Monday, 24 December 2007

Al Goes Aladdin

In my country at least, there is a Christmas tradition that goes back hundreds of years. It involves exotic clothing, cheesy music, grotesques and a great deal of innuendo. It features men pretending to be women, and women pretending to be men. It is fun, occasionally funny and often very coarse. Sounds familiar? I know the congruency of features is uncanny - but this is not Second Life, it is pantomime, more usually shortened to panto.

At the heart of any panto is the story. As the primary aim is allegedely to amuse children, it is no surprise that panto relies on tried and trusted kids' tales, such as Babes in the Wood, Cinderella, Dick Whittington and Aladdin.

Aladdin, as you will recall, started life in The Book of One Thousand And One Nights (or did it?), with its magical tales of medieval Arabia*. And it is this book that also serves as the inspiration for the Purgatorio sim. You could be forgiven for thinking this sim would be a 3D immersive version of Dante's Divine Comedy, of which Purgatory forms part. But instead it is a medieval Arabia role-playing sim. If you want something with rather less blood, guts and general killing than Assassin's Creed, then you might enjoy a trip here, though be prepared to don the rather so-so freebiewear before being allowed to stay (Ooh... but they're strict here). No flying either - unless, I assume, you have your accredited and officially sanctioned magic carpet. My companion, who tipped me off that this place was worth the hassle, is artist, traveller and katana-wielder, Xantherus Halberd.

While I am no great fan of role playing, in Second Life or indeed Real Life, I will acknowledge that many of the most imaginative and elegantly constructed islands in SL belong to RP groups. Purgatorio certainly meets this description. It is an amazing place - as I hope my photos will show; complex and beautifully rendered. A great deal of careful design has gone into its construction, from the hidden caverns and underground granaries all the way up to the tops of its many towers. The sense of immersion is excellent, though to be fair at no time did I feel particularly "arabic" or "medieval" - which is clearly a state of mind. As to what actually happens here - I will leave that to you to make your own enquiries.

Anyway... in this, the panto season, please enjoy my backdrops to Aladdin from The Tales of a 1,001 Nights.

* Yes, I know, many people would say that Arabia is still medieval - but let's not pursue that thought, eh?

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