The Ego Builder

by Alphaville Herald on 18/04/05 at 10:20 pm

by Budka Groshomme

As inevitably as night follows day, I, your faithful newbie correspondent, having mastered the fundamentals of prim building at Ivory Tower, finally succumbed to the ego-building attraction of avatar modification.

The first avatar attempt, upon arriving on Welcome Island was, like many others before me, just a poor attempt to duplicate my RL appearance as closely as possible. At the time, the casual offer to choose a male or female persona wasn’t perceived as an opportunity so much as simply picking which sex I really was. At that stage of involvement, the identity opportunities offered by Second Life simply hadn’t dawned on me.

Wandering about in my somewhat idealized RL guise I did all the newbie things – blundering into ongoing conversations, dropping into gambling events with no concept of what was going on, climbing through properties without regard for personal privacy, encountering lag, and discovering how to work the gadgets and other wonders people gave away for free. It was only after investing about eight or nine hours that I started (just started!) to realize what was going on in this digital wonderland.

The first phase of my building experience resulted in various poorly-conceived and blunderingly badly-exercised objects in the various sandboxes. While interesting, and an enormous investment of time, these came nowhere near the smooth finish and flashy appearance of objects I had seen on my wanderings and, lately, on Snapzilla.

It was only after visiting the Second Life Wiki and SL Universe that it finally dawned on me that I could modify the way I appeared. Second Life held tools I could use not only to modify my clothing but , most amazing of all, my own body!

Avatar #2, the bearded gentleman who appeared previously in this newspaper was designed by slightly tweaking the sliders and donning some pretty standard clothing items I’d picked up in one of the many free boxes lying about the cyberscape. Avatars #3 and #4 were various combinations of slider magic and hardly worth mentioning here, save that I discovered I made a really ugly female avi with no taste whatsoever in clothing or makeup.

About the time I was experimenting with Avi #4, I suddenly realized that I could build something with prims and then, wonder of wonders, wear it on a specific body part. This was a revelation and opened wide the limits of avatar modification! Suddenly, I could put blocks on my feet, spheres on my skull, cones on my hands. Best of all, using the standard building tools, I could adjust these to “fit” whichever body shape I had created. The result was Avi #5 – a Gort-like creature lacking any sort of visual interest whatsoever. The interesting feature about Gort was that I could wear it like a suit. Anything became possible.

One evening, while attending a mentored event, I watched open-mouthed as the instructor cycled through at least fifteen changes in five minutes, the whole time doing an animation series that left me breathless with amazement and laughter. The presentation was capped when a ten-meter-long spider appeared, doing the Macarena, of all things!

My education further progressed after observing the variety of avatars wandering about SL. The resident population, for the most part, seems content to push the human form either to extremes or to adhere as closely as possible to “normal” appearance. As one moves away from the welcome area, that standard becomes less and less prevalent. Over time, I expect to see fewer and fewer “normal” appearances as people become more comfortable with different forms and colors – perhaps choosing inhuman forms, but ones that feels “right.” Disney characters might suit many, but copyright and IP law threatens the exploitation of those forms.

Currently, my interest revolves around discovering sources of new avatars, new body shapes and sizes, and new approaches. My particular interests of the moment are the non-human forms. I am trying to discover if there is perhaps a form that fits my persona better than any I’ve discovered so far. Something along Greek lines, I think. Perhaps I could wear a faun, a satyr, or a centaur’s body.

Zeus would be fine.

2 Responses to “The Ego Builder”

  1. Urizenus

    Apr 19th, 2005

    Am I the only one that thinks gorts are teh sexy?

  2. budka groshomme

    Apr 20th, 2005

    It’s the codpiece, Uri. Just the codpiece.

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