Second Life


my avatar on Second Life

So my computer finally has the graphics capabilities etc. for Second Life. If anyone wants to meet me there, my avatar’s name is Alfhild Briers. It looks roughly like the image here (you can click on the link to get the real image, if you’re having trouble seeing my images). Sometimes I’m in a wheelchair there and sometimes I’m not, but as a short fat bald woman I stand out regardless.

I’m still trying to get it more realistic-looking, but that’s what I’ve got so far. The appearance settings are complicated, and trying to get eyebrows or a mouth like mine (the only unibrows they have are the stereotypical thick ones that go straight across, not the thin ones that dip down… none of their mouths are trapezoid-shaped) is difficult and involves drawing onto a flat template that’s then wrapped around a 3-d face. Laura has also recently got an avatar there, but I’ll leave it up to her whether to say who it is.

Realistic avatars are unusual there. I’ve been warned several times that there’s a bit of hostility towards them. I’ve also had a lot of people patiently explain to me that I can look like anything I want to look like on Second Life. That I could look like anything I want, and still choose to look exactly like I look in real life, is confusing to a lot of people, but it’s true. I’ve even had a few people remark that I must be afraid of looking different than I do, rather than fine looking how I do.  I get a lot of comments (some positive, some negative), and I stand out not just for the parts of me that are unusual in real life but for the parts of me that are utterly ordinary in real life. (Being five foot two, while short in real life, is tiny on Second Life for a human, and being even a normal width is wide.)

Anyway Laura and I are planning to build some stuff for autistic people there.


About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Developmentally disabled, physically and cognitively disabled. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died in 2014 and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

25 responses »

  1. I understand the fantasy appeal for people of making up the body they want, but I don’t see why anyone would get hostile or critical if someone chooses to a fantasy body like the one they have. Are they that averse to people not fitting the standard social definition of attractive? Is looking different such a staple of people’s fantasies that they can’t imagine someone else making a different choice?

  2. Apparently for some people. Others are indifferent or intrigued though, so it’s not universal (and I’ve met some really nice people, both realistic and non-realistic-looking, who don’t mind or think it’s cool), but the hostility is apparently common.

  3. Hostility towards realistic avatars, eh? Is it, do you think, hostility toward people who don’t want to participate in the generation of illusions, and who therefore are threatening to the folks who are well aware that that’s exactly what they’re doing — or is it simply the same hostility encountered by short fat bald people in “real” life? And do you think the association of appearance with the people they represent is so powerful that even on a fantasy site the more “good-looking” characters are treated more ceremoniously?

    BTW, from photos I’ve seen of you, your current avatar’s not a bad approximation. Much better than my sassy-eyed Yahoo! avatar or the “boxer” I created in my own image (albeit a man) for a boxing video game. Role-playing and the like are not really my “thing” (most of my fantasies involve the real me with a lot more money), and I don’t think I even have the dramatic talent to imagine “me” looking like anything other than me, but I find the capacity for illusion that the Internet has given us fascinating.

    So, if you don’t mind me asking, Amanda (in addition to the questions above) — what does the program call that facial expression you chose?

  4. It’s funny because I was just reading an article about SL minutes before reading your post and I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before today. I feel out of touch.

    I don’t know which avatar I would choose for myself but I guess I’d want it to look somewhat similar to my real world appearance. Not sure about that though. Maybe I’ll try it out and see you there someday.

  5. i can’t wait to try 2ndlife now… i only hope my compu can handle it. i think it’s good to look like yourself in the virtual place, why not?! i will try that, too. i was disappointed with my yahoo avatar that i couldn’t get her to look like me and after a while i started to think, i wish i looked perfect like my avatar… how silly is that.

    hey isn’t there a specific island for auties and/or aspies there? I think i heard something like that.

  6. Cool avatar! I’m a fan of the realistic avatars too. Now I am also curious about Second Life. That will be my next destination on the internet today.

  7. The program doesn’t have a word for that facial expression I chose. In part because the facial expression is something I had to tattoo on over the ones the program had. (I just picked one that was easiest to tattoo over.)

    Laura had a different problem — it did a recognizable version of her face just fine, but it could not get her other body proportions right at all. (She’d be 5’6″ except for a very curved spine, so her whole body is proportioned like a 5’6″ person except she’s 5’0″.)

  8. My avatar’s name is Fiona Muldoon, but that’s as far as I got. I tried to get in last night and it crashed. I could tell something was wrong because my cursor was flashing as I tried to get into the site. I wonder how to get the right video card or whatever it is I need to run the program correctly. :(

  9. Quality. When people tell you that you must be afraid of looking different, you should tell them that they must be afraid to look exactly the way they are. Because realistically, when push comes to shove, would you rather know who you are and be secure with yourself in a game, or in real life?

