Observer Fantasy vs Particapatory Fantasy; The role of perspective in how we shape our avatars and characters in SL and other online games.

Note: This was originally written a whole heck of a long time ago and left in my drafts for a silly long time. So, what I was trying to say when I started it and where I have now taken it likely differ a bit. I’ve tried to make the writing consistent but it may show that change in point…

“That’s a nice avatar you’ve got there; be a shame if something were to happen to it”

Is that an attack against you or a roleplay challenge? πŸ™‚

There’s a conflict in perspective here that I feel is often close to the root of a lot of the drama in Second Life; where it is not as well ‘blocked off’ or resolved as it is in more modern Virtual Worlds like Minecraft, Final Fantasy XIV, and so on…


I’m sorry for starting this on a silly note but that phrase was just stuck in my head and actually reminds me of how I first started to think of this issue in tabletop roleplaying long before I found MMOs like Second Life or World of Warcraft.

Have you ever looked at your avatar and thought “well (s)he looks nice” or some other third person observation? Or have you ever looked at thought “well, I look nice”?

Presuming for a second that your avatar actually did look nice to you… which of those two would be the most likely way for that thought to pop into your head?

In other words… are you observing your avatar or becoming your avatar?


Even in roleplaying environments, there are people who see a statement against their avatar/character as a personal attack.

In the context of roleplay that’s seen as a failure. And this is one way in which SL is NOT a game… In SL it’s normal for people to take encounters their avatar has as personal.

In gaming, people do take success or failure personally… but as an extension of how well they played the game… It’s just a little different. If you make friends in an ‘MMO’ with someone, you’re making friends with the other player… It’s very common in SL to never cross the barrier of the avatar and yet for the relationship to be felt as real – and this is in many ways because the avatar is seen as a self-extension.

Somehow the stronger barrier between avatar and real-life-user creates an inverse bond between ‘avatar experience’ and ‘personal experience’. That we often know the ‘person behind the character’ in an MMO makes the characters and what happens to them almost disposable, that we don’t know the ‘real person’ behind the avatar in an MMO like SL makes the avatar’s experience feel more personal.


Even if one has a character in an MMO that they highly value… it’s rare to see it as a part of oneself. It’s a character, not an avatar.

In online games, MMOs and the like, there is a popular refrain usually against males that play female characters, and sometimes though less often against females that play male characters. It goes something like “you just play that character to look at some T&A on your screen all day long”.

I think it’s actually more often stated by the men playing their character as a ‘defense’ against the possibly much worse accusation that they might actually identify with a female persona (yeah… LGBT folks, especially the ‘T’ folks, I suspect would get rather peeved anytime it gets revealed that this is why some bloke claims he’s not a “freak”, he’s just a “perv enjoying some T&A”… because really, the entire claim is a slap in their faces – but that’s a whole different topic from the one I’m going after today).


I’ve been seeing it phrased like that since the first time I saw an online platform allow players to play a female character (Oh boy… there’s a whole ‘nother rant about how video games used to be male characters only because that was ‘normal’. Remember when Tomb Raider came out; half the scandal was that she was too sexy with her grand total polygon count of 3… but the other half was just the mere fact that she was female).

Let’s cycle this back to avatar choices – that go way beyond gender, and really into every last aspect of your avatar, your character, and so on – in any platform where you assume some ‘representation’ that is not actually you on a screen like Facebook or facetime, etc.

I think examining this can also get to the heart of a lot of other conflicts we see in the social dynamics of online platforms. Even to why some people really dislike or embrace something like Facebook with it’s ‘the flesh and bones birth certificate only version of you’ thing.

When you see your avatar on your screen… again, is that you, or a character you are exploring? Does she have her existence and person, or is she just you recreated in cartoon pixels?

I strongly suspect that a LOT of those blokes in MMOs who are just ‘playing a blood elf to look at some ass’ actually are experiencing that character as a reflection of some aspect of their inner self, and just pretending to be there to be a ‘perv’ because well… apparently Harvey Weinstein is somehow still less freaky than Boy George… It’s 2020 and we still have to deal with that… (there’s a similar issue with women running the gauntlet between slut and tomboy/butch – except neither is “safe turf”).


I can’t really say either perspective (character as character or avatar as you) is wrong or right, and I also think most of us exist on a spectrum here that can also vary per ‘avatar’ / character.

