Thursday, May 7, 2009

New blog setup... please click "Trivia" tab for trivia posts

So... sorry to throw you all a curve ball so soon, but a friend who is also a professional blogger recommended using a trivia-specific URL for the trivia stuff and using the self-titled page for, well, the trivial stuff. Seemed to make sense to me. So now and are separated by a thin line. You can access each through the other; just click the tab above to switch over. If you come to the Lette site, though, expect to find most content on the trivia side of things. I'll get all trivial and stuff soon enough. For now, please head over and add your voice to our first discussion topic: Googling in trivia. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

News: [MonoChrome] Grand Opening

Ten days old and already boasting a following of colorful (and colourful) characters, [MonoChrome] (the brackets are part of the name) is the brainchild of Jez Oh, Sinnamon Sands, and Mandy Ash, late of the recently departed Club Cherri Red. The lounge that has sprung up in the wake of Cherri Red's closure is a different sort of hang-out spot entirely. As Jez puts it, [MonoChrome] is meant to be not about lights and noise and dancers but about the people who attend the events. "We provide the canvas, you provide the color," reads their tag line. From what I've been able to see so far, however, the gray-pallet [MonoChrome] generates plenty of color from within, as well.

Although Sinn hosted a well-attended inaugural trivia event two weekends ago, the official grand opening will take place this Saturday, May 9. [MonoChrome]'s management plans to host not only trivia but also live music in the space as the club develops. Appropriately, Saturday's schedule thus includes a sandwiching of trivia in between two live acts. Folk/pop soloist AM Moonites kicks the event off at 1:00pm SLT, while singer/songwriter AMFORTE Clarity caps it by performing at 3:00. Sinn takes the stage between 2:00 and 3:00 for a helping of her Survey Says game.

Jez Oh

For those new to this format, Survey Says echoes the long-running game show Family Feud, which asks contestants to guess survey results about topics such as "Foods that are blue" or "Things you don't want to break while you're using them." In the Second Life version, Sinn announces the category, and players spam the chat with answers for sixty seconds. Once she calls time, she sifts through the spam to find the players who guessed each of the survey answers first. Winners receive linden dollars equivalent to the number of respondents who gave each answer. The categories and answers are taken from the show itself, which provides an interesting variety of questions, as the program has been running almost continuously since 1976.

Those who have already visited [MonoChrome] probably don't need me to urge them to come again. Those who haven't should put the Grand Opening event on their calendars for Saturday. Some of the lounge's finer details seem to have gone over well with its early patrons. Most importantly, the building -- a fully enclosed skybox that is nonetheless claustrophobe-friendly on account of its multi-tiered architecture -- was designed with lag minimization in mind. While shooting photos in the space, I turned my graphics up to Ultra and found the camera movement to remain completely lag-free. Whether this will be true with forty avatars on the premises is yet to be determined, but the color schemers have certainly done the best they can.

Sinnamon Sands

Less commonplace than an effort to curb lag is their effort to curb chat spam as well. At [MonoChrome], they "promise not to spam you with notecards and landmarks and group invites upon your arrival," but in return, they also ask patrons "not to spam us and your fellow guests with noisy or text-intensive ASCII gestures" (according to a draft of the club's Statement of Principles). Brief gestures are tolerated in moderation, but this request to keep the communication channels relatively free of canned sound files and excess textiness is consistent with [MonoChrome]'s goal to focus on the character of the people, who are trusted to provide a "higher level of discourse" without the assistance of semi-automated and repetitive gesturing.

If the events that have already taken place at [MonoChrome] are any indication, an afternoon of trivia can be upbeat and sociable on the basis of the company and their wit and conversation. In the future, the staff at the club plan to host more parties and live music events, as well as a broader range of trivia games. Jez will still DJ with with fabulous cover song playlists. This weekend's lineup should provide a good sampling, so try to find a moment to drop in and check it out.

=> Time: Saturday, May 9, 1:00-4:00pm SLT
1:00-2:00pm AM Moonites performs
2:00-3:00pm Survey Says trivia
3:00-4:00pm AMFORTE Clarity performs
=> Location: [MonoChrome],
=> Host: Sinnamon Sands
=> Prizes: Eight questions, L$100 available for each, divided among multiple winners

Monday, May 4, 2009

Event Profile: Armada Breakaway

One of the newer games to hit the Second Life trivia circuit is Mako Kungfu's short but sweet weekly event in the fabulous steampunk sim of Armada Breakaway. The sim itself is rather new, opened just over two months ago. A floating city based on the novels of author China Mieville, it is a roleplay sim welcome to any and all types of SL citizens, RPers and non-RPers alike. Native to the environment are mermaids, street urchins, pirate-looking folks, and at least one arachnid. Stores such as Grim Bros, Viv Trafalgar Outfitters, and ZAiGear skirt the walkways, and the organizers host a range of events friendly to visitors, including burlesque, discussion groups, synchronized mer-swimming, and of course trivia.

