Pressure, Even Here

Let’s try to make our own lives, and the lives of those around us, go smoothly and easily. Avoiding pressure will help us avoid trouble and sadness.

In RL, I work with a small group of programmers and product people, and often I warn them about the dangers of too much pressure. When we lean on our programmers too hard, the results are often worse than if we had done nothing at all. Often we see more bugs and fewer features getting done than if we had just kept quiet. I recently learned that it works that way in SL, too.

I’ve been working on some new scripts for moving vehicles. In our lands in Lexicolo, we have a balloon ride, a cart ride, a boat ride, a tram, and a monorail. These are all running variations on my scripts. They are pretty low in lag, and they don’t do all that leaping back and forth and off the track that many trains do in SL. 

As you’ll see if you visit, the vehicles themselves are quite beautiful as well: that is Dizzi’s work. So we have been thinking that we would like to sell some items based on this work. We’ll start, probably, with a simple monorail, and probably a tram, then move quickly to other items. We have built a cable car, that isn’t currently set up anywhere, and we had a seven or eight car train running just the other day. 

Janet in Balloon
Janet about to take a ride in the Lexicolo balloon

I’m feeling that it is important to get some products out there, so that we can learn what people want in rides on their own land. (If you are interested in such things, do get in touch with me in SL.) 

Naturally, there is a lot of detail work to do to the scripts to make them easily workable for buyers, who may not be all that good at building or otherwise deep into understanding SL’s technology. And Dizzi bulds like a demon and is full of ideas.  I don’t like to say no to her, and despite being somewhat of a professional in this, I wasn’t managing the flow of ideas well.

What I ask the programmers I work with to do is to look at all the features our product people ask for, and give estimates of how long they’ll take. I don’t hold them to precise estimates — we just need to know roughly how large features are. That lets us decide whether to ask for a given feature now, or to put it off until later.

I wasn’t doing that with Dizzi. She’d ask if something was possible, and since I think everything is possible, I’d say yes and then bang! it was on my list. And since she goes so fast, I felt like I was falling further and further behind. 

The thing is, this is not a job we have here, there is no real deadline, and if Dizzi had known how I was feeling she’d have helped sort through things. Or if I had just gone to her and said here is the list of what we have before us and how long I think each thing will take, we would have sorted through and set up priorities and a reasonable schedule.

But no! I just wanted to make her happy and to give us the best possible product, so all on my own I started pushing harder and putting myself under more pressure. Add to that a few personal issues here in SL and suddenly earlier this week I just lost it. I took on a simple enough change, but I was stressed and wired and I made a mistake and I didn’t catch it in time and I made another and finally I was in tears, completely convinced that I was a worthless clueless dummy and that my avatar looked funny. 

Good lord! This is a game! (OK, I know it isn’t a game, but go with me a minute.) We come here for fun! We come here for companionship and friendship and affection. We come here to play! And calm, collected, competent Janet, who can handle five simultaneous griefers and answer questions on three IM channels at the same time is losing it!

Well, with a little help from my friends I calmed down and everything is OK now. But my point is that pressure, even self-imposed, doesn’t make us smarter, more competent, or fun to be with. There’s a lesson here for Real Life, I think, and it is that we should work to make our own lives, and the lives of those around us, smoother and easier, not more pressured and more difficult.

Word to the wise.

2 thoughts on “Pressure, Even Here

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  1. I can relate to that. I’ve come to the conclusion that “it has to be fun”. In real life, we have to work to provide for our bodies, our very survival and health. Add to that the desire to live in a particular manner, and add to that the social pressure that is the puritan work ethic based capitalism. A good person works hard, doesn’t complain. Good for those who are making money from our labour, but not always good for us.

    Now, SL has trade and commerce built in. Let’s not mistake that for capitalism. Just because we can transfer money and products and services back and forth does not oblige us into the sickness of RL society with all the accompanying neuroses, power-trips, anxieties and frustration.

    Our AVs don’t need shelter, food, or honestly, even to look any different than the original appearance. We could be a plywood cube and still get along quite well in SL.

    So, the question then is: Why are we selling this? To pay for bills? You mean “to reduce the RL costs of a hobby”. OK. Maybe even to get a touch of profit? OK! If someone were to tell you: “If you work your butt off and stress out 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, I’ll give you a cup of coffee.”. Would you accept?

    I wouldn’t.

    There’s only one reason to build and sell in Second Life: because it’s fun! For me, Second Life is a creative outlet. It’s a place to socialize and play games. Second Life lets me live like a kid again, with the sophistication of an adult.

    Now, if SL IS about money, then it’s time to set up a business plan, invest, and dedicate X hours a day building the correct teams with all the structures in place to have a real business. For some people, this is fun. Carl Metropolitan is such a man. He builds and structures a very professional organization ’cause it’s what he loves to do.

    So, are you selling to make a RL living, or are you doing this mainly as joy?

    Decide.

    That decision will colour everything. It’s called a mission statement. Mine is filled with love and beauty and joy, and it will be nice when my product sells. But not because of the zillions of dollars that I’ll make, but because I will have created something that I’m proud of. And it will take to another joyful creation: a small business.

    While it’s good to be professional (as in “highly skilled”), it should only add to your life, not subtract.

    My 2 cents.

  2. I agree. Second Life, and all the other Virtual Worlds out there, including my own, is places where we can share our dreams on streaming media, and everyone is free to join in. Yet any dream, no matter how wonderful, becomes a nightmare when it becomes an inescapable burden. We have lost a lot of good dreamers in SL because of this syndrome. The only cure I have found is play.
    So, even if you have to use an alt so as not to scandalize your friends, have as much fun as you legally can this New Year.

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