I have many alts in SL. Whereas some people adopt different looks and set them up in outfit folders:

This is my furry look, this is my hot-girl look, this is my dude look, this is my ‘fuck me’ look, this is my ‘fuck you’ look, this is my ‘fuck off’ look… etc… I spin out alts…

So Pussycat is always a neko, and if some place doesn’t want nekos around but I really insist on going there, I log off and log back in to an alt. People that get to know me on a ‘hang out together’ level (and oddly, it’s been a few years since I had anyone on this list) have to deal with a cast of alts.
– so that pretty squarely reads like a statement that binds me to the concept of ‘Observer Fantasy’.

Observer Fantasy: your avatar is someone else, that you ‘roleplay as’ or otherwise observe externally. She is not you. You are basically perving her existence. Your avatar is ‘her’, ‘him’, ‘them’ – that person. Not ‘I’ or ‘me’.

But it’s not that simple because I also very deeply explore aspects of myself through my avatars. And I feel deeply about them and about how they interact with and are treated by others.

I’m not deeply on the Participatory Fantasy end. But I think I have observed it… enough… to be able to define it.

Participatory Fantasy: your avatar is you. She is a recreation of you in the online medium. It is your voice that speaks through her, and what she does is directly you. You are ‘living a part of your life’ online, using her as the means through which to connect to the medium. She is ‘I’ or ‘me’ and not her.

Watch sometimes how people will refer to the process of configuring something about the avatar…

“I just can’t find the right outfit, I don’t look good in this outfit.”

“I just can’t find the right outfit, my avatar looks all wrong in this outfit.”

  • Are you getting dressed in SL, or are you dressing a virtual doll?


That said… I think most people who are ‘Observer Fantasy’ will in an example like the above refer to the avatar in the first person… because the outfit frustration is their frustration… and it’s not natural to switch POV mid-sentence…

That’s where it starts seeming like we’re mostly ‘on the spectrum’ here, and not at the ends of it. Sometimes you ARE your avatar, sometimes you’re observing your avatar.

  • When I run off and put my avatar through pixel-XXX; I’m in observer mode. Intentionally so – it’s a big part of why I avoid SL ‘relationships’ and just go for ‘strangers’. This is ‘roleplay’ or ‘game time’, and it’s not me. Basically it’s ‘porn I can direct’ to have the actors perform my turn-ons and not those of some random bloke in Southern California…
  • When I am exploring philosophical positions and crafting my avatar to reflect some philosophy or political stance; I am in participation mode. My avatar is just a tool through which I examine how I feel about something. When I was early in SL and came across Rasta; this was very much where I spent most of my SL time – seeing the avatar as a self-extension.

Two extremely opposite perspectives. These days I tend to put a bright wall between who I will engage with for each, to avoid drama.


In many ways this is a different angle on the old debate about ‘is SL a game or not’. I’ve long held the position that it’s both… and I suspect that seriously aggravates mostly people who are very far on the ‘Participatory Fantasy side of the spectrum (especially those with narrow, older-generation conceptions of the word ‘game’ – we could look at a whole series of articles on the concept of ‘gamification’ in technology to see how the definition of ‘game’ is now a moving target).


So just some food for thought.

Do you ‘observe’ or ‘play’ SL, or are you ‘experiencing’ or ‘living in’ SL?

Or, I suspect, is it some combination of these putting you on a line somewhere between those extremes?


And how do you handle things when you find yourself dealing with a person or situation that is on a radically different end of that spectrum from you?


Getting Aspect Ratio right on a mesh photo frame

After my last long and technical post. Today I have a simple thought, with a bit of fun. πŸ™‚PictureFrames

I probably waste a LOT of texture cache on putting up photos all over my SL house… I’ve bought my fair share of mesh frames for this, and find none of them are set up right for the aspect ratios of the images I upload.

This is one of those ‘rather basic’ building things a first time and maybe even experience land holder / renter / person with SL Home might struggle to figure out a way to deal with.

How to get that wonderful screenshot they’ve uploaded to not look stretched skinny or wide, despite putting it into a mesh frame that was supposed to look just perfect.

