On the evening of Sunday, November 16th, I interviewed Birdie Fairymeadow, Queen of Wight. Due to the contents of the interview, I have withheld it until this time. Read on to understand why...
Vulpine Eldrich: I'm here this evening on the beach at the kingdom of Wight, talking with the Queen of Wight, Birdie Fairymeadow. Birdie, thanks so much for the time. So tell me, why is this sim and kingdom named 'Wight?'
Birdie Fairymeadow: It's my pleasure to be with you tonight, Princess. The name Wight originated from the RL Isle of Wightwhich is a British island and county in the English Channel south of the county of Hampshire and is separated from mainland Britain by the Solent.
Vulpine Eldrich: So you have a special connection with, or fondness of, the Isle of Wight?
Birdie Fairymeadow: I do now! History is not my forte, but I love it. The Isle of Wight has a rich history including its own brief status as a nominally independent kingdom in the fifteenth century. It was home to the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Queen Victoria built her much loved summer residence and final home, Osborne House, at East Cowes where she died on 22 January 1901. Her reign lasted almost 64 years, the longest in British history.
Vulpine Eldrich: Oh, very good! Just out of curiosity, is this sim around me modeled after the real Isle of Wight- the shape, topography?
Birdie Fairymeadow: No it isn't, I’m afraid. I was hoping to eventually make it more topographically correct. Our original island (full) sim had many aspects indigenous to the RL Wight, such as the red squirrels, vegetation, reptiles, birds etc… with signs to educate visitors.
Vulpine Eldrich: Ah, so this is really your own individual Isle of Wight. When did this kingdom start?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Wight Kingdom was born on January 26th, 2008 in the year of our Lord- and September of the year 1223 in the year of our Emperor :)
Vulpine Eldrich: Yes, the lovely job of keeping track of two calendars. So you've been a monarch now for most of a year. What sort of things have you personally seen come and go, and remember especially?
Birdie Fairymeadow: This past year has proved to be a whirlwind of changes and happenings, good and not so great. I have discovered much and realized some things that were not so comforting about people. But I am richly blessed by much of what I have experienced. True friendships have been formed in the past 11 months.
Birdie Fairymeadow: One thing in particular, though. When I ascended, Monarchs were able to set the taxes regularly. That is no longer the case. The emperor imposed a new rule several months ago.
Vulpine Eldrich: Do you think doing away with that was particularly good or bad?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Good and bad. Many kingdom members enjoyed the tax breaks regularly. However, some monarchs sacrificed even sleep to maintain those expectations. This new rule ended that.
Vulpine Eldrich: Right. And for you, personally, how much time do you spend tending to "kingdom affairs"?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Personally? Hmm. That has varied greatly over the months. I have spent many countless hours helping our family to achieve their goals, but I dare not boast. They are the true workers.
Vulpine Eldrich: I know that feeling well. Would you have any estimate over, say, the last month or so? How many hours per week, or the like?
Birdie Fairymeadow: I don't think I would be underestimating to guess an average of 20 hours per week.
Vulpine Eldrich: That sounds like a part time job! How many people are in a kingdom that needs that much attention?
Birdie Fairymeadow: I assumed from our kingdom group that we had somewhere around 450 kingdom members, but just this past week, Emperor Soleil reported us having more than 600 members.
Vulpine Eldrich: A fair-sized group, indeed. What do you have to do for that twenty or so hours a week to keep them all happy and productive?
Birdie Fairymeadow: There are so many things a Kingdom needs in order to thrive. Let’s say there are exactly 600 in this kingdom. That means there are 600 individual personalities and moods. And believe it or not, many come to the Queen for the littlest things. I have never minded that, as I adore the people in this kingdom and appreciate their trust in me. At times, I have had to remind some of their power and ability to do what they have asked me to do, but alas, such must be done with respect as we all have more than this kingdom to tend to.
Vulpine Eldrich: Amen. Do you think you would have ascended, knowing ahead of time how much work would be involved?
Birdie Fairymeadow: That is a very good question. I had a feeling of how involving it could be, but I had no idea just how heart wrenching some of it could be. You see, Miss Eldrich, I never aspired for greatness, just goodness. It was my subjects who pushed me towards ascension. They assured me I would be a "great queen".
Vulpine Eldrich: So have they been happy with what they helped create?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Indeed! This is one content Kingdom. :)
Vulpine Eldrich: lol very good! Your hard work has paid off, then. So we have a sim here, and we have the name- heritage, perhaps?- of the Isle of Wight. What else makes this kingdom a kingdom, with its own identity?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Ah! our pride and joy. Look m'Lady—northeast— the Needles :)
Vulpine Eldrich: Amazing! What exactly are they?
Birdie Fairymeadow: The Needles is a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, England, close to Alum Bay. A lighthouse designed by Scottish civil engineer James Walker has stood at the western end of the formation since 1859.The formation takes its name from the former fourth needle-shaped pillar called Lot's Wife that used to stand in its midst until it collapsed in a storm in 1764. The remaining rocks are all short and squat and not at all needle-like, but the name has stuck.
Vulpine Eldrich: Yes. For a minute, I wondered if it might be a sea serpent's coils... ah well. Most interesting! So with all of this water around, the fishing must be good?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Ah yes, the fishing here. Bass are the main quarry for beach anglers, but pollock, conger, mackerel, pouting, thornback rays, flatfish and wrasse, with occasional tope, are also taken. (A bit of info for the true fisherman ;)
Vulpine Eldrich: Whew, it sounds like an aquarium, writ large. Have you caught all of those yourself, or just watched others in the kingdom haul them in?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Ha! I do enjoy fishing, and I've caught a few now and then, but a Queen has many duties that do not allow her to enjoy such leisure too often.
