Noob SL Diary March-June 2007
Diane Carr July 2007
(trans: noob – newbie – new player).
Please note: this is a noobie ‘game diary’ discussion document. It’s not supposed to be an article and it is supposed to be speculative.
Please don’t quote out of context or without the permission of the author, who maintains the prerogative to change her mind about any of this at any time. And it’s a bit long…
This is not chronological – It’s bunched into issues or themes that I’m interested in discussing with the project team (for notes about this discussion, see the post about the project meeting July 16th, under Project Updates).
This is provided as a ‘sample game diary’ – the 3 of us were exploring SL, keeping notes like this…
image: shopping related accident
I’ve been exploring since March. For the sake of clarity I will use first person perspective (mostly) in the comments that follow, but in actuality I tend to refer to my avatar in the 3rd person, by name.
I arrived on the landing pad at Orientation Island, suitably disorientated. A male avatar lounging nearby called out to ‘me’ by my avatar’s name (‘ah! Look’ I thought ‘I have a chatbox…’) I didn’t know how to reply. Then he called me a bitch… I edged away from the landing pad and started to explore the interface. Opened map. Saw a ‘teleport’ button. It looked interesting. I pressed it and (vrrroom vrom vrom) I teleported.
So much for Orientation. I have no idea how I managed that. Martin was marooned there for ages. Jaime couldn’t leave until he’d completed a fixed set of tasks that were dull and confusing. He kept doing the same one…
Anyway, thanks to my teleport button accident (and my inability to obey instructions), my fresh-out-the-box avatar found herself in an eerie building in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by other avatars before I’d learnt how to move or chat. A few of the male ones were determined to chat with me about my hair… Worse, I still had a map of Orientation Island and a list of tasks obscuring half my screen… Somebody did help me eventually get rid of the menu stuck on my screen, but …then he started asking me about my hair. I hit the teleport button.
I entered into a bleak and lonely period, wandering from empty back-lot, to empty suburb, to empty campus, to empty nightclub, to hanger-sized gambling halls with avatars on auto-pilot collecting a minimum wage for standing around. I was using the search function to try and find anything or anyone – when I did stumble into other avatars it was not clear if they were ‘people’ or bots of some description. Some were engaged in small talk…I was collecting screenshots by this stage, and lots of them have amateur porn dialogue swilling about in the chatbox. People ignored me (I think) because I wasn’t a nine-foot tall maxi-wigged femme-bot in suspenders. I was called ‘virgin’ when I didn’t respond on demand to sexual advances – if that’s what they were (‘boy model’ avatars bumping into me, like dodgem cars – is that flirting?). There was also casual, ambient meanness: ‘I hate short people’ or ‘you’re so short’ I’m not! Its just that everyone else is SL is shaped like a giant cotton-bud. To begin with I experienced SL as a more anxiety evoking and much less friendly, more aggressive place than World of Warcraft…
My problems were aggravated by my assumption that I would need to seek out and purchase land. I was directed (by searches and classifieds) to miserable land parcels hemmed in by billboards and bunker style malls (always empty) that were apparently being sold by land profiteers.
After a couple of months in SL it’s hard to admit how awful those first forays were. Now I can easily access information, because I eventually learned where to look. I’ve found guides for the early user (see the resources page of this blog) so, yes, I know where to get the information now, but I couldn’t find those when I was a complete beginner, which is when I needed it. I was looking within SL plus googling, and wiki-ing, but I think the problem was one of vocabulary. Play lvl 1-5 of WoW and see http://www.wowwiki.com/Main_Page and the game guide at Blizzard’s site http://www.wow-europe.com/en/index.xml to compare SL with WoW learner-support.
