Monday, 12 July 2010

Third Life Syndrome

Saturday night at my party in InWorldz (another grid) Wizzy caught herself almost saying (and stopped herself) ...”you look like the Real Soror”. Now, she meant of course that my avi in InWorldz was near identical to my avi in SL.

Had she said that I would have understood immediately what she meant.

...and that got me thinking.

Whereas I have often mocked those poor souls who think the only way to enjoy SL is if their avi is the same height and shape as their biological physique, when it comes to virtual worlds we all (mostly) have a Third Life Syndrome... (TLS)...

TLS is that strange condition where we seek to replicate our SL looks in other worlds. In fact, for many, and for myself in a small degree, our enjoyment of a Third Life is dependent on this replication of name and looks. A virtual Virtual Me.

Now, moving to a new world, new grid, could be the opportunity to take one of those poor neglected alts, dust them off and develop that forgotten side of our psyche to a degree that we don’t do in SL... but that isn’t what we do. It is our Principle Avi that gets to move and have work done on his/her looks first and foremost.

So ... something that springs to mind is that our Virtual Body Image is like our RL body image, a deeply imprinted inner picture of how we look or should look, only in virtual worlds rather than RL. If we have this Virtual Body Image then we are psychologically different to people who don’t have avatars. This would not surprise me. This makes us part of a group of people with cultural links, it’s part of our culture.

I was involved in a piece of performance art in SL a year or so ago....I have forgotten the names of those involved... where we were asked to change gender in front of the cameras, wearing the clothes we were wearing. It was a disturbing experience, and no doubt, highlighted this Virtual Body Image without me being fully conscious of what was happening.

Now, naming and recognising doesn’t explain what a body image is, much less what a virtual body image could be. Body image is how the brain perceives the body, independent of the fact; that is to say we may perceive ourselves wrongly (i.e. our body image may be divorced from reality.)

The discrepancy in RL between ideal and current body image leads to dissatisfaction. Obviously this discrepancy should be zero in the case of an avatar, as the ideal avatar (body image) should equal the current avatar......but....

....a Third Life has a tendency to throw all our hard work (on our avi) out the window and we have to start again from scratch.

The more the identity of your avi is dependent on specific shop-bought products, the more difficult it will be to move before your fav creators have opened shops in a Third World. This may be something you can help happen, of course, if you know these people as friends.

It would be a shame, however, to let this stop us from getting a Third Life, there are any number of tricks and work-arounds we could resort to.

a) if you are moving grid for a particular reason (i.e. to build) then the way you look may be secondary to what you can achieve.

b) think of your new avi as the younger brother/sister of your SL avi

c) make a skin from a template and use in both worlds....

d) dust off an alt (see above) and go in as your alt..

e) live with the difference until the shopping gets better.

I'm sure you will have other ideas, too...

"Paris, London, New York", are often printed on top designers logos....It would, as a side note, be clever of a skin designer/maker to open, say, in Inworldz, and tell their SL client base that they have a shop there. They could then sell a duplicate skin to the same people in InWorldz.... moving would be a lot easier if you can wear the same skin as the shape is usually mod in appearance.

...and...what of Dragons? Well, there are already some fairies and furries in InWorldz, but as far as I know we are still waiting for dragons.... market opportunity for someone??

It's a new frontier out there with little competition for the brave, step past your Third Life Syndrome and go for it.



  1. Good post soror....I've already approached a great builder of asian houses about setting up a presence.
    Obviously our "not able to be exported" inventory is a hang up.
    We will see =^..^=

  2. Yes, with prims/shops being so cheap lets hope they see the advantages of getting in early.

  3. Thought provoking post soror. I have replicated Nickola in four Opensim grids. I have her shape settings on a document stored on my hard drive. I even recreated her favorite hair style from SL and upload it to wherever she logs in, and I learned how to make skins just so I could have a consistent look across grids.

    Why did I go to all that trouble? Well, I think she has become my closest friend - some days it feels like she's the only friend I have. I have other alts to mess around with, but Nickola is special to me and I want her around.

