Thursday, November 22, 2007

BEAR

As I've mentioned before (I can't find the post), the path to retention lies in connecting, communicating, and talking with the new people. It doesn't always work, but it at least helps the bleed-off from the one day wonders.


I know this from personal experience.


For there is an infohub that lies in the Bear sim, unimaginatively named "Bear Dream Lodge Infohub". It was in this place that I was born into SL (Orientation Island can be considered prenatal). Thus, Bear holds a place near and dear to my heart. They say your first impression is the most lasting one, that it molds your opinion of a place or person for as long as you know them. An impression that is hard to break, it's said.


My SL birth was literally a baptism in fire and cages. When I arrived, I was caged and surrounded by fire particles. Houses were rezzed on top of me. It was not a fun place to be, in short words. I was pushed around often by machine guns and RPGs. It is very likely that I would have stopped with SL right then and there, except that a few people helpfully suggested that I sit upon a wall on the main brick deck of the Bear Lodge. This brick wall, as we shall soon see, came to be the defining symbol of Bear. So much so that if you go there (at least, in my day, anyway) and inquire about what's the best thing to do at Bear, sitting on the wall will be among the top three.



Having planted on this wall, I took to conversing with the fellow survivors. They were a mixed bunch. Some were griefers themselves, some were obviously underage and sneaking into SL, some were like me and curious about what SL was all about. The one thing that united us was our mutual hatred of the griefing parade that regularly visited Bear in those days. We used to talk about griefing like one would discuss the weather, casual and only of mild interest after a week or so. The key is that the griefing united us, and also forced us to sit and listen to the others sitting around.


And you always had to sit. Standing, you would get caged and orbited. It was almost certain crashing. So you'd always see a row of people, squatting upon this brick wall from end to end, chatting about the latest movie release, or discussing whether they would put their brains in a robot body. Upon further reflection, I guess you could compare it to something of a city in the industrial revolution: everything is dirty and grungy from the factories, and everyone is a wage slave, and you're all united in general scorn for the foremen and owners and in your spare time you make conversation at the pub or the corner store. And because everyone was cramped into rowhomes that were and still are at most fifteen feet wide, you had to deal with jerk neighbors. And over time, you came to understand that they weren't inherently mean, they were just as scared and ticked off at the conditions as you were.


So I came into contact with a lot of folks. Even the biggest jerks soften up over time. You got to know the regulars, and you added to them. You'd engage some newb and talk about the weather, or perhaps you'd help them with something and you fall into a chat about the lag. Something always gives. And the regs came back, and the newbs became regs. It was familiar and comforting, and when someone was out everyone was on edge. Was it bad news? Good news? Had they quit? We became a family. And we'd always sit on the brick wall, the griefers were still running rampant. Soon our family grew and we got used to rezzing sofas and sitting on those, or sitting on the lamps nearby, or occasionally on the decorative fountain. Because the griefers would maul you if you stood, you always sat on something, usually whatever was closest. To not do so was to crash out of SL.


It was a running gag that one could always tell someone from the Bear Infohub, because at the slightest sign of trouble they'd sit on something. We all stayed not because we took advantage of the wide and wonderful possibilities of SL, but because we were friends, sisters, brothers, and sometimes married.

And this group, they came to be rooted in Bear. Now, as time went on, people here and there spun off and went their separate ways. Some bought land and moved on, some just quit, and some just went elsewhere. For them, Bear just didn't have the hold it did on others. This kind of worked against those who remained, as it made them tighter than normal. The end result of this is that at Bear infohub today, we have a core group of regulars, 'old'bies, who crowd out both the newbies entering SL at Bear and the people nearby who own land there.



This is really the point of the matter. Because recently someone has taken to starting a campaign against the regs at Bear. They don't understand why people would congregate at an infohub for nigh on a year now. They look at other infohubs, which remain relatively empty. And they just don't understand it.



This is why. Bear has spun out of control, and is turning into more than just a newbie gathering hotspot, it's mutating into a community in and of itself. With the regular show-ups of familiar faces, it's practically a small town. There is no stopping it. You won't be able to dislodge them without destroying the infohub or banning all thirty or so avatars who frequent there. It is just not going to happen. There is even a Bear co-op center, which can be considered an 'expansion' of the infohub, created by these regulars.

This is an extreme case where communication and community have knit together people tightly and keep them in SL. This is the story of Bear in a snapshot, and isn't comprehensive, nor needs to be. With regards to the fate of the 'regs', it will depend upon the Linden definition of the purpose of an infohub, and whether the regs can pass themselves off as mentors. With regards to my theory that other people, rather than owning land or building/scripting junk, hold people, I think it provides an interesting point.

1 comment:

Hazel Kyrgyz said...

Who started the campaign? I can't imagine it would be Ryan Radio as people hanging around means better business for him.