I found Help Island eventually by accident, and returned for some basic training (I’d been trying to return to Orientation Island, not Help Island). Now I feel stupid admitting how lost I was because from the perspective of a couple of months in SL, it hardly seems feasible. But it’s important, because I doubt that my early experiences were that unusual…guess that this is partly why so many people try SL and abandon it. As others have no doubt remarked, it really sucks for the new user. Initially the only accessible reward (and by reward I simply mean ‘something to make it suck less’) involved the customising of my avatar. It’s easy, quick, and the improvements are obvious. That leads to learning (the acquisition of a basic familiarity with the edit appearance settings, the inventory). And from there to despair (‘oh, I look like a duck’) and from despair to shopping, and from shopping to freebies (and much spiralling between optimism ‘this will work!’ and despair, ‘oh no, this looks awful’ and panic ‘Agh! Get this thing off me’). In retrospect I think of this as my pre ‘pain barrier’ phase.
The SL pain barrier
Because I battered away and persevered (and I was not motivated to persevere by anything within SL at this stage) I eventually scraped some skills together and stumbled across this pain barrier, at which point SL became funny, enjoyable and potentially interesting.
Suddenly I really wanted to find a nice tattoo. I wanted to set up a squatter camp. I wanted to make a caravan for my avatar, and to build a fake street with 2d houses. I wanted my avatar to be a pregnant chain smoker. I wanted to build a see-thru house scripted to wobble like jelly – and each of these whims was a response to specific aspects of SL (so, squatting as opposed to land speculation or profiteering, a trailer or caravan or building made of jelly as opposed to a ‘realistic nice house’, a pregnant chain smoker as opposed to ‘improved’, ’aspirational’, ’mechanically/cyber enhanced’ avatars, 2D streetscapes as a response to 3D-ism…Other new users do this as well, pointing at the ‘perfect’ physique of other avatars, and proclaim that they’re going to be fat, bald, beardy, ‘realistic’ or whatever.
Breaking through the pain barrier was a result of learning i.e. a process of skills acquisition and accumulation linked to the gradual accessing of SL’s different facets, and a learned familiarity with its offers/pleasures. Which might be a problem, because (if this is common enough experience) then there’s an implication that saying that you do not enjoy SL is tantamount (from some perspectives) to saying that you are a novice. My impression is that those on one side of the SL pain barrier have an entirely different experience and outlook to those on the other.
To those who suffer in the pain zone, the residents on the other side probably sound like deluded converts, possessed and/or patronising salespeople, or cultist drones. Meanwhile, from the perspective of those who have crossed the pain barrier, SL users who express cynicism and confusion are just exhibiting symptoms of inexperience (‘they just need to be shown the way’).
Writing this now, I find myself dialoguing across the pain barrier to myself. So, if I point out how awkward I initially found the menus/camera/movement in SL, I immediately want to counter myself with ‘But, look! You can make things!’ and then drag my unconvinced half off to Ivory Tower of The Prims (trans: It’s a famous ‘education’ place that you can walk around while learning about building/modelling in SL).
When I state that my early explorations showed me an ugly back-of-the-airport vista of billboards, drab commercial sex and empty malls – I immediately want to contradict myself. How can I say SL is ugly or full of billboards and unimaginative profiteering when I’ve explored Nakama, accepted gifts from strangers and tested a personal rainstorm over a tropical garden?
Image: Social worlds?
I think this matters because educators who’ve heard about SL, and who are interested in SL (or anxious about it) are reading newspaper articles that depict a shiny world full of imaginative ‘early adopters’ who are doing amazing and interesting things out there on the virtual bleeding edge… The experiences and testimony of the disgruntled (those wandering about on the wrong-side-of-the-pain-divide) are not generally represented. This means that a percentage of new users will find themselves lost (as I was) in the murky chasm that lies between what SL seems to promise, and what new users encounter.
Part of this confusion stems from a sort of miss-match in expectations that thrive thanks to the difficulties of defining Second Life itself – and the completely unsatisfactory yet remarkably common default definition-by-comparison to games (‘its more than a game’ ‘its not just a game’) that are nearly always backed by misguided, reductive statements about online gaming.
