Alexia first stumbled inworld on the 28th of August 2006.  Second Life had only been open to free accounts for a couple of months and from the moment she stepped inworld the human behind her has been in turns entranced, frustrated and amazed by what she saw and those she came into contact with.  I always believed that I would be one of those banging on the door when it finally closed, refusing to believe the dream was over but the reality is that I won’t be. I never thought the day would come that would see me say that.

Alexia was the account that went willingly into the magic, despite the trolls and sociopaths (some of who border on psychopaths and are certainly under medicated).  I’ve seen the best and the worst of human behaviour in here.  Considering what I’ve borne witness to in my real life, where I managed to keep a faith in the innate goodness of human beings, it was Second Life that finally taught me that we are all capable of great good and great evil and it’s usually pettiness that wins.

One of the true blessings of my Second Life has been how my life has been touched by others whom I feel a profound gratitude to have, however briefly, shared with them an instance of time.  Some of them are no longer with us, yet while we remember them, they will always be amongst us.

Second Life is celebrating its 10th birthday.  A couple of years ago I didn’t believe it would still be here today.  Looking back at the gamble that Mark Kingdon took with SL, it would have been a true game changer had he had a good enough team to have delivered his vision, instead it almost destroyed it and the legacy of his lost gamble is still with us.  It was the last time Second Life could ever be considered a trail blazer rather than a pedestrian follower. I do mourn the fact he lost but perhaps SL is better for just being the glossy elephant in the room of virtual worlds, rather than what Mark envisaged.  Now we’ll never know.

Alexia doesn’t log in very much anymore and her gallery is about to be cleared and the land set for sale.  There’s a garden in Avination, until that’s taken down by the grid owners but once that’s gone, that’s it.  There’s echoes of her on the various grids through her sculptures and textures but it looks like the story is finally over.

Despite everything, I strongly believe in the transformative power of Second Life.  There’s a certain magic in the chaos that only Second Life has and once the magic touches you, it never lets you go.  Even if you no longer come inworld, once you’ve been touched by it, it is always with you and for that, I am truly grateful.


A festival for Eku’s head.

I know everyone has a head but Eku’s is special and needs some TLC.  So to raise funds for this, there’s a fundraiser for the next month.  There’ll be gachas, items for sale and tip jars all trying to part you from your money to help make it happen. Here’s the slurl to the landing point.

If you prefer to do a non-sl donation, the indiegogo page is here.

It runs from 15 November – 15 December 2012 and is a great excuse to go Christmas shopping early!  The festival kicks off at 8am slt with 24 hours of music.

Here’s the list of the participating merchants.

I have a couple of gachas, which the rare prize for each donated by Grandma Bates and Beezle Warburton respectively. All money paid will be going to Eku. So come along and spend some cash – go on, you know you want to. 🙂


Have a wonderful Yuletide season!



Today marks 5 years since I first decided to enter Second Life.

This was my first post on the subject all those years ago, at that stage I’d been inworld barely three weeks.

Real Life (RL) bands play, people buy land and build houses, become merchants or sell their skills, live happy fulfilling lives… and all of this is true. People do help, there is plenty of information and free stuff around for ‘newbies’.. and the potential is there to make your life in SL whatever you want it to be..

The best description of the game was from a fellow citizen last night.. he said that the pursuit of happiness was the aim and those that got happiness won..

 And I’ve met so many of these people who are pursuing their happiness in the ways they best know how.. Scripters who just want to build, property developers, people who want to watch porn at home but don’t want to download it, sea changers who can’t in RL, those who use it at a dating agency; the sad, mad and lonely.. too many people who use SL as the substitute for RL because it’s easier.. I know this… I’ve been living it and it is a seductive thing..

Fast forward to 2011 and it’s still the same, the technology and the visuals may have improved but it’s still about people and all the glossiness in our world will never change that. Mesh may be the latest shiny to make the grid look good but without the people who create with such imagination and care this world of ours would be a sterile museum and without those who have made their lives in here and are part of the communities that make Second Life so vibrant, there’d be no heart.

Recently I’ve been allowing memories of the last 5 years to wash over me as I try to make sense of just why I’m still logging in and still caring about whether Second Life thrives. I’ve seen the potential that Second Life had to change the way we electronically interact squandered, it’s reputation sullied and I mourn the fact it’s now a internet follower rather than a trail blazer. Despite everything you may read, it really was a trailblazer back in the day – it took so many disparate things from the web and turned them into something special.  Even now, no other company has been able to recreate the heady mix that captures and beguiles that certain set of people who have stepped down into this rabbit hole.