I tend to upload all of my screenshots as images I have saved at one of

  • 1:1 (the aspect ratio of the modern profile system).
  • 4:3 (old TV and old monitor aspect ratio – in Landscape)
  • 3:4 (basically old TV on its side – portrait ratio)

My mesh frames come in all kinds of random. Usually they are the correct ratio by the numbers on the prim size… but because the builder didn’t check how wide the shadow prim or frame was… the image part can be all over the place…

The ones in this image are from {What Next} – Anna Picture Frames. I have moved the positions a bit for my own setup.

I once tried fixing this with math… and it was a mess. So now I do this:

Rez another prim, set it to one of:

  • 1m tall and 1m wide (1:1)
  • 1m tall and 0.75m wide (4:3)
  • .75m tall and 1m wide (3:4)

Then color it red and made it 40% transparent, and make it thicker (depth) than the photo frame.
Move it over my frame, and use the “gray” corner to stretch it right. DO NOT use the red, green, or blue corners as those stretch individual sides – you want to stretch the whole thing uniformly.

Once it’s “close” to where I want, I switch prims to the frame:
And stretch that on each individual side (red, green, blue) – until my red prim fits ‘as nicely as I can eyeball’ inside the frame.

Now I can put up my pictures and not have them look stretched.


And here you have me Pussycat, and my alts Bunny and Reggae. Which is a lot more personalized than the random stuff that came with this frame.

As I make a bit of a bold return to being a sometime (or maybe mostly or maybe rarely, not sure how it will end up yet) SL nudist, it seems fitting to put up nude art. Good way to test my comfort level with this and see this is really me, or just a passing mood.

I used to / have a lot more alts. But this is the active scene for me now. Recently took the rest of my crowd – deleted their profiles, and tossed them onto an empty spot. Most of them were made back in the days when I was testing things like new welcome centers, the then new single word name thing, and so on – but I kept feeling them temptation to go shopping for them… so I had to cut this down to a manageable list… πŸ˜›

-1L$ Balance – Are ‘keep up to date’ groups using members to covertly fund merchant advertising?

-1$L… Logged into some alts that get little use recently, and found this as my balance on the both of them. Account Manager page – nothing. Only goes back a month. The thing ought to show the greater of the last month or the last 30 entries…

Look through my groups, notice something.

A lot of purely social groups, or merchant advertiser groups – the ones that spam you into submission to get you to join… are now setting regular customers as ‘pay into and out of group liabilities.’ So apparently my funds on those alts got drained to pay for their search listings, land fees, and adverts. Good thing I likely had less than 10L on them each…

But its a cautionary tale: Should we leave all the groups we’re in if we don’t have strong reasons to trust who’s running them (if they’re owned by strangers)? Is it time to get out of customer groups…

It would be nice if the bottom rank of groups could not have the ‘pay liabilities and receive group dividends’ option checked, and if being added to another rank in a group required a second permissions acceptance check.

As it stands… there’s some folks out there right now with some pretty shady ethics…

Been silent a while, but still out there

I haven’t been around much lately, here or in Second Life. But I am still about.

I’ve gone through pending comments and cleared through the list. Also changed my ‘Callouts’ links on the right to a Tutorials section. Hopefully that will make it easier for people to find some things.

Second Life… Not sure why I’ve been quiet of late. Just kind of have. I consolidated a few bits of land – expanding what I had in Bay City but getting rid of some pieces here and there. I’m still working to get rid of a water lot I bought on a whim some time back.

I seem to have completely lost access to two old alts. But for different reasons that form cautionary tales.

The first one – they have a system on “forgot your password” where they will suspend your account if you don’t answer the security questions within a hidden number of tries. The problem is they don’t show the security question most of the time. Instead they pull from your friends list. If you have some people you friended that you don’t really know… you can get locked out – permanently.

Well… I can get that account back if I send them a copy of my state issued ID card… My RL one. Even though the account does not even have my RL info entered into it… (not even PIOF).

It was my old roleplay alt, so it had a long list of friends from old Pandaria Roleplay who were people I’d met once at an event and never spoke to again.

The cautionary tale is for businesses in Second Life. Quite a few merchants have sent me friends requests as a part of the conversation. If they don’t still remember me a few years later, and then they forget their password.

It won’t ask you if your pet is named “Muffykins”. It will ask you this:

[**********] Catnap
[**********] Resident
[**********] Oh

– So um… Maybe you remember me, and Resident, surely you can remember one of those folks (it doesn’t seem to care which of them). But do you remember your friend who’s name ended in ‘Oh’?