Since unexpectedly plunging through the pain barrier I’ve spent more time in SL, and enjoyed it more. I’ve found places I want to visit and re-visit. I know some people [...]
Voice, mode and SL
Heaps of the people I’ve been in contact with in new user areas such as Help Island are getting by with basic English and dealing with English as a second language (after first trying to start conversations in French, Italian, Spanish or Japanese…) and I wonder how the rolling out of voice will effect new users who are OK with typing a bit of English but might not be confident speakers. And that’s just one of the reasons why I think that voice is over-rated…I have others!
Is it an issue that voice will arrive in SL as a developed, complex mode in comparison to the in-world communication modes now available? For these reasons and because of the voice being complex and ‘autobiographical’ and ‘live’ I suspect there’s a risk that it will have a higher modality and that it will over-ride and squash alternative communicative modes.
[cut cut, most of this turns up in in posts about deafness and access elsewhere on the blog...edited Aug 07, dc]
(EDIT EDIT I’m cutting stuff about voice and SL and WoW…Aug.07, dc)
[Voice] is an aspect of SL I’d like to look into more closely, in relation to notions of mode, intrinsic mode, dominant mode or the alteration in mode status (in specific instances in SL) due to the introduction of voice, and its impact on learning in relation to a specific task or locale – if such a thing makes sense/is possible. Also, rhetorics of fictionality, transparency and the real in SL…
Anyway. After a few months I have a better understanding of what is available, and how to access it. At times, though, I fall off the SL learning curve, and into the SL apathy paradox. A range of things (skills, activities…) appear on the horizon, but as expectations shift, new limitations emerge…what seemed possible gets further away as you get closer. For example, it’s really easy to make an ‘instant movie’ using the record function, but difficult to locate effective animations for your avatar (and you’ll need these for acting). It’s quite easy to locate not-so-good animations and these are a bit depressing. So in trying to escape one limitation, I just became more aware of limitations…(hence the motivation droop). So it’s not a learning curve, it’s a learning staircase, with blank walls to bump into, sharp inclines and relatively painless (yet flat) plateaus. Here’s a summary of my early hunter-gathering of SL Skills.
SL Skills – Where/how learnt? how practiced? Outcomes? Limitations/problems
By trial and error, found out about search functions – learnt to rely on websites and blogs ‘outside’ of SL. Found various resources such as Freebie yards, that gave an indication of the wide SL community, and sharing ethos (other than standard shopping stuff). Trying things (clothes, skins, body shapes) on resulted in moments of panic to do with unintended alterations to the avatar, and trawling through the inventory to attempt to restore her. Thanks to various accidents her ‘look’ (in terms of her physique) continued to evolve. There are too many options, I think, for clothes to pose a problem in SL. Templates are available for home-tailoring also. I did find many, many clothes that my avatar would not been seen dead in, even if she was a sex-worker. Clothing often seems generated with particular/odd fantasies (of feminine ‘glamour’) and particular body shapes (9 foot tall sticks, with airbags) in mind. Found a good shop in Nakama (shopping encourages exploration) and an excellent mini-rabbit avatar outfit also. Found clothes I liked, and eventually a wig I liked. My avatar prefers to go slappy headed but then she wonders if people will assume she’s either brand-noob, or if she’s having a scalp glitch.
I could not initially find earrings that were not dangly diamonds (not that there’s anything wrong with dangly and shiny…but its nice to have options…) so I was motivated to ‘build some’ at the sandbox/tutorial at Help Island. Using no building skills at all it’s still possible to build basic attachable objects…such as ‘blob earrings’ (very space age) or coloured hoops – playing with basic shapes, playing with colour and texture. Learning more about the inventory in the process. Oh, I also made a big see-through sphere to wear when male-avatars try to ‘bump’ into my character. This was sufficient to give me some idea of how easy building is (how easy ‘beginner building’ is, anyway) which motivated me to visit Ivory Tower of the Prims to find out more. It’s easy to do basic goofing around…to make large abstract shiny shapes for instance, that I can stick on my avatar’s head. Anything ‘useful’ might take a bit more effort and practice.
