Tag Archives: interview

On roleplay: interview with Sir Soltel’vayas, the drow

Sir Sol, a wonderful, snobbish, intelectual drow

Anna: I think that the average age in SL is 35. Are you younger or older than 35?

Soltel’vayas: I am younger, with my 21 years of age.

Anna: What is your mother tongue?

Soltel’vayas: I speak Portuguese as a first language.

Anna: When did you create your first avatar, and why?

Soltel’vayas: Of when I cannot actually give you a straight answer, but I think it was at the last months of 2006, I saw a notice on TV news about Second Life and made me curious enough (mostly about the building possibilities at first) to create an account to “check it out”.

Anna: Did you study or learn English before entering SL? If yes, what was your level, more or less?

Soltel’vayas: I had English in school since 4th grade, sooner than most my age, but if I am not mistaken currently, it’s on the schooling system since 3rd grade. I took an English course during summer after I finished 7th grade. I wouldn’t be able to level my English, but it is above Portuguese standards I am sure.

Anna: did you have any difficulties with the language when you arrived in SL? Or did you feel immediately at ease with everything in English?

Soltel’vayas: shakes his head “No, I didn’t find any sort of trouble upon arrival. I cannot say my English is far better now than it was when I first joined, but my vocabulary is. I mean, my English most certainly has improved, not as much as constructing a grammatically well formed sentence, but my vocabulary has improved greatly, I have learned a whole lot of new words”.

Anna: I have the impression that one learns a lot of colloquial expressions…

Soltel’vayas: laughs “Well here’s a learning moment now, as I am not familiar with the term “colloquial expression”

Anna: Those expressions you use in your everyday life, with friends and family. Not those you read in school books

Soltel’vayas: scratches his chin “Within a role-play scenario, I must disagree with that statement. I’ve read the most beautiful pieces of well arranged words, almost daring to say, professional work.

We express ourselves the best we can, when I lack the knowledge for better I stick with the simple, but it’s not for me so interesting to read”.

Anna: *shakes her head* no, we did not understand each other. For colloquial expression I did not mean “simplified language”. Let’s make an example: you go to a bar with your friends. Do you speak like your history book or do you use another kind of expressions and register there?

Soltel’vayas: smirks “While how I speak with my friends is casual and laid back, the form of speech I use for role-play is tailored more carefully. These are two different environments.”

Anna: Because your character is.. let’s us say.. a snobbish intellectual..

Soltel’vayas: Ha! Indeed.

Anna: I have a student like Sol: clever and snob.. but he differs from Sol because he’s a nice person, not an evil drow like you *giggles*

Soltel’vayas: He sips his wine reading a book, can’t get much more snobbish

Anna: Why and when did you start roleplaying?

Soltel’vayas: He smirks reading the question, turning his gaze to an empty space… remembering how his roleplaying journeys in SL began. “I was building in a sandbox, when I was approached by a fine dressed female avatar, questioning me about my intention to become a vampire (bloodlines noob hunter), I curiously accepted it as a challenge. I started playing the role easily, it was a goth casual society, I quickly raised in their ranks, ups and downs eventually ended into discovering new forms to express myself in a roleplay and I discovered the combat systems, at the young age it seemed just like a multiplayer videogame.” chuckles “I’m drifting already… let us carry on.”

Anna: *smiles at the mention of “at the young age” but decides to carry on with the following sentence*  Since then, have  you attended any course, or engaged in other activities that could have helped you improving your English (reading, movies, trips etc)

Soltel’vayas: The seek of knowledge, either for a personal research or for a roleplay kind of information always makes me read in English, I would rather do so as most of the articles I see in Portuguese are simply translated, and sometimes simplified from the English written ones. Movies, series, programs, all of that helps, I watch cable TV most of the time, it implies I learn more, sometimes even laugh my way when the subtitles get it wrong. There is also music, that teaches me a lot, as I do not dare to headbang my head to the sound of lyrics I do not understand.

Anna: Do you practice English only in SL or as well in other contexts (work, leisure, other virtual worlds or communities)

Soltel’vayas: SL is without a doubt the place I keep my English the sharpest, curiously I only know a Portuguese individual here, and yet we speak English with each other. Both of us have learned a lot of words with each other as well.

