I know that I legit just said in a discord that I hang out in - That I wouldn't write this or make a video about this. Yet, it's been on my mind since I cut ties in January with the Virtual World platform. The thing is? It's an extremely deep and important topic even in jest at times - that I shouldn't be avoiding.
Disclaimer states though, that this is experience and opinion of myself - and my ideologies. Things i've experienced, are not everyone else's idea of how a Virtual World or game works. There are still extremely wonderful things about Second Life - but as you'll read on you'll understand why that's not enough for me.
I do put through a CONTENT WARNING and plausible trigger warning for the following topics: Bullying, Mental Health, Suicide and related topics. If these cause you some form of strife or trigger in a bad way, please be warned these are talked about in lengths in this blog post. Do not proceed if this sort of content causes you pain in any way shape or format. I am not a mental health provider, nor doctor.
The title states FFXIV, but I sort of mean by now ALL gaming as i'm slowly learning to be a variety streamer on twitch, and a sometimes content creator on Youtube.
I have been on Second Life off and on since late 2006, and again mid 2007. The person who owns the avatar I once used in 2006 is no longer in my friends circle - that doesn't mean they're a horrible person. People fade in and out of each other's lives - and for the sanity of each other's mental health it was about time we stopped. They were rightfully, and wonderfully gifted my first ever avatar at the time - and I didn't climb back onto the platform until mid 2007.
I have indeed left, and come back for similar and dangerously abusive reasons as you'll read through this post.
First let me go into the things I've left that I'll probably miss - and most people would still stay for.
Companionship: While in some ways Second Life can act as a para-social environment, when you've spent time building online relationships - you're quite in tune with those around you. So you want to travel, you want to look around.
Being that Second Life is meant to MIRROR your first life - you're likely to explore other's homes, entertainment venues - or even go shopping.
I used to hang out in, and work for over the years several clubs. There's a sense of warmth when you're playing your favorite tunes *unfortunately somewhat now illegally* over a shoutcast stream and acting like you're a radio DJ. Most places are varied, and like most entertainment venues - you're either well established or you're playing to a crowd of one.
Second Life used to be a place that was welcoming. So it was always nice to learn new things, and be in different scenes at varied points in my life. Yet when it became too much, I had a few friends over time I could count on to let me hide away from everything and just do my own thing.
As time went on, the pandemic started - and Second Life became far more enveloped in it's cliques. It's not all bad in that aspect, but trying to get ahead in some areas became extremely hard with different generations of people coming in and out of the platform.
I always tried to start a business because - the cost of buying money was harder than earning it. Well, I always felt that way - until I stopped earning money because i'd either quit too fast - or I got into the worst situations.
So sadly, the way of the rest of this post is? Why I left, and why I probably won't return even for 'doing my own thing'. Thanks for reading my ted talk you all can pay me five bucks now! (KIDDING)
The cliques became grief.
The shadows became a place for things to fester.
Capitalistic, and money driven ways caused everything to be a nightmare.
Like an all girls high school, if you didn't fit in - you'd be thrown to the lions den.
Any mistake you make, will be viewed at in the utmost extreme. Anyone ever notice how there's not a virtual secrets and dirty secrets page publicly for anyone that's just getting into gaming, or gaming personalities? Bar, you know - the popular ones like PewDiePie and others?
2020 wasn't just a shit year because of the pandemic.
I almost threw myself under, in front of and through a bus several times.
I have ADHD, Autism and severe Anxiety. Sometimes this leads into depression because I can't understand, find or get through a way out. You have to understand though, that the triggers that caused 2020 to be a shit storm for me - wasn't the first time i'd been in some sort of accidental dodgy situation.
I fully understand where I went wrong, nearly a year later - but if you say anything out of line in those circles, you won't ever recover.
I tried to run another business, snagging some super cheap mainland with my mother and I. I had work off and on in real life so I thought I could budget it and pull money by making things, running a club and running an event and some other things. I knew that it wouldn't be cheap or easy, but by this time I'd had learned my lesson and knew a bit more about business from running my badges at craft markets in real life. I had a graphic design degree, and I'm reasonable at illustration - so I could do that right?
