This is your first year sponsoring Fantasy Faire. What made you decide to become a sponsor?
Asil Ares: Virtual worlds fascinate me and I find Second Life™ particularly compelling, because its content is created by its players …SL doesn’t have to be a creatively passive user experience. But, the grid is vast and it can be difficult for people to find their niche. Big well-run events, like Fantasy Faire or Burning Man or the Second Life™ Birthday Community Celebrations, are ways to bring like-minded people together and help them find connection.
What makes Fantasy Faire especially compelling is that it is fund-raising for a really important cause: Relay for Life and the fight against cancer. Every year I go to the Faire and every year, it just gets better. Last year was one of the best SL events I’d ever seen; I was determined to get involved. The members of the NeoVictoria Roleplay Group agreed, so we decided to sponsor one of the steampunk fairylands.
How did you begin roleplaying in Second Life? How did NeoVictoria come into existence?
There are all kinds of roleplay communities in SL, and yes …the ones that get most of the press are salacious. However, the one that first caught my attention was created around a unique post-apocalyptic world replete with demons, angels, vampires and the occasional human. I’m writing about The City of Lost Angels, created by Suzanna Soyinka.
I stumbled upon this immersive storyworld and its addictive combat meter via an article on open sourcing; I loved playing RPGs in school, so decided to check it out. It took about three months to totally reel me in!
It amazed me, how much time and energy the residents of these communities invested in their characters and roleplays. As is often the way, I found myself joining several clans (or factions) in different subscribing SIMs. I became very close with some of the players, including my dear roleplay “cousin” Kwekwe Karu, who wrote a wonderful short story about how our characters met. This backstory became the source material for my first serious machinima, “Kwekwe Turned”.
After that, it was only a matter of time before I learned I needed the technical control of a full SIM to shoot machinima the way I wanted to make it. And then, the desire to expand that vision into a community began to take hold. That’s how NeoVictoria, as a SL simulation, formed in my mind. I’ve always loved Steampunk, so when I dreamed about creating a world, it was those kinds of images that came to me. And I loved the possibility of a community whose roleplay isn’t lost once the scene is over. The NeoVictoria Project™ is very much a mixing of those themes and desires.
What can we expect of NeoVictoria during the Faire? Will you be roleplaying in Asperatus? Are the visitors welcome to join in or is it more a performance?
Visitors can expect some nice gifts to be found in Mrs. Chickenstalker’s Apothecary and Dry Goods Emporium (that’s the name of our store on Asperatus). And they can look forward to some exciting and engaging roleplay, which they are most welcome to join!
The story NeoVictoria will play at the Fantasy Faire is called “The Revenge of Professor Timmons.” In it, the professor has built a treacherous robot, which damages our town’s power center. They then make their escape to Asperatus. We townsfolk chase after these miscreants, so there will be lots of excitement, fighting in the streets, and general mayhem going on. In the end, we will capture the bad guys, and there will be a great big celebration on Friday, 9 May (with Gabrielle Riel of Radio Riel fame as our live DJ). After which, we will return the evil doers to NeoVictoria to receive their just desserts.
For those interested in keeping abreast of developments, or who plan to join us in roleplay, we’ll be posting alerts and daily updates to our page on the Fantasy Faire website.
What calls you to fantasy and steampunk? When was the first time you encountered the genres and realized you enjoyed them?
I fell in love with fantasy when I learned to read. My grandmother had all the Andrew Lang fairy books and one of my earliest memories is turning the pages of those ancient books to wonder at the pictures. As for Steampunk, I think I always was one, though I didn’t really understand it as a movement until I read Bruce Sterling‘s excellent essay, “The User’s Guide to Steampunk“.
Do you have a favorite Faire memory? What are you looking forward to most this year?
I don’t remember what year it was, I just remember it was the first place I saw the work of Elicio Ember and it both amazed and delighted me. As a roleplayer, I’m most looking forward to “The Revenge of Professor Timmons“, but as a visitor, it’s The Faery Court that I plan to see as soon as the gates open.