In world movies (‘machinima’)
Stumbled on the ‘start/movie’ button in the process of answering questions about data collection. Very easy to record in-world footage. Trial and error (re-shot images that were less effective, poorly lit) Edited together a 2 minute clip (‘start movie’ function on file menu, drop file into iMovie…edit). This process inspired me to look into SL movie making in more detail. There’s a thriving machinima community and widely available resources, and clear indicators of the various technical skills and tools that I should look to acquire if I want to ‘do this properly’. Moving to the ‘next stage’ involves acquisition of better camera tools (and control without the GUI on display) and ‘better acting’ – and a better understanding of the conventions and technical considerations shared to some degree or other by the ‘machinima community’ in SL. I’m not sure if better results achieved (and is it more fun) if you work creatively within SL’s limitations – Or if are you supposed to ‘demonstrate expertise’ by overcoming these limits by using/building complex tools. My first ‘next step’ was to find better and more varied animations for my avatar. The gestures I found were so terrible that it deflated my motivation for a while. Also, one of the things that I liked about SL filming is that you don’t need a crew. Now it looks like I was wrong about that. Its hard to imagine directing your avatar, setting up a shot using a camera tool and shooting all with the menus hidden so they’re not in shot…which means a crew.
The customised creation of a ‘skin’ (outer layer…skin in an obvious sense) for your avatar. These can be brought in shops, or made using a graphics program (photoshop or gimp for instance) and the templates supplied by SL, or the improved templates created and distributed online by expert users. I purchased a skin and it looked so horrible that my avatar refused to wear it (she’s got standards…). I tried on some attractive ‘demo’ skins but they were very expensive. By this point it was seeming to me that the point of SL seemed about making this stuff, not just buying it so I downloaded gimp, and the templates, and experimented. After some colourful and/or frightening experiments I produced a facial skin that makes my avatar look less like a duck. The main thing was figuring out (by accident I think it was) that such skins are worn like tattoos over the avatar’s existing skin (it’s a cover, not a replacement), and this changed my use of the opaque/transparency settings during the colouring-in phase. I’m sure that this information is available but I’d missed it. It was strangely difficult finding out where eyelashes were in the templates. So, while there are excellent tutorials produced by SL users freely available, there were still various problems (at least for me!). I also made a tattoo for her arm. Looks good, except it’s on her chest…
Meetings in SL
Was involved with the convening of on the topic of ethics in SL research with AK and the LGRG (see ‘events’ on the blog) Despite SL crashing when the meeting started and preventing people from getting in for a while, I think the meeting went very well and while people came and went, there was generally a dozen of us taking part so it was well attended. My impression is that meetings in SL has its advantages as well as its limitations, and most of these reflect those you’d find in good/bad meetings in RL. In this instance, everyone was informed and ‘on topic’ which is lucky, and that’s why the meeting worked. Things that would be an issue: Chairing. Having a set finish time, and a suggested ‘debrief’ or post meeting drink arranged (something for people to move on to as a group, rather than just disperse). Finding an unobtrusive way to motivate input from the entire group.
Large seminar on SL education. This was interesting because of the discussion but also because the hosts tried out a ‘chairing bot’ – which worked fine (queuing speakers with a ‘hands up’ feature so people did not talk over each other) but had unexpected side effect in that it sort of killed or at least sterilised the discussion. Turned off by consensus after 10 mins. The ‘robot chair’ experience was educational because I’m sure that we and our students would otherwise identify the overlapping chat in the chat box as a problem for teachers – yet if you stop it, its ‘more’ of a problem in terms of the discussion. One of the best questions from the audience was ‘We’re all just sitting here typing, what’s the point of having avatars?’ There was that annoying thing of people going ‘oh yes it will be better with voice’. Which is right in so far as it will be better for some, with voice. Meetings like this will not be accessible to deaf people if voice becomes the norm. Plus you’d loose that interesting simulcast weaving in the discussion that happens in the text box.