Vulpine Eldrich: Too bad, it sounds like an absorbing pastime. Are there other pastimes and things available here which members enjoy?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Indeed there is. We haven’t had as many kingdom-wide events in the past few months as we once did, due largely to a move to this new sim. But we have enjoyed many gatherings, including formal balls, Friday night at the Cup-N-Spittle, a Fall Festival, and even a good old fashioned Greedy Tournament, to name a few. Last year, we turned our former kingdom island into a winter wonderland. Many kingdom members pitched in to help. We had a gingerbread village, ice village, and an ice skating rink.
Vulpine Eldrich: Nice! No wonder you spend so much time at this, to simply oversee all of that. So, if there were a single new feature or change that you could add to the Tiny Empires game, what would it be?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Actually there are two things that come to mind. One is something many speak of— having more opportunities to "pass gold down”.
Vulpine Eldrich: And the other?
Birdie Fairymeadow: The other is my own thought. Change the HUD offerings when you decline an offer to join a new liege. I just thought it might add a touch of 'flavour' to the game if one could choose "how" they decline an offer. For example, "Declines your offer with a smile of appreciation,” or "Declines your offer with a haughty smirk". Hehehe!
Vulpine Eldrich: Oh! So do you see this as a set of choices to choose from? Accept, decline with smirk, decline with appreciation, etc?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Yes. Those are just a couple of ideas. I think I am not the best writer.
Vulpine Eldrich: It would definitely add color! And speaking of color… in all of this experience, have you developed any good methods, rules, or conclusions about how to handle drama?
Birdie Fairymeadow: I truly believe that what SL folks call drama (conflict, turmoil, crisis) is a part of every relationship in every aspect of life. How to handle conflict is different in every circumstance. In Wight, we haven’t had much drama nor many rules. We have held an expectation of respect of others, and have asked that vulgar language be left out of our group chat.
Vulpine Eldrich: And beyond that, leave it to common sense?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Exactly! However, the drama we have had to endure was quite intense and left us with scars, but together we survived and came out stronger, a more tightly knit family.
Vulpine Eldrich: Very good! So in the future, what changes do you see for the kingdom of Wight?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Your question comes at a sensitive time. We are in the midst of some powerful changes in Wight.
Vulpine Eldrich: Oh? What sort of changes?
Birdie Fairymeadow: I have chosen to step down from the throne and pass my crown to a worthy Princess of Wight who has aspired to ascend for some time.
Vulpine Eldrich: I... see. I can't imagine that such a decision was made lightly. What prompted you to decide this?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Not lightly by any measure of the word. I have agonized over this decision for many weeks. I love my kingdom family dearly, and it troubles me so to think of them confused or lost in the process. I will certainly inform them of my decision before my abdication and before this interview goes to print. I have spoken with most of my immediate court and close friends, and am in the process of writing a notice to the kingdom to inform them all of my decision and explain my reasons which I will do with you now.
Vulpine Eldrich: Thank you for your confidence. What exactly were the reasons?
Birdie Fairymeadow: I live a rich, full real life, and though I have enjoyed working closely with our kingdom family helping each wanderer to find a home-- each Sir to find the answer to his questions-- each Princess to reach her goals-- I have come to realize that the very vitality of my real life has been compromised by the hours I have spent nurturing our kingdom members in the many ways they need.
Vulpine Eldrich: And that, no matter how caring and devoted, you're only one person with twenty four hours per day?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Oh? There are only 24 hours in a day? I thought there were 30. hmm…
Birdie Fairymeadow realizes now why time hasn’t added up for months
Vulpine Eldrich: lol
Birdie Fairymeadow: The main reason I chose to abdicate is that I am a real life student. I only have 1 year left to complete my degree program. I do not wish to take a chance at missing that mark.
Vulpine Eldrich: I think that pretty much answers the question! So how do you decide on someone else in a situation like this?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Another good question. I have had a few Wight members come to me to express their desire to ascend some day. Princess Zelinna is one Princess who is active, consistent and caring of her subjects, very much as I have been. Though the other princesses are as qualified in stature, Zelinna loves this kingdom and wishes to keep it as intact as possible.
Vulpine Eldrich: And you've been talking with your other close subjects. Their reaction has been positive?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Oh yes. I still haven't spoken with all of them yet, but those I did speak with were most supportive. They said they love me and they totally understand.
Vulpine Eldrich: That's good to hear. So after abdication, where do you plan to go? What will you do?
Birdie Fairymeadow: First and foremost comes RL school. I will, of course, be spending as much time as possible promoting our kingdom as a Princess, which is what I have always wanted to be.
Vulpine Eldrich: So will the Kingdom of Wight continue with Queen Zelinna?
Birdie Fairymeadow: Yes, it will. Once I abdicate, I will join under Zelinna who has decided to keep the name Wight for our kingdom. This makes me smile and should give many in our kingdom some comfort.
Vulpine Eldrich: I can see how it would. So, some stormy days ahead, but hopefully a safe harbor at the end. Do you find yourself regretting the end, even though you know you have to do it?
Birdie Fairymeadow: I do have a sense of loss, but I cannot regret what I feel is best for me and my kingdom family. You see, madam, I spent many hours nurturing each member who I had the honor of meeting. I will always feel they are my own.
Vulpine Eldrich: A very good point, indeed. Well, I think that covers about everything, unless there's something more that I missed?
Birdie Fairymeadow: I would like to conclude with a note of appreciation to you for taking time to find out what makes Wight tick. We are and shall remain a loving family.
Vulpine Eldrich: Well thank you for your hospitality, and my best wishes for what lies ahead. I know it's not going to be easy on anyone.
Birdie Fairymeadow nods and smiles.