Anna: How many hours do you spend roleplaying? How many hours in SL (in general,  roleplaying or not)

Soltel’vayas: I log averagely everyday for a while, lets say 4 to 5 hours, unless I have others affairs I am logged in SL, usually in a roleplay Sim, if I am not roleplaying I am building or/and chatting on private channels. Even then RP might just engage on its own around ones location, that means get your prims collected and raise a brow looking superiorly around.

Anna: Do you see any difference in the language you use normally in SL and the one you use in Rpg?

Soltel’vayas: Well that would very well depend on the character and theme you play in. Eg.: a person playing a different race than human might have a different language, also a person playing a commoner might use a more rudimental language, lets say “Ye aint go’in t’take me wine cos yer a fo’okin wench”, apart from that there is of course the emoted behaviour, roleplayers end up using it on a casual conversation as well, demonstrating their body movements and voice tones, their reactions *cleaars his throat and shrugs* got it? *laughs*

Anna: don’t you think that this “strange” English could be a danger for a learner?.. you can pick up expressions that are not real English for instance… or that nobody says that way anymore..

Soltel’vayas: No I don’t think it truly influences the way I learn, it’s easy to understand that, the way those character speak is not the standard model, I see it as very interesting and a different source, for also different knowledge.

Anna : I found very challenging the “emoting”, I mean, that a kind of language we do not usually use when speaking in RL. Language used for describing facial expressions or movements or many other things. Did you remember if you had any difficulty with it at the beginning? and do you find it useful to “RL purposes”?

Soltel’vayas: The fact one can manipulate words to describe actions is, I believe, divine. But apart from your self-satisfaction, and verbal gratification, I don’t see a casual use for this in real life, cause we don’t say “coughs” when in fact we do so. Since the beginning I found emotes as a magnificent way to express yourself in SL, and of course, the roleplay. I actually emote in a casual typed conversation *laughs*.

A good example of an emote taken it’s way to our casual speech is the “lol”. Here in Portugal the teen folk use the abbreviation like it’s a Portuguese word. Instead of laughing at a joke, they vocalise the word LOL.

Now how funny is that?

Anna: well… technology is changing our everyday language.. yes.

Soltel’vayas: *nods*

Anna: most rpg are in chat, that is people do not “speak” but simply write what they have to say. Do you feel comfortable with your spoken English? Do you know many words or expression in their written form but not how they sound?

Soltel’vayas: You got a point there, though, me personally, believe I don’t speak the so called “voluntary typonese” too often, if I have doubts I usually try to go around the subject through another sentence. I’m surprised it seems to me that I type better than a lot of persons I’ve met in SL that have English has their first language. I know a lot of words and expressions both on their writing form or sound, I do have trouble pronouncing them out loud, I don’t do voice in SL under the fear of swallowing my own tongue and dying.

Anna: you never, never use voice in SL? never did? Neither outside Rp?

Soltel’vayas: laughs “Actually, no. There were times I tried, short lasted ones. I might on occasion turn the mic on and play guitar, I don’t have trouble maintaining a typed conversation with someone that is using voice, but I just have such a terrible accent, like I said before I tell you now as a fact “I fear I might swallow my own tongue””.

Anna: *laughs* well… I assure you that I’ve a terrible accent and I’ve never swallowed my tongue. And good to know that you play guitar on the micro… may I book for your next live session?

Soltel’vayas: HA!

Certainly not, but I’ll play a little someday, never did in the pub cause arts doesn’t have the sound on.

Anna: Can you remember and share with us a language learning situation in Rpg? A moment in which you realised that you were learning something new? Or a moment you were aware of some language learning taking place?

Soltel’vayas: I honestly cannot recall any particular event, it’s like a friend says: -When in doubt, IM and find out. So right she is, that is exactly what I do, when I don’t know the meaning of a word during RP or casual ooc conversation I just send a private message to the person who used it. You can only learn when you seek to do so, or are tricked into doing so.

Anna: Would  you recommend Rpg in SL to improve one’s foreign language skills?

