Project Sansar

I was reading Canary Beck’s post about ‘SL v2.0’, rumoured to be called ‘Sansar’, over at Becky’s blog, ‘Imagining the Impossible’.

I started to reply, and what was intended to be a two sentence response to her thoughts turned into a rant, lol.


‘Sansar’ potentially offers a new beginning for SL, and as the word ‘sansar’ means ‘world’ in Hindi, it set my mind down a certain path (always something fraught with danger! 😉 )

I’ll re-post (in italics) part of how I responded to Becky…

The thing that struck me about the choice of name is…might there be a number of Indian employees at LL who could be driving development? Given India’s young, techno-savvy population, it’s highly likely that this is the case, and some bright spark familiar with India and its culture has maybe put two and two together to come up with the name. I like it: it’s cute and it’s clever.

If that’s the case, the one thing I would impress on LL’s developers is to further look at moving ‘SL’ or ‘Sansar’ away from the north American/European economic model.

I’ve long been a champion of ‘cultural diversity’ within the game, and often bemoan that SL can be an endless shopping mall experience. I rejoice in sims that exist purely for the delight of the build, (Amazon River? the LEA sims? Museum Island/Opera House? …Basilique, some to that!) not just something that demands traffic and the rental of store space to help with tier costs. While north American and European users might be able to justify sim builds as ‘disposable income’, the likelihood is that players, builders and developers in what’s known as the ‘BRIC’ economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China) won’t be operating to the same economic/disposable income model. Perhaps LL’s developers who aren’t from a north America/European background could be putting the case for an economic re-jig within ‘Sansar’?

‘Sansar’ needs to encourage these economies by re-modelling its economy to reflect these emerging powerhouses (certainly the Brazilian and Indian markets, Russia appears to be increasingly insular and China is fairly closed as far as the internet is concerned) and get players building and developing ‘Sansar’. We need to be able to wander through multi-sims of Indian countryside, of Brazilian rain-forest, to get back to the SL I remember when I first started playing. That is, sims where ‘education’ played a role. I remember being able to wander sims and read about ‘issues’ -the de-forestation of the rain forest, for example- the sim involved existing for nothing more than education purposes, the builder able to maintain it with ‘disposable income’. The economic crash of the last decade put paid to many such excellent sims, and I feel we need to get back to that position within ‘Sansar’. 

Let us, therefore, see ‘Sansar’ re-jig its economics, to be able to pull in the player in relatively rural India or Brazil to be able to build the world they know and share it with us. In a real world increasingly divided and insular, perhaps it’s time to be able to get back to that outward looking virtual world I remember from 6-7 years ago, where I could get a small sense of the wider world. I bemoan the fact that, currently, there doesn’t appear to be a single Mosque I can visit in SL. I used to have the choice of several, marvellous builds that were awe-inspiring, and which would provide information on the mosque’s history, Islamic belief,and so on.

If the real world is determined to throw up barriers for all of us, to sow division between peoples, then it’s the role of SL (or Sansar) to do its bit to break them down.

I think that, as much as the nuts and bolts of coding a new world for us, or of making our current inventories transferrable to a new world, maybe we need to encourage LL to equally examine a socio-political approach (as well as a different economic model I highlighted). Ours is an increasingly insular, divided world. LL perhaps have a role to play, however small, in breaking down divisions.

I mentioned there being no mosques to visit in SL. How does that help some of us to understand Islam? Do we need to understand Islam? I hope we do. I think we all need to educate ourselves that it’s not just ‘suicide bombers’, that there is a depth to the religion, an earnestness to the overwhelming majority of its adherents. Equally, Muslims might like to visit a synagogue and realise that, yeah, Jewish people aren’t particularly different from Muslims. Same hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears.

The only way to do this is to encourage sims that exist for nothing other than education purposes. It can’t be just me who delights in wandering around a mosque, a synagogue, a SL Eiffel Tower, a SL Taj Mahal, a SL Wall of China. There’s a delight in all of these experiences. Maybe ‘Sansar’ needs to be looking at working with builders to create permanent ‘Sansar’ equivalents of these things within the game.

It will be interesting to see how ‘Sansar’ develops over the course of the remainder of this year, but I would encourage LL to engage with builders, sim owners and bloggers to make it the experience we all want. SL has long been the product of its players. Let us hope that ‘Sansar’ can build and improve on this experience.