There’s no denying that I love the architecture, colors, and neon-vibe aesthetic of the 80s. I especially love the way malls of the era looked. There’s something about the wood grains, neon, off whites, etc. that bring me back to a much better time. It’s one of the reasons why I love Dan Bell’s Dead Mall series on YouTube and why I think that it’s awful that the mall I used to go to in my childhood got modernized with a bland remodel. There’s something very nostalgic about the feel and vibe of that era. When I first visited Palmwood, those nostalgic vibes came rushing back.
Palmwood is a thriving furry Second Life community themed around a “retrowave” city aesthetic. There are many private and commercial rental options available as well as clubs, a mall, roller rink, and a retro themed arcade named Joysticks. The founder, Jimmy Talon, was inspired by his nostalgia for the old arcades that he experienced growing up. He remembers “the chirping sounds and the neon carpets and the flashing colorful lights and classic rock and dance pop playing over the speakers. It was very nostalgic for me growing up in the early 90s. The 80s really clung around until about 94; even longer in the pre-internet midwest.”
When asked about how it all started; “So one day I got into a sandbox and wanted to see if I could recreate my old local arcade from memory. I made a little replica while listening to some old jams and then showed it off to a few friends for fun and they really enjoyed it.” He spent about a year tweaking it for functional use. Once finished, he rented a small plot of land. The first incarnation had a parking lot out front with old cars. It took about a week for things to gain traction but vaporwave was really starting to take off at the time so people started to find the place via keyword searches. “And then, before I knew it, we had 15-20 people packed into the arcade during peak hours, playing table games, listening to vaporwave and just goofing off and feeling nostalgic for the place. Pretty soon requests for new games and activities started rolling in. We added more machines, more table games, a bowling alley. . .so we needed more space!”
He bought a neighboring plot of land and joined them to solve the issue of space but the cost was more than he anticipated. “So I asked some friends if they wanted to take over some of the rent in exchange for some little houses and we got the idea to make the land look like a little town with an arcade in the center and. . .it just kind of escalated from there.” Pretty soon requests started coming in from people who wanted to rent a place and within a year they had built an entire RPG style town modeled after an old American community which featured a town hall, a park plaza, and a mall. Not long after that, a decision was made to remodel in order to appeal more to those who were fans of the vaporwave aesthetic. This lead to the creation of what is now Palmwood City today.
When asked what their current mission in Second Life is; “It’s really just about community I think. We never really set out to make a bunch of money or sell anything like merch or club life or anything too crazy. We’ve incorporated things into our goals mostly by request from the community because people feel kind of. . .attached to Palmwood.” He mentioned that their rentals are not even the most efficient or cost effective. However, the people who tend to rent there aren’t concerned with getting a good deal or having privacy. They tend to be more concerned with being a Palmwood citizen and love the idea of being part of a retrowave paradise city designed by furries. The sim functions more like a real functioning city with a sense of community rather than just another real estate sim.
As for the future of Palmwood, the founder is just seeing where it takes them. They pride themselves on listening to their community and fulfilling their wants and needs and making changes every once in awhile to keep things fresh. There is currently plenty of things to explore and do and plenty of people to meet there. “Everyone in our community is generally very welcoming and willing to show you around!” he says. So go to https://www.palmwoodcity.
com/home and check them out!