, have fun and explore.  I'm fairly normal and anonymous in the grand scheme of things. 

Why are you here at SL10B, and why take on the responsibilities of a Senior lead for this event?

Blackmail. They have the photos and threatened to make them public.

About SL10B

A sighting of KT at the SL10B Welcome Area

Last year, residents were in shock but quickly rallied when Linden Lab announced that it would not be sponsoring SL9B. This year, you went into it knowing that if there was to be an SL10B then the sims would have to come from somewhere else. How did that affect the planning and when did you know that you had support for the 21 sims?

We actually started planning and looking in late January, but it was something like early April before we knew we could produce something.

On the original maps of SL10B, there are 21 sims. The Cornfield seems to have been a late addition. How did that come about and are you surprised how many residents have visited there?

I'm really happy at the amount of people that have seen it. It's a piece of SL history that most newer residents don't even know about, and it's really quite cool. I wish it was still in operation, except though, I'd never get to see it as I never do anything that would get me there.....We initially intended to do a mini cornfield on an exhibit plot, as part of Mari's history exhibit, but we were over the moon when LL offered it and weren't about to refuse!

SL10B is easily the biggest undertaking by a volunteer group in Second Life. You have hundreds of residents involved in the set up and running of this event. What dies it take to keep things running smoothly during the preparation and actual event?

Where is this 'smooth running' I hear you talk about? I've said before - it's like herding cats. Except the cats have lasers strapped to their backs. And they're riding elephants. Working with a huge number of extremely enthusiastic volunteers is sometimes just a matter of holding on tight and steering it in the direction you want.

If you were trying to explain what SL10B was to a friend who knew nothing about Second Life, is there something in the physical world that you would compare it to?

The closest would be a world trade fair.  But not this world. Some other world where gravity didn't apply and everyone could fly and is incredibly good looking.

Every year, there are complaints from adult-oriented businesses and roleplay sims about there being no place for them at these events. This year, there seems to have been less complaining than usual, has there been any effort made to give them space here while still keeping the event General-rated?

There's always complaining. It's understandable. People are naturally disappointed if they don't get a spot. This year we had 518 applications, and only 368 parcels, so someone had to miss out. We don't have a policy of excluding any 'type' of application. But we do have a policy that the applications be G rated. This is because a G rating allows everyone in SL to attend. Rating the sims adult would mean a significant part of SL users would not be able to attend. We have a good number of role playing exhibitions this year, some of them adult themed, and they've stuck to the G rating just fine. I heard that this year someone actually produced an Adult SL10B celebration, and personally I think that's a much better way of doing it. They're able to show and express themselves completely as they are in SL, without having to water themselves down to fit a G rating. I would really encourage them to do it again next year.

What things would make SL10B a success in your mind?

No fatalities? If you want metrics, our counters show that as of Friday (6 days in), our welcome areas have had over 16,000 visits. That's not 16,000 individuals I'm sure (1 person 16,000 times?), but it's still a fair old number for 6 days. There's a ton of other ways to count success. Yes there's always the fantastic builds, but one of my favorite things is seeing someone, maybe fairly new to SL, maybe not all that great at building, but they have an idea and they want to be involved, because they love SL. Giving those people a space to be part of the community is always special to me. 

SL10B is known as the Second Life Community Celebration (SLCC), There are 2 ways to look at this. Is this a celebration of the unity of the residents of Second Life as one community (a big melting pot) or is it a celebration of the diversity of the communities that exist in Second Life (a big tent)?

C) All of the above. I try to set themes that allow the maximum amount of diversity possible. Last years theme was simply 'community' - if you read this years theme definition on our website, it's actually quite similar. The central theme through both of these was community celebration. It's a melting pot of people from all over the world united under one big tent, showing us what Second Life is to them. 

About the DJ Stage and Awesome and Incredible sims

The Reactor Stage
The Reactor Stage on the Awesome and Incredible sims

Last year, you took residents to the Egyptian desert with your stage at SL9B. This year, you have created a barren wasteland around 2 nuclear reactors. What is similar and what is different about your stages last year and this year?

Last year was a barren desert. This year was a barren sandy wasteland. They're obviously completely different! I like creating space in a build. And 2 sims gives a lot of space to create. I also like creating spaces that tell a story, rather than just being a build plonked on a sim. Even if the story is not immediately obvious, there's usually one there (in my head at least). They're different for me in that last year i built using a lot of builders packs and pre-made stuff, this year I made almost all of it from scratch, with only a few store bought items for when I ran out of time. Also one is ruins of an ancient civilization and the other is a modern civilization about to be ruined. Maybe that is a similarity not a difference. I'm probably a bit of a one trick pony!

After the events end on June 23rd, will there be things for residents to do when visiting the Awesome and Incredible sims?

The stage events finish on the 23rd, but all the sims are open until the 29th. This is probably the best time to visit all the stages to see the builds themselves, rather than for the partying. The stage sims will be less laggy and you'll be able to explore easier. On the reactor sims you can explore the tower and the tunnels below. Watch out for the lasers and the spinning blades of death. There's also the Bear Island lookout point, some 90s inspired games characters floating around, and bonus points if you find the dancing cows...

What was your inspiration for these sims and the DJ stage?

Last year I was asked to make the stage an Egyptian theme. I was actually intending to do a reactor then, but in hindsight, since I didn't build in mesh then, it would have been really hard. The idea of dancing inside a huge cooling tower just popped into my head. The final result looks nothing like that first idea. Last year I'd been playing Borderlands 1 and this year Borderlands 2, so that had a big influence on the look.  There was a lot of James Bond retro kind of mad scientist building a secret lair kind of thing floating about too.

Is there anything special that residents should look for when exploring these sims?

The spinning blades of death inside the tunnels of Doom. Also the pipe room where you have to climb the pipes to get out (although I suspect most people fly). On the stage you can get free radioactive glow sticks and the road cones are also hats.

Final question. The theme for SL10B is "Looking Forward, Looking Back." It is easy to look back at where we have been. It is harder to look forward to see where we are going. What are you looking forward to in your Second Life, in the short-term and the long-term?

Short term - bed before 4am
Long term - I'm looking forward to improving my mesh skills and doing more building using the new features.

I would like to thank KT Syakumi for taking her time to answer my questions. Today marks the 10th Birthday of Second Life. Be sure to stop by SL10B today. The events end today but exhibits and the amazing stages will be open until June 29th.

For more information:

Second Life Community Celebration blog



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