No. It's VERY hard to break into any market, that isn't to say that others haven't - you can make templates for Marketplace ads and whatnot - but you'll have to dodge the slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse is the people willing to pick you apart just for being different.
And while I understand I was out of line and somewhat if not fully racist in something that I had said in company of people battling and fighting for George Floyd's justice in Second life - A few realize that I never intended to say something in that way and I had mixed myself in the wrong crowd without away forward to actually redeem myself and learn from it.
Within hours, I was in and out of Second Life discords, facebook groups - and blocked, removed and told I was causing strife. I was told I was at fault for some hefty mental health issues in the Second Life community - and that I deserved to go to hell for it basically. That I was ruining several brands just by existing, and how dare I be as so stupid to even try to ask forgiveness?
The event that i'd worked so hard to bring together, flopped after two months. The club that I was still running, ran into the ground. My mother spending thousands of dollars of real life money last year again (because we don't learn) - just to keep it from blowing apart. Eventually by november, we'd closed all the doors to everything including my Shop.
I was making clothes, trying to do graphic design and illustration - but none of that was taking off the ground. Second Life doesn't require the same amount of time and effort Real Life does to even make a couple of sales - and no matter the event I went into myself... The drama i'd walked into, supposedly created and was looked at like I was worse than Donald Trump and Piers Morgan combined.. Followed me everywhere.
So that was it, I wasn't leaving yet - but I thought i'd try my hand at blogging. I had my professional website up somewhere else - and I thought why not Wix? Well, it didn't matter what I wrote - the drama still stained me.
It wasn't that the drama followed me to my blog, but the ever lasting effects on people blaming me on purpose, people rewriting words that i'd said - and doxxing friends and family. I always say I don't give a shit if i'm doxxed, because i'm fairly public due to my design freelance work. Yet, I didn't want to risk someone doxxing my mother - because they'd ruin her in an instant - and she's now 65.
We could've quit sooner, but with her brain surgery I was interested in keeping everything status quo - the first month of our then event was OK. She was proud of me, and we'd earned a bit despite some blippy drama to start. Of course, as soon as it started, more drama ensued.
The event was dogged down by a former media manager in the game, and he'd abused me verbally and otherwise. Later on in the year, a DJ went on to verbally and sexually abuse a staff member who was coincidentally considered an online family member.
Cancel culture exists even more in a toxic way in Second Life. But it wasn't just 2020.
Around 2008/2009 or so we were getting into the "Second Life Modelling" scene - and I was proficient a bit in game photography at the time. We'd been hunted out by some large production company in the game that owned several simulator spaces.
That became abusive, that became that we were taken advantage of - and we weren't the only ones. We financially had stacked up two credit cards or more worth of debt from trying to keep up with the demands of each show they wanted to put on. From creating illegal copies or rather "performative cover shows" of celebrities, to showing off the next best thing in the game. We were like many, meant to have a payment of sorts, but the cost outweighed in money as well as emotional wear and tear. The drama from the production business's real life spilled over into second life - and lies, and deceit took over.
Things just aren't safe for certain people. While some may say it's a wonderful social tool for someone with anxiety - I disagree. Gaming is, but not virtual worlds like this. The amount of animosity I felt just logging in, feeling like I would be torn down just for existing - even the first few times I ran into troubles.. was intense.
I am not saying that in any of these, there wasn't a moment that I may have had a time where I wasn't at fault. What I am saying is, while many of these are two to tango to start with - (Aka: Me blasting my mouth off unintentionally before I got a chance to formulate the sentence) - it becomes an unwinnable tug of war.
Fantasy is a wonderful escape.
Back in 2015 or there abouts - mesh was popular in mostly just a few body parts and clothing and hair. Nobody really got into the mesh heads quite yet, and there were a few full avatars - but mostly for fantasy races and such. Those were the golden days of skins, shapes and everything else. Sure, you're still looking at the possibility of looking like someone else...
