Say the word "Bloodlines" in a random sim in Second Life and you either get people who are rabidly for playing it, or rabidly against it. People who are against it speak of the exorbitant prices of the HUDs and equipment, as well as the seemingly never-ending need for blood and souls. Signs sprinkled all over the grid often discourage biting and "turning" people in certain sims, a rather annoying side-effect of the games point of gathering souls, drinking blood, warring with other clans and supernatural creatures just to go up in rank. It's time-consuming to try to keep your soul out of the abyss (the term used for people who have abandoned Bloodlines on the registered site) and people don 't want to fend off over-zealous players who just want to get to the top. It's a good case for some bad press.
Others who play, of course, have a different perspective. Aside from the gaming aspect (the grind to the top) and the power plays, there are those who play for a very different reason: family. It has grown commonplace for other avatars/players to "adopt" and form family units on the grid. While this is not part of my own SL experience, I can see how having this virtual family would be a comfort, even in RL. For the Bloodlines clans that choose to set aside the grind, they are not just role-playing vampires; they are part of a bigger unit that chose them not for their soul, but for their personality and friendship.
As I often do, I ran across my interviewees randomly while poking around Bloodlines: East. There was a small group of avatars hanging about that appeared to be part of a vampire clan (group tags are useful). I approached the one labeled "Queen" and gave her my pitch for an interview. Graceful Crystal, as she was called, was true to her name and graciously agreed to allowed me to go to the castle of the Fatal Moon Rose Clan to speak with herself, Prince Hideki Hayashi, Clan Champion Sika and Priestess Victorian Silversmith. We made ourselves comfortable in the throne room (along with a little white dog named Beefie) and talked. Though not the most in-depth interview, the sense of family was obvious and it made the time spent with them very comfortable and enjoyable.
October Poe: So, long have you been a clan?
Graceful Crystal: For about a year now.
October Poe: Okay. About how many people are in your clan?
Graceful Crystal: Well, we have about 26 people, so we are very big.
October Poe: That's pretty big. Who started the clan?
Graceful Crystal: My son, Hideki. He is very intelligent for his age. At first, I did not know how (to play), so he helped me.
October Poe: Hideki, why did you start this clan?
Hideki Hayashi: I wanted to start a clan that was different from most, where people didn't feel left out or just used for their soul and tossed to the side, or have to feel like they have to leave due to their injustices of their liege. I wanted to have a family that was also not based on soul count as well.
Graceful Crystal: Yes, and what we can do to help others who been abandoned, as well.
October Poe: I see. So what is your family based on? What are the core values?
Hideki Hayashi: The core values I have for the clan is just be yourself, have fun,
and hopefully find your place. Because not everyone are good hunters, they need time to learn or have other skills that they can contribute to make this clan feel like home.
October Poe: I see that you have a few positions I have not seen, like Priestess and Champion. What are those positions about?
Hideki Hayashi: "Champion" is another word for warrior. So it's like the Guardian, because that word is over used or cliché in Bloodlines. Priestesses in this clan are in charge of most of our ceremonies, like our turnings and weddings, things like that. I hope to add more for the priestess and champion tags because it goes a long well with our clan values: everyone has different skills they can contribute to the clan without having to worry about how many souls they have to get to be something.
Graceful Crystal: We value skills and team work the most.
October Poe: Bloodlines is sometimes looked down on in SL. I see "No Biting" signs a lot. What is your perception of how people see Bloodlines in general?
Graceful Crystal: Well, I don't like it. It's a personal choice to become a child of the night.
Hideki Hayashi: It can be either/or, you know. I don't blame them for having those signs. Bloodlines can be good or bad based off your own personal experience. Some people even try to quit SL because of their Bloodlines experience.
About the signs...well, I guess it helps from random biters who are hungry for souls who try to make everyone in Bloodlines look bad, so Ithink the signs should stay. I don't mind them at all.
October Poe: Understandable.
Graceful Crystal: Keep the humans and Bloodlines all in check.
Hideki Hayashi: People almost always ruin things for other people. It's just based on how you react to it. Are you going to rebel and or you going to be understanding and move on?
October Poe: What has been the best experience while you have been in Bloodlines?
Graceful Crystal: I would have to say meeting new people.
Hideki Hayashi: The friends i have made, past and present.
October Poe smiles
Graceful Crystal: And also the cool parties we throw. Most people don't come, but we as a family still have fun.
October Poe: Alright. Sika, Victoria...how about you?
Victorian Silversmith: So far, I've enjoyed making new friends and my family.
Sika: Well I just started. I guess meeting people as well and the feeling of having a family.
October Poe: People in and outside of Bloodlines often love the aspect of having a family here. Is that why you joined Bloodlines, or did it start out as just a game?
Graceful Crystal: We coexist with all type of beings.
Hideki Hayashi: I started out as curiosity. I've known a few people who were randomly bitten into it.
Graceful Crystal: For me, I started out of the fun of playing as a vampire.
Victorian Silversmith: Mhm, same.
Hideki Hayashi: I started as a lycan because I was lucky enough to have a liege who gave me a choice.
October Poe: Do you take all kinds into your clan, or just vampires?
Hideki Hayashi: All kinds.
Graceful Crystal: Yes.
October Poe points at Beefie. "I see you include puppies, which is nice"
Hideki Hayashi: Yep! I love animals. I actually named him after my RL dog.
October Poe: He's cute!
Hideki Hayashi: Thank you!
October Poe: So, what would you tell someone that wanted to take part in Bloodlines for the first time? Any advice, cautions, etc?
Hideki Hayashi: I would tell be careful who you liege to, who you give your soul to, and be always willing to teach yourself. Don't be afraid to ask questions, be open. Find the family that fits for you, and when you do, don't let go. Remember to have fun and don't worry about getting to the top. Take your time.
October Poe: Anyone else have anything they would like to share?
Hideki Hayashi: Don't get mad with power!
Graceful Crystal: Have fun with it. Don't get caught in number of souls counts.
Sika: I agree, have fun.
Victorian Silversmith: I agree totally with Hideki. Just have fun and be careful who you liege to. Most are in it for the soul count.
Hideki Hayashi: When you learn what you can, don't be afraid to pass it down .
Many thanks to the Fatal Moon Rose Clan for speaking with me. Be sure to visit Bloodlines: East (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Liquid%20East/66/129/239) for more information and to start your own Bloodlines game.