    “People suck.”
    -Archangel Mychael

  10. Back around 1994 I had a roommate who was very much into MUDs (didn’t eat or sleep and so forth). This sounds like the same thing, except MUDs were ASCII-based. I’m tempted to try it out, but I bet it’s addictive.

  11. It’s a fantasy, and fantasy depends on you’re being what you aren’t in real life. By being realistic you are (for those folks who are wanting to fantasize while there) ruining the purpose of SL.
    That you have a purpose which is not the same as theirs doesn’t matter to them.
    Frankly, I would have a very unrealistic avatar: I’d borrow my body from the Rock, my face from Clark Gable, my athletic prowess from A-Rod, and so forth. And I’d have perfect 20/20 vision, and a yacht in Cannes. Totally unlike the real me (except the face, which has been known to be praised by persons of taste). But again, I’m not planning on getting involved in SL anytime soon. I don’t need my computer to daydream.

  12. The thing is, I don’t look any different in my fantasies. In fact, my fantasies are not about my looks at all. There is plenty I like about the fantastic elements of SL, but I seriously have no desire to fantasize about looking different. Flying, yes, cool. Dubious laws of physics, yes, cool. The ability to do all this in a framework where other people are there, yes, cool. Etc. Just no desire to make my avatar look different than me.  Of course I am also at heart not much of an escapist.  We’re building Autistic Liberation Front headquarters as I type this.

  13. I want to make myself look like Queen Boadicea, who is “described by one Roman historian as a tall, terrifying-looking woman with fierce eyes, a harsh voice, and very long red hair.”


    However, I don’t have an nvidea graphic card and I fear I may never be able to use this program. I don’t know how to change it:

    I need this:

    But I only have this: S3 Graphics ProSavageDDR

  14. yeah, my video card was also weighed in the balance and found wanting.

    oh i am disappointed. you can fly? i would love to fly!! There was a time in my childhood when I was almost convinced i could fly (due to a dream about it) but i never tried actually leaping off of high things to find out, hence “almost”.

    As soon as i can get a better video card i am IN THERE. this would involve getting a great deal on a computer (maybe possible) and my husband inheriting my laptop to play with linux in, so there is some vested interest going on also.

  15. PS: Amanda, from your photos on “getting the truth out”, I could have sworn you were tall. Not that it matters, i just wonder how i saw you as tall but in fact you tell that you are short. Maybe something about proportions or the way the photos are cropped…
    Or maybe the “stand-tall” attitude of the site (~_^)

  16. I bet it WAS the camera angle. Thank you for the technical explanation, that puts my mind at rest that it has a logical explanation.

  17. I’m Alfred McDonnagh on SL. New for me too. I’d like to know how to get to your areas. I also don’t know if IM works real time or is more like mail or where to search your name and add as friend. Still taking the path of the newb there although I have changed my appearance. It’s not quite like me. I can’t get the hair right, the face right. My sims2 persona was a little easier to get right but at the same time, not as flexible as the general archiecture with tattoos and all in SL. Interesting. If I have time, I’ll be off and on. I’d like to know if you add me.

  18. My LJ icons that are people and not photos of my kids are caricatures of me that are accurate to some degree (as accurate as the program or cartoonist was going to get it, given the style). I think accuracy is reasonable. If I were going to do something like SL, I would probably construct an avatar looking something like me — not going as far outside the bounds of “normal” for that environment as you, but hey, I like my hair, I like my height, in fact the only problem I really have with my body right now is an actual medical problem that either I have to do scheduled surgery for, or wait until it gets so acute that they have to do emergency surgery. (I have the surgery scheduled.)

    It’s funny, I saw the pictures on Getting the Truth Out, and had you pegged for 5’6″ or taller, and I saw pictures online of someone I pegged as 5’4″ or shorter and found out she’s closer to 6′ when I met her in person. :) Photos can hide truth.

  19. i am now Natasha Shatzkin on secondlife, but i can only access it from work… i think i will use it when i am useless for paperwork (ie after class). all my courses are running almost 2 hours per meeting this semester and that is a lot of talking. today was almost 6 hours total of talking, although i started losing words in english towards the middle of the 3rd class. the students helped me, though. (^_^)

  20. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of months — found you via Alas, A Blog. I really appreciate all of the information and perspectives you publish here, and I’m going to direct my fellow psychology students to look at your Getting the Truth Out — it’s so amazing and important!

    I’ve read about second life now and then, but never felt inclined to try it ’till yesterday. I remembered having read this entry, so I came back to reread it. I think I sent a successful SL friend requeust – I’m Anstarren Fassnacht. I hope to see you there sometime :)

  21. i like the avatar you have
    the cat is cool twoo
    i understand you had trouble with the s3 graphics ddr card
    so do i
    do you have an apropreite driver that wil fix this
    if you do please mail it to me
    many thanks
    the netherlands

  22. Hey there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could
    find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same
    blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

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