I just had an awesome experience today having my story critiqued in a workshop. But this workshop is not in the real world but on Second Life, the online alternate world. For those who are unfamiliar with Second Life, people choose an avatar and enter the world, run around, meet people, shop, make money, and in some cases, go to class. This class, sponsored by the University of British Columbia and taught by Canadian writer, Kevin Chong, was an undergraduate creative writing workshop completely on Second Life.
The class members don’t have to be in the same place at all. They just work it like an online class, each at their own computer, but the Second Life twist is that they can appear all in the same room together, chatting. Everyone chooses a cool name. On Second Life, you can belong to families—so they give you surnames to choose from, and then you pick your first name. On Second Life, I am Bison Steampunk.
Next you choose an avatar, and Second Life has probably the best avatar creator on the web. Even World of Warcraft is limited to the six or seven creatures to pick from…. but on Second Life, you can literally be anything: a toaster, a zombie, an animated foot, a stuffed animal. One day I am going to get the Minotaur with the Battle Axe. Hehe. But for now, I stuck with the free avatar and shaped him myself. I also picked up some free body parts, skins, and adaptations for my avatar at a Men’s retreat center online called Thor’s Den. I’ll admit, I went a little crazy on the avatar and he’s easy on the eyes. So he’s not a perfect rendition of me. But that’s the joy of Second Life. You can be anything and anyone you want to be.