The Drax Files: World Makers [Episode 2: Jo Yardley]

Moving somewhat ahead of schedule, renowned SL machinima creator Draxtor Despres aired the second episode of his monthly documentary series titled “The Drax Files: World Makers”. As I mentioned in my coverage of the first episode, this show examines the people behind the avatars who, with their passion and persistence, continue to push Second Life forward. Staying consistent to the first episode and the overall tone of the series, this episode uses mixed reality, cutting between SL and Real Life (RL) to provide insight into aspects of the former and introduce the viewer to the persons behind the avatars and their creations in the  virtual world.

The second episode in the series focuses on Jo Yardley’s 1920s Berlin Project and the woman who created this excellent sim. Jo has been working on this project since the time she first entered Second Life and her work on this project aptly demonstrates one of the platform’s main abilities: the ability to create immersive environments which, rather than being mere dioramas, static reproductions of a place and era, or a particular moment in time, bring the depicted place, era and – yes – world to life; in the case of the 1920s Berlin Project, visitors are given the opportunity to experience life as it was in Berlin of the inter-war years of the twentieth century.

Following the paradigm he set in the first episode of the series, Draxtor eschews the conventional interviewer-led approach and instead takes the back seat, allowing his interviewees to speak freely of their involvement in Second Life and their vision: the same is happening here – Jo presented to us the way she chose to experience Second Life, her creative project and the way Second Life overlaps with her RL in Amsterdam. The format chosen by Draxtor is highly successful, as it feels natural, free-flowing and draws the viewer in, giving an intimate view of Jo’s real life and passion for history.

Second Life has often been unfairly maligned as a pastime for people with “no life”; a pastime for people without any interests, friends or presence in the real world. The format chosen by Draxtor, in allowing the viewer to look into Jo’s RL and her SL work side-by-side, demonstrates the human heart and soul of Second Life, i.e. the ability of the platform to extend one’s hobbies, interests and passions through the opportunities it gives for the creation of immersive, engaging and informative worlds and, in so doing, allowing for acquaintance and friendship with people from all over the world, forming bonds, communities and connections that are perhaps stronger and deeper than what can be achieved in “conventional” social media like Facebook and meat markets like Hi5.

What the viewer sees in Draxtor’s “World Makers” series is a warm, endearing and informative picture of Second Life and the reasons its users care so much about it, as well as a clear and concise presentation of the opportunities it offers for exploration of the platform itself and other people’s creative work. Also, it is evident that Draxtor’s choice of the “mixed reality” format is ideal for showcasing and promoting Second Life. The projection of Jo’s RL activities on the silver screen of her 1920’s movie theatre in Second Life, with the audience seeing them is a brilliant example.

The care that Draxtor exhibits in the composition and editing of the show makes it a glowing example for all those who wish to promote Second Life to an audience unfamiliar with it (or even leery of it) through the use of machinima and mixed media. Draxtor clearly has an intuitive skill and is a highly talented artist, and spurred by his personal passion for Second Life, he produces a finely balanced show, with great attention to the very last detail and offers a unique insight into Second Life and its users, who are, in fact, the people that make it so unique.


Mona (formerly slutrix)


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