Ventured out into real life last night to the Virtual Worlds Salon, at the Hospital, a private members' club in Covent Garden. I wasn't at all sure what to expect; it was billed as a chance to meet others interested in virtual worlds, but nowadays that may encompass companies, universities, individuals, and many different virtual worlds.
I didn't really take in the exterior of the building itself. Inside it gives the impression of a modern one, with some quirky design features...leather rails up the stairs, a big light, odd pieces of art, lighting. Looking at their website, I realised that probably I hadn't seen the more striking areas of the building.
The gathering was held upstairs on the first floor, in a smallish dark room. On entry we were asked to fill in one of those sticky "my name is..." badges. Of course it is always a dilemma to know how to fill them in, but I put Fee/Cali and the company I work with, then Michael and I walked into a room heaving with people who had only put "Tony" or "Andrew" on their badges.
It was impossible to know who was who... it is likely I was in a room with people I have known for years in SL, but because I could only see their first names, with no clue as to whether they were from SL, There, Active Worlds, The Evil Empire....
I had an additional difficulty currently, in that I can't stand for long before my leg falls off. OK, it doesn't fall off but it goes completely numb. So, I have to walk or sit. It's very difficult to circulate while sitting, and people seem to feel uncomfortable with someone who insists on talking while circumnavigating them, although Michael did a sterling job in getting people talking and then bringing them back to talk to me.
Kaoru Sato from the Guild was there, and I met Lizzie Jackson too, who was recruiting people for a conference on Children's Virtual Worlds. I met Fau Ferdinand, who has been in Second Life nearly as long as I have, having joined in June 2004. She is a performance artist in Second Life, and planning a film there too. She sent me a friend request first thing this morning, so I am sure we will get to know each other better in SL.
Many people (including us) were using Moo cards... but shockingly some people (you know who you are!) had fake Moo cards. Because it isn't currently possible to have an illustration or logo on both side of the card, they'd had them printed elsewhere to the Moo dimensions. I became intensely aware that our website is still in development at present... I shall have to chase it up over the weekend.
Bizarrely, alcoholic drinks at the Salon were free, but anyone who wanted a soft drink had to pay. It seems an odd policy: alcoholics, teetotallers and drivers and those who can't drink for medical reasons paying for orange juice or water while the wine and beer flowed...at least for a while.
It was enjoyable as an event, but not very useful for networking purposes really, unless you were very determined, or very gregarious, and managed to circulate wildly. It was oddly difficult to deal with an event where people don't have floating tags and names. Maybe hats with a name suspended on a wire over the top would help!
Sasha Frieze from the Virtual Economic Forum, who organised the event, took some photographs, and so I assume that before long they will appear on Flickr. With any luck, as I was sitting down, I shan't appear in any of them.