Category: Second Life

For more information on Second Life, see my “Virtual Reality” page.

I was just learning to love.

And now, a palate-cleanser in the form of some Second Life prettiness.

When Miss Shippe released her cyborgian inserts set, I was pretty psyched. I’ve wanted to make my avatar into a cyborg for a while, but I wasn’t excited about any of the existing options. Sexy cyborg jokes aside, I wanted something that looked attractive and intriguing without being over-the-top. Matching eyes are included!

Trivia, but not trivial.

[2009/08/29 10:14] Browman Griffith: do you think there is anything strange about 30 people, a donkey, a pig man and Doc manhattan on a pirate ship?

[2009/08/29 10:14] Cygnoir Blanc: If I did, I wouldn't be here.

Browman was referring to the collection of regulars at Buccaneer Bowl, a monthly team trivia event in Second Life. Bucc Bowl not only provides an outlet for my occasionally vicious competitive streak, it is also responsible for introducing me to a significant portion of my SL social circle. And then there’s the fun. And the choking during a bonus question. But mostly the fun.

This team portrait was taken during the twenty-sixth Bucc Bowl earlier this month. VV for life, y’all.

Doing stuff with pictures instead of words.

Sometimes I want to write and sometimes I don’t. The periods of “don’t” usually coincide with feeling sick, as if writing is only something I undertake in the spirit of health. Strange, considering the number of times I have written myself out of black moods.

Over the weekend, in between sneezes and coughs, I finally worked on a Second Life snap I took last summer. I didn’t want to upload it anywhere until I had a chance to work on some of its flaws, but I didn’t know how to do that until my friend Lillian — whose pictures you really should look at, go on, I’ll be here when you get back — gave me a tutorial on a few Photoshop tricks.

afternoon tea

Rarely, I get to capture quiet moments like afternoon tea with Marian in her lovely home. Most of my Second Life is spent playing trivia in large groups or futzing around with stuff on my own. Occasionally I take pictures of myself, but I get bored with that pretty quickly, probably because I don’t have the patience to sift through the world for poses and clothing I like.

new year, new look

Most of the time I take pictures of nothing in particular.

The Seagull

Turn around.

When I first logged into Second Life in 2004, I decided to create an avatar that was loosely based on my real-life appearance with some important modifications. Namely, some gigantic black hair.

bridge self-portrait

I also may have overdone the makeup a bit.

Over the years, my avatar has changed — mainly hairstyles — but the salient bits have remained the same for about a year now: short stature, black wings, amethyst eyes, and a gravity-defying mohawk.

Second Life Self-Portrait

I do not know why I consider this avatar to be so “me”. I don’t look at all like her in real life. But every time I try to change something up, it feels wrong and doesn’t last.

This is not the first time that I have encountered this strange identification with avatar appearance. When I still cared about my mudding character’s description, I had a tough time making modifications to it. So I didn’t, except for costume changes, and didn’t think much about it. She looked the way that she did because that was who she was, and I decided that she looked just like me. There: problem solved.

In Second Life, though, my avatar has never looked just like me. I initially took more liberties in graphics than I did in text. And as Second Life becomes more advanced, I have more options than ever. Then why has my avatar’s appearance frozen? Why can’t I even bring myself to get a virtual tattoo?

Needless to say, I have always been fascinated by the myriad ways we choose to represent ourselves when we have the choice, so when Rach Borkotron told me about Gracie Kendal’s Usual Suspects project on online identity and anonymity, it immediately piqued my interest. I was up to my eyeballs in homework, though, and couldn’t come inworld to participate. Then I read Lou Netizen’s post about it, and immediately promised myself I would celebrate finishing my first semester of grad school by participating.

Gracie’s studio contains over 500 portraits now. When I teleported in, I was at once overwhelmed and a bit disoriented; although I knew the portraits were taken of avatars facing away instead of forward, it was strange to experience them all at once. Like everyone else, I am so used to identifying people by their faces that the gallery’s effect was initially alienating. Then, when I recognized a portrait of someone I knew — Lou, of course — I immediately relaxed.

Gracie herself is utterly charming and earnest, so interacting with her put me further at ease. She is obviously enthralled with the project, and welcomes each new contributor warmly. I loved watching her work and enjoyed talking with her and some of the other participants about the project and her process.

Posing for Gracie.

Gracie is just over the halfway mark, so now is the time to participate. There is more information on the project on Gracie’s Usual Suspects blog, or I can send you a notecard and landmark inworld if you prefer. Just don’t ask me to get a new ‘do.