Taking a Chance on Chance Takashi

by Alphaville Herald on 06/08/06 at 9:45 pm

A special profile to benefit the American Cancer Society, by Walker Spaight

Chance Takashi

“This is The Observatory, my first big build in SL,” Chance Takashi tells me when I meet her in the Caledon Highlands. “Or anywhere, really.” It’s an interesting addendum: the metaverse, for Chance, is broad enough that a “build” could exist in any number of spaces, virtual or real. But SL is where Chance landed, early in 2006, a refugee from World of Warcraft’s level grind, and it’s in SL that she plans to make her mark.

When I land at Chance’s steampunk getaway, I’m immediately relieved. I’m here to get to know Chance not because I’d heard she’d be interesting, but because she’s paid for my time. She hasn’t paid me, of course — the Herald stoops, to be sure, but never that low. Instead, she was the highest bidder in an auction to benefit the American Cancer Society as part of the Second Life Relay for Life held recently in the virtual world. Chance’s bid of L$11,525 — just under US$40 — earns her a glowing profile in the Herald. Fortunately, it’s one that’s well deserved.

My relief comes because I’d feared the ass-hats who might pop out of the plywood, fistfuls of L$ in hand, to get into the Herald (although they would probably have been interesting as well). But Chance proves quite charming, and her tour of The Observatory and the ruins that lie nearby soon prove more than interesting enough.

Chance Takashi’s Observatory in Caledon Highlands

Powered by a nearby windmill (run on scripts by noted steampunk builder Ordinal Malaprop), Chance’s Observatory — at Caledon Highlands (169, 150, 38) [<-- SL link] — provides a number of interesting sights for tourists to the steampunk sims. Through an entrance foyer is Chance’s first vehicle, a rocket-powered platform of darkly oiled wood and polished brass, backed by a rotating interference screen (or so it appeared to be, to your correspondent’s eyes). In good steampunk fashion, the airship is piloted from an upholstered purple armchair.


In a tower above, another upholstered armchair allows access to the telescope that gives Chance’s build its name. It’s a working telescope, mind you, through which the skies around Caledon can be seen quite clearly. (“Up” and “down” aren’t yet working as well as Chance would like.)


Though she admits to a secret weakness for robots, it is flying things that seem to preoccupy Chance, who’s preparing a retail line of her various creations. “I’m very much a magpie,” Chance says when I ask her to describe her products, “so the things will be all over. Jewelry, vehicles, avatars, whatever suits my fancy — and the Aether Flyer, a boat that sails and flies.”

Chance will also sell a version of the wings she wears, which make no pretense at being organic but are detailed mechanical gadgetry. It’s their flight path potential, though, that makes them special. All SL avatars can fly, of course, but Chance’s wings have both hang-glide and parachute functionality, as well as an “explore” mode that send the wearer floating off in a random direction. That particular setting comes in handy for Chance. “I’m mostly building and socializing here in Caledon,” she says, “and rather anti-social exploring on the mainland. I can spend hours flitting around the mainland. And ban lines actually help! They impart more momentum and bounce you off randomly as well.”

The wings of Chance

For my money, though, the best flying machine at The Observatory is the Pneumatic Motivator, which stands at the foot of the cliff over which Chance’s building looks. Pull the lever to select one of 10 or so destinations around the Caledon sims, then step inside. Instead of being TP’d — “I hate TP,” Chance says, “I only use it to get to the mainland.” — you are instead launched into the air, only to land intact at your destination. After a bit of scripting help from Siefert Surface, “I can hit anywhere in a two-sim radius with a +/-1 meter accuracy,” Chance states proudly.

Fort Caledon

Our tour continues behind the observatory, where the ruins of a castle stand near a pedestal marked for “The Fallen of Fort Caledon.” It’s a nice change from the crude cloned castles so often found around SL — and its air of mystery is complemented by an actual mystery that Chance has scripted into the crumbling walls’ surrounds. Behind the pedestal, a pair of mysterious ruts appear in the grass. Chance clicks them.

Mysterious ruts in the grass…: These indentations appear to have been made by something heavy sliding across the grass.

The wily investigator will soon be led to a strange sculpture nearby, which, when clicked, produces an eerie flame.

A Strange Sculpture…: Now that the flames are burning…
A Strange Sculpture…: You feel that there is something that you should say…

I leave it for readers themselves to penetrate the rest of the mystery.

Led by Chance, I soon discover just how much a talented newbie can accomplish in a mere five months in SL. We are soon wandering around Chance’s sanctum sanctorum, where her experiments in ballistics, clue-leaving and jewelry are developed. Portals appear and disappear, runic elevators launch us between platforms, and a stone wall ripples to admit us to Chance’s Hall of Worlds.

The Hall of Worlds

Even the mystery of the Hall of Worlds, though, can’t withstand your correspondent’s pedestrian concerns.

Walker Spaight: Are those Chuck Taylors?
Chance Takashi: Yes! By Launa Fauna.
Chance Takashi: They may be my first purchase in-world.

