Archive - Dec 1, 2007
She's the best one that we've ever had
She sits on her hair and she's tall as my dad
And she tie-dyed my shirt and she pierced her own ear
And it's peace, man, cool, yeah, the babysitter's here.
Today was a different sort of day for me in Second Life. A friend invited me to storytime. Seven kids sat around in Second Life. Some on the floor, others on their parents lap and listened to a teenager with magenta hair read parts of Alice in Wonderland.
Most of the stories about people portraying themselves as children in Second Life have a distinctly unsavory aspect to it. However, there is another side to people portraying themselves as children in Second Life. My friend who invited me had previously pointed me to a blog post entitled Mere Child’s Play, which puts the whole subculture in a very different context.
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. A new month starts off with the traditional lapin petition for beneficence. Fiona’s first request this morning was for that calendar with the chocolates in the windows, you know that we do every December. Yes, December. Advent. A time of expectation and longing.
Normally, as we enter Advent, I would find myself humming Joni Mitchell’s river,
Its coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
Yet these years of hoping for a miracle has left my ability to hope somewhat dull and blunted. Nonetheless, hope remains. It is rekindled by emails I receive, like one from the ‘Social Issues Games’ mailing list I’m on. The writer highlights a few different organizations that he felt were worth pointing out during this season of giving.
Coming from a list of people interested in using games for positive social change, it isn’t surprising that the first charity listed is Child’s Play. This is a charity that delivers video games to children in hospitals, led by a group called Penny-arcade. Bill France, who wrote an article critical of video games is quoted on their website noting,
Penny-arcade published a letter from one of its readers. He is the father of a 5-year-old boy who had spent most of the previous five months at Children’s Hospital getting chemotherapy for lymphoma.
Almost every parent can immediately identify with that father’s distress, and with his heartfelt "thank you" to Penny-arcade for its Child’s Play toy drive.
The email went on to note that
Child's Play has also given support to programs that look at behavior
change (such as maintaining your visit schedule for dialysis) and
Robert Khoo biz manager for Penny Arcade/Child's Play attended last
year's Games for Health Conference.
Another site highlighted is One Laptop per Child. They have a program where you can donate $399 to their program and they will send a laptop to a developing country and one to you. These are not the typical laptops you get in the United States. They are specially designed to perform in areas where there is little access to electricity, WiFi and educators. The laptop gets mixed reviews. People used to the powerful laptops that many Americans have access to complain about its limited functionality. Yet the laptop is much better than having nothing.
So, we wait to celebrate the miraculous birth. We wait for miracles in our own lives, the lives of our friends and the lives of our nation. Yet we can celebrate the little miracles, the joy of children opening the their Advent calendars, and the charity of people who are helping out children in hospitals and children in countries where laptops are not easily accessible.
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, and a blessed Advent.