What if it was

[**********] Gossipgirl
– And you couldn’t think of -anyone- you knew with that handle, because the person was some random newbie who logged in for a day, bought your item, asked you how to use it, ran around with a box on the head for 3 hours, and quit – all back in 2010 during the few months that name was allowed.

Yeah… you just lost your Second Life account.

I recently went through and did screenshots for my friends list, on every alt…

But the real problem… if you hack my email, and you know my friends list – can you steal my account?

Because a lot of people kind of figure out each others friends over time.

Especially the ‘ex’ you’re having lots of drama with…

So the other account I lost I lost because it was proof against the above problem. Somehow I made it either without ever using an email address, or at least – I never recorded what that address was…


On the two accounts combined, I’ve probably lost 30,000L worth of goods. But that’s small for me for the length of time. One of these alts was almost as old as my main – but rarely used. The other was very recent and made to theme with petites (actually she was made to grab screenshots for updating my ‘Getting Starting’ guide to V3, and then I gave her a Petite avatar makeover)…

But neither was a very “personally attached” avatar. Though I had a lot of Pandoria stuff on one made by folks who’ve moved on from SL.

Some basic hints here:

  • Use an email on your account that is not used elsewhere. But write it down so you remember it.
  • Write your password on something physical and physically secure (kept at home).
  • Screenshot your friends list regularly.
  • Keep your enemies further, and your friends secret.

As for what kind of password to use:

Password Strength
– But you still have to remember it…

New Bunny Furry from Dark Spot Designs – Amazing partial-mesh furry

My alt Bunny has been languishing for years on an avatar I was only partly happy with.

I’ve never been happy with the rabbit offerings in Second Life, for furries. Some amazingly good makers have skipped this one by, some other amazing makers have dabbled in it with results that were just not to my tastes despite loving their other work.

This new furry is just everything I’ve ever wanted in a rabbit furry – all in one package of pure goodness, from a builder who’s recent offerings have been just dynamite.

Ps: I’ve never met the person(s) behind DSD, never spoken/chatted with them, didn’t get a darn thing to motivate me to write this.

In fact I found the avatar by chance. I bought another DSD avatar for Pussycat some months back (The Ocelot) and seriously fell in love with it. This weekend I was seriously bored, and teleported over there after looking at and seeing no interesting reviews.

It wasn’t even the first furry shop I hit. I was just doing that random… lets go through my LMs folder and see what’s up… boredome cure. Saw rabbits, logged out of that alt and sent Bunny over there in a flash.

Took me about 2 minutes to make the choice – the preview art was enough to tell me that it was worth a gamble. I saw the note that I needed a mesh viewer as I was clicking buy. But that’s fine – I use a lot of mesh these days. Who doesn’t?

I’ve seen a few full mesh furry avatars on the grid – and not been satisfied with them. They’re all just a bit too different from the base look of an SL avatar. Very cartoony, or for tiny creatures or alien monsters.

This one isn’t that. Its a partial mesh in the same way most current furries are partial sculpty. You take a human avatar, and wear the furry parts, then put on an alpha map to hide your feet, hands, and human head.

In other words you can still wear all your current clothing.

But because its mesh, it can do things you just can’t do with a sculpty based furry, like the way the feet bend when my avatar taps her foot sitting on a stool:

That’s all one mesh piece. In a sculpty avatar, you would need a foot and a leg piece – and be able to see where they met, or they would be fused stiff. Mesh can bend, if its rigged.

Here are the SLARF like stats on this avatar:

Out of the Box:

It came with 2 complete copies for each gender – two variations on the color I bought. Not sure if this is common to the other colors or not. Each had:

Features Permissions and Statistics
  • Male/Female PG and Mature Skins
  • 1 shape.
  • Digitigrade Legs with feet in one piece
  • Cut Digitigrade Legs with feet in one piece – for wearing pants, Woohoo!
  • Plantigrade Feet
  • Flexi tail
  • Hair – Which I have not used
  • Ear/Eyes/Mouth/Tail options in HUD
  • Speech Gestures
  • 2 Alpha Textures:
    • Head, Digi legs, and hands
    • Head, Planti feet, and hands
  • Floppy Ears
  • Pierced Ears
  • Floppy Pierced Ears
  • Head with Piercings
  • Jaw with Piercings
  • Modifiable
  • Copiable
  • Not Transferable
  • Avatar Draw WEIGHT
    • 24671
  • Script Info:
    • 114kb – 16kb each for 2xhands, 1xjaw, 2xears, 2xeyes, 2xlegs
    • 32kb – head
    • 64kb – Tail
    • 64kb – HUD
  • DSD Shop Location
  • L$900

That said I’ve not unpacked the male copy, so I can’t say if it is different. I’m assuming its the same goodies.

