Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ephemeral Pleasures

It has been a very difficult fortnight in many ways. The human psyche is connected to the human physical frame, for better or worse, and sometimes when basic needs like sleep and freedom from pain are not met, the system is in danger of total collapse.

I do not wish to write about 'Second Life' exclusively, but those who comprehend the simple pleasure of an hour spent in a pastoral environment fishing may appreciate the experience in virtual reality, even if it is ephemeral in nature.

There is a rather wonderful medieval Sim named Avilion in Second Life. Its 'Lord and Lady' are extremely devoted in terms of creating and managing a constant stream of events ranging from jousting to masquerade balls. I cannot imagine who on earth has the time to be able to participate in all of them although, rather wistfully, I wish I could live TWO lives at once.

In any case, one of the limitations of Second Life is something called 'lag'. It occurs when the system is overloaded. The presence of too many avatars in a single location as well as other more arcane considerations can result in 'lag'. When this occurs, movements become sluggish. One wades through invisible mud rather than gliding effortlessly through the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the 'lag' can be terrible at Avilion and I have not been able to enjoy ANY of the events so far. In fact, the Sim is so popular that it often crashes when too many avatars descend upon it simultaneously. Despite these problems, I have to confess that I admire the energy and creativity of Malakh Giles and Serenity Sieyes immensely.

On the occasion of an Avilion event, I received a notice to the effect that Avilion offered fishing to those interested and had 'hidden' a fishing rod on the Sim for any one willing to search for it.

The search for the fishing rod was enjoyable in itself. I love treasure hunts and the Sim of Avilion is particularly beautiful, with all the atmosphere of a medieval romance. Babbling brooks, gypsy camps and leafy glades all combine to create a beautiful and charming environment. When at last we found the location of the fishing rod, I felt that the quest had been sufficient.

The fishing, however, was really fun. Avilion stocks 10 different types of 'fish' and items that can be caught with the fishing pole. I only realised that items caught could be 'taken' into my inventory after I had caught some of the less common items. In the end, I lacked but one of the desirable 'catches'. I thought it best to save something for another day.

To those who might argue that fishing at the site of a virtual river using a virtual fishing rod to catch imaginary fish never could be as satisfying as the 'real thing', I would respond that, for those of us who cannot hope to participate at this point of time in a real fishing adventure, Avilion provided a grand if ephemeral pleasure. And after all, is not the very nature of pleasure ephemeral in ANY reality?

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