Last night I attended a networking and fundraising event for the upcoming Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference. The theme was steampunk and the music tended toward the blues.
A friend asked why I volunteer with VWBPE (or attend, when I can’t help out). I’m not an educator; sessions on techniques for increasing classroom engagement with virtual elements or public health simulations don’t apply to me at all. What’s in it for me?
VWBPE is a group that sees potential in the virtual. The people I’ve met there aren’t always the most tech savvy, adept with Blender, or conscious of varied SL communities, but they are passionate subject matter experts who want to innovate and improve. They’re a diverse bunch. Going to the conferences, I see people observing something and saying, “I think I can make that better. Let me roll up my sleeves and give it a try. Look at the cool ways we can approach the problem!” Those are the kind of people whose company I appreciate.
Last night I danced, I donated, and I chatted. Afterward, I took a break in the library below the event. I’d had fun customizing my avatar with a mix of things from my inventory and new purchases. I even added a new prosthetic leg to my collection — a copper model instead of the high tech version I often wear. Azoury makes such beautiful things.
That’s part of what I love about SL. In the physical world, my titanium parts are under skin and I can often hide my pain. In SL, I can work an expression of the way I feel into my outward appearance, with lovely aesthetics (and wearing heels I’ve never been able to manage). Sometimes it feels confrontational in a way that would be uncomfortable to me in RL, and I enjoy experiencing that change of mood.