I used my own shape with the avatar, as I found the included one too slim and not well fitting to the ‘standard sizes’ mesh clothing that is so popular these days.

– As a result I had to use a different alpha map instead, but there is a box of free alpha maps at the DSD store, and the one in there that is for head, hands, legs, and feet is 99% identical to the one with this avatar – with the 1% difference being in the neck, right were I was having trouble with my shape, so it solved my problems perfectly.

Lets look at something about this skin tone, that goes to the heart of my problems with past avatars. She’s black. NOT grayscale… but actually black. In 2009 I lambasted the then selection for black furred furries because the artists were using a common technique for simulating black on a screen of instead using shades of gray. This is done so that you can have highlights and shadows.


Its one of those art school things you learn. that is actually incorrect. Go to design school and you will learn something else about black in print design… never use black…

Um… but that’s what the art school folks say too right?

Nope. Slightly different… In design school we learned to use colors – not gray or black ink, but to ADD a bit or CMY to your K (K is black ink, the others are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow – this is how comic books got the nickname 4-color).

Guess what? The same thing works on screen.

Instead of using gray shades to do black… use a very very very dark color for the shadows, a slightly less dark midnight blue for the base, and a midnight blue for the highlights. The result is an almost silky vibrant glossy sheen to things like fur.

This rabbit doesn’t do it with midnight blue, but with earth tones. Zooming in I see a subtle hint of earth tones for highlights. It is just enough to work:

And that folks… allows you to have a black furry that actually looks black, not gray. Finally somebody who learned the same lesson I did, however they learned it, and put it to good use on an avatar. Not just any avatar, but a bunny. This was key to me because my original desire was to make a Bunny furry that would be named after the black rabbit of Watership Down. My alt Bunny predates my neko days… she started back when I thought you needed a character in Second Life – and so a roleplay story… so the first thing I did was go looking for the right concept… and found nothing but gray… As a result Bunny was actually on a human avatar for the first few months, then I found a place selling a ‘hybrid’ like a rabbit version of a neko… and I just colored the skin with a black square texture until developing my Midnight Skin (a low cost skin I still have in my shop)… and finally giving up and going gray…

Now I’ve got a Black with Brown avatar… but I’m thinking of getting the solid black one as well. πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, because I finally have an rabbit avatar that I like, I was then forced to go and buy 3000L worth of clothing and accessories for her… Oops… πŸ˜€

There were plenty of color choices too, black, black and brown, black and light brown, black and gray, black and white, brown, and then all of that other stuff. πŸ™‚

5th rezzday passed, and didn’t notice

You might look up my profile, and wonder what I’m talking about. Pussycat dates to June 15, 2009.

But the real ‘not-so-very’ secret is that Pussycat is technically an alt. Or an alt-main. Or a main-now-that-my-main-is-no-longer-my-main-cause-the-new-main-was-made-to-replace-the-old-one.

Or something like that. πŸ™‚

I originally joined Second Life as part of the Poser 7 promotion to come see their build in some weird video game / pron thing folks were calling Second Life. I’d not bothered with Second Life because well, what was wrong with my First Life?

Never liked my original name.

In fact I disliked it so much that I quit SL by the end of my first month.

See if you think the fiasco with last names is bad now, back in 2006 I had to agree to a TOS that said I got one account, had to pick the name right then, could NEVER change it, had to pick one of the 5 last names on my screen, and would be perma-banned for the rest of my first-life if ever caught making a new account…

So I chose quickly. It was just some video game for people with no First Life, what did I care? I jumped in, went to the Poser thing, and found out all the goodies were not for Poser, but for Poser fans who played this loser video game for people with no First Life to ‘represent’ inside of their Second Life.

I was originally a Yue.