Soltel’vayas: I am aware it could be used to do so, but I wouldn’t recommend it based on desire to improve ones vocabulary, but I do agree it helps on that level. I just wouldn’t roleplay with that as a main goal.

Anna: is there anything that I did not ask you and you would like to say? Something language related, of course

Soltel’vayas: No, not that I recall at the moment. *laughs* Oh there is one thing: be warned, translators are evil scripted objects in SL.

Anna: Lol, I know. I hate translators in SL.

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On roleplays: the point of view of the learner

I started to write a long an boring post on language learnig and roleplay when I thought that may be it would be much more interesting to listen to those who are roleplaying in a language that is not theirs. Usually their primary aim is not to learn the language, but to have fun and enjoy the collabortive writing of a story. But well, what if I asked them to think about their language learnig process? That would be much more interesting that my long bla bla bla.

I decided that I will interview myself too… well, the me in front of the keyboard will interview Anna, but only at the end. I’m more interested in listening to others than listening to myself :D.

I wrote down a series of key questions I want to ask, so that all the interviews will have somehow the same structure and opionions will be easy to compare, but of course an interview is first of all a dialogue, a discovering of a person (person? well, let’s say avatar), therefore each one will be a bit different.

I started already, and I’m really enjoying the experience. I hope you will enjoy it too.

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a grumpy old avatar and the new SL experience: going back to orientation island.

In SL I’m considered a rather old avatar, and I’m very proud of it. (In RL I’m a middle age human being, and very proud of it too, but that’s another story).

Therefore, when Viewer 2.0 arrived and, unlike many of my colleagues, I was far from enthusiastic – to say it euphemistically- I firstly thought it’s was due to aging. I was becoming a grumpy old avatar!

That’s why, after things settled down (the 2.0 viewer is not beta anymore), I decided to analyse the new viewer with newbies eyes and see if it really can help newcomers to feel at ease, enjoy their experience and stay.

To see if people are going to go smoothly along their learning curve and stay, I think that we have to go back to the registration process and Welcome Island, where we all started.

So, here I am, going through the registration process again (and now regretting I did not document my other registrations: It would have been nice to compare).

Once I have registered and confirmed by mail my new avatar I’m greeted with this screen.

Now, for what I know for my personal experience and for talking a lot with newbies (and I meet every trimester many, since I’m e-tutor in a course about SL and new trends in learning), what scares away most new potential user is: to be asked for money. I mean: would you give money to someone you do not know and for something you do not know what it is and are not sure if you want to buy? So I do not think it wise to start talking about money too soon (and I do not agree with Linden: what makes you stay is to buy something. I have the impression that most people start to spend money after 6-12 months of being in SL, but of course I’ve no statistic data).

I click on “Not now”.

The following screen ask me to choose between welcome island and community gateways.

If I remember it right, there was this choice as well the last time i created an avatar, but you were not asked to “chose” so directly. If you did not know what was this about you could simply skip the step and you land in welcome area. My newbie brain would hesitate quite a bit at this point, since I do not see which one is the “default” choice.

Obviously, in this case I decide to go to Welcome Island, since I want to have a look at it.

Next step is clear: download the program, install it and …. a quick guide. Very nice! Since I usually get bored while downloading and installing programs, there are many chances that I start reading the quick guide.

I click to the Quick Start Guide.

This screen explains the main functions of the 3 bars. Hovering my mouse on the numbers I can read what they are for. If I want to learn more, I have a neat sidebar with an index. 1 point for this. 🙂

Yet, since I’m an old grumpy avatar, I wonder: do newbies, with no experience in MUVEs or MORPGs and the similar, as I was when I arrived in SL, understand what “teleport”,” gesture” and the likes  mean?

Ok, the viewer 2.0 is installed, let’s get in.

The first think i see is… my avatar all grey. Ok, that’s normal and I can say I’m lucky. Other newbies around me are ectoplasms. In front of me there is a big board explaining how to change appearance. I do not notice at first the arrows on the floor saying “use keyboard arrows”. So I pretend I did not see them, and let’s follow instructions to try to change my outfit.

I click on the icon, I select an outfit. And I do not see any “wear” button. Of course If I had learned first to move, I would be able to go nearer to the Board and see where number 3 is pointing. At the end I spot it, at the bottom of my sidebar, black on a black background… very easy to to see ;D.