Help Island – I made a cube and made it say ‘don’t sit on me’ when you touch it. It worked once, but I’ve no idea what I’m doing. It’s like learning words, but not knowing the grammar. There are guides, classes and wikis for people who want them.
WoW v SL: Emergence, pleasure and the ‘pain barrier’ (again)
The event that tripped me through the pain barrier was the first time that I experienced an ‘emergent event’ in SL – as in, an unexpected event that was an accident, but that was coherent in terms of my intention (so a back-firing that was ‘joke-like’ in terms of disjunction and surprise – hinged on causality and intent, rather than random glitches, or griefing).
In my case, I went shopping. I found a nice pair of flippers, and as she walks like she’s wearing flippers anyway, I put them on. Happy with the purchase and thinking that my avatar was looking rather fetching I walked into another shop, and brought what looked like a nice necklace. I put it on, and I found I was wearing a giant box on my head. Yes, I was wearing the sign selling the necklace, rather than the necklace. So my avatar marched around like that for a while wearing flippers on her feet and a billboard on her head. It made me laugh. And that’s when I liked Second Life for the first time (there’s a picture at the top of the page…). The emergent stuff is a bit like Freud’s writing on jokes perhaps…? [...]
[...Emergent/social play can] backfire into disproportionate ‘unpleasure’. My partner was with a party recently (a WoW instance/dungeon) and he accidentally rolled for some loot that his character couldn’t use (bad etiquette!) plus, to make matters worse, he won it – he apologised profusely but the rest of the part played on and nobody would give him the sort of passing ‘no problem’ or ‘accident’s happen’ that function as a social balm after a gaffe (gaffes are pretty common). And it’s not necessarily because they were ostracising him, it could just be that reassurance was not a priority for this particular party. But my partner couldn’t know if he was being blanked deliberately, or if the people he was playing with just considered it a non-issue. Parties are temporary arrangements so this was not resolved. His sense of having committed an embarrassing gaffe was real, though.
(cut bits from here, Aug 07, dc)
Anyway, the box-on-head incident (which happens to most newbies at some point…you can sit at Help Island and watch people get stuck in packaging) didn’t end there. Because I was worried about looking like I’d nicked the poster/box (it left a blank space on the wall) and because I could not find a way to identify (and thus contact) the shop owner, I put a message in my profile (the avatar has a little ‘self portrait’ or profile space for information that can be accessed by others in SL with a click) saying ‘I have your box, it’s an accident, instant message me please if you want it back’ or something to that effect.
Sometime later I was at the Ivory Tower of the Prims, and somebody looked in my profile and started chatting to me about how I could return the box, and then other people in the vicinity started chatting (they were disembodied text lines…) about the box and me and returning it…somebody said something along the lines of ‘happens all the time’, somebody else said ‘yes but the owner might not have a copy so it would be good to return it’, and then the original person said ‘well she must be worried, it’s in her profile!’ So by this stage they were talking about me in the 3rd person, and the discussion rounded off by the judicial ‘I believe that she has tried to return the box’ and so I was free to go. Based on new information that this helpful yet disturbing chorus had given me, I identified the shop owner and sent them an instant message about returning the box (they never got back to me). And, based on what happened at the Ivory Tower, I took that particular message out of my profile box. It hadn’t occurred to me that people actually read them…still seems like ‘peeking’, even though that is presumably the point.
Recently I was doing the building tutorial at Help Island. My avatar was run over by a fox in a bikini driving a car through the building tutorial area. Fortunately there was a witness. He lunged forward ‘Hey!’ he gasped, as my avatar bounced off a billboard, ‘Nice car!’
SL conventions, expertise and credibility.