So I left. Bad name, no point, whatever

So my original Second Life account dates to December 12, 2006. Is that my rezzday, or is June 15, 2009 my rezzday?

I dunno. I do know I actually came back in March, April, or May somewhere of 2009 – wandering around on my original account, and then when I discovered the alt-policy wasn’t going to send some nice Italian gentlemen to visit me if I made an alt… on a now also abandoned alt.

Cause yeah… I goofed in the name AGAIN. That alt dates to May 20, 2009. She was a Bohemian.

Pussycat came about because I was doing the usual noob thing of wearing boxes on your head one day in 2009 when one of them turned me into a neko.

That was the moment SL clicked for me. The moment I felt a sense of connection to SL – was the moment I ‘wore the wrong box’. Now I needed to figure the place out. And my displeasure at name choices started becoming important. Kind of like it has for a lot of ‘Residents’ over the past year.

I searched for ways to have a cat-like name. I lucked out and found slnamewatch, which at the time was listing links to all the places you could register any active name not currently being shown in the pulldown list on the official page.

To the Residents: Yes even back when we did have last names, they didn’t do it an ideal manner. They gave you a list of 5, out of the several hundred, and most people didn’t know hitting refresh in your browser would “sometimes” cycle in a different 5 (at least in the last year of them it would)…

There were a couple cat choices. The ones I really liked (but don’t like now) were already retired.

Back in the day, to prevent any poor sod from being registered as ‘Marysue1981e5’ (who as of this posting doesn’t exist), they would retire a name if it got too used, or if they wanted it to feel special (like GossipGirl, made for a certain TV show, which actually kept working for a few months after it was supposed to be retired, if you knew where to register for it – which reminds me that I don’t even remember who my gossipgirl alt was… or if I even made one…).

So I had to search for a while to find the right surname, and then I tried all sorts of catty names with it, including catty – writing them down and saying them back in my head… You don’t want to know what my first choices were… Ok, maybe you do… one of them is not a good word in polite company anymore, despite sounding similar to what I ended up with, and the other just sounds very pathetic and begins with ‘kitty’ but does not have ‘cat’ in it.

Once I hit on the name I’ve got now, and found it wasn’t yet taken, that’s when this became my ‘new-main’. I sent over everything I could from the old account, and shut the lights on that chapter of things. Losing maybe 3000-5000L worth of goods, as I was still a newbie in shopping habits with not much stuff.

Now I’m a Catnap.

So where was I?

Yeah so, what is my rezzday?

What counts, for people who left and came back? I actually do remember a few things from my short stay in 2006 – but I was not involved in any community back then, and only talked to a grand total of maybe 3 other people.

I got back a few months before I switched accounts. But I can go for quite a long time without thinking about the old account – just a vague awareness that I had it. Technically it still exists. It was never deleted or banned. Its just there somewhere. I could go through and do a ‘forgot password’ thing and maybe get it active… but I left it for a reason.

Though… 2 days ago was still its 5th rezzday… which in a sort of way, makes that my kinda-5th-rezzday-but-not-quite. πŸ™‚

Fashion Challenge – Dress up a new avatar for under 550L – my entry at 199L

My little Fairy alt here is part of a blog challenge to make an avatar on under 550L, on the Juicy Bomb SL-fashion blog.

All this for only 199L - and the part that cost 199L isn't even showing in the pic (her elf ears).

I was doing fine until the ears, that you can’t even see in the image…

Skin: by Lyrical Oh – group freebie in his mainstore
Shape: That’s Pussycat’s shape on a human skin – self made.
Outfit: *IW* Autumn Fae In Sand ($0L) – Inga Wind Clothing
Wings: Part of the free outfit
Hair: .:EMO-tions:. * TERESA * freebie available at FabFree
Eyes: -*By Snow*- Alienite Eyes (Free) – a freebie in the By Snow shop, not to be confused with a near identical named 200L product that has these eyes and many others.
Ears: *Epic* Winged Elfy Ears, From shop named *Epic* ($199L).
Cost: $199L

Also spent 2L on two ‘dollarbies’ that I ended up not using: hair and eyes.

Will likely kit this avatar just a little bit more.
Will update this with SLURLS soon, for new folks to go shopping.