Board 1: changing appearance

In the meantime I got a freebies landmark from a guy who is 2 weeks old. No lindens or no welcoming staff around.

But let’s see if other  newbies here manage to change outfit.

Time: 1:57 pm SLT: There is an avatar in front of me, near the Appearance Board. She is in her undies. Let’s call her Newbie 1. Let’s see how long does she take to find the “wear” button.


Time: 2:03 pm SLT: Newbie 1 is now editing appearance, has is voice on and i can hear that he’s clicking or hitting on his keyboard.He became a man, by the way.

Time: 2:06 pm SLT: newbie 1 still in the same position, still cliccking with no result. Two new avatar arrives. Let’s call them newbie 2 and newbie 3. That’s getting interesting. Will they manage to learn how to use SL?

Newbie 3 goes straight in the direction pointed by the arrows. Will it be an “old” avatar disguised as newbies, or did she simple see first the arrow indications?

Time: 2:10 pm SLT: Newbie 1 still stuck, newbie 2 disappeared (crashed? gave up? went to do something in RL?) newbie 3 is going very fast, stop only briefly at the boards. I don’t see her practicing the actions suggested by the tutorial but I’m not always watching her, therefore I cannot be sure.

Time: 2:14 pm SLT: newbie 1 is still stuck. I’m strongly tempted to help him, poor thing… But I need laboratory animals! New newbies are arriving, some skip altogether the “appearance” board and go into the building.

Time: 2:18 pm SLT: Newbie 1 still stuck. I have a new avatar beside me. He does not do anything. Don’t move, nothing. Not bad looking, by the way 😉 After a while he disappears (at 2:24 pm SLT). Newbie 3 is still around but I do not know where.

I sent a message to newbie 3, to see if she is a real newbie. Here is her answer. I think she’s is used to communicate at least in chat or she is young, since she uses “lol” in her IM.

[14:13] adalgisa Braumley: hi
[14:22] Newbie 3: Hi
[14:22] adalgisa Braumley: just a question. are you new here?
[14:22] adalgisa Braumley: how does it work?
[14:23] Newbie 3: yes very new, cant find my way out of this room again lol
[14:23] Newbie 3: hehe I dont know much about how it works, just arrived
[14:23] adalgisa Braumley: me neither(1) (1)hem hem, ok I lied, but I was force to! I did it for the science!)
[14:24] adalgisa Braumley: I was asking you because i saw that you were very quick
[14:24] Newbie 3: hehe
[14:24] adalgisa Braumley: doing the tutorial
[14:24] adalgisa Braumley: I’m still trying to change my appearance
[14:25] Newbie 3: ahh, ok, I will be happy with my look for a while, until I find out how it all works 🙂
[14:27] adalgisa Braumley: :o)
[14:27] adalgisa Braumley: may be i follow your advice

Time: 2:28 pm SLT: newbie 1 is still stuck, and still trying to get unstuck. She will stay: she’s stubborn 🙂

I get fed up and decide to follow the tutorial and take snapshot of the different part, so you will not need to make a new avatar to see the new Orientation Island and may be you will be able to help your students go through it.

(by the way, newbie 3 is back to the landing point (time: 2:34 pm SLT), at least two avatar crashed/gave up/went back to RL and did not relog)

Board 2: camera controls

As you see, we learn straight to use the keyboard. No mention whatsoever to the “view” button and the Camera Controls commands. May be Linden Lab agrees with most of old grumpy avatar and thinks that the new version of Camera controls is messy and clumsy?

Board 3: communicate

Ah, the old parrot is there, with a new, improved look!

Here I discovered an interesting features. If you click on the language name at the bottom, you will see the board in the chosen language. Very nice indeed. I just wonder why, in the two occasion I spent time in Orientation Island (I came back later to check things) all the board I was seeing were in English. Does it mean that people do not notice/understand this feature or does it simply mean that each one see its own version of the board? Would be interesting to find out.

board 4: sitting

They forgot to explain how to stand up… I can assure you that not all newbies get it.

Board 5: flying

It works: people are flying.

