Sunday, 25 November 2007

Splenda

In the main, Second Life is peopled by a disconcertingly large number of gorgeous avatars - male and female, human and non-human. However, behind each avatar there is a person, sitting in front of a computer screen, somewhere in the real world - and, I am sorry to say, almost certainly not as gorgeous as their avatar. The average SL user, if such a beast truly exists, is usually defined as a tech-savvy, nerdy 30-something with high disposable income. In fact, just the sort of person to have an office job and a generally sedentary lifestyle - with the attendant expansion of waistline that tends to imply. And hence just the sort of person at whom the artificial sweetener Splenda might be targeted.

California-based virtual worlds agency, MillionsofUs, are responsible for bringing the synthetic sugar to our synthetic world a month or so back. They have taken the "cartoony" option in building the Splenda sim, a route that has already been used (not by them) for Vodafone, Ben&Jerry's ice cream and Nestlé's Nesquik. The island has 3 primary structures: a tall glass of something pink and gloppy, topped off with lemon slices; a tall glass of something pale yellow and semi-transparent and a large coffee cup, tipped on its side. Should the fancy take you, there are giant straws down which you can slide, or you can take a ride on a giant lemon ferris wheel. Scattered between the structures are brightly coloured flowers, fruit and assorted confections. The tipped-up coffee cup contains a cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating.

I rather liked the look and feel of the place, and took far too many photos, which I will inflict on you now. I would also like to thank my friend, Lem Skall, for his photos - but more of this in a moment.



Assorted confections:


Lem and the lemon ferris wheel...


Lem's photos:


In terms of functionality there appear to be a few glitches. The "straw slides" did not not work too well, particularly the curly one. I followed instructions to switch off animation overrides, but the slide seemed to stick half-way down. Also, the seating inside the cafe gave me a problem - on standing up I was unable to move (see the last photo above), and had to TP out and back.

Initially, I was struck by the pleasantly cartoon-y nature of the island, but the more I looked, the more baffled I became. Just what is the point of it? There isn't a great deal to see or do here - one visit and you're done. OK, it makes you aware that Splenda exists, but as this sim did not leave me with a burning desire to return, I am not sure that is enough (I knew Splenda existed already, thanks).

The proposition for keeping your attention, and encouraging you to engage with the site, is a competition. You can find out all the details here, but the gist is: you have until 30th November to "create something for all Second Life residents" - a wide brief indeed! The winner gets a 3-night stay at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. A team of judges will select a shortlist, but the actual winner will seemingly be determined by Second Life residents through an open vote. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Whether this has justified the cost I don't know, and I guess I never will find out.

2 comments:

Lem said...

Ha ha ha! "Lem and the lemon...". My avatar is finally immortalized and that is the comment attached to it. May that be the epitaph on my grave!

Aleister Kronos said...

hehe... I liked the alliteration, it was too good an opportunity to miss!

:-)