Sunday, March 2, 2008

Racing Dog Sleds in Second Life's Virtual Iditarod

Saturday morning, I went inworld for a moment and received a notecard about the Virturod - the virtual Iditarod - with the start of the event happening within the hour to coincide with the real life Iditarod race start time.

I couldn't resist checking things out so followed the link to the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau's web site to another link with the SLURL. I arrived less than half an hour or so before the event and the place was basically empty except for a handful of avies including Lou Tones who I eventually learned heads Virtual World Builders, the company behind the build.

I decided this would be a great event to write about for so put on my Reporter name tag and began searching for a PR person or a rep from ACVB while trying to get Lou Tones attention to answer a few questions.

He was clearly busy making last minute arrangements so I began chatting up the other avies in attendance. One woman ran over to me and told me to contact Anchorage Dreamscape who I later found floating in midair but away from her keyboard where she seemd to remain for most of the morning.

I was excited to find SeymourMoose Alter, however. He's the ACVB mascot for their "Big Wild Life" campaign for Anchorage and was quite a good looking moose in Second Life. He offered to help but when he realized I was a reporter, he quickly referred me back to Lou who did take the time to answer a few of my probing reporter questions.

When I realized that the turnout was going to be sparce, I began inviting my friends to join me for the race. At first, I thought we were going to watch a race, but soon realized that we could actually BE the racers.

That's how I ended up being part of the first official race of the Virturod along with dear friends Ilanna Aya and Alanagh Recreant. Also in the lineup was Cabela Lorenz who was the first to figure out how to rez a dog sled and had taken a tour around the racetrack before our race began.

Here is Cabela, Inanna, Alanagh and me ready to start the race with Lou Tones and SeymourMoose in the back giving us instructions.

The race was fantastic! Tons of fun. Lou flew overhead to observe the racers as we tangled with one another, getting stuck in the ice, falling off the track, swerving, skidding, sliding. I had a blast!

Eventually, the race was down to Cabela and me. She was a tough competitor and we switched places often. Suddenly, she got stuck and I slowly took a lead, then my lead got bigger. I creeped up an ice hill and when I reached the top, there was a board with our times posted (it wasn't working) and Lou Tomes was floating close to the ground.

I thought it was the finish line.

"Where do we go from here?" I asked but he didn't respond and just hovered.

I looked around for some sign of an actual finish line just as Cabela came up the hill. Lou flew back up into the air and Cabela turned onto the path where Lou had been and headed down the hill. What?!? There's more?

Maneuvering around the top of the hill to point down the path was tricky. When I finally did it, I could see the finish line below and Cabela hanging out with Lou beside it. Darn!

Lou had inadvertently blocked my path to get down the hill. Double darn!

With my adrenaline pumping, I made my way recklessly down the hill and got stuck at the finish line. I started chiding Lou for flying too low and blocking my path. He and Cabela laughed and probably thought I was a poor loser.

I later chatted a little more with Cabela and invited her to race with me and my friends again. She agreed so I sent her a Friend message. She declined.

"You're the first person in the year that I've been on SL who has declined a friend offer..." I said, hoping for some explanation. "How else can I find you to invite you to race with us again?"

"Don't take it personally," she said.

Not discouraged, I gave her a few tokens of friendship including one of the rare fish I caught the other day fishing with Soph, Ally and others (photos to follow) and one of my custom tshirts that says "Still Rezzing."

But alas, no friend here. She did, however, later IM me to critique some of my wording in the article I had turned in a few minutes before the race began: Virtual Iditarod Off to a Bumpy Start. Oh well, such is Second Life.

Let me know if you'd like to join me over the next 3 weeks to race a dog sled!


christen said...

I finally had the chance to visit this sim last night. I was surprised to see that the race even had a presence in SL.

Two things I wish were there that I didn't see...
1. Video of this year's start (or at least more pics in the Visitor's Center
2. A place to make donations to the ACVB. I saw the proceeds of the sled sales went to them, but it would be nice to have a donation kiosk there too somewhere.

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