As everyone in Second Life knows, sims come and go regularly. Most sims last only a few months, maybe a year, and then fade into obscurity. It takes a huge commitment and a loyal community to make a sim a true home on the grid. This month, Vampire Empire celebrates its ninth year as Second Life's first vampire-themed sim. And I can believe it: when I was a newbie in 2005, one of the first places I visited was The Empire. So naturally, I wanted to find out what makes this place so special. I managed find the sim's founder, Obscuro Valkyrie, and he graciously took time to answer some questions about this long-standing and much beloved sim.
October: You have been in SL since 2003. How, when and why did you come up with The Vampire Empire sim: the ideas, who helped, how you set it up at the beginning, etc.
Obscuro: I learned about SL from a friend of mine who has since passed on, Feliciaa Feaver. I had been involved in another online world called Vzones and was a part of the team in the world called Seducity. In Seducity, I met other people like myself so naturally when I came to SL I brought my group of friends here and became SL's first Vampire and started a community. In 2003 there were only 13 Sims and I owned one of them called Stanford and there we began.
October: What would you say is your goal with the sim? What are the basic rules and ideals that make up the Vampire Empire?
Obscuro: Vampire Empire was the name before I bought the sim named Transylvania. The goal was to have a non-role play sanctuary where like minded people mingle. The rules are simple: Loyalty. Everyone wants to belong to something in SL and Transylvania has helped many during difficult times in their RL.
October: What will you NOT allow within the sim?
Obscuro: Vampire Hollywood role play. A vampiric lifestyle is just as legitimate as, say, a gay or BDSM lifestyle.
October: You have the longest-running and, in fact, first vampire sim in SL. What are the best and worst experiences you have had with the sim?
Obscuro: The Worst- I once had a trusted Girlfriend return the whole sim...every single prim...The Wall was all that remained with us sitting on it. The Best- everytime I embrace a new fledgling to my circle.
October: There are tons of vampire communities in SL. After nine years (this month!), to what do you attribute your longevity?
Obscuro: Love, Trust and Family.
October: How do you feel about the different alternative communities in SL (BDSM, furry, vampire, roleplay, etc. ) and how they are represented?
Obscuro: I feel that SL is an open platform for every community and as long as no one is harmed I respect that.
October: I noticed that you have Bloodlines info around the sim. Bloodlines is often much maligned outside of their particular sims. Do you fully support the game or tolerate it as a by-product of the vampire roleplay in SL?
Obscuro: I don't agree with it, it's mockery of a real lifestyle that some don't choose, they are born that way. Transylvania embraces only those aspects of the Vampyr mythos that include a love and respect for all life, physical immortality, individual elegance, proven wisdom, civilized behavior, worldly success, and personal happiness. Transylvania rejects those aspects of the Vampyr mythos that are negative including any that are anti-life, anti-social, deathist, crude, arrogant, self-defeating, or criminal.
October: As a gamer, I am curious as to how you feel about Vampire: The Masquerade, since it has a following here.
Obscuro: It's just that: a game. Real Vampires are real energy takers and some really need it daily to get by. The only reason that the term vampire is a attached to this is because we suck life from other humans in many different ways. This is our subculture...our chosen family, not an internet game where you bite people and are turned into a vampire.
October: Are there any sims you work closely with in terms of events, building, etc.? Do you have any events coming up?
Obscuro: I used to build special projects for Linden Labs in the beginning, and as far as events, we have them weekly as well as DJ's daily. The wall is a great place for music and solitude if you want that. We don't think you are snobbish if you don't speak.
October: What is your favorite thing about Second Life? What has kept you in-world for so long?
Obscuro: I was so happy when SL allowed music streaming. In the old days, we had to upload sound files and script them to play one after the other. We used to have CD parties. Now I'm totally into mesh.
October: Is there anything else you would like to add or expound upon?
If you feel the tender draw of the night
you may be one of us.
If you sometimes suspect there are
hidden mysteries behind ordinary life
you may be one of us.
If you are one of us
these things will all seem somehow familiar to you.
If you are one of us
you will recognize us once you meet with us.
And if that happens
then nothing will stop you from joining us.
You will have come home.
Thank you to Obscuro Valkyrie for the interview. The Vampire Empire celebrates its ninth year on 8/13/13.