M is for Myg

Live your god damned dream

What the hell is “real” in Second Life?

Why do so many SL stores have information desks and cash registers that are almost always abandoned? I get the idea of trying to make the store feel like a “real” store. But then that’s the problem. If they’re trying to emulate the vibe of a “real” store, and there’s never anybody working there, then you feel like the store isn’t really open. And I don’t think that’s the feeling retailers want their shoppers to have, is it?

It makes me think about the trend of realism in Second Life, and about how silly it sort of is – at least from my perspective. For example, James/Hamlet Au had two pieces in New World Notes yesterday that talked about how “real” Second Life is or maybe could or perhaps should be. In one, he showed a lovely photo of a pregnant woman (or female av, at least) and her partner, and quoted the photographer as saying the inspiration is partly “to show how much SL can be real.”

SL can be real, but doesn’t it have it’s very own reality? And that reality doesn’t actually include things like pregnant women, which is reality borrowed from the world of skin and bones. New avies don’t pop out of female avies’ nether regions in SL. That’s a “make believe” playing house moment in SL, not a “real” moment. A real moment is when an asshole orbits you off your own property for fun, or when you bust a gut laughing at something Romana says while Alex is playing kick ass tuneage over the stream. At least, to me that’s SL “reality.” Pregnancy is not.

In the other, he asked “Would you give your avatar a more realistic shape?”  I for one have to say, “Hell no!” In fact, I should probably have a less realistic shape. Trust me people, my shape is a little too realistic these days in RL. I think that the trend of representing oneself as realistically as possible in SL is a bit lacking in imagination, to be honest. It seems to ignore vast opportunities for creativity and vision in the creation of our digital selves. (Sophrosyne Stenvaag delivers a helpful smackdown on this topic at her blog.) And by the way, I appreciate Hamlet’s posts – I’m not arguing with them. They were pretty thought provoking.

Now, I understand that some folks want to have plus-sized avatars, perhaps because they are working to towards through (sorry, the typo was making me insane. edited 8/11/08) their own feelings of acceptance about being overweight in real life, and/or maybe they are pushing an agenda to get others to drop their prejudice against people who are overweight. That’s cool, really. There’s a purpose there and it’s a damned good one.

But for me, the opportunity to create a digital self (and multiple digital selves, as I have more than one, and some are far less realistic than I normally am) in any form my imagination conjures, is the actual reality of Second Life. And I consider it one of the most important features Second Life has to offer.

You are you every day. Don’t you want a chance to be someone, well, different? In some way?

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