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June 09, 2006

Listening and Dancing in Second Life


Taking Your Avatar to a Concert or Dance Class

"...A couple of Sundays ago, I took my avatar to a small pond where about a dozen people lingered in the late afternoon sun, floating on inflatable rafts and inner tubes while a pair of animated swans jerked their way across the water. Everyone was turned toward Few, sitting on the deck above the pond with his acoustic guitar, and everyone nearby could hear a feed of the real-life Hokin, from his real-life basement, playing cover songs.

While I dug Few's proficiently-played but laid-back standards, I wasn't here to decide whether this was the best version of "The Girl from Ipanema" I've ever heard so much as to check out the experience-- and it was surprisingly engaging. If it seems strange to come to a video game to watch a concert, remember that we've been listening remotely to live shows since the first days of radio. In that sense, this is nothing new-- and while it's more disorienting than tuning in to the Grand Ole Opry, it's more rewarding than other options, like watching a streaming video of a rock show through a tiny RealPlayer window. At least in Second Life, you can move the camera..." From Get That Out of Your Mouth #24: The Show Must Go Online by Chris Dahlen.


"...Now with the growth in dancing in this alternative reality, I have more of an incentive to make an avatar for myself and start wondering around and going to clubs, get-togethers and, even, dance studio. This notice caught my attention:

This past Tuesday, the Takeshi's Dance Studio in Second Life held an event to teach people how to dance. Plus, they will soon be building a theater and they need dancers ... Dancing doesn't just take place in virtual clubs. Events on private islands also feature music and dancing. Earlier this year, Creative Commons hosted a party...

In "Get That Out of Your Mouth #24 - The Show Must Go Online," Chris Dahlen describes the experience of listening to music in Second Life, how indie bands take virtual tours and make money, and the limitations of gestures and dance in this virtual world:

Players also can't control their avatars with any spontaneity or nuance; if you want to dance at a show, you can trigger an animation that runs your avatar through the steps, but you can't personally step in to make the arm rest on your partner's back just so. The same problem applies for performers. If you look closely at Few as he's playing guitar, you'll see that he can't strum or move his hand on the fretboard, and his face is trapped in a stiff mask, like a dummy in a vintage Disney World ride. And while you can add more animations and poses to an avatar, if you have the time and you're handy with 3-D modeling software, you can't make the spur-of-the-moment gestures that even stiff indie rockers need to liven up their acts.

- And Rik Riel (his SL name) in his "Dancing with myself... with other people" post, says that he goes to a lot of SL events and music gigs. He describes how dancing works:

In Second Life, you are given a small set of pre-defined dance animations that you can trigger from your keyboard. It's easy to pick up other animations at parties or from friends. You can easily perform everything from a waltz to b-boying to country two-step (not to mention more, uh, provocative dancing).

But he's not really sold on this virtual dancing:

A real basic question is Why would you do this? Virtual dancing provides none of the perks of real world dancing, either the joy of movement, the physical response to music you are digging, the pleasure in touching another person, or the pride of executing a difficult move. There's no learning curve, no physical exertion, no effort to anything, except maybe the effort involved in designing your own custom animations.

I've been dancing my whole life, from all of the terrible 80's trends (smurf, running man, pac man, etc.) to popping and locking, salsa, tap, and now lindy hop. There are few other moments when I am happier than when I am dancing. There is nothing to compare to sharing great music with someone you care for swaying in your arms. I love dancing so much, I help administer the largest lindy hop community website on the net, Yehoodi.com. [blogged by Doug on Great Dance Weblog]

Posted by jo at June 9, 2006 12:26 PM