The other night I had a nightmare that I accidentally hit a young man with my car on the way to school. I accompanied his family to the ER waiting room, where the young man was declared dead. The dream was disturbingly vivid, and the characters were fleshed out to upsetting proportions. When I told my stepmother about this dream, she said it indicated that I felt out of control about something in my life.
I’ll admit, I have been having a rough time lately. I have a lot on my mental plate, and I do feel very out of control. I guess the stress is finally beginning to take its toll on me. But I’m not here to complain about my neurasthenic nonsense (well, maybe a little); I’m here to talk about moving forward amid a world in which we do not always have the control we desire. The recent election made it clear to many of us just how powerless one can feel when the world seems to be rushing by without them, or when the world is going in a direction one feels is all wrong. Some people have it in them to be activists, to get out there and rally on the streets for what they feel is right; others of us are… I’m trying to think of a better word than “cowards” to describe the group in which I’m included… We’re not cowards, but I guess we’re nonconfrontational? For this group, we find it’s easier to build little worlds of our own, worlds where we can try to make things better than what reality has presented us.
Dr. Zamora has spoken to me about the power of online communities to suggest ways to shape the world into a better place. After some thought and observation, I saw the ways that the original species communities I wrote about a few weeks ago do just that.
Most closed species communities discourage greed with the terms of service they establish and the ways in which they sell pre-made designs. This is notable because, as I mentioned in my other blog post, some of these species are their creators’ livelihoods, or their way of paying for school. Unlike purveyors of other products, or even other artwork business models, the owners/creators/moderators of closed species tend to have a vested interest in their buyers using their “products” exclusively for creative and social purposes, and not as investments. This can be seen in the almost universal closed species ToS rule that character designs may not be sold for more than what was paid for them. This rule prevents someone from buying a design of a popular species, then jacking up the price based on demand, and reselling it for an exorbitant amount. By establishing this kind of rule, closed species creators seem to be advocating a kind of “purified consumerism,” in which buyers only buy something they are going to use and appreciate for what it is, not for its perceived value. This flies in the face of the greedy, materialistic culture in which we seem to live.
Additionally, closed species creators seem to shun the traditional business-world perceptions of supply and demand. Some closed species creators only sell new pre-made designs when they genuinely need the money, and thus pre-made designs of their species become rare and sought-after. This is different from the kind of rarity-by-design models that manufacturers of collectibles employ, as the scarcity of the resource (pre-made character designs in this case) is a result of a waste-not-want-not philosophy, not the desire to intentionally make something rarer and thus seemingly more valuable. To add to this, when creators see demand for new designs is high enough that it is causing unrest in the community or attracting scammers, they do what they can to meet the demand. Sometimes this is done by getting guest designers or community moderators to create designs, for which the designers themselves receive payment instead of the creator. Again, this is unique for the selling/use of intellectual property, and a very anti-greed (what some might call counterproductive or foolish) business move. Creators might also compensate by opening more MYO (Make Your Own) slots, or by creating “budget” designs,which have less-polished artwork and go for less money.
Another way that original species communities try to design a better world for their members is through what I’m calling “altruism events.” An altruism event can be something done for charity, awareness of a cause, or literally just to make people happy. Sometimes difficult times befall artists whose main source of income is their original species. These difficulties could be financial hardship, medical problems, family problems, veterinary expenses, or a broken computer (which makes it impossible for an artist to do digital art). It is common for members of the artist’s original species community, or even other species creators/communities, to hold charity events for them. Basically, they will create pre-made designs and sell them, donating 100% of the profit to the person in need. Here is an example, and another here. Events done for awareness of a cause are less common, but often occur as part of a prompt or a DTA (Draw to Adopt) event. Here is an example. Events that are done just to make people happy could be celebrations of reaching a certain membership or time milestone, or for no reason at all! Basically, this is when an original species creator makes designs or MYO slots available free of cost/work. Here is an example.
I’m not really sure what my goal was with this blog; I may have just wanted to cheer myself up. Either way, I hope this extra bit of info about original species communities added something to our understanding of how virtual online microcosms can help us imagine a better, less greedy world.