Alts… Gotta love my alts…


There’s always some kind of alt drama in Second Life. I’ve always been a little confused and baffled by it. I came to SL because MMOs weren’t doing it for me. I came to MMOs because MUDs weren’t doing it for me. I’d found MUDs because I’d been invited to one of those table top role-play things and found it… alienating (we could have a blog post here about the inherent race and gender problems in RPGs, but you can find that plastered all over minority gamer blogs elsewhere by people who didn’t just give up like I did). I’d been invited to that because, akin to many fellow “race-minorities”, I enjoy writing fiction.

Alts are normal in MMOs
What all that means is that its natural for me to relate to different aspects of myself by creating lots of ‘characters.’

But that makes me something of an oddity in Second Life. If you’ve come to my blog from reading my Getting Started guide – then one more piece of advice I have for you is that in SL your avatar is your account… and each avatar is her own account… and much of the community has issues with people who have multiple accounts.

No matter how many times I see the drama wars over it on various forums and blogs, I am just not capable of understanding how anyone could have a problem with an alt. Its just like trying to explain equality to a Republican – they can’t grasp it, and I can’t grasp this. πŸ˜€

My mind isn’t wired that way.

Now… some people make alts to explore different characters. Some people make alts to role-play in different role-play operations in SL. Some people make alts just to hold their land or business groups together without going nuts. Some people make alts just to go through the account creation screen again. Some people make alts just to get a name they like.

Some people make alts because its Tuesday and that’s what they do on a Tuesday (its actually Sunday while I type this – so I didn’t make any alts today just so you know).

Some people make alts to explore different aspects of their ‘inner self’ while keeping these compartmentalized.

I’ve done all of the above. Except for the Tuesday thing, I think.

Some people make alts to stalk another user. Some people make alts to hide from another user. I have to admit that I’ve done neither of this yet. If I want to stalk someone I usually IM them asking them where they are (I’d make a bad psycho-stalker that way…). If I want to hide from somebody I just don’t tell them where I am.
– This coming from someone who had a rough upbringing and so knows what ‘drama’ can lead to in RL… I’m the person here who -should- be paranoid, I’ve been hospitalized from a violent attack before (only once because I chose not to go the other times), and yes I have used a knife on someone, once. And I know what its like to wake up to the sound of gunfire.

But I’m just not paranoid… so none of my alts come from this kind of drama (and actually sometimes experiencing RL drama can chill your paranoia by instead teaching you to judge a situation – this is why veterans become so much more effective if they survive even one conflict).


So back to alts. I’ve got lots of them. If not for deleting old accounts I’d probably be in some kind of trouble with the lindens.

I also tend to be pretty open about having alts, and about who they are. In fact I’m thinking I might as well out a few of them and show why I made them.


Pussycat Catnap.
Pussycat Catnap Dancing at Irie Vibes
Yep, by some people’s definition even this is an alt. Pussycat was made in 2009 about a month after I got ‘back’ to Second Life. One of the things that caused me to leave in 2006 was not liking the name I’d picked. At the time I’d read that you only ever got to have that one account, could never change the name, and if you even asked the lindens would send somebody by to kill your dog. So when I made a bad choice, I just figured that was it, and I left.

I know that must sound amazingly absurd… but I was a noob back then, and I read that -somewhere- (probably a blog because I’ve never found it again, not even on outdated linden pages, and I probably misread it too – but it stuck in my mind anyway)… so when I had to choose between ‘name I don’t like to stick with some weird MMO I don’t get’ and ‘shrug and move on because its probably just as bad as those MMOs’ – I chose the second.

Came back in 2009 when bored one day and forced myself to use that bad name again. Then I read the ToS and saw something about alt accounts… So I spent a week thinking hard to make one I’d like… and made a second one I didn’t like instead… but then I found a neko kit, and inspiration hit me. Those other two accounts are now gone. Well the 2006 one exists because I thought I might need that old date for something, but I’m not sure if I have the info on how to use it anymore. Oh… and in making Pussycat I made a long list of names, and went looking through the list of surnames for every catty choice I could and mulling over the combinations. Some of my possible choices were pretty bad… Lets just say I wrote down a few that didn’t have the ‘cat’ part in the first name… because like every newbie, at the time I was stuck in the pron clubs (the guide I’d read on starting said to go camp there for stuff… considering the horrid stuff I got, I ought-a go smack that guide’s writer upside the head)… thank goodness I rejected those almost as soon as I’d written them down. πŸ™‚