Second Life: It’s not a game, because it doesn’t have rules and a goal, right? By the way – do you own land? No? Well, do you have a business in SL? A job? No? Ahhh, you’re a tourist. Inexperienced. Casual. A novice. Perhaps Second Life is a game after all. The rules involve implicit conventions, and earning a place in a particular economy, the ‘play’ is the demonstration of this attainment, and the goal is to attain a credible participation. There are conventions of beauty and conventions of resistance and non-conformism. But they are implicit and not consistent especially across the perspectives of ‘expert user’ and ‘new user’. Which only revives the scary notion that there is an identifiable ‘expert user’ (of course there are expert users, but what are the implications of the ‘idea’ of the expert, or the idea that you can spot an expert…or that the expert’s participation is the most legitimate…).
[...] there is not ‘one expertise’ for instance (scripter, modeller, shopper, business operator, socialiser, mentor, builder, machinimator, role-player, entrepreneur, philanthropist, educator…). So there’s not one unidirectional learning route from the periphery, towards a central expertise. Instead of the orbiting new user being sucked into the sun (is that what this learning model presupposes?) they might be sucked into the gravitational field of any number of satellites, planets…
My avatar went bald for a month because most of the hair I found was so stupid. Plus she’s kind of short and person-like, rather than elongated and doll-like. Those were choices, but then I couldn’t work out if these options were read as ‘newbie-ness’ in contrast to an avatar that demonstrates a grip of in-world aesthetic conventions (by replicating the Barbie-ness, ‘outrageous’ clothes, the big-hair and suspenders and tutu look, or goths or cyber whatever…is it just me or are the ‘fantasy sub-culture’ options just a tad dated?
Plus all you need to do for your avatar to look evolved is to load up at freebie warehouse or go shopping – which does involve learning (navigation, conventions of representation in SL, inventory management) but its not like you have to learn how to do 3D modelling before you can have fancy shoes and big hair.
Anyway so I was pondering my avatar’s insecurities and standing in front of the freebie house when a 10 foot tall jelly-green octopus avatar in a top hat wobbled up to me and started chatting to me in Italian. I don’t speak Italian and so I thought he said ‘Is that your regular face?’ (something like because ‘it’s so normal’ or ‘you are regular looking’) – I felt abashed because that’s what I was wondering myself…if my avatar was looking too ‘straight’. Later I translated his text though, and what poor Mr Octopus man actually said was ‘How do I get back to normal?’
If we’re talking about students and teachers and learning in Second Life, trying to figure out how to be credible (or what credible means to different users) might be important. Before the LGRG ethics meeting for instance (see the blog) at least 3 people RSVP’d and said something along the lines of ‘OK but don’t laugh at my newbie avatar’ and after the meeting, somebody else said ‘Lucky my friend gave me that outfit or I would have looked like a complete noob’ – it seems safe to say that for some casual/new users it is an issue.
I’ve seen at least one instance where somebody was actually laughed at for a lack of SL skills. It’s more accurate to say I’ve no idea if it was ‘funny’ to the witnesses because it ‘revealed’ a lack of skills, or if it was thought to be funny because it was seen as an experienced user making a silly mistake…somebody called another avatar by the first word of a group that person was in, rather than by the first word of their name (trans: your avatar might have its name over its head, and a group affiliation written under it). The person addressed made a joke about it (‘never been called by my group before! Haha’) and another person there made a comment along the lines of ‘doh, that’s not his name it’s a group he’s in’. Text chat is like emails in that it’s really hard to judge somebody’s tone (and easy to misjudge it). Maybe it was good-natured joshing. Maybe it was snide and snobby. It’s impossible to say (and I don’t know how it felt to those involved because I didn’t ask…) The point is that it was identified as a faux pas was not just let pass and that it was mentioned by 2 people, in the public chat box, not in the instant messenger box…
One thing that was clear in the post-play interviews for the WoW sessions at the end of the last project was that different players applied different criteria of expertise, and these reflected their own levels of experience, as well as their particular, personal priorities. So for one player, being able to run around freely and use tools smoothly was a mark of experience. For another player, taking up a class-specific place in the team (as tank or healer) was what marked experience. For another, a ‘good player’ was somebody who rounded everyone up, talked to any stragglers and made sure everyone was happy.
