Changes are an important part of the dynamic atmosphere of Second Life. Things are redecorated, rearranged, redesigned, and rebuilt on a continual basis to improve them and draw interest. Even cultural sites such as London’s Big Ben can occasionally benefit from a little renovation.
Big Ben (which is actually the name of the bell) is itself an older Second Life building. Originally found in Chelsea in Second Life, it was taken down, and re-rezzed. It is still much the same, and was actually built before sculpts were invented. Unfortunately the existing teleports to the upper floors no longer work. As those are being repaired, Wiccy Shackleton has installed an elevator system in the building to give visitors an opportunity to explore and enjoy the building’s cultural significance.
Big Ben in Second Life London is not an exact replica, though each floor is slightly bigger than the one below it, as is the real Big Ben. It has features such as a ballroom which is part of the palace of Westminster (which Big Ben is a part of). A grand opening event is in the planning, and the ballroom is being considered for use as a gallery of sorts.
Above the ballroom is the clock room where you can hear the chimes ring out just like in real life. According to Wiccy, “The textures are accurate to the real Big Ben, a lot of painstaking work was put into them.” Big Ben used to attract visitors with its bungee jump when it was featured in the Chelsea Sim, and though that is now missing, Wiccy has said that there are plans to reinstall it.
Interestingly enough, if your graphics settings are high enough you can sit in the throne room at the top of the building and see anywhere in virtual London. Wiccy points out that you do need a high draw distance though. And above the throne room is a love pavilion, a romantic little spot where people can get away and “see the world without the world seeing them.”
Why put so much effort into one building? According to Wiccy Shackleton, “A lot of emotional power is harnessed in this building — very few people could name many buildings in London, but everyone has heard of Big Ben, and has seen it, either in media, or in real life.”
Indeed, as part of British culture, Big Ben stands out. During both World Wars, Big Ben chimed to give people hope. “At the end of the second World War, they chimed Big Ben to let the nation know the war was over,” said Wiccy. Considering the limits of Second Life when Big Ben was built, the structure itself is impressive. “The early builders put a lot of work into this,” he remarked. And indeed… the building and the end result were worth the effort.
~Information and interview kindly provided by Wiccy Shackleton