We soon venture even deeper. A deep and slightly gloomy frescoed room holds little but a platform bedecked with a carpet and pillows — a perfect place for a proposition, SL-style. Your correspondent’s pulse quickens as Chance informs him, “This is the Number One makeout spot in Caledon. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found people snogging here.” But we are here only to flap our gums, not to lock lips (as cute as Chance may be). The cavernous room has been built out to give space to Chance’s “dragon form,” which she briefly dons. It’s an impressive steampunk dragon, originally built by Daryth Kennedy but modified by Chance. “Dragon caves are so over-rated,” she frowns.

Chance’s inner dragon

The prospect of kissing Chance’s dragon raises an interesting question. A quick inspection of the First Life tab on Chance’s profile sheds no light on whether this is woman or wyvern I’m talking to — but a look at her Second Life tab doesn’t provide any clues either. There, Chance is portrayed the blonde I know, as black woman, as a dragon — and as a steampunk-suited man. What’s this? A cross-dressing avatar? Gender-switching between first and second lives is one thing, but how to tell what’s going on in this case? Is this a woman in a female avatar who likes to dress up occasionally as a man? A man getting his girl on — but who also likes to be his own virtual self on occasion? An African-American dragon playing out his fantasy of life as a petite human blonde? (Well, probably not the latter, but you never know.) Clearly, there is more to be learned here, and my curiosity gets the better of me.

Take your pic

“I was secretly hoping you’d ask,” Chance says demurely. “This fascinates me. I wear different avatars to suit my mood. Mostly because I love the idea that you can be anything you can imagine.”

It’s not what Chance can be that interests me, though, but what she is.

“I’m not going to reveal my sex,” she says, “because there’s currently a bet about it. And with L$2,000 on the line, who am I to spoil people’s fun? Me, I’d put my money on ‘white lab mouse with over-large cranium.’”

“The fascinating thing is how people react when you switch genders. I try to get people used to the fact that I may look different whenever they see me,” Chance says. “I thought my African-American avatar would be the big one that made people react. I’ve had people make big deals about pronouns. ‘How do I know what to call you?’ But mostly I get asked, ‘Why would you want to change gender?’ The answer being, ‘Because I can.’”

“I actually don’t care if people know,” Chance continues. “It’s just that now that people have made a deal about a bet, I can’t come clean.”

“How will we know the real answer then,” I ask. “Will we just have to trust you?”

“Oh, I’m sure we can come up with some proof,” Chance teases.

Mr. Chance Takashi

The details of Chance’s real life shed no more light. Born and bred in Georgia and now in her mid-30s, Chance owns and runs a company that does human-computer interaction design work. An inveterate traveler, her work has kept her closer to home in recent years, but SL at least partially satisfies her physical wanderlust, she says.

Her interest in the SL Relay for Life came about because her father is a two-time cancer survivor. “I had a blast at the Relay,” Chance says. “The builds were amazing.” Her winning bid on the Herald profile, she freely admits, was to help build the brand she plans soon to launch. “All the best brands in SL have personalities behind them,” Chance says. “In the next month or so I’m going to start my own brand-building, so it’s time to get my personality out there. What better way than by donating to charity?”

“That sounds more calculating than it was,” Chance ventures.

“Believe me, I expected the profile to be snapped up by someone much more ‘calculating’ than you,” I tell her. “Actually, that’s not entirely true. I think I expected it to be snapped up by someone very like you, someone doing something interesting that for various reasons (including the calculating) they wanted the world to know about. The really calculating people would probably pass it over.”

“Yes, this isn’t all part of some master plan, but I saw how it could help,” Chance tells me back at her overlook, raising a glass of 30-year-old virtual scotch.

“The master plan involves giant robots.”


6 Responses to “Taking a Chance on Chance Takashi”

  1. Chance's SL Musings

    Aug 6th, 2006

    An afternoon with Walker Spaight…

    I recently bribed Second Life Herald editor Walker Spaight to do an interview with me, and his profile of me a href=”http://www.secondlifeherald.com/slh/2006/08/taking_a_chance.html”is now ava…

  2. Chance Takashi

    Aug 6th, 2006

    It was such a pleasure to meet you, Walker. Thank you for taking the time to do the interview and write such a flattering profile. Next time I’ll be sure to bribe you directly. Say a bottle of Macallan?

  3. 3pointD.com

    Aug 7th, 2006

    Virtual Journalism for Charity

    3pointD has jury duty today (grrr) but readers may want to dial over to the Second Life Herald in my absence to read the profile of SL resident Chance Takashi I posted there last night. Chance was the high bidder in an auction to benefit the Ame…

  4. Walker Spaight

    Aug 7th, 2006

    Completely my pleasure, Chance, no MacAllan necessary. Keep me updated, though!

  5. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 7th, 2006

    This is great! Can’t wait to visit. I agree that the Pneumatic Motivator sounds wonderful, if it can deliver you to a place and deposit you even one 16m square off, instead of making you go through that club over the head and then the black screen and whoosh that the teleportation imposes on you.

    Makes me wonder how many more amazing people and projects are out there to be covered by the Herald.

  6. 3pointD.com

    Feb 6th, 2007

    SL Relay For Life Kicks Off February 17

    A virtual picnic at the Second Life Relay for Life
    The Second Life Relay For Life thats held each year in association with the American Cancer Society is about to get under way again, with an event on February 17 that kicks off the fund-raising…

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