Special Spotlight: Debs Regent, Owner of London!

For this special spotlight, we will highlight the thoughts and musings of our great sim owner, Debs Regent!  Debs created London in 2006 and has turned it into a thriving and fun community within Second Life! The first part of our spotlight focuses on why Debs created London in the first place:

What inspired you to start London?

I was brought to SL by my real best friend since childhood. We hadn't seen each other for a long time and decided to meet at Harvey Nichols restaurant in Knightsbridge. She was in SL and got me to try it so we could stay in touch. We originally decided to build  a London in SL together in honor of our meeting, but she had other commitments that meant she could not do it with me.

Tell us about London, what were your aims and goals in SL when you started the sims?
The aims and goals were to recreate the whole of London as a replica of the real world place and have it filled with people from around the world, who may have wanted to visit London but could not. It was to be a place of discovery. Of course that seems naive now, because the project would have been too large to contemplate. However I think we did the idea proud as it is a lovely place to be and has a vast number of things going on here. The goal was to bring real people, businesses and organizations into virtual, so we would have real shopping malls, entertainment, offices and homes in virtual reality, where people would walk around the virtual world as they do in real life.

How long have you owned London in SL?
Since 2006, so that is now 6 years now.

Obviously London is a very popular themed sim in SL, what are some of the highlights of the sims over the course of time? 
We have evolved so much. Some of the landmarks are crucial to our current popularity. Initially we had Knightsbridge where the Underground Club was and then Chelsea. Where we showed the Telegraph Chelsea Flower Show Garden, commissioned by the Daily Telegraph. This was in 2008. That year the BBC2 Documentary made about London was also a landmark. We had a party when the program was aired and it put London on the map in terms of recognition. 

We then went on to hold the first ever virtual / real social mashup event for Second Life in The Greyhound pub in Kensington. Many Second Life people attended the event and got to form friendships and relationships in real life. That was back in the 'superman' days when no one revealed their 'true identity' so was a watershed moment.

We also worked with London Fashion Week in 2009 and we were given the opportunity to interview top designers backstage at the real event. This was an incredible opportunity. We interviewed Maria Gratchvogel and then worked with Maria Gratchvogel and Twenty8Twelve to create artistic interpretations of their designs to show at London Fashion week in Second Life. That was really our first packed out event and we had to make it 'ticket only' because of it's popularity. 

Since then we have done several charity events, such as Relay For Life, which we love taking part in because it's always for such a good cause. We have also worked with Universities in London, London University /ULCC and London Met too. Streaming real to virtual to expand horizons is always something I love to do, so we were delighted to get this opportunity with London University.

In 2009 we also had a Community Gateway, where lots of people who joined Second Life, chose to do so through the London portal. This was a thrill but also a great responsibility. Many people were needed to help then and it became a busy place.

I see London as a child. We have seen its infancy and childhood in 2006-2008 while it was being developed and grown, then in 2009 it became a teen, with the responsibility of a gateway, but still learning how to operate in a 'grown up' social world. More recently it has entered early adulthood, with the wonderful things that Jessii2009 Warrhol has been doing with the social and entertainment side of things.

We are now seeing the sims becoming fully functioning. With a regular and complex events program and lots of things to choose between, London is buzzing. People are given different choices too, to suit their own mood and taste. In terms of music we have Rock, Oldies, Pop, and Country clubs as well as two popular pubs that have events and quizzes regularly. The park is a major venue with shows, exhibition, displays, bands and so much more going on there. London is thriving and growing. All events are now packed out and London is increasingly seen as 'the place to be' in Second Life. 

The most recent event was New Year.. that was such fun - the place was packed out and everyone was wishing each other a Happy New Year. That event is now the benchmark for me. Lots of goodwill and good fun too. 

Where would you like to see the sims go in the future?
I would like to see London grow in terms of what is possible. One thing I have learned from Jessii is that change is necessary, constant change and constantly new things for people to do. We have the framework, so I want to see that we are making sure it is filled with fun things to do, great things to buy, and amazing things to see. I want London to increasingly be an educational source for people to learn in.  Yet I still have my initial dream, that virtual London will be an all-encompassing replica of the real place, buzzing with activity and interest, opportunity and promise.

Check the blog tomorrow to learn about what Debs likes to do in Second Life.

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