Pussycat is not the go-to account for me. She’s an exploration of the core of my inner self. As a child on a trip I once looked into a campfire and saw a lion staring back at me. As an adult I suspect I’d had a close encounter with one of California’s many mountain lions. As an inner-city child though, wondering about my half-native ancestry and having no points of reference but pop culture, I thought it was my totem animal… Resulting in me having a very close affinity to cats which holds even now as I’ve grown up and met many native people and learned more of what that means. So Pussycat is my ‘me’ alt. πŸ™‚

Bunny Gearz.
Bunny Gearz
Not long after making Pussycat I decided I wanted to explore steam-punk, and I was sitting in the shop ‘Hybrid’ (that has since gone away and been replaced by other businesses using that same name now). Hybrid sold neko kits, but also kits for other human-animal blends. One was a bunny-girl: Usagi. Double inspiration hit me and Bunny Gearz was born. Though I was still a cheap-newbie at the time and not willing to spend 300L on the Usagi kit… so I spent a month on freebie bunny ears and tail I’d cut off a ‘playboy bunny’ style outfit – it looked horrid… πŸ™‚

Finally got the usagi kit and was happy. Until I got into furries. Then I spent about 4 months seeking an indigo-black bunny – the shiny black look, inspired by the Black Rabbit in Watership Down. I failed in that search but eventually just got a ‘gray black’ – the black that everyone in SL uses to avoid the loss of good highlights that true black gives (unlike in print and web where we use blue-black blends to make a shiny black look).

Older image of Bunny Gearz
Oh did I forget something here? The steam-punk… yeah… I kinda lost track of that early on with Bunny. As soon as she got her basic usagi look down, she ended up with dreadlocks on… and she just hit me as reminding me of my ‘hardened self’ – that survivor part of me somewhat mentioned above about my upbringing. Bunny is where I end up when exploring my roots and how I didn’t let that reality drag me down. She’s an optimist from a place where she shouldn’t be one.

Reggae in front of her Jet bike and Bunny's Steam bike.
Outing a new one here. None of my friends know of reggae. But not for any bad reason. Reggae was made almost purely to capture a name when the single-name accounts came out. She had no other purpose for quite a long time. I bought her a raven furry, and a Twi-lek (Star Wars alien) avatar – and maybe 3 outfits plus AO, mostly because it felt weird to have a ‘blank’ account.

But I think anyone reading anything from me by this point might know that I have an affinity for Reggae, and in fact my theological views are close enough to call me a Rastafarian-sympathizer. So an account like ‘Reggae’ is the sort of thing, when in the hands of a person like me, that will just keep calling out until it gets attention.

Reggae forced my hand. πŸ™‚ She’s the little account that would not go away. After deleting a couple of other one-name accounts that I made and quickly regretted (and even more now I know that those names are still gone, new users can’t get them even though they were deleted…)… I couldn’t delete Reggae.

And that’s just a recipe for trouble for me. Because if the account’s there, I’ve got to explore it.

When I saw a skin shop with some really nice African female skins ([LS] – Lyrical Store), but had no human account… yep… I dug up my login info for Reggae and took her there.

And of course, skin ‘in hand’ now she needed good hair, and good clothes, and a vehicle, and… oops, she ended up with a better vehicle than my other avatars, so now she’s the one I drive around random exploration points in SL with…

And of course with a name like Reggae, she needed a dance HUD, which of course means needing dances…

A -LOT- of people have already seen Reggae. Her image is first on my Proportion Guide blog entry. Because well… I wanted to do my first test of good proportions on a full-human avatar to ‘make sure’.
Reggae in a science fiction leotard
Actually finding Reggae kind of fun to be on… What does she ‘explore’ about me, I’m not sure. But its something.

So that’s some alts for you.

None of them made for drama, none of them made to hide. And now everybody knows them so I can’t hide with them anymore even I wanted to.

Its all just about exploring different aspects of a virtual world with varying virtual selves. Imagination, use it, don’t lose it.
Pussycat Catnap on Shermerville Bridge

Why’d I post this? Well, I just kinda felt like it was time to throw my alts out there so I could more easily be social on them. Frankly I think there are a lot more people like me on this than many suspect – people who have alts just to enjoy them, and not for any silly drama. Sometimes its more of a pain to have them not interconnected by default.

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