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My So-Called Second Life - Part VII

I had a question in the Gibson forums about the interaction with the audience that you get when you perform in Second Life. It's probably easy to assume this is a one-dimensional experience in a 3D world. But I'm here to tell you, its not. On the performer's end, they sit in front of their computers, with their microphones routed into their audio interfaces, streaming sound into the "venue" they are playing in on Second Life. What you see in the real world when you're playing is your computer and gear, but you also see the Second Life software and the audience that's gathered to hear you.

This means you're looking at real people, represented by their avatars. They are able to show their appreciation in a number of ways. Any seasoned resident of Second Life has some kind of "audience" script they can easily access, which produces cheers, applause, whistling, shouts of bravo and more, while animating the avatar to appear to be enthusiastic about what they've been hearing. They might be animated to jump up and down, throw up the universal sign for "rock on" with the index and pinky fingers extended while their heads bob, or any other number of animations. 

The audience is also able to interact with each other and with the performers by typing their thoughts into their keyboard, which appears onscreen for a few seconds (or longer in a sub-window you can open). There you might see things like "awesome" or "dude you rip!" come up on the screen in real time as you perform. This gives you an uncanny sense of connection to the people listening. I know, it sounds weird, but it does.

Because of the time it takes to stream your audio to the venue and the time they hear it, there is a delay of around 15 seconds or so. Interestingly enough, that works out about right. If I play a song and end it on a chord and let it ring, as the notes naturally fade I tend to hear the audience applause and cheers timed pretty well. That lets me know they love what I'm doing and eggs me on to play more.

And of course, another thing that creates a nice bond with the audience is when you're playing a song and hear the tell-tale sound of "cah-ching" that means you've been giving a tip by an appreciative audience member. Nothing like money to make a nice connection. Then after the show, the audience is also able to instant message chat with you, either one on one, or in the open so everyone can see what they've said and your response. 

When I did my first show in Second Life, after it was done, I was amazed at the real-life feeling of having just played a gig to a packed club. It was in fact the same buzz, the same high that you get when you've held an audience in person. The feeling was no different. I recall walking into the bedroom and telling my wife how bizarre it was to have this sensation of having just played at a club to a packed house juxtaposed to being in my home while feeling it. I'd never experienced that before. Anyone who has played a packed club and brought the house down knows the buzz I'm referring to here. It was a strange feeling to have that going on while I was in my own house.

I'm off the track a bit from the technical tips for getting into SL as a musician, and I'll get back there this week, but I wanted to address this topic since its come up in the forums. Yes, you get a unique interaction with your audience, its not a stale clinical feeling of playing into a microphone in your home studio, but the feeling of a real, live concert. And as well it should be, because that is exactly what you've just done.



Posted: 12/8/2008 6:16:58 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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