Thursday, August 28, 2008

Butterfly’s and Olive Oyl

A friend dropped a LM on me, while I'd been off line. Trusting her judgment, I hit the TP button and whooshed over without thinking too much about where I might arrive. I found myself standing in a clearing when I did rezz, very near a small rustic looking structure. Turning the virtual me around, the dazzling display of a thousand meadow flowers filled my screen with their colors. I stood and took in the warmth and beauty put on view for an arriving avatar. Curious now, as to my virtual location, I looked at the world map and saw that I was at Wanderstill on the ODE SIM, and I remembered both hearing and reading of the butterfly hunts that occur here on a somewhat regular basis. As the memory of reading a note card came up, several butterflies floated past my view on screen. I smiled seeing the light blue, orange and yellow colored butterflies following their scripted paths through the flowers and around then past me.

There were several people nearby when I checked the mini map and I was about to set off and wander through the meadow when a new arrival rezzed in. I waited a few second before typing out "Hello" in chat. She didn't reply, while moving off screen and into the flowers to my left. An arriving IM caught my attention and I spent the next few minutes taking care of some business. Once again, I was about to set off when I saw that the recently arrived lady had slipped into a new avatar. She now closely resembled Olive Oyl, the cartoon character and Popeye's girlfriend. Having been a fan of the cartoon while growing up, I had to chat with her. So I opened her profile and quickly read through it seeing she was a member of a group called "Scout It" – SL Guide Agency and her name was Delphina Audina.

"Please forgive my intrusion. I'd said hello earlier, perhaps you'd missed it. I'm a journalist ... I freelance while I'm writing my novel." I said

"Hi … sorry I didn't see it." She replied.

"I opened your profile and see you do travel tours. Can I ask you a few questions, if you don't mind?" I asked and then continued: "By the way, Olive Oyl, the avi is cute."

She replied smiling, "Thank you for your comment, it is fun to change. You can ask, it depends on the question as to whether I will answer, and yes that is correct about the travel tours."

"What does a virtual travel agency do?" I asked.

"Well we run personal guided tours in-world. If someone is interested in a certain topic, we put together a tour for them and come along giving background information or other help. We provide the service for residents, or for company's or colleges or tourist institutions."

"So you have packaged tours ... for example if they're interested in the arts, then these are the places to visit and things to see." I said in reply.

"Right, we customize it for the interest of the clients. A tour guide avatar comes with you and as I said gives additional explanations while conducting the tour." She said clarifying her earlier statement. I asked if she doing some scouting. "Yes, you can say that." She said and laughed.

"What about other virtual worlds ... or is it just SL?" I asked

"Well we did explore others -but flash 3D are not really interesting to tour or others are more or less closed server environments. So for now we stick to SL as this allows individual content creations." She responded.

"Have you ever been booted off a SIM you were scouting?" I asked her.

"Well we do respect privacy … it's mostly the how you interact." She said in reply.

"What was the most interesting place you've seen in SL?" I asked

"Geez that's hard to say there are some just breathtaking places either due to creativity of art or by the way how they are designed." She answered.

"What drew you here to this site?" I asked her.

"Oh, I was on a neighboring SIM, so I TP'ed over. It's a lovely, peaceful place, and Random is known for his good taste." She said and then excused herself as she had to attend to business. I thanked her for her time and then TP'ed home.

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