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Friday, October 8, 2010

Blue World Notes: Desmond "the Guvnah" Shang Explains the Appeal of Steampunk in Virtual Worlds

Desmond “the Guvnah” Shang, the avatar who created the steampunk empire of Caledon in Second Life, is creating an even larger realm in Blue Mars. And as we stood on the shore of Caledonia, he explained to me how he accidentally became a virtual baron of steampunk:

“Let me try to summarise: Back in 2005, and prior, virtual worlds were very...” He nods to the serene, well-kept Victorian market square nearby. “Well, the absolute antithesis of a formal, staid place like this. Modern, tawdry, very different style.”

His goal was to create something in opposition to the bling bling nightclubs and the strange sex palaces you might otherwise find in a virtual world. “I've always loved [steampunk] literature and the sort of 'parody' aspect of it all. One can't really take empire building too seriously in this context. So, yes, as opposed to the heavy drama, the naughtiness, all that, the wild time traveler from the past stands in stark contrast to everything overbearing and too serious in virtual worlds these days.”

”Ironically in his formal wear from 19th century Victorian England,” I point out. And Desmond Shang grinned at that.

“I never expected what I was doing to be popular,” he added modestly. But it has become just that. And his plans for Caledonia in Blue Mars are far more ambitious than a brief trip might suggest. Much more next week, and perhaps the week after.

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