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what the voices in my head tell me to write

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

identity in second life and other virtual worlds 

I was chatting to a few people in the shelter the other day. There was the usual mix of more or less real looking people, dragons, furries, mechas and outrageously slutty women and ridiculously studly (for want of a better word) men. There was one person who is apparently the shelters resident tv. His name in SL is Trevor something or another and he often has a outrageously slutty female av. So he is a real, virtual transvestite as apposed to the fake virtual transvestites who take either a female name or androgynous name and pretend to be an out and out female.

I started a group discussion about identity in virtual worlds with a dragon, ninja and furry person and it really got me thinking. The furrie says she normally is pretty realistic looking in game but uses her furry av as an “identity holiday”. She also does the outrageously slutty look once in a while “because she can, and its safe here”. Do all the fake women treat their virtual selves as a holiday from their real identity. Its odd that you don't meet many people in sl and other virtual worlds who say “I am a transvestite”. I guess a transvestite in the real world is fairly obvious most of the time and it forces that person to have a very identifiable persona in that role.

In a virtual world you can be whoever you want to be and there is little chance of being found out. Some parts of SL and some other virtual worlds try to enforce a real people only rule. But apart from webcams or phone calls I don't see how that is practical. I guess everyone has to accept in the long run that unless you know someone well in real life you can't believe your eyes in a virtual world.

Two more points have just struck me. I don't remember hearing much about women pretending to be men in virtual worlds. I suppose it could appeal to a butch dyke perhaps. Then again you only rarely get drag kings. The other is a bit more serious. I hardly ever see a black av in secondlife. I dont know why but you rarely see someone who is really black. Plenty of cafe au lait and latino avs but not many black people. I don't even know how to set that up in the av editing tools. Thats more worrying ultimately than a bloke in a dress.

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