Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Composing in Second Life through Virtual Media

Computers & Writing 2010:
Conference Dates: Thursday, May 20-Sunday, May 23, 2010
Place: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

Composing in Second Life:
Documenting Virtual Life Through Virtual Media
Phylis Johnson (Southern Illinois University) and Lowe Runo (Lowe Runo Productions)
Saturday, May 22, 2010, 1-2:15 PM.

An overview of how machinima can provide student writing opportunities evolving from experiences within virtual environments like Second Life. Writers can test stories and characters, and explore concepts of diversity through gender, race, and ethnicity "avatar" representation. This presentation gives examples of various genres of storytelling that have been transformed into machinima (digital filmmaking in virtual environments), with an emphasis on how to construct a culturally rich storyline that taps into real life emotions.

Second Life is a world where residents create and perform through avatar representations. Stories generated can be that of narratives constructed from individual experiences and interactions with others in situations that evolve naturally - a dynamic cast of avatars that interact in various unfolding contexts. How might Second Life help students improve their understanding of the writing process? Good stories boil down to credible plots and characters. Second Life can allow writers to test stories and characters, and explore concepts of diversity through gender, race, and ethnicity. This presentation discusses the benefits of in-world journaling, role-playing, journalistic reporting, as well as the creation of music videos and machinima (animated) films, as a means to help students engage in expressive, relatable storytelling whether in virtual or real worlds. The cost of experimentation is minimal in virtual worlds, where set and avatar construction are on-going features of the game.

This presentation evolves from my research for a chapter in my book Second Life, Media, and the Other Society (Peter Lang, 2010), which examines, in part, how the interactive nature of the game allows residents to document their experiences through digital storytelling. A significant feature of this presentation will involve a virtual presentation from Lowe Runo, founder of the Machinima Artist Guild.

Related videos and sites:
Storytelling in Second Life, http://www.machinimaguild.com/
Many Faces of Machinima, Lowe Runo Productions
Virtually Social, Sonicity Fitzroy
Re-Imagine Media, Sonicity Fitzroy
Virtual McLuhan in the Mix, Sonicity Fitzroy

And I recently came across a video "Victim of Society" by music composer Gene Williams (Miles Eleventhauer, SL) , new to machinima, who captures a urban message set in Second Life's virtual NYC, New York. He recently made the video based on a song he created years ago. He got the idea from his students who asked him if he had ever made a video to the song. Now he has! Great work for his first time!

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