But by 2020? Everything is cookie cutter, and uncanny valley realistic. If your mesh eyes are too small, or not adjusted right - you'll look out of place. Faces are stolen from celebrities like it's Nicolas Cage in Face Off. There's a skin entirely based off Rayinch Ran from Youtube. There's wanting to look like someone, and then there's directly copying what they look like.
This maybe isn't entirely illegal, and that's fine. I am great friends with a makeup and skin creator still who works in and out of Second Life. They know how much I feel let down by the lack of diversity in looks and otherwise in the game. While you're right, customization in something like FFXIV - is well, much less.
But the other final nail in the coffin? The havok engine they use hasn't felt like even when it's on high graphics, been really updated or the base game everything - since it was in development before 2003. The anti aliasing doesn't really help much, and unlike high graphics in other games where things are crystal clear and smooth - Second Life is jaggy, and even the best gaming computers can blow up and melt under the pressure.
The creativity and drive behind it is valid, and I've even thanked some of the staff on twitter - because they're amazing. Strawberry Singh (now Linden) has been with them on staff as of the last couple of years - but she'd been involved with blogging and tutorials for years.
With the aspect of FANTASY - can you now tell why i've left a "FANTASY ENVIRONMENT" for an open world, MMORPG such as Final Fantasy XIV? I mean beyond the fact that i'm an absolute geek for anything Final Fantasy. You could've even maybe at the time, dragged me in to try World of Warcraft - I mean I doubt it because the aesthetics of the game bore me. Yet i'm trying more and more games and opening up to new experiences.
When you go to try something that isn't a game, and it's more of a virtual world - just be careful. Not only burnout can happen, but there's trolls, griefers and people looking to make it higher on the food chain than you. Something that was once fun, should never have become nearly if not fully suicidal for me.
And i'm not kidding, there were times I wanted to fall asleep, never wake up - or even walk straight into traffic. The idea of drowning in the ocean seemed quite pleasant a few times when things got really hard. The people that REALLY caused these issues don't even care, and those that were involved that didn't cause it have maybe not forgiven me - but understood what went on. Yet while monetarily i'll never recover, and sure i'll still have the ping and pang of regret for all of this - I don't regret saying i'm done.
The uncanny valley leaves creativity to rot in the dust, and with me writing Cathartic NIghtmare - the new character designs don't seem very legally viable with it being someone else's skin slapped onto a base 3D mesh body. A body that's more ripped than my poor old mi'qote who's probably had one too many bags of pretzels after a hard night at the crystarium.
The thing is?
Gaming communities, especially the streaming ones - are FAR more supportive. Those even the 9000+ subscribers, and even the fifty to a hundred ones - and evne the non streamers who just come for the show. Everyone has a moment to at least be kind, genuine and while nobody's perfect? We've had a hard year, and everyone's been as supportive as they can be for not knowing each other.
Those of you who have supported my journey on Twitch - the fast ever reaching goal to become Affiliate -I thank you so much. To those who have been there with me when Second Life got too much - I'm sorry i'm no longer there, and i'm sorry that you may feel i've abandoned things. I have to take care of me first, and I hope everyone understands that.
I will be trying to make this post into a video at some stage, and make it more official. I know that i WILL get flack for it, and I know that those that have come after me before probably will do again. At this point, what more harm can be done? I haven't mentioned anyone by name, by profession or even where they stand in the streaming and youtube communities - because not all were involved on there.
I know that I am at risk for being doxxed because of a post like this because of the nature of the things that happened. I am not expecting new and old friends to support me if that happens - I am sort of expecting that i'll have to deal with that on my own. Why? Because it's not a situation that is safe for anyone else to deal with, and not just being doxxed but people spewing hatred or placing me in online communities to besmirch anything about or near me.
It wasn't just me or my mother who were effected by this, anyone around me at the time were brought down by my event's name, by my second life name and anything I was doing at the time went to dust. You'll have to understand, none of that was my intention - and it was in a way the intentions of those who wanted to harm anything in their way. Sure, yes again two to tango on some level - and I have made my own monetary and other mistakes -