Board 6:  explore

Reflections:

Ok, I teleport in one of this places and .. then? And why newbie 3 did not find her way out? Are these board not clear enough?

I met a group of avatar and asked some questions. Here are they.

[03:40] adalgisa Braumley: by the way, did you find this tutorial useful?
[03:40] adalgisa Braumley: did you have problems for understanding it?
[03:40] *** Droverson: kind of … its pretty cool i can fly!
[03:40] adalgisa Braumley: :o)
[03:40] adalgisa Braumley: ok, i tell you the truth :o)
[03:40] *** Droverson: have you understood everything?
[03:40] adalgisa Braumley: i’m a teacher. I’m here to see how is the new orientation island
[03:41] adalgisa Braumley: would you like to share with me your first impressions?
[03:41] *** Droverson: of course
[03:42] *** Droverson: where should i add my comments?
[03:42] adalgisa Braumley: here, in chat
[03:42] adalgisa Braumley: then i will publish them, without your name
[03:42] *** Droverson: okay!
[03:43] *** Droverson: well to be honest im procrastinating supposed to be working but its awesome. very realistic. kind of like sims!
[03:43] *** Droverson: *suposed
[03:44] adalgisa Braumley: ah, but in world there are a loot of sims that are much more beautiful that this :o)
[03:44] adalgisa Braumley: did you find it easy to learn to do all the things they are explaining here?
[03:44] *** Droverson: yeah pretty much
[03:44] *** Droverson: i was a bit confused at first
[03:44] *** Droverson: then i saw the arrows on the floor
[03:44] adalgisa Braumley: why?
[03:45] *** Droverson: just didn’t know where i was!
[03:45] *** Droverson: i think im guna try to go to london
[03:45] *** Droverson: anyone want to come with?
[03:45] adalgisa Braumley: well, ***, you are in orientation island, a “no place”
[03:45] *** Droverson: oh okay!
[03:46] *** Droverson: good luck with your blog
[03:46] *** Droverson: bye bye 🙂
[03:46] adalgisa Braumley: thanks!
[03:46] adalgisa Braumley: bye and have fun!
[03:47] Cellestina ***: Hi I’m just learning First steps ))
[03:47] adalgisa Braumley: and how does it feels, celestina?
[03:47] adalgisa Braumley: easy? did you have any problem, difficulties?
[03:47] Cellestina ***: I’m not skilled in games at all ))
[03:48] adalgisa Braumley: but you already learnt to wear a bag. that’s really good!
[03:48] Cellestina ***: I like it Here
[03:48] adalgisa Braumley: if you like it here you will like much better all the nice places that there are in Second Life
[03:49] adalgisa Braumley: some are awesome

So you see… I’m an old grumpy avatar 🙂

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On places and people

Lately I was interviewed by two of Cvetka‘s students. It’s becoming a tradition by now, and one I enjoy. Let’s say it, to be interviewed, even if  by a student, always make you feel a bit… a bit more interesting than what you really are. :))

The second of my interviewed asked me to bring her to 3 different places I like or find interesting in SL.

[…………………………….. long, embarrassed and embarrassing silence………………………].

Hem hem, I have to confess it: I do not travel too much in SL. Ok, when I read (mostly on SLED) or are told of some new interesting location, I usually go and have a (often quick) look. But lest say it: to jump from one point to the other of the grid after a while is… boring. It’s like being on holiday: everybody likes to do sightseeing, but after a week of churches, museums, monuments and walks in picturesque neighbourhoods, we all would like to have something better to do.

The places I like most are… the places where I do something interesting or where I meet interesting people. And what I like most is making interesting things with interesting people, without caring about the surroundings landscape (whose feature I appreciate  most is: low lag).

I enjoy the Edunation community and love its sandbox (a sort of meeting point for all its residents), I like to meet with the members of Slexperiment, I love to get involved with the versatile Pyramid group and to participate in their many events (the last of with, a conference with Mario Gerosa on the 14th of  December 2009), or to keep in touch with my ex-schoolmates (he he… this word make me feel so young!) of the Muvenation course and to share opinions and help each other. And I enjoy building, learning, having concrete, tangible projects with other people I like and admire.