So I’m interested in how perceptions of (conventions about) expertise play out across SL and WoW – they seem de-centered, relatively implicit in SL but very much ‘there’ while in WoW learning and expertise happen at a ludic level (game scores, levelling) as well as at a social level (etiquette, humour…)
The main ‘decision themes’ that I’ve come across so far in avatar representation seem to be
‘I’m going to look like the real me’ – mainly seen in education seminars…unless there are lots of Nordic supermodels playing SL…
‘I’m rebelling against SL’s consumer ethic and I’m going to wear freebies. Lots of them.’
‘I’m rebelling against SL’s beauty pageant ethos and I’m going to provide an alternative’
‘I’m going to look like a lovely, lovely human lady version of My Little Pony the sparkly sex worker’.
‘I’m an architect’ or ‘I have a proper job’ (chic glasses and sober tailoring)
‘I don’t care what my avatar looks like at least I managed to log in’
‘I’m dressed for work’ (be it sex worker, business person…)
It’s hard to know (hard to know how you’d know) how these decisions relate to expertise. Somebody might look really ‘finished’ or ‘complex/sophisticated but that might mean they are keen shoppers. Presumably you could ask people on a case-by-case basis. Not sure you’d get anything from that. Of if you’d want to…
This ties in some ways to other discourses that seem to float through Second Life to pop up in strange places, about ‘realism’ or ‘realistic self representation’ or ‘truth’ or (on the flip side) ‘duplicity’ ‘disguise’ and implications of impropriety or exploitation. Related notions dot discussions about the rolling out of voice across Second Life (‘who will be revealed?’ ‘Who won’t be able to fake it anymore?’). If I don’t convert to voice is it because I’m hiding something? If I don’t convert to voice, will it be assumed that my female avatar masks a male player?
Perhaps it’s like the ethics recommendations (that you respect the ‘expectation of privacy’ or the expectation of ephemera…see Ess and AIR’s paper here http://aoir.org/reports/ethics.pdf) – if ‘expectations of transparency of representation’ arose and were shared, and you knew that, and you joined, then you’d have some kind of obligation – maybe? But I’m not sure what such an expectation would ‘look like’ and how universal it would need to be, in order to give rise to such an obligation…what the ‘tipping point’ would be in terms of it’s significance or framing for SL users.
I guess it’s because I’ve played RPG’s but there’s no way I’d expect a ‘faithful representation’ of anyone, or even assume that a ‘realistic’ looking body/avatar would be more ‘faithful’ or transparent than any other kind of representation. But that could be my SL-noobiness showing. Perhaps there’s some point in this stuff about the ‘realistic’ that I’ve missed. I don’t think of my avatar as a representation of me, except in so far as I occupy something like an authorship/driver/operator role.
We are planning to investigate related issues through a ‘drama and pedagogy’ perspective (building on work that Andrew has done in this area – as an academic and as a teacher) and incorporating work in digital game studies and literature such as:
Various authors in the ‘Cyberdrama’ section of First Person New Media as Story, Performance, and Game MIT Press, Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan (eds.)
Gonzalo Frasca’s work on simulations and drama
Augusto Boal on ‘spectactor’ in Theatre of the Oppressed
Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed
John Carroll and David Cameron’s work on games, drama and teaching (see DiGRA 2005 for example ‘Machinima: digital performance and emergent authorship’)
Janet Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck
Brenda Laurel, Computers as Theatre
Sherry Turkel, Life on the Screen
Goffman perhaps, on frame work.
Robbins, S.B (2006) ‘“Image Slippage”: Navigating the Dichotomies of an Academic Identity in a Non-academic Virtual World’ Proceedings of the First Second Life Education Workshop, Part of the 2006 Second Life Community Convention, August 2006, San Francisco, Ca D.Livingstone and J.Kemp (eds.) (p 35)