Me, Posableman, Rach, and Chadd

Armadans approached Mako to host themed trivia in the sim (his sky capsule store, Atomic Owl, is there), and the games have so far attracted a mix of people who hear about it through Armada and through trivia sources. The questions are written to be relevant to the sim's themes but are always accessible to others. For instance:

[17:28] Mako Kungfu: 4. Synchronized swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater. Competitive swimmers keep their hair in place by "knoxing" it with this edible translucent substance, found in wobbly desserts, trifles, marshmallows and confectioneries like Peeps and gummi bears.

[17:45] Mako Kungfu: 8. In Mieville's novels, the Vodyanoi are a fat and froglike race of water magicians who can fashion temporarily-solid objects (such as walls) out of water. They are based on the Vodyanoi of Slavic mythology, male water spirits who occasionally get angry and break dams, cause floods and drown victims... and who may give you a fish if you drop a pinch of a certain substance into the water. This substance comes from the dried leaves of plants in the genus Nicotana and can be smoked, chewed and sniffed. Name it.

[17:47] Mako Kungfu: 9. The word aeronautics comes from the Greek "aero" (air or sky) and "nautis" (sailor). For much of his life, this Renaissance icon was fascinated by the phenomenon of flight, and was one of the first modern Europeans to study aeronautics. He published a Codex on the Flight of Birds and designed flying machines like his famous helicopter and a light hang glider. Name him.

(answers at the bottom of the blog)

Lengthy questions like these aren't usually ideal for fastest-answer trivia because they advantage those who either speed-read or are most accustomed to the format of the questions and know which parts to skim, and newer players are likely to grow frustrated. They seem necessary for this context, though, so that they provide both steampunk/period relevance and a means of answering for those who aren't familiar with the Mieville mythology. They're also well-written enough that I usually return to read them more thoroughly after zipping through an answer. Mako's questions and explanations of the answers are among the most thorough and informative around. You can't leave without learning something new, and a few of the people who come who aren't regulars at other trivia events still seem to do fine.

Mako and sheep

The setting is a little park, one of the very urban Armada's only pastoral spaces. Sheep roam and sometimes find someone to cling to. Jazzy, bluesy, and old-time tunes come in on the audio stream. A few couches are set about, though most people seem to prefer standing. The tone is low-key, and the locals are friendly. Three weeks into it, though, it still feels like it's off the beaten path, perhaps because it sounds specialized, doesn't take place at an established trivia club, and conflicts with Double Standards. It's only one hour a week, though, to DS's 14+, and I've been able to get in an hour of the latter before heading over. If you like your trivia laid back and intellectual, don't let the unfamiliar territory discourage you. Throw on that Victorian dress or suit buried at the bottom of your inventory (or don't -- steampunk duds are optional) and swing by next Monday.

=> Time: Mondays, 5:00 to 6:00pm SLT
=> Place: Armada Breakaway,
=> Host: Mako Kungfu
=> Prizes: Fifteen questions, at L$40 per question; bonuses also include gifts from local stores, including Grim Bros and ZAiGear

Answers to questions in the blog:
=> gelatin
=> tobacco
=> Da Vinci

Just your standard intro post

So it was sort of inevitable that I'd start a blog relating in some way to Second Life. Here I am, a little over a year old in SL time, and I'm more or less hooked. Further, I spend most of my SL time either playing trivia, planning trivia, hosting trivia, or hanging out with people I know from trivia. Trivia doesn't really get a lot of play in most of the SL blogs I've seen. There are blogs on current events, on politics, on fashion, on technology, on live music, on SL culture, on sightseeing, on art, and on and on and on. When people write about SL social life, they write about clubs, live music events, education, discussion groups, fashion shows, freebie hunts, and many other things, but there's nothing like the blogosphere to remind me of how small the SL trivia community is in comparison with the rest of the (virtual) world.

I tend to forget this because I can't imagine having a Second Life without trivia. It structures most of my time in SL, shaping my social life, funding my spending habits, and providing me with intellectual challenges (at its best) and good laughs and gossip (at its worst). The most interesting and brightest people I've met in SL are those I've met through trivia games. I've formed friendships and relationships along the way, whereas other domains of SL have rendered only light and passing acquaintanceships.

I wouldn't go so far as to call this little community a bubble: the edges are porous, and I myself spend plenty of time doing non-trivia things. But there is definitely a core of enthusiasts, as well as casual players, who might take an interest in a special place for announcements, commentary, profiles, pictures, and probably even trivia. I'm leaving comments open in case anyone else would like to have their say. We may be small, but we are mighty. Sometimes I think we're the best kept secret in SL. I don't mind letting the cat out of the bag. (That was not a joke about Rain.)

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