It’s been an interesting 5 years and I oddly have more regrets about some of it than I should.  If I had my time again after I’d created Alexia, I’d do it completely differently and if I could go back to the day I agreed to log in to do the business case I’d refuse to do it.

I’m here now though and it has its claws well and truly hooked in me. I still can manage to have ideas that are beyond my technological skill set and the platform capabilities, I still meet people who I find amazing and I still have hope that I’ll keep experiencing those glimpses of magic that this story offers.  That’s the secret of Second Life that we never seem to share, it’s an open ended story where anything can happen. It can be everything you ever dreamt of or the most boring thing you’ll ever experience and the only constant is the person living it.

Years ago someone asked me why I still came inworld and I answered that I want to see how Alex’s story ends. Five years since that first fateful day and it’s not over by a long shot, each day brings a new twist to the saga and I’m still gripped enough to want to keep turning those pages.

Finally the preparations for SL8B are over and I can give you a sneak peek at the build I’ve done for it.  Well, the outside only as I don’t want to spoil the surprise. 

The theme this year is “the magic of Second Life” and that can mean whatever you want.  To some people it’s the ability to walk, fly or to do things they couldn’t in real life, to others it’s marvelling at the beauty of the creations inworld.  To me it’s about the people who inhabit the place.  It’s not really what it looks like, it’s the connections to other minds and imaginations that transports Second Life from just another game to something special. The way it can grip your imagination and emotions when you least expect it is something that you usually may experience in books, cinema and theatre but in the chaos that is Second Life it’s even more engaging for the sheer unpredicatability of when it will occur.

My build is based on the Lewis Carroll themes of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  It’s part of the cultural landscape for us and I think it is completely appropriate.  Despite everything you think you know about Second Life, once you step through the door and enter the world anything can, and most likely will, happen and it has to be organic because it simply won’t appear if you try to force it. 

The exhibit is nothing like my original idea, the technical limitations (everything I wanted to do ended up either being impossible or far more difficult than it should have been – ahhh the compromises) of the platform and the restrictions on what can be used in the build (no large textures, no sculpts, no overt script use and severe prim number and size restrictions) means that what I first saw in my mind’s eye ended up nothing like what finally grew from the idea of stepping behind the mirror.  As usual, just never know how things will turn out when you set out to do something in SL.

Click here if you want to read more about the exhibit,

or come and see the exhibit for yourself during the birthday celebrations.  Here are the dates to put in your diary.

  • June 20—10:00 a.m. SLT: Gates open to the public!
  • June 23—The Birthday! Special ceremonies included!
  • June 26—Last day of entertainment.
  • July 2—Gates close at 11:59 p.m. SLT

and there’s a goodie bag stashed there too with my latest attempt to fill this world of ours with snow globes and a gift from [SDA] Satiated Desires Animations.  Couldbe Yue, the owner of SDA graciously provided the animations for the build.

and finally, a huge thank you to all the exhibition support staff for working under extremely busy and trying conditions to make the set up progress as smoothly as possible.  Without those hard working and gracious people SL8B would not have happened.

Merry Christmas



Merry Christmas to all.  I hope your Yuletide season is filled with love and laughter.

 I went along to the opening of The Gate 2010. As always it was interesting and slightly unnerving to be peering out of the fishbowl into the world of flesh. 

The Gate 2010 opening night

© Alexia Cournoyer. 2010  All rights reserved.

Click here to go to The Gate website 

The Gate @ Shanghai Biennale 2010
Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China / Odyssey, Second Life

Oct 23rd, 2010 – Jan 23rd, 2011
After Brussels (2007) and Kortrijk (2009), The Gate ventures to the Asian continent for the 8th Shanghai Biennale.

The Gate will be open everyday during the duration of the whole Biennale.

 Schedules :
– in Shanghai : 10am – 5pm
– in Brussels : 4am – 11am
– in Second Life : 7pm – 2am

Join us!

People, avatars and performance artists are kindly invited to come, perform and interact at The Gate, both in Real Life and in Second Life.

The Gate 2010 Opening Night

© Alexia Cournoyer. 2010  All rights reserved.

It’s worth a look.. either peering into our world or gazing out.