  4. Well, Nickola I understand that completely and I think that Soror is an important part of my psyche which is why I am keen to have her around in all new worlds. It is surprising tho that her looks are so important to me... not important enough to stop me entering a new world, but enough that I feel more at ease when she looks "right".

  5. My partner and I were both severely stressed by not being able to exactly duplicate our AVS in Inworldz. Experiencing the stress of it was an unexpected surprise to both of us. I had no idea I was so deeply connected to that particular pile of pixels.

  6. Well I can certainly empathize, but fortunately I have a friend inworldz who is otter this if I can pull myself away from my 3 projects and get back in...

  7. would be great to have some of your stuff built InWorldz, Scottius.

    I'll supply the fish.

  8. @Brinda: My Japanese-style houses have been imported to InWorldz... ;)

    @soror: I think I may blog about this... It dovetails with my most recent post.

  9. yes, Lalo, I noticed that too...please do, it is an interesting subject which I have not even scratched the surface of.
    Why does one pile of pixels represent a part of my psyche better than another???

  10. I think there are likely deep reasons behind our identification with a particular pile of pixels. Gonna sleep on it. :)

  11. well, the back story is that i made my comment about you looking like the *real* Soror BECAUSE i was so self-conscious about the way i looked in InWorldz. i look NOTHING like i look in SL. and it bothers me. this has been a problem for me for a long time, because i have had a presence on the open sims for a long time, and i CAN NOT duplicate my SL appearance there. i have gone so far as to request that Helanywe provide me with a full perm/exportable version of my hair, but she categorically refuses. i offered to pay a premium for it, but no dice. i have a constant persona i want to project across the Metaverse, in all of the worlds and to do that i want to be able to control my appearance.

  12. Ohayo ! :)

    Very interesting post ! I found it via NWN and the title attracted me instantly, but it's funny because to me, "Third Life" has a completely different meaning, in both technical and psychological senses.

    People may be driven to SL because of something lacking on their RL. But what happens to a SL avatar that feels the same way ? Enter TL...

    Watch my SL love story machinima at to see what I mean. I know, it's 8 minutes, but it's worth it :)

  13. soror --

    I totally agree. My primary avatar is the one on OSGrid -- that's where I started out, and where I spend most of my time. But lately, I've had to attend a lot of events in Second Life and it's driving me crazy. The avatar doesn't have my hair. She's got my face and body -- I used CyberExtruder to generate a skin from my photograph, and import that into all the worlds where I go. But the hair is wrong!

    It's fixable -- I'll probably fix in the next couple of days, because it's becoming a serious distraction.

    But the other issue is that people keep calling me by the weird name that SL assigned me five years ago. In all the OpenSim grid where I have avatars, I use my real name. I'm there for work, after all. But in Second Life, even though I hung my real name and title over my head, people refer to me by my avatar's name. Which makes sense -- after all, the avatar name is what comes up in chat. I have to keep forcing myself not to yell "That's not my name!" at people.

    After this series of events is over, I'm creating a new avatar with my real name as the first time (this wasn't an option when I first registered).

    -- Maria "Please don't call me Marie Kolache" Korolov

  14. Yes, these are all identity issues which become very interesting once we "cross over'. That's one of the most amazing things for me, how VW's are a research facility for the psyche.

  15. Funny! My "Virtual Body Image" from Second Life is a dragon. I had to search high and low, but there are a FEW dragons available in Inworldz... best I've found so far are Snootz Dwagon's "Dwagons". I don't know, maybe I should dabble with something new in Inworldz, or perhaps completely change my SL identity. Who knows! It would be interesting to do a real study on avatar choice and what it says about a person.

  16. I agree, the choices we make are not random, and we work so hard to get it "just right". How do we know what's right? Must be an important part of our psyche.

  17. Did you know that Zauber Paracelsus makes dragon avatars? :)

  18. Very well said. Not feeling "myself" (who is nothing like RL me!) has stopped me wanting to travel far in OS. Luckily, my favourite skin maker (Lorac of Pulse) has moved into Inworldz so I will feel happier about hanging out there.

    This is all very odd!