Therefore, I brought the student who asked me about interesting places to the Second Life Italia community land, where she can meet Italians and chat with them, and to the Indire sandbox, where …. she can meet Italians and chat with them.

I do not know why, I had the impression that she was not very impressed by it… but she is young, she will learn 😉

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talking with the teacher-1

I will summarise here my conversation with Protomas Ludwig, the instructor of the NCI basic scripts workshop I attended.

My basci scripting instructor

My basic scripting instructor

My first question was wether this course was still Beta or was already fully tested.

Protomas Ludwig: this is a long running class. I’ve made LOTS of changes over the months.

I have to add here that from the learner point of view it was clear that this was not a Beta course, the teacher had all the material well prepared in advance, know it very well, and one could feel that she was not nervous nor did any of our question come as “new” to her.

anna Begonia: can i ask when was the first time you gave this same class (in its 1st version, I mean)? Because what you said about changes made me think..

Protomas Ludwig: hmmm,  about a year and a half ago now.

(you see? I was right ;o) )

anna Begonia: wow, that’s a long time!

Protomas Ludwig: I’ve had to update it as things change, and I’ve changed HOW I say things several times

Following the scheme we were given, I asked then what were the most important aspects of delivering a class in SL?

Protomas Ludwig: clarity of the text. by that I mean that you have to say things in text in such a way that ALL the people in the class can understand

anna Begonia: and are you taking into consideration that may be not everybody is native english speaker?

Protomas Ludwig: yes, I do try to take language barriers into account. I don’t speak anything but English, but I try to speek as unambigously as possible, and I try to use short sentences and simple words where possible.

(I confirm: as a not native speaker I had no problem at all to follow the instructions)

anna Begonia: I think that one of the worst thing in giving classes in SL is that you do not have a clue of whether your students are listening, understanding, liking it or not. I personally find it very frustrating

Protomas Ludwig: yes, I actually have to ASK sometimes, “Are you still here?” 🙂

anna Begonia: I would like to thank you because you are giving the text in a good pace. some instructors in SL just run…, but in your case it is possible to read at one’s pace.

Protomas Ludwig: I had pacing trouble at first.  then I started reading my own lecture -slowly- as I gave it, and it turns out that keeps the pace about right.

anna Begonia: does it means that you are reading it every time you are giving this class?

Protomas Ludwig: pretty much. I mean some days I am tired…

anna Begonia: yes, I can immagine

Protomas Ludwig: but most of the time I am reading it, and even when I don’t, I know the right pacing because I’ve read it so many times. I still go over my alloted time a lot, but I figure better to err in that direction. In addition I try to vary the classes in small ways to keep it interesting, which is why I put in jokes.

anna Begonia: I see that in most of “tecnical” class in SL people use chat, not voice. We language teachers are strange in SL , we always use voice, does the text election have a reason?

Protomas Ludwig: ack! voice is hard! For me, it is MUCH easier to understand a text question than a voice one. Also the voice chat has NO record of the question, so if I miss it, I can’t go back and re-read it and of course its easier for the student if they don’t have to figure out MY accent

anna Begonia: lol

Protomas Ludwig: also, I’ve had voice be abused in class several times.

anna Begonia: I can immagine it! I thought that the main reason was possible griefers attacks. Is it common to have griefers in clases?

Protomas Ludwig: well, I do have some. But since I realized I coudn’t spend much time on them and started banning people withing about 2 minutes of them starting, I don’t have that many now. Which is one reason I try to only teach in locations I have ban rights in.

anna Begonia: yes, that’s very wise. And my last question: any advice for new people who want to try to give some classes here?

Protomas Ludwig: yes, be patient

anna Begonia: :o) That works in RL as well

Protomas Ludwig: its VERY hard for people to get their heads around concepts in SL,  so you have to go slow (time permitting) and be clear, and not get upset if people have problems. I’m always amazed at how many ways people find to do something wrong.

anna Begonia: lol

Protomas Ludwig: but I just laugh to myself and explain it again

anna Begonia: thank you very much

Protomas Ludwig: you are very welcome. I hope it helps you

anna Begonia: I’m sure i will get a good grade thanks to you

anna Begonia: see you and thanks again!

Protomas Ludwig: have a good day!

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