Like any sensible hero, when the first call to adventure came–in the form of a request for submissions to the Learning Track of Opensim’s Community Conference–I passed it by. When the deadline was extended and the call to explore fiction’s future came a second time, I had to answer.
If you’re going to try something crazy, drag your friends along with you. The theory there is that you look less crazy if you talk other people into doing crazy things with you. I think there is some truth to the meme that an avatar is a reflection of the inner you. Above is how we looked at the start of our journey. Below is how we looked on the last day of the conference.
Not that our adventure didn’t have it’s heroic moments. I think everyone who participated in this project discovered a hero within at some point. For me, from the very beginning, it was the vision of the hero’s journey driving the creation.
The lineup of projects followed a hero’s path. We started with the call, a flash fiction challenge laid down by Siobhan Muir. We moved then to a training ground at with COurtney SHeets and her Hawaiian paranormal where attendees learned some basics about character creating in virtual worlds. Then we crossed the threshold into the challenges with Shannan Albright’s riddles, magic gates through a maze, and a dragon shifter who nearly stomped us out before we got the presentation started. We moved between challenges by hopping from one sky island to the next. Artist Fuschia NightFire welcomed us into a forest that moved and howled around us in her spooky twist on Red Riding Hood. Shara Lanel whipped up a holodeck controlled version of Hansel and Gretel. I sent players on a quest to free a hero. Tracy Olmstead injected romance, introducing us to creative inspiration via interactive dance and Endora Twenklins rewarded with celebration by her adorable lizard band.
I’ve mentioned these tales before. Today I want to talk about the process and the details of my journey into this multidimensional creative process.
Free the Hero–a theme I’m somewhat obsessed with– explores how adversity makes you more than you were. In the grander scheme of the presentation this falls in the plot line as the epic battle. You’ve been gaining skills as you progress and here I lure conference attendees with the promise of big rewards–a dragon shifter and a rideable tiger. There’s a bigger reward the way I see it, the one that comes with having to stretch yourself a little farther, make your brain think a little harder. One that you’ll only discover if you don’t give up.
This story began as Flash Fiction I wrote some time ago and later remade as poetry. It deals with the stories of girlhood–princes and knights and weddings and palaces and happily ever after. It deals with some of my childhood frustrations–that my brothers got Legos and I got tea sets. That Christmas and birthdays always included dolls for me but chemistry sets or radio kits for them.
I used those elements as scaffolding on which to build a game inside my story of an ideal love that proved not so ideal. They are the obstacles I put in your path, part of the puzzles you must solve. Shattered illusions hurt, but they are necessary and it is a lesson we all learn about love. There is no perfect prince or princess. Even so, we each must take our journey into that discovery.
In overcoming obstacles, in reaching out for guidance to find our way, we discover that as broken down as bad love can leave us, it sets the stage for growth. Wisdom replaces innocent idealism. Only then can you find the true hero.
If you’d like to try Freeing the Hero, you can find a replica of the full Geeked-Out Fairytales exhibit at world.narasnook.com:Pandora
If you’ve never been inside